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Posts from — February 2009

Day 11 – Beginning Of The End

Yukon Quest Map

Sled Dog

The sprint to the end started this morning with Sebastian Schnuelle (20), Hugh Neff (23), and Jon Little (18) leaving Two Rivers at half-hour intervals.

You can get Race Updates here.

February 24, 2009   Comments Off on Day 11 – Beginning Of The End

Shrove Tuesday

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras

The last day before the beginning of Lent on the Gulf Coast that once belonged to France, it is Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday”: Laissez les bon temps rouler!

It was first celebrated [1703] in Mobile, Alabama, but the big show these days is in New Orleans, and it is a holiday in the state of Louisiana, because people wouldn’t show up for work anyway, so why fight it.

The tradition is to serve King cake [great recipe], which is a circle pastry with white frosting on top, sprinkled with sugar colored purple, gold, and green. If that weren’t bad enough, they now put the figurine of a baby in the dough [a dried bean is traditional], and whoever finds it in their piece is supposed to be lucky. Actually if you find it and don’t choke on it, I guess you are lucky. You should use a small ceramic figurine, as some of the cheap plastic versions melt in the oven [yummy].

February 24, 2009   8 Comments

Addicted To Love?

Today William Kleedehn (12) has dropped from first to fifth place. I assumed that he had major trouble with the mountain when four others showed up before him. I thought it was possible his prosthetic leg had given out scrambling up the hill. Nope. It was that slimy low-life Cupid who did him in.

Another surprise was Mike Ellis (4) Scratches in Circle City. He was running in the money at 11th place, basically teamed up with Norman Casavant (29) and no major threat behind them.

February 23, 2009   Comments Off on Addicted To Love?

Are You Ready?

funny pictures of cats with captions
Tomorrow is Mardi Gras!

February 23, 2009   9 Comments

No Rest in Victoria

The threat rises with the temperature: More fire threats issued, others downgraded

More Victorian communities have been issued with urgent fire threats, while others communities have had theirs downgraded.

An urgent threat has been issued for residents east of Carrajung Woodside Road, between Starling Road and Pogues Raod north of Yarram and north-west of Woodside.

The CFA says residents are under direct threat from this fire and need to activate their fire plans immediately.

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February 23, 2009   Comments Off on No Rest in Victoria

Day 10 – The Fangs

Yukon Quest Map

Sled DogThe current line-up: Hugh Neff (23), William Kleedehn (12), Jon Little (18), and Brent Sass (13) are beyond Central. Sebastian Schnuelle (20) and Martin Buser (8) are there. Michelle Phillips (26) and Dan Kaduce (14) are on their way.

Everyone is beyond Eagle.

Didier Moggia (27) returned to Dawson and scratched last night. Sensible move if things weren’t going well, because Dawson has a lot more resources than Eagle, which is only reachable by aircraft or sled during the winter.

While Hugh Neff is technically the leader, he messed up and used a road, instead of the trail, and was penalized two hours, tacked on to the mandatory 8-hour stop in Two Rivers.

Gerry Willomitzer has commentary on the “End Game” of the Quest.

You can get Race Updates here.

February 23, 2009   2 Comments

The Bad Bits

The 115 miles [185 km] of trail between Central and Two Rivers checkpoints is really a nasty piece of work:

Central 435 feet [133 meters]
Eagle Summit 3685 feet [1123 meters]
Mile 101 Steese Highway 2250 feet [686 meters]
Rosebud Summit 3640 feet [1109 meters]
Two Rivers 750 feet [229 meters]

Gerry Willomitzer, a veteran musher, expands on the problems that have been/could be encountered, especially for the current leader.

February 22, 2009   Comments Off on The Bad Bits

Increased Fire Threat In Australia

Australian Broadcasting reports on the new threat:

A number of communities east of Melbourne are being urged to consider evacuating before today’s extreme bushfire conditions.

Three major bushfires are continuing to burn across the state.

Authorities are concerned the extreme fire conditions will see them spread towards towns in the Yarra Valley, Warburton Valley and Enoch Point, north-east of Melbourne.

The problem is a lack of access, with few roads in the area. This situation is familiar to residents of San Diego county where there may be only one road to a rural town, and the Northern Gulf Coast where all of the major roads run East-West.

High temperatures, low humidity, and increasing winds – there is no way of telling what will develop, and if they wait too long they may get caught on the road with devastating results.

February 22, 2009   3 Comments

Day 9 – Heading South

Yukon Quest Map

Sled DogWilliam Kleedehn (12), Hugh Neff (23), Jon Little (18), and Sebastian Schnuelle (20) are beyond Circle. Brent Sass (13) is there. Michelle Phillips (26), Martin Buser (8), and Warren Palfrey (19) are on their way.

Hugh Neff is only 14 minutes behind William Kleedehn, but he has two fewer dogs on his team.

Among the lead teams only Jon Little, Brent Sass and Michelle Philips don’t have the Iditarod facing them after this race ends.

Newton Marshall, the Jamaican musher, is hanging in there at 15, the last money position, and he still has 11 dogs. This is a great rookie run.

The back of the race still hasn’t arrived at Eagle, but they should be there this afternoon.

You can get Race Updates here.

February 22, 2009   Comments Off on Day 9 – Heading South

Obvious Questions

On Saturday Susie caught a Wall Street Journal interview on nationalizing banks with Nouriel Roubini [AKA Dr. Doom]. In the article this point is made:

…I wish there had been more financial and business journalists, in the good years, who’d said, ‘Wait a moment, if this man, or this firm, is making a 100% return a year, how do they do it? Is it because they’re smarter than everybody else . . . or because they’re taking so much risk they’ll be bankrupt two years down the line?’

On Friday in my post I made the point:

Normally, stock holders lose, but they should have been demanding truth from management and not taken rosy scenarios accompanied by high dividends for granted. When a corporation starts doing a whole lot better than anyone else in their sector, they may have discovered the perfect business plan, but it is more probable that whatever they are doing is going to end badly.

Am I in Dr. Doom’s class? Not a chance, but the basic question stares out at you from these events and it goes back to a line from every fraud prevention talk you will ever hear: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t”.

February 22, 2009   Comments Off on Obvious Questions

Not Running For Governor

CBS carried the the story about the GOP governors of Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Idaho and Texas not wanting to soil their state budgets with “hand-outs” because of Federal strings attached. Well, except for Texas, these guys have a lot of experience with Federal hand-outs.

According to the Tax Foundation in 2005, the last year they have available, this is the return those states get for each dollar of Federal taxes collected: Mississippi 2.02, Alaska 1.84. Louisiana 1.78, South Carolina 1.35, Idaho 1.21, and Texas .94.

In the group, only Texas pays more in Federal taxes than it receives in return.

They really don’t like the unemployment insurance money, because that isn’t a grant, that’s a loan. The premium for unemployment insurance to businesses will have to be raised to cover the fund’s going broke. Republicans don’t believe in saving for the future, only in tax cuts.

Update: See Scorpio for more on the unemployment issue.

February 21, 2009   Comments Off on Not Running For Governor

Israeli Elections

2009 Israeli Election results

This BBC graphic shows the results, but as Ynet notes there is No clear winner – Kadima 28, Likud 27.

The CBC noted that a couple of days ago a “national unity” government was not going to happen: Israel headed for ‘extreme right-wing’ regime, Kadima’s Livni says.

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February 21, 2009   Comments Off on Israeli Elections

Day 8 – Bridgehead Established

Yukon Quest Map

Sled DogThese are the teams that have left Eagle: William Kleedehn (12), Hugh Neff (23), Jon Little (18), Sebastian Schnuelle (20), Brent Sass (13), Michelle Phillips (26), Martin Buser (8), and Warren Palfrey (19). The first three had a separation of three hours, then there was a six-hour break before Schnuelle and Sass left together. The final group left six hours later. It is down to strategy – how long to run and how long to rest.

From this point on any dogs dropped are as likely to be for strategic reasons as injury or illness, because the resting will probably be along the trail, and they have to carry the supplies for that with them.

Update: The last two mushers have left Dawson. There is also a mandatory two four hour wait at Eagle.

You can get Race Updates here.

February 21, 2009   Comments Off on Day 8 – Bridgehead Established

Nationalizing Banks

Apparently the current excuse for the stock market slump is “fear” of banks being nationalized.

We have been nationalizing banks for years. That is one of the main jobs of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation [FDIC]. They seize troubled banks, usually on a Friday, clean up the balance sheet, and sell them to another bank, so that when customers show up on Monday, they still have access to their money. Washington Mutual was nationalized fairly early in this mess.

Normally, stock holders lose, but they should have been demanding truth from management and not taken rosy scenarios accompanied by high dividends for granted. When a corporation starts doing a whole lot better than anyone else in their sector, they may have discovered the perfect business plan, but it is more probable that whatever they are doing is going to end badly. Any time you encounter a management team that is unwilling or unable to explain what they are doing, sell the stock.

BTW, you shouldn’t be taking investment advice from me or anyone else. If you don’t understand what is going on, don’t get involved.

February 20, 2009   2 Comments