28 April, 2012

Double Your Rate vs. Voting For Obama

A tweet yesterday caught my attention:


It got me to thinking. What would be the effect of doubling the typical college student’s loan rate, vs. voting for Obama?

The typical college loan is for about $25,000. The extra interest accrued over the course of the loan at 6.8% vs. 3.4% is $4,998. Obama has added $15,943.93 of new debt per citizen.

Or, since I hear I’m supposed to make pretty pictures, here it is (click for full size).


The left column is how much extra the student will pay for her loan at 6.8%. The right column is how much more the student owes because Barack Obama (D-USA) was elected President.

Of course, it’s actually much worse. Obama has no intention of ever paying off this debt, so the student is going to pay far far more than $16,000 over the course of her life.

P90X: Day One. Thank God There’s Only 89 More Days to Go

Just completed today’s workout. Day 1 is Chest and Back, and Ab Ripper X.

For Chest and Back, you do a mix of 6 different types of push ups, 3 different pull ups, and 3 exercises with weights. Then you do all twelve exercises again.

For most of the push ups, I’m good. I can do easily 2/3 of the reps the trainers are doing, and in some cases, I can even keep pace. I struggled a bit with the Diamond ones, particularly the second set. For the pull-ups? Well, I obviously need more work there. On the second set of one of the types, I was only able to do 2. But, that’s two more than I could’ve done even six months ago. And now I have a baseline to work against for future days.

For the weights, I’m all right. I used 20 pound weights and that seemed right for 2 of the exercises, but was very light for the third. I need to go to at least 30 on that one, and maybe even 40. I probably need to get a second set, because I don’t want to have to be adding & removing weights during the workout.

Ab Ripper X was a totally different story. This is fifteen minutes of brutal ab exercises. You’re supposed to do 25 reps (at least) of 12 different exercises. I did 25 of exactly 3 of them. On most of them, I struggled to do 10. Again, though, now I have a baseline. And I know where I need to improve and push myself a little harder next time.

Overall, Chest & Back was not too bad. Don’t get me wrong. It was a hard workout, and I’m definitely feeling it right now. But it didn’t make me want to collapse. For Ab Ripper X, there’s quite a bit of room for improvement.

Day 2 is Plyometrics. My friend tells me that one is brutal. Yippee. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Getting Ready for P90X

Once I had decided that I wanted to try P90X, I had to prove to myself that I was capable of doing it. A friend of mine has the package, so I borrowed disc 1 from him and attempted the first day’s workout. It was hard, but doable, so I figured I was ready to go.

I ordered it, and once it arrived and I unboxed it, I find out there’s a “Fit Test” you’re supposed to take before you start. Might have been nice to know that before I bought it. Maybe it says so on the website, but I missed it.

So, what’s the Fit Test?

Pull-ups: Do at least 3 if male, 1 if female. Ok, I did 4. I passed.

Vertical leap: Measure your vertical leap (there is guidance on how). At least 5” for male, 3” for female. 11”. I passed.

Push ups: 15 for male, 3 if female. I can do 100+ of these. Have done them several times as part of the Wii fit exercises. I wimped out for the Fit Test and quit after 40.

Sitting toe touch: Sit down with legs straight and stretch to your toes. Reach should be at least within 6” of your toes. Hmmm, yeah, we’ll call it 6”. (ok, I may have fibbed on this one a bit. I’m not the most limber person in the world)

Wall squat: Sit like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair with your back against the wall. Hold this for at least 60 seconds. You can slide down if you want, but once butt hits the floor, you’re done. I did 63 seconds. Probably could’ve done about 75, to be honest.

Bicep curls: 10 curls with 20 pound weights for male, 10 curls with 8 pounds if female. I did 12 at 20.

In an outs: This is an ab exercise. Do 25. I did 35.

Jumping jacks: 2 minutes, with last 30 seconds really pushing yourself. Was pooped after, but yes, I did it. You’re supposed to measure your heart rate for the next 4 minutes. I won’t tell you what my numbers were. Awful. And I wasn’t quite back to resting rate even after 4 minutes (it doesn’t list that as a requirement, but seems implied—only requirement is that you can do 2 minutes of jumping jacks).

Measure your body fat: Mine’s 12.26%.

The P90X package is a 90 day eXtreme workout divided into 3 segments. The two segments are 28 days each, and the third segment consumes the remainder. To do the P90X perfectly, you should follow their nutrition guidance as well. It has meal plans and recipes for you to follow, or just portion suggestions. Based upon your starting weight and typical physical activity, there are recommendations for your intake for each segment.

Being the math minded person that I am, even the portion suggestions wasn’t simple enough for me. I just wanted a calorie/gram breakdown for proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. I did the math, and for the first segment it works out for me to be about 230 g protein per day, 180 g carbs per day, and 40 g fat per day. This is a very high protein/low fat diet. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m diabetic, so while 180 g carbs might be low for some, that’s actually about 50% more carbs than I generally eat in a day. I was already on what I thought was high protein, and I was only doing about 120 g per day. And my fat is too high. So, I have to double protein, increase carbs, and yet cut fat. Going to be fun. Well, at least it’s only for the 1st 28 days. It looks like the second 28 days might be a bit easier for me.

If you want calorie breakdowns, it’s about 920 cals in protein, 720 cals in carbs, and 350 cals in fat. Per day. Roughly 2,000 calories total. I typically do about 1400-1500. I don’t see myself growing all the way up to 2,000 right away. We’ll have to see how it goes.

So, that’s the prep work. Find out if you can do the things above, and figure out how you’ll be able to manage a very high protein, very low fat diet.

Getting In Shape–Phase II

This is the first of likely three posts today on this subject. Why? Because I want to split them up, that’s why.

If you recall, I mentioned earlier that I’ve been working on getting in shape. At the time I had worked out for 87 straight days. That number is now up to 125. Also, at the time I was starting my second round with the EA Sports Active: More Workouts on my daughters’ Wii. I have completed that now, and it was on the highest intensity.

So, I’m ready for something new. Previously, I had said that I needed something like the Wii Exergames because they give me feedback on whether I’m doing things right or wrong, and that I needed to do the bulk of my exercises in the morning. I’ve now decided that since I’ve been doing this for four months that I’m disciplined enough to do it every day and correctly without the feedback. And that I don’t have to do it first thing in the morning any more just to make sure it gets done.

So, in the end, I decided to really push myself. Today is my first day doing P90X. I have to do them in the evenings because the workouts are longer than what I’ve been doing on the Wii, and I really don’t want to get up at 4:30 in the morning. 5 am has been bad enough (yay, I don’t have to do that anymore!).

My plan is for a short daily update about each day’s workout. On the weekends, I’ll likely do the workouts in the afternoons, but during the week it will be the evenings, so the updates might not occur until the next day, but I’ll get them out. You can follow my progress and see how I’m doing.

I’m now down about 70 pounds form my all time high and 22 pounds since Christmas. Not too shabby. Here are a few pics that should bring out a laugh or two.

Me, at nearly my all-time high:me fat












Me again. This one is about 3 years old:


And about a year old:


And, this one was taken about a month ago:

Picture 1

I have some more before shots for the P90X, but you’ll have to wait for another 90 days for them. I’ll give you both the before & after then. I’m sure those will also bring out more than a few laughs.

27 April, 2012

Do the Democrats Only Know One Word?

I’m beginning to think they do, and that one word is “tax”.

Proposals I have heard from Democrats (ok, liberals in some cases—I assume they’re Democrats, but maybe not) this week.

  1. The Buffett Rule – This is a variation of AMT, which already exists. It would apply a minimum tax rate of 30% on individuals with income exceeding a million dollars per year. It would raise about $6 billion per year. And it’s not even supposed to reduce the deficit. President Barack Obama (D-USA) has new spending ideas for that money. He wants to spend it on “clean energy”.
  2. Student loan rates – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says that we can pay for keeping student loan rates down by raising payroll taxes on small businesses.
  3. To fix the imminent collapse of Social Security, ThinkProgress proposes eliminating caps on payroll taxes.
  4. Obama wants to end tax breaks for big oil. Never mind that they already pay more in taxes than just about any other industry, and never mind that this will only increase the price of gas even further.

Of course, these are all in addition to the new taxes coming in 2013 that will hit almost every single American. I’m talking about the new taxes from ObamaCare and the end of the Bush tax cuts. If you’re middle class, the cost of this is going to be several thousand dollars for you, each year. I’ve figured mine and it’s about $8,000. That’s close to $700 per month. I don’t know about you, but there are not many places in my monthly budget where I can find $700. Probably means no new cars for me and my wife for a while, and more hand-me-downs for my younger daughter.

And don’t forget there’s the often discussed VAT tax.

Libs, I get it. You don’t believe in supply side economics. The Laffer curve makes you laugh. But, surely there’s some point where even you can say to yourself, “Wow, that’s a lot of new taxes. How are people and businesses going to be able to pay those?”

Republicans in Congress, this is why the Tea Party was formed. Remember, it stands for “Taxed Enough Already”. And this is why you can’t give in on any of the Democrat demands on taxes. Because it’s never enough. It will never be enough.

This list is insane. And in the end, it’s still going to destroy the economy, anyway. We have to stop asking ourselves “how do we pay for this?” and start asking ourselves “how can we spend less?”

24 April, 2012

What If the Unthinkable Happens?

A little different post from me today. Few numbers, just speculation about a possible result of having high government debt and ignoring our national resources.

I’ve pointed out endlessly the issues relating to the economic crisis in Europe. I’ve also mentioned the ongoing situation in the Middle East more than once. And I’ve discussed our own debt and who owns it constantly. The point I’m trying to make here is that there are high tension areas all over the world. And it’s not getting better. I haven’t even mentioned Korea, or Russia.

This kind of world wide tension is what led to both World Wars.

So, what if the unthinkable happens? What if there’s a protracted, conventional, World War? I won’t go completely unthinkable and discuss nuclear options. I’m just talking about conventional warfare with ships, planes, tanks and lots of young men (and women).

Can the United States win such a war? I don’t want to say that I’d bet against us. Americans have a long history of fighting hardest when our backs are against the wall. And we have an incredible military with the best trained soldiers and the best military minds in the world.

But the odds would definitely be stacked against us.

We certainly don’t seem to have the patience for a four year effort like WWI and WWII. Remember, after two weeks of the War in Iraq, the press was already using the word “quagmire”. It was such a huge issue in the 2004 Presidential race that the Democrats nominated an anti-war hero.

Conventional wars cost a lot of money. How will the United States finance the war effort? The countries that have been buying most of our debt are the countries we’re most likely to be at war with. We’d have to sell war bonds. But we’d still have to finance our existing debt. Which would mean more bonds. And we have a weakened economy. Who’s going to be able to buy the bonds?

What about natural resources? How are we going to power our ships and planes? The countries that have been selling us most of our oil are also the countries we’re most likely to be at war with. We’re not drilling enough here or refining enough here to do it on our own. And it would take money and time to get that infrastructure going again, particularly the refineries.

And it’s not just oil. Building refineries, ships, planes, weapons requires lots of steel. Steel production in the United States is barely a quarter of what it was in 1973. How long would it take to get steel production back up to the levels we’d need for a protracted war? And how much would that cost?

Could we win? I honestly don’t know.

Fortunately, there’s little to no chance of the unthinkable happening, right?


23 April, 2012

If I Wanted America To Fail…

I tweeted about this a couple times this weekend, and it’s been making the blogger rounds. If you haven’t watched this video, please do so. If you have, and think that it’s silly that yet another blogger is posting it, well too bad. I like to keep links to these things for later reference.

The Final Countdown In Europe

As you know, I’ve been pessimistic about the Eurozone for more than a year. I’ve been telling you for that long that a Greece collapse and default were inevitable (I was right). The only questions were whether the rest of the Euro leaders could come up with a default plan for Greece that would a) be acceptable to the creditors, and b) provide a soft enough landing for Greece that would avoid an overall Eurozone collapse.

Those questions still remain unanswered, but things do look a bit better than they did 6 months ago.

The second problem for the Eurozone has always been that Greece was only one part of the problem. I’ve used this chart before, but it demonstrates the problems very well. (Click for full-size)

I said this the last time I used this pic:

When Greece falls (yes, I said “when”, not “if”), the effects will be felt all over Europe. It’s hard to see how some of the teetering economies there will be able to survive. Spain in particular is very weak, perhaps the weakest card on the table. One of the many problems is that everyone has been financing everyone else’s debt, like paying off one credit card with another. Eventually that stops working and the debt comes due. That time is now for Europe and the United States.

Spain is still very weak. And Spain is going to follow Greece’s course. Some bad news out of Spain this weekend:

Why the bad headlines? Put bluntly, things are accelerating in the Eurozone now. If we’re still talking about an impending or probable Spanish collapse three months from now, it will be a minor miracle. We’re not months away, but weeks, possibly days.

From Zerohedge:

Spain is about to enter a full-scale Crisis.

A few facts about Spain:

•    Total Spanish banking loans are equal to 170% of Spanish GDP.

•    Troubled loans at Spanish Banks just hit an 18-year high.

•    Spanish Banks are drawing a record €316.3 billion from the ECB

      (up from €169.2 billion in February).


Spain is telling us point blank that disaster is looming.

With that in mind, I believe we have at most a month before Spain drags down the entire EU. The Spanish economy and banking system are too large to be bailed out. The IMF and ECB know this.

Moreover, worldwide banking exposure to Spain is well over €1 TRILLION. What impact do you think that might have on the EU which has an entire banking system that is leveraged at 26 to 1 (Lehman Brothers was leveraged at 30 to 1 when it collapsed)?

The Europeans have done a decent job so far of containing the Greek crisis. This one will not be able to be contained (and if you think that Greece had nothing at all to do with what’s happening in Spain, you’re fooling yourself). Spain’s economy is too big, and the rest of Europe has their own problems.

More European news from this weekend:

The first line is bad news because Germany has been the bright spot in the European economy of late. If it falters, there’s no one else to pick up the slack. The last is bad news because Sarkozy and Merkel have essentially been the power brokers behind staving off the Eurozone collapse. If Sarkozy is replaced by Hollande (and he will be…the odds look very long for Sarkozy right now), France and Germany will not be on the same page in this crisis. If they aren’t on the same page, it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

And if you think that the Eurozone can go into recession without having a significant negative impact on the American economy, it’s time to put down the hash pipe.

UPDATE: Just because Greece may have a soft landing, don’t think everything there is sunshine and rainbows (from ZeroHedge): It’s official & As I Foretold Years Ago, Greece Is Now In a True Depression. Also from ZeroHedge, there’s this today regarding the Eurozone: “I Do Not Believe, Any Longer, That The Catastrophe Can Be Avoided”.

Pleasant, huh?

22 April, 2012

2% of the World’s Oil Reserves, and 20% of the World’s Oil

You’ve heard this quote from the President by now.

“We have 2% of the world’s oil reserves. We use 20% of the world’s oil.”

The first problem is that he’s conflating two things that have nothing to do with each other. He might as well say we have 2% of the world’s apples, but we eat 20% of the world’s oranges. If he did, you’d say, “so?” Which is exactly what you should be saying about his quote now.

Look at it this way (h/t PJ Tatler):

Imagine that those 2% are 2% of global reserves of 100,000. That would be a volume of 2000.

Imagine that the yearly global production is 100. America’s consumption is 20%, so a volume of 20.

In this example, America could go on consuming a volume of 20 since it owns itself a volume of 2000. It could go on consuming 20% of the world oil reserves for another hundred years.

The proportions of the numbers he uses are pretty accurate. In fact, we can go on consuming 20% of the world’s oil reserves for about another hundred years.

But that’s not even the worst problem with his statement. The worst problem is that the 2% number is incredibly misleading (some might be inclined to say “You lie!”).

Here is the truth, straight from the Congressional Research Service. The United States is the most fossil fuel rich country in the entire world. Russia is second, and Saudi Arabia is a distant (!) third.

The CRS report uses BOE (Barrels of oil equivalent) as its unit of measure. This means they count coal and natural gas reserves as their equivalent in oil (more on that later). Here’s the conversion they use:

Coal 1 Short Ton = 3.45 BOE
Natural Gas 1 million cubic feet = 177.2 BOE


So, what does the CRS say about our BOE reserves?

It says we have about 1.3 trillion BOE’s. In 2010, the U.S. consumed 6.99 billion barrels of oil. At that rate, we could supply ourselves for 185.98 years.

But wait, Chris, you’re cheating. The President specifically said “oil”, and you threw in natural gas and coal. How much in just oil?

That’s a reasonable question. Sadly, I don’t have a reasonable answer. The “proven” oil reserves for the U.S. is around 20 billion barrels of oil, but that doesn’t include ANWR, oil in the Gulf, or shale. And the CRS report doesn’t break down their total estimates for fossil fuel reserves that way.

However, there’s this number which is quite interesting: 70,837,000,000. What’s that number? That’s the number of estimated barrels of oil available in North America, including only fields where there’s a 50% chance or better of retrieving at least that amount.

Now, here’s the other thing worth pointing out. And this is why the BOE number is significant. First, we use oil for a lot of things, not just gasoline. Most of these other items could easily be powered by coal or natural gas (or shale oil, which can’t easily be refined into gasoline, but can be used to produce diesel fuel and jet fuel, for example).

So, while the question of how much oil we consume per year is a good one, a better one is how much gasoline we consume per year.

So, what’s that number? In 2011, it was 134 billion gallons. A barrel of crude oil can be refined to produce about 19 gallons of gasoline, and 23 gallons of other products. So, our 7 billion barrels of oil produced 162 billion gallons of other petroleum products. The need for these products is increasing, and virtually all of this need can be supplied by our coal, natural gas, and shale oil.

In summary, the U.S. can easily supply all of its fossil fuel energy needs for the foreseeable future. All it takes is the decision by the President and Congress to do so.