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Weekend Video: Cow Plops anyone?

There is Gold in them thar Cow Plops!!!

At least that is what this National Film Board short seems to suggest, where an inventor has come up with a good way to extract methane from cow poo, which is usable with cars and such.

The description of the short does it justice:

This short film presents Mr. Bate, an inventor who discovers a substitute for gasoline in barnyard manure. Even though he fits the classic mould of single-minded know-how and practical dreamer, his discovery is tried and tested. He demonstrates how his home-made digester does turn manure into potent methane gas that powers his auto. And for good measure, he demonstrates his latest sustainable invention – a bicycle powered by the bumps on the road.

Now that is what I call a really GREEN solution to a problem, given we need cows anyhow, why not use their DUNG for fun?

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Indications are Good and some Random Thoughts

Indications are Good“, isn’t that what the Magic 8 Ball used to answer?

It seems Stats Canada also thinks that is the case with their Leading Indicators index showing positive for the first time in a year. The Leading Indicators index is made up of many portions of the economy, including manufacturing, housing starts and the stock market.

The Stock Market (up 5.7%) and Housing Market (up 4.5%) seem to be the major driving forces that caused this positive jump, so does this mean the Financial Apocalypse is over? Seems to be what every “expert” is saying, but I remain skeptical for now. To quote the Magic 8 Ball, “Concentrate and ask again“.

Leading Indicators for the past while
Leading Indicators for the past while

Random Thoughts

The Financial Bloggers had their say this week as well about the current world of finances:

Have a great weekend all!

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Deflation again! CPI Down for July 2009 (sort of)

These are the numbers from July 2009, as the recovery slowly started from the complete plotz of 2008.

Stats Canada came out with another interesting set of CPI numbers showing (in a way) that our deflationary spiral is accelerating (if you consider a 0.3% drop the previous month and the alleged 0.9% drop in June as a significant acceleration). Soon I’ll be able to buy bread for 2 cents a loaf? No, not at all likely, the reason we have a “drop” in the CPI this month is Energy Products mostly (a 23.4% decline year over year in that sector), and remember those prices moderated late last year, so that drag on the CPI will disappear as a factor in a few months too.

The CPI excluding energy (not seasonally adjusted) is actually up 1.8% (which is still below the Bank of Canada’s goals for inflation), however Food as a component is roaring ahead with a 5.0% (year over year) price increase (wish my investments had that kind of growth).

CPI For Past Little While
CPI For Past Little While

Gas prices

This graph shows how gas prices are lower right now, but look at the 2008 graph and how prices started to “moderate” in August and then dropped like a stone for the rest of the year. That damping force will be gone soon from the CPI numbers (so my bet is inflation is going to start moving up the charts again).

Gas Prices Last Year to This
Gas Prices Last Year to This

Housing costs have dropped as well with the price of Natural Gas dropping  and the price of houses moderating as well (Shelter portion of the index dropped by 2.0%).

Price of Sin increases

The Sin portion of the Index (OK Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Products) is up a healthy 3.1% year over year as well, which means we can’t even drown our sorrows without paying more (for shame!).

The BIG Table

Have a look at the non-adjusted table values, always an interesting read.

 Relative importance2July 2008July 2009June 2008 to June 2009July 2008 to July 2009
 Unadjusted
    % change
All-items100.003115.8114.7-0.3-0.9
Food17.04116.5122.35.55.0
Shelter26.62123.3120.8-0.8-2.0
Household operations and furnishings11.10104.4107.12.92.6
Clothing and footwear5.3693.391.3-1.3-2.1
Transportation19.88125.7114.3-7.7-9.1
Health and personal care4.73108.5112.53.83.7
Recreation, education and reading12.20103.2104.30.91.1
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products3.07127.6131.53.13.1
All-items (1992=100) 137.8136.5-0.2-0.9
Special aggregates     
Goods48.78112.1107.7-2.7-3.9
Services51.22119.4121.62.01.8
All-items excluding food and energy73.57110.4111.51.31.0
Energy9.38169.1129.6-19.0-23.4
Core CPI482.71111.7113.71.91.8

Inflation in 2009

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Learning to Live Without a Cell Phone (sort of)

A bold attempt at change, that failed miserably. We are now slaves to our smartphones.Written in 2009 before things got really crazy.

I have found that in my life that I do not change unless the situation I am in, causes drastic change (i.e. I cannot do things in small measures, it must be a big thing). I need a good reason to change, and that reason can’t be rationalized easily, that is how I usually succeed.

Question: Could you live without a cell phone? Do you use your cell phone at your work? Do you text at work? Do you text or use your cell phone at work, when you should be working? Do you text message in meetings, or on teleconferences? Do you text while driving? If any of these questions made you think that you might be addicted to your cell phone, then good (let’s not get into the entire Crackberry generation, talk about enabling ADHD).

Currently my wife and I pay upwards of $90 a month for two cell phones, which is a ridiculous sum of money for how much we use this service. This and a few other factors are pushing me towards cutting down my cell phone usage, if not completely cutting it out (we’ll see if I can go all the way, and lose the addiction).

Our Cell Phone usage consists of:

  • Text messaging each other and our kids (55% of time)
  • Calling each other and home (35%)
  • Calling others and emergency calls and such (less than 10%)

We will be cancelling our contract when it expires in a month or so and moving over to a pay per use model and see how that works (luckily we can keep our phone numbers).  I suspect that there will be moments where I might regret this decision, however, I will remember this is for a larger good.

Epilogue

This was written many years ago, and we now all have smart phones and pay ridiculous fees to our service providers. The question these days is whether to keep a “land line” phone or simply use your cell phone all the time. We have kept our land-line for now, as I still don’t trust cell phone services.

You can make your land-line phones much cheaper by using a VoIP phone provider, and that may be where I head next.

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Dude! It’s Back to School Time!

Written many years ago (2009) when I had 2 kids in High School and 1 in University. The shear volume of money spent and trips to get ready for school was withering.

School (aka Skule) starts soon and thus it means back to school sales are in full swing (in fact they are almost over, I can find a lot of Halloween Candy right now, but we can talk about that later).

Back to school is a huge drain on most families funds (any family with kids from age 5 to 21, at least), and the things that “need” to be bought keeps expanding and adding up.

What kind of expenses, you ask?

  • Paper,pens, pencils,  OK we needed paper when I was a kid, so that isn’t too bad.
  • Student Fee $20
  • Yearbook $35
  • Lab fees for science courses
  • Athletic fees
  • Gym fees
  • New clothes ($100-$300 per child)
  • New athletic shoes
  • Binders, yes, we used those too.
  • Ink for your computer’s printer, OK now we are in a new world. ($50 for sure)
  • A new printer, because last year’s printers jets are clogged. ($50 at least)
  • Bus passes, yes, I have to pay for my kids busing to school (that’s about $130 a month)
  • A new computer because the kids’ computer is really crappy (OK that is optional but if your child is going off to University you are going to be paying this for sure). Maybe they need a home computer and a laptop as well?
  • Furniture if your child is moving into a house at University (that is not furnished)
  • Cost of dropping your child off at school (that ain’t cheap if you have a run of over 500 kms)
  • Meal plan costs, lunch costs, etc.,
  • Book costs for University students
  • Cell phone costs

You get the picture, this explains why September is actually the biggest spending month of my fiscal year.

More rants will follow about this subject, but please feel free to add more expenses I may have missed as comments too!

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