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A Saturday compilation of useful, useless, and generally interesting stuff

  • Just going through the motions.
  • Even more moronic than we thought. (Tip o’ hat to Joel and Jim B.)
  • But they sure do seem to enjoy their jobs.
  • Man lets house go into foreclosure over $25 fee. Cutting off face to spite nose? Or method to his madness? Me, I think it’s clear he’s not doing it over the fee, but for the principle of the thing: because the bank did him wrong and now won’t even acknowledge him as a human being and a customer.
  • Companion piece: Just when you thought you understood mortgage securitization.
  • A few months ago, the great people at sent me a review copy of their DVD 10 Rules for Dealing with Police. Life took some turns and I didn’t get around to reviewing it. But it’s a good one. And here’s a good review of it, complete with all 10 rules.
  • Awwwwww.
  • Okay. I’m Irish-hyphen-American. I care about what’s happening over there — even aside from what Ireland’s voracious bankers and idiot politicians might do to the Euro or the European union. My ancestors fled a sad, sad nation with a long history of defeating itself when it’s not being thoroughly beaten up by somebody else. It was obviously too good to be true when poor, fey little Ireland became the “Celtic Tiger” in the 1980s and 90s. This Irish Times editorial poignantly says it all.
  • If you’re not up on your Irish history, this is what that editorial means by the “men of 1916.” Bunch of silly damn poetic fools (and unpopular ones, to boot) who tried to overthrow a government and got themselves executed for their heroic folly — and in dying accomplished what hundreds of years of (sometimes) better organized rebellions had failed to do.
  • Don’t worry. Here in the U.S. we won’t suffer food-price inflation as much as some parts of the world will. Because … um, there’s less actual food in our food.
  • We’re having our first really cold, dank, gray weather. Snow threatens. Suddenly I discover that, with baseboard electric heaters cranking hard, I can get my new-old house up to a grand, whopping, toasty 60 degrees. And the semi-functioning pellet stove devours fuel at an alarming rate, so that might not be much help in the long run. Research! Time to research! Found (among other things) this commonsense site for understanding electric power usage. Didn’t answer all my questions. But a good site nonetheless.


  1. bumperwack
    bumperwack November 20, 2010 11:30 am

    wow…just when I thought all psuedo “police” types had no choice but to .40 caliber euthanize dangerous chi-wow-wows… I’m impressed!

  2. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 20, 2010 11:51 am

    Just got rid of my old pellet stove (came with the house). The last time I ran it was two winters ago. The pellets alone cost me $400. that year. I also have some oil filled radiator type heaters for cold spots and the total electric bill ran about $100. a month during the winter.

    This year I have an airtight wood stove upstairs and the oil radiators in the office and kitchen, with one more in the bedroom downstairs. I seldom run the one downstairs except when I’m showering.

    It is most important to have this wood stove, obviously, for if there is no electricity! A big drawback to the pellet stove, aside from the cost, was the fact that it wouldn’t run at all without the electric blowers.

    My boys keep me supplied with wood from the beetle kill forests here, so that helps a lot.

    Oh, and the October electric bill (first cold month this year) is just $42. I’m really liking that part. 🙂

  3. Claire
    Claire November 20, 2010 12:27 pm

    MamaLiberty — $100? That’s not bad for Wyoming!

    Having used my pellet stove a few times, I can see why you got rid of yours. Mine needs a $200 repair on the igniter, but after lugging in all those 40-lb sacks of pellets, then watching how rapidly the stove consumes them after I get the thing manually lighted, I’m not sure I’ll bother with that fix. I’ll decide in the spring (when I plan to pull the stove out and tear out the hideous homemade hearth and surround that some long-ago owner created). I’d rather replace it with a propane stove than a wood stove. Hate lugging all that heavy, dirty stuff (been there, done that far too many times), and the wood available around here is too soft and fast-burning.

    After freezing my buns off with the heaters cranking full blast, and doing some research, I concluded that my house is simply waaaay under-heated. For electric heat, I should have roughly 14,000 watts worth of heaters. Instead I’ve got 5,000 watts (three baseboard heaters total in the whole house), and two rooms, including my office, have no heat source at all.

    Bought a 750/1,500-watt quartz portable heater yesterday for days in the office and evenings with DVDs. But I’ll need to figure out something better by next winter.

    My October electric bill was $45 which, given that this is an all-electric house and so much bigger than I’m used to, seemed damn good. About $13 of that is a flat fee everybody pays for meter reading + taxes, etc. But October wasn’t very cold and this isn’t Wyoming. Nice work on the $42.

  4. bumperwack
    bumperwack November 20, 2010 1:10 pm

    hmm…nother reason I prefer sunny sonora…

  5. Claire
    Claire November 20, 2010 1:19 pm

    Ahhh, but bumperwack … we northerners get you back when July and August come around. No need for air conditioning here …

    Still, long about now, Sonora sounds really good.

  6. bumperwack
    bumperwack November 20, 2010 4:02 pm

    but it’s a dry heat! (heh heh)

  7. Ellendra
    Ellendra November 20, 2010 7:40 pm

    At least a few TSAers aren’t enjoying their jobs: (and to be honest, the one at the link you posted looks more like he’s grimacing, but maybe that’s just me) I’m guessing in a better economy more of them would have quit in protest by now, we’ll see if the ever do.

    The author of the article on food price inflation has obviously never shopped at any of the grocery stores around here. Prices keep going up and both quantity and quality keep going down.

    I’ve heard of people using corn in their pellet stoves, but it sounds like a set of electric long johns might do more good in the short-term.

  8. Fred
    Fred November 21, 2010 6:27 am

    I have heated with wood for so long I have trouble imagining what it might be like to have a thermostat on the wall. I have always wondered about the cost effectiveness of burning wood in terms of cost per BTU. I question if it makes financial sense for those who have to buy their wood.

    Around here the price of firewood fluctuates with the price of energy in general. We have a woodlot of our own and the time and energy to cut and process our own firewood. If you are buying firewood are you getting it cheaply enough to compensate for the inconvenience of maintaining a wood fire? If you live where the only wood available is softwood, is the amount you have to burn worth the effort compared to the price of oil, gas or electric?

    The economics of pellet stoves seem even more questionable to me. You still have to buy a processed fuel. You have to store it carefully so it doesn’t go bad and you still have some of the inconvenience of having to maintain a wood fire. I think in the long run, money spent on an energy efficient home is the best investment you can make, energy wise, regardless of what fuel you burn.

  9. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 21, 2010 2:11 pm

    I love having the option to use the wood stove… or not.

    I have a modern log home which is very well insulated and tight. And I’m very, very grateful for that. 🙂

  10. Scott
    Scott November 22, 2010 10:33 am

    My grandparents heated with wood and coal,which, for them, was dirt cheap or free(other than your effort to go get it). Some long-time friends of mine had a vented kerosene heater(about the size of a larger window unit air condtioner)that kept a small,poorly insulated old farmhouse surprisingly warm on a gallon(or so) of kerosene a day-it had battery ignition,and the batteries lasted a long time.I’ve never really trusted kerosene heaters that vent the exhaust in the room with you,but this one got its combustion air from outside,and vented the exhaust out. Electric heat here in Kentucky is failry cheap(a little over 4 cents per kw/h)-those oil heaters work well for a room or two.
    One of the strangest heaters I’ve seen is an electrically heated pile of sand and bricks. The excess from a wind generator heated some old-school “cone” elements that heated the bricks and sand(which was in the basement). It worked,and cost very little to build.

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