Where do I send the thank you note?

For many years it was proper etiquette  for the recipient of a gift or service to send  a  written thank you to the giver. This was particularly true on special occasions. I can remember the importance of thank you notes at significant times in our lives. Those times that readily come  to mind would include our wedding, the births of our children and the deaths of  parents. By the same token it was meaningful for us to receive a thank you note when we have somehow reached out to another whether by a gift or some other means. I am still quite partial to the written (mailed) thank you since it is good business for the Postal Service. ( Always remember the Arthur Godfrey admonition.) Alas, along with many other”proper” forms of behavior, the thank note in almost any form is becoming somewhat rare.

But, something has occurred over the 3-4 weeks that has  created a strong desire to send a thank you note. My problem lies in knowing to whom and where it should be sent.

I have noticed that over this  period there has been a significant increase in gasoline  and heating oil prices. One local statin that I frequent has shown an increase from $3.09/gallon to $3.55/gallon, unless it went  higher today. That included one impressive pice hike of 10 cents per gallon in the space of one hour. The price of home heating oil, which we use, has gone from $3.47/gallon to $4.06 /gallon in even less time.

My problem is in determining where to send the note or notes. Do I send one to local gas station and my local heating oil provider, another to Exxon and BP( the respective brands) another to Gadhafi in Libya for all the turmoil he continues to cause  ( at great harm to his own people, I must say) and isn’t BP a British owned company? Where  would their note go? And least we will not need heating oil to next season, so I have time to work on that note.

Suggestions from anyone versed in the proper etiquette  will be welcomed. Wonder if Emily Post’s website has an answer?

March 13, 2011 Posted by | economy, Energy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gulf Coast Shenanigans

” Otherwise, how are things, was an oft used phrase by the  late, legendary Paul Harvey. Incidentally, he seems to be one of those folks that cannot  be adequately replaced. I often wonder  what his take would be on this or that major news event.

But today I am using the phrase as an intro to a BP update. No, quite unfortunately the oil spill  has not been contained, although a few small good things have occurred and more could have occurred with a bit more co-operation/communication?

BP CEO Tony Heyward, their point man in dealing with the crisis on site, appeared before  members  of Congress and  the  questioning was anything but friendly. He did not help himself either by some  of his comments which appeared at times to be a bit insensitive. Given the nature of the Congressional beast, hearings and questioning were inevitable. I’m just not certain what worthwhile purpose the hearings have at this point. Maybe a little extra face time on C-Span or the major networks. Or a few good headlines like senators grill BP  executive or something like that. Obama even weighed in again saying he wishes he could fire Heyward. Real productive move.

I would rather the president work more closely with Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal who really seems to be working hard on this thing as he should. But, yet one of his major efforts was actually stopped for a time the other  day by whom? Why, none other than the U S Coast Guard, from whence  came Admiral Thad Allen. Certainly the Admiral or his boss ( hint Barack H …..) had nothing to do with  stopping the oil removing barges from their task. As recently as Tuesday, they were hard at work. On Wednesday, they sat idle and remained so for over a day. Why? Jindal isn’t sure. He said that every time  he talked to  a Coast Guard representative, he got a different answer. And  Coast Guard spokesman, Lt Cmdr Dan  Lauer said they were all in this together since the real enemy was the oil. Chew on this, the Coast Guard had to confirm there were fire extinguishes and life vests on board  and then were having trouble reaching the people who built the barges. ( Not sure the relevance there, but what ever.) Jindal cannot overrule the Coast Guard although  he attempted to reach the White House with his concerns. Finally after what have seemed like an eternity to the Governor the barges were back at work.

Does this seem at all similar with  the feds refusal of international help for weeks before finally accepting the proffered Dutch assistance this week? Sure does to me. Do you see the spectre of politics at work anywhere? Just wondering. Han g in there Governor Jindal and keep the pressure on!

Just another week in the Gulf.

June 18, 2010 Posted by | Energy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

P T Barnum or George Orwell?

Perhaps I should do separate posts for each of these gentlemen but what the hey, I shall just combine them. For in considering aspects of the overriding issue of climate change, there is ample room for them both.

Just a wee bit of background to set the stage. Many of us have no doubt read Orwell’s seminal work, 1984, with all its disturbing aspects of  totalitarianism at full force. A world where the state’s control has reached its pinnacle. It was written way back in 1948, just 2 years before the death of its author, Eric Arthur Blair.

Next, we have the consummate huckster, Phineas T Barnum, who allegedly said,”There is  a sucker born every minute.”  In reality, the phrase was uttered by his competitor, Syracuse banker  David Hannum. But Barnum was the founding force behind one of   the world’s most famous circuses; Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus. Known for showcasing such diverse acts,as songstress Jenny Lind and height challenged Tom Thumb, he was also a prolific lecturer in his own right. One of the coolest sounding , ‘The Art of Money Getting.”

On that apropos note we connect the dots to climate change with two reports. One is from Great Britain, the other from the Netherlands. Second one goes first. our Dutch friends have plans to levy a  “green” road tax by the  year 2012. it would be charged by the kilometer and is aimed at reducing emissions as well as traffic congestion. Worthy objectives, of course. Check out  the following quote as to how it will be implemented, if passed by the Dutch parliament. ” Each vehicle will be equipped with a GPS device (paid for by?) that tracks how many kilometeres are driven and when and where.This data will then be sent to a collection agency that will send out the bill.” So said the Dutch transportation ministry. Ownership and sales taxes will be eliminated and be replaced by the new levy. It will begin at 7 cents per mile and increase to 16 cents per mile by 2018. One additional odd feature to me is that taxis will be exempt. Worthy goal that will allow the government and a 3rd party to know how much you drive, where and when and charge you for doing so. Sounds like that sound fall a bit on the Orwellian side to me.

Now for the British. Upfront, i will surmise that this is more Barnumesque. Here foes. Lord Smith of Finsbury is the head of  the Environment Agency. He is advocating that everyone in Great Britain be “given” a carbon allowance, by the government, I presume. people would be issued a unique number and would be required to provide that number when buying such things as fuel, airline tickets or electricity. Each month they would receive  a statement to follow their balance. if the account reached zero, they would have to pay for more credits(Barnum) and that wold go to the government, I presume. frugal carbon users could do the opposite, sell their unused and make money. His position is that only those with extravagant lifestyles would be impacted. Ruth Lee is an economist with Arbuthnot Banking Group. She calls the plan “Orwellian” and  maintains that it is all about control of the individual. Sure seems to have some control elements in it. Lord Smith plans to introduce his proposal at the Monday conference of the Environmental Agency.

November 15, 2009 Posted by | economy, Energy, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Al Gore – Mogul or Oracle?

We are all familiar with Mr Gore or algore as Rush likes to call him. He has won an Oscar and  an Emmy and apparently made lots  and lots of money in his climate change(aka global warming ) mission. Along the way, he has in some quarters reached a near oracle stage. His pronouncements are  legendary and accepted by pretty much everyone, particularly the members of Congress. He isn’t received there with awe but with something akin to it.

My question is whether you can be a mogul, a wealthy climate change entrepeneur and at the same  time be  dedicated to with near religious fervor to  your cause. Now, bear in mind that I don’t much care if Gore gets wealthy from climate change(wait, he already has) because he will not be the only one. As he said, he is just putting his money where his mouth has been, Electric cars(how and from where will we generate all the needed electricity) but not all of it.

Gore still speaks in somewhat apocalyptic terms regarding climate change. We are in the front car of the roller coaster and it is headed for  a crash. Then he praises the administration’s climate committment as well as that of China. They are planting trees like crazy and will soon lead the world in solar and wind power. A number of these statements came in an ABC  interview just recently. I didnt  see the clip so I can only imagine the impact which they must have had. Oh, he’ snot quite ready to become  a vegetarian as some climate changers would advocate.

I suppose my problem, such as it is, lies largely in the sacrifices which he urges on many, if not all. Save energy, economize, cut back, etc. They do not always gibe with his own lifestyle. My main issue always seems to come with te house. Mr Gore has  a mega sized home in Tennessee. More power to him(no pun intended) but imagine the electricity it has to use, no matter the source. So, he buys carbon offsets or something. What  exactly does that mean? From whom does one buy them, are they costly,etc.

Now, he has his books printed on recycled paper, donates proceeds to charity,etc All well and good. But  I shall the topic of  Mr Gore with two comments . In January, 2006, he predicted that we only had 10 years to save the earth and the second to paraphrase Dr Donald Mallard Of NCIS who made a similar statement regarding Gibbs. With Mr Gore and climate change, I always seem to have more questions than answers.

November 4, 2009 Posted by | economy, Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Eat Your Veggies (Only)

As a young sprout, I wasn’t  a big fan of vegetables, unless you count potatoes which you probably can’t. However, as one of the many unexpected benefits of marriage, Mrs THT showed me the error of my ways and I learned that there was more than one food group. I doubt that I get my minimum daily requirement of the green and yellow leafys, but I have significantly improved. ( Do coffee beans count as  a vegetable? Shucks!)

From what I have learned in recent days, I may be in real trouble  if I do not significantly increase my vegetable intake. According to an article in the UK  Telegraph by Murray Waldrop, we might all need to become vegetarian  to save our planet from the  ravages of global warming.

Waldrop quotes global warming expert Lord Stern of  Brentford who authored the Stern Report in 2006 on the cost of  tackling global warming. He believes that in the future eating meat could become a socially unacceptable as drinking and driving. He is of course not the first to address this issue. There have already been questions raised about the cost of raising livestock in terms of the resources expended. Also, methane from pigs and cattle is  a source of greenhouse gases.

Listen to Lord Stern.” Meat is  a wasteful use  of water and creates  a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better. I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that included eating.”

Lord Stern is a former World Bank economist and believes that the Climate Change Conference scheduled for December in Copenhagen should call for an increase in the price of meat and other foods that cause climate change. Presumably this would cause people to consume less of these products.

Shockingly, the British National Farmers Union did not agree with him.

Let us just say for  a moment that Lord Stern is spot on and he among others holds sway in this area. What about the untold millions whose livelihoods would be affected? What happens to them? Could one buy carbon offsets and continue to eat meat? Looking down the road, could socially unacceptable become , shall we say, not legal? Sounds really far-fetched, I know. I guess we shall wait for Copenhagen and see.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | economy, Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Gloom, Despair and Agony on me

  • Deep. dark depression, excessive misery
  • If it werent for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all
  • Gloom , despair and agony on me.”

Our old friends at Hee-Haw used these lines to introduce one of the regular skits on the long running country western show back in the  70’s and early 80’s. And now, lo and behold, those words once again can be employed . In  a sense, they already have by noted environmental Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat, Ca.

Her committee began hearings on a bill this week to cut global warming. She says that if the bill  does not pass, the results will be dire. For example, she used the words  droughts, floods, fires, loss of species, greater air pollution , damage to agriculture, etc. This may or may not be the case since we have a lot of  those things already and how does  one isolate the cause. But, to me, perhaps even more astounding than those things she said would happen  were those things that she said would not happen. There will  be no new taxes. Now, with all the things that will  likely change if the bill becomes law, how can one not expect new taxes? Oh wait. Almost forgot the good  things that passage of the bill would cause to transpire. Millions of new jobs, yep, millions , less pollution etc.

But those dastardly obstructionist  Republicans will play the distort and confuse game so she does have her work cut out for her.

One more small  comparison. Boxer says that will be incentives and investments and opportunities galore. Her Republican counterpart, Sen. James  Inhofe of Oklahoma says that the public will see that someone, them, will have to bear the costs  that companies will incur to reduce  global warming  emissions and they will reject that.

One other thing happened during  the hearings this week.  Boxer had an exchange with the CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Harry Alford.  He took issue with her quoting another black group  while he was  before her committee. One gathers that  Mr Alford is not sold on the millions of green jobs and comes out and calls the senator a racist. Imagine that, a liberal Democrat being called a racist. What is happening to this country?

It is bill #SD 406, watch it closely.

July 17, 2009 Posted by | Energy, Politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Honorables At Work



Several years ago, a  Will Rogers kind of guy wrote  an occasional editorial column for the Salisbury Post. Oftentimes, he would refer to the honorables, as in our state legislators. Were he around today, he would surely get  a kick out  of this.

Just yesterday, there was an article on Drudge about our state legislature, which is working ever so diligently to finish its session. I thought that was kinda cool, so I clicked on it and was  taken  to an article  in   the Greensboro  News- Record, one of my favorite newspapers. And such a great article it was,  if   one  likes   legislative   humor. The title was ” Clothesline bill hung out to dry.” Great job , staff writer Mark Binker. It gets better though. The bill has passed the House by 100-14. However the Senate  Commerce  Committee rejected the bill Rep Pricey Harrison, Greensboro Democrat.

But  there  was a bit of fun before the bill died. Her bill was aimed at a total ban by cities and counties  on clotheslines.  The discussion soon degenerated into talk of which legislator might hang their underwear on a clothesline . Even an appeal to the holy grail of energy savings proved futile at stemming the tide. The bill must now wait until 2011.

They had better be careful. If  algore gets word of this, there could be a serious problem. But for now, the solar powered clothes dryer will  just try to hang on.

July 16, 2009 Posted by | Energy, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wearing out the Yo-Yo

We are all somewhat familiar with the that  (largely) childhood toy known as the yo-yo.It is said to be the second oldest toy in history, second only to the doll. It dates back to ancient Greece, some 2,500 years. So, a new phenomenon, it is not. I guess you could say that its foundation is that what goes up must come down, gravity, anyone?

But how do we handle it  when something, say a commodity that we use every day, and cannot stockpile, turns into a yo-yo. Not at all what D F Duncan, Sr had in mind when he acquired U S rights to the yo-yo in 1929 and trademarked the name yo-yo.

Yes,, that ubiquitous commodity would be gasoline. Those of us with  a little age can remember a price of 29 cents per gallon and then just a  few years later, waiting in gas lines. Remember those odd-even purchase days, spending your lunch hour to get gas and even parking your car in a  gas line the night before to get a  prime spot? Yes, Mary Hopkin,” Those Were The Days”.

Now what. Last year, prices in our area peaked at around $4.00 per gallon and just when all hope was virtually gone, began a rather rapid decline that peaked in reverse at around $1.40 per gallon. Cue the y0-yo. Back up they went for a while and then seemed to stabilize. Au contrarie. The yo-yo is back. Within the last week or so, I have noticed prices go up to $1.89, down to $1.76 and back to $1.86. Dizzy, yet?

Wonder how we would cope with say, the price of milk or bread or heaven forbid, Mello Yello, fluctuating bin such an unfathomable way? No, don’t tell me it is tied to the price per barrel of west Texas crude (gasoline, that is ) since that continues downward. To paraphrase Casey Stengel when he managed the Mets in their infancy, does anybody understand this game?

Yo- Y0 Ma , anyone ?

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good Economic News?

When talk turns to economic news, very little,if any, is good these days. We hear about layoffs, plant closings,packages of stimuli and no telling what else. Well, I would like  to share a brief bit of economic good new, relatively speaking.Here in Elizabeth City,NC  our City Council just voted for a 4% increase  in our electricity rates.Why the City Council you ask and  why is this good news at all?

Easy and complicated at the same time. First, the easy part. Last September if my records are correct we were blessed with a 14% rate increase so all is relative, even though that is a total of 18% in less than a year. Now for the more complicated part. Why is the City Council involved? One word- ElectriCities, a word not necessarily well thought of around here. According to their website they are ” a not for profit government service organization representing cities, towns and universities that own electric distribution systems.”

As best as I can understand Elizabeth City has been involved in this organization for  a number of years. I guess it may seemed like a good idea at the time, but now, maybe not so much. The more  I see  and hear the more I long for the days of Duke Power and the Southern Company who were electric utilities period.

But, again referring to the above referenced website, one of the benefits we receive as ElectriCities members is that customers have a voice in the activites of their electric systems.Sure, they do, just keep on believing that.

Want another rate increase with that?

February 11, 2009 Posted by | Energy, Local Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips For Hard Times

Since we are in a recession we all should seek ways to better use our money, by spending wisely, conserving,etc. I thought it might be a public service to begin writing about this topic on at least semi-regular basis. There  are many ways to save money that come to mind. Some of course are easy to implement, others somewhat more difficult and still others just not very good at all.

In the course of these epistles I very well may make mention of something any one of the above categories. What  you do with them after I call them to your attention is strictly your responsibility. unlike a liberal, I don’t automatically think that I know what is better for you.

Ok, tip for today is shared with my wife’s permission. First, a word of explanation. I detest shopping, let me rephrase that, I really, really detest shopping in about any and all of its incarnations. As you might imagine, that dislike can create a situation in which one runs out of an almost necessity- there are very few real necessities, coffee being near the top of the list. So, my wife has called it to my attention that we need light bulbs since the light on her night table has burned out. I said,  so what, so has the porch light. After a couple of days, she finally insisted that I borrow a bulb from another light, which I already done once before. This gave rise to great tip#1.

You only need one light bulb in your house. When you leave a room, take the light bulb with you. No more leaving too many lights on, etc. Side benefits include saving $ on light bulbs and electricity, shining where ever you go and most of all, making algore happy.

You’re welcome. Implement at once please.

January 27, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Energy | , , | 2 Comments