30 June 2009

Iraqi Oil and China

Today the NY Times publishes an article about how China is aggressively bidding on Iraqi oil reserves.

I have always intuitively believed the Iraq Was was about oil. Yes, it's been about Saddam Hussein, Al Quaeda, and WMD's too, but economics always play a role in the weave in the fabric of international policy and international relations.

Let's face it Iraq has a lot of untapped and inefficiently produced, refined, and distributed oil underneath it. Since the United States imports 40% of it's oil from Nigeria why the big US push? My answer has been to secure sources for oil on behalf of its largest international lender: China. America has secured the largest proven reserves of oil in the world on behalf of it largest lending partner.

No none of it's a big conspiracy. I do think that it is more than coincidence that America biggest lender is aggressively bidding for drilling rights to oil that America has secured with it's blood and treasure.

Well maybe that is America's blood and China's treasure. So then the securing, drilling, and distribution of Iraqi oil is a national American and Chinese joint venture. Makes natural business sense to me. 

29 June 2009

Facebook

I've taken my FB page down, for now. It's like looking in the mirror; it's boring. And it's a conceit to "use" it a marketing tool. And, yes, as a marketing tool it's effective, it's a diary, and it's a small one. But only if a person chooses to read it. For anyone else, except the IRS and the NSA, who cares?

If Melville or London used FB it would've turned out to be fascinating. In the end maybe Melville and London scholars, devotees, and students called upon to write term papers about Moby Dick and White Fang might care. And not that those intellectual endeavors wouldn't make for illuminating insight and reading.

And besides FB claims it "owns" my pix once I've uploaded them. Mmmmm, I don't think so Facebook. Mmmmm, does that means it "owns" my ideas and thoughts I've posted too? Mmmmm, I don't think so Facebook. I'm not that insightful and my writing isn't that profound.

See ya!

13 June 2009

Mow Low ~ Mow High

To mow too low is to stress the grass. Many lawn problems are the result of a low mow. Grass shorn too close to soil is more likely to succumb to poor rainfall, or drought, foot traffic, inadequate sun, or insects. Grass shorn too high from soil leads customers to believe a provider is working to increase income. Ideally a mow should shear 1/3 of the grass leaf.

12 June 2009

Showery Days

Grass is a plant; it has roots. Lawns need about 1" of rain, or watering, a week. Deep water penetration helps roots grow down. Shallow water penetration helps roots grow sideways. Soil composition makes the water amount vary and shapes what direction roots will grow. If soil has a lot of clay water tends to run off. If soil is sandy water tends to soak in. Grass roots seek water and will grow down into a soil that is cared for. Grass that is uncared for tend to grow horizontally in a soil that is hard, clogged, and untended.

08 June 2009

1Man/1Mower at 8 Weeks

I decided to venture into 1Man / 1Mower because
  • I can work outdoors
  • I like to mow
  • I like to use and learn about the machinery and its vocabulary
  • Health is an asset I can rely upon now and lawn care helps me sustain physical activity
  • I felt I could grow into the work and study of it over the next 10 to 15 years.
The 8 week results are in and it's a start, we all have to start somewhere, but there's lots of room for improvements.

Customers:
  • 10 customers
  • 3 active sustaining customers, bread and butter investors, repeaters
  • 4 or 5  churners, folks who said yes, or maybe so, and ultimately after one mow or no mow, a no thank you
  • 1 charity mow
  • 1 whom I declined ~ fee vs. costs for job
  • 0 deadbeats
  • an abundance of well wishers
Assets:
  • Reliability
  • Provide Value for customer's expense
  • Added Value I bring to "lawn care"
  • I own a run-down 26 year old Ford F-150 truck that runs good enough
  • I keep equipment expenses low
  • Revenue; it's low, a trickle, but it's more than I had 12 months ago!
Surprises:
  • Customers grip pricing regardless of providers' costs
  • Pricing: it's not correlated to yard size or terrain
  • Pricing: it's somewhat correlated to geographic/neighborhood location
  • 90% of competitors have a $15,000 lawn care equipment investment, w/o the truck!
Challenges:
  • Coping with equipment breakdowns and repair costs.
  • Finding customers and/or getting an introduction for a "foot in the door" for a tryout.
  • Developing sustaining customers.
  • Nurturing a customer/provider relationship.

07 June 2009

Wind Blows Where It Chooses, And You Hear the Sound of It

When I was thirteen my birth family's house was next to a bird sanctuary. In winter storm the wind blew. I could hear it because it blew through the sanctuary. At times the experience was a memorable winter sound & sight, trees and wind melding into a bluster whooshy sway. This I recall from wind deep in the night.

The winter nights were often punctuated by my father's drunkenness. He'd sit and drink in the living room into the night. In some nights my mother would hide. I'd hide too. If I was seen he'd call me to sit with him to keep him company. On such a night a storm was blowing.

"Listen to the wind." he'd say.

I'd learned to sit and be quiet, to offer anything was dangerous.

Do you hear it? Listen, listen to the wind.

He'd sit, sip, swizzle ice in his glass in his hand rolling it with his wrist, listen, maybe for a response, sit in the whooshy sway of the wind's noise outdoors.

Listen to it!

I had not clue what he heard in the wind. I'd have to say something, if only out of my fear for risking saying nothing. To say nothing was dangerous too.

Ironically I liked the winds' sound; I still do. I like wind. I love to sail, especially in wind. I feel alive in wind, leaves, trees, out in nature, on the water. If I lived in Oklahoma I'd probably like the wind across the plain.

Decades later when I was reading the parable of Nicodemus in John 3: 1 - 17 I was struck. I sensed I was experiencing God again, unlike Nicodemus trapped in his everydayness. I felt my father, in his drunkenness, had pointed me to experience the Divine (though he nor I knew it then) as those in the past have experienced the Divine recorded in the Testaments. I felt as if something redemptive had come out of something terrifying. In what had been a frightening trap for me, had in time and Godly reflection, come to be a revelation.

Such an irony.

06 June 2009

In Praise of Praise

. . . there are few things in middle age as wonderful as having streets lined with people who cheer you just for running by.

I used to be a runner. If I ran a marathon I'd want some cheering. I'd need some cheering. I cannot imagine doing anything and not receiving some sort of recognition, thanks, or remuneration in return. It's only natural to want some praise.


02 June 2009

Muses

"I love your blog, it's a little wordy, but it's how I keep up with you!" Tara enthused. Me? I can't believe I've more than 2 readers, in a good month maybe 3. My blog breaks every design suggestion for increasing readership. Question does my blog count my logging on as a visit? If so I alone maintain the 80 / 20 principle. 80% of visits are from me. I can only shake my head.

Here are 7 citations; each could serve as a muse.

Ordinary people and cyclists persevere next to each other under extraordinary conditions. Cyclists are the only athletes who permit their fans right next to them while competing. This happens in no other professional sport.

The only people you are talking too is your self. No one else really cares except your beloveds.

"Sing, Brain, Sing"
I like to sing. I'm blessed.

The university liberal arts educational system is a con. Nobody cares about BA's BS's or MS's, MBA's because the markets are flooded with us. GM is in backruptcy and the educational system is round the corner.

Well, no I didn't, but I did push him around a few times and came pretty damm close to hitting him. He backed down. I wouldn't have.

Just what are the gifts and stories we are blessed with? Do we exchange them? I'm not talking Christmas gifts here.

My father terrified me with the threat to send me to "technical school" because I used to get 98's in industrial arts and 68's in grammar. He sent me to summer school to remediate my grammar and I had to practice handwriting too. Yes handwriting.

Any one of these articles might serve as my muse. Usually its a phrase or a sentence or a circumstance that moves me to write. There's a message in what I read but unless I explain it there's has no chance of anyone hearing it.