I’ll take my sombrero sautéed

Amusing post

Yo traduzco comida

I’ve continued to work through another online glosarioGlosario de Alimentos, and found an amusing and enlightening entry. On the second page I was doing my usual process: 1) take each term (they are links to a text definition in this source) in Spanish, and, 2) get the Google Translate in a second column, then, 3) click on the link and get the definition (not the English translation of the word, an actual text definition in Spanish), put that under the Spanish term, and, 4) do Google Translate on the definition and clip that and align it with the Spanish. So this is the first part of what I got:

agaricus arvensis

Sombrero: de 8 a 20 cm de diámetro, blanco-amarillento, un poco ocre con la edad, globoso o convexo de joven, después extendido. Borde delgado, enrollado y depués redondeado. Cutícula separable, bastante gruesa y en ocasiones…

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Interesting post from site I just found

via I’ll take my <i>sombrero sautéed

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A helpful book

I’ve been out of blogging for a while but today just passed a milestone that will give me more opportunity to post. For over a year I’ve been involved in settling a complex estate and have been exposed to lots more “real-world” financial issues than ever before in my life. And this year I turned the magic age where I had to deal with RMD (Required Minimum Distributions) from my 401Ks and IRA. So I needed help I could trust.

Even though I have a MBA, from leading bizschool, with concentration in finance my study (decades ago) was mostly theoretical, not practical. So as an investor I have just the simplest investments. So now, with some new funds to invest, I needed some practical help to manage my assets for my retirement.

So I searched around a bit and found this very helpful book, The Investing Handbook for Almost Everyone.  It’s very readable and has tons of practical and useful advice that I can apply for myself. In setting up the RMDs I had to deal with multiple self-interested financial “advisers” (really just investment firms). Mostly their “advice” was to move all my funds to their management. I know enough to also know that their specific investment “recommendations” are also what probably generates the largest fees for them! So getting help, even through the impersonal connection of a book, but from an “objective” person who’d provide honest advice with no hidden agendas is very useful.

So I can recommend this book and it could help guide you through some of the complexity of investing in a manner that best fits your needs, not the need of someone who has other agendas.

 

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I’m still around

The story of lack of updates to this blog is complicated so I’ll explain it some other time.

So give this a try to see what I’m up to now: https://yotraduzcocomida.wordpress.com

Meanwhile I am spending a lot of my time on another blog, that just happens to be my interest now. Those of you who read any of my older posts know I like to do “virtual hikes”. So I’ve dedicated my latest one just to one location, the Camino de Santiago.

So here’s my new site. If you like travel and you like food, this one might be for you.

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Crybaby Donnie really is a two-year-old …

… and it’s very scary. Hey, Donnie, you won. The Electoral College will confirm it. You will be inaugurated. I wish it weren’t true but it is and we all, even you, need to deal with it.

But Donnie can’t leave it alone. As a consequence of the Jill Stein recount Dear Leader unleashed yet another unhinged tweet storm. What’s the matter, Donnie, do you think Jill is going to miraculously win the election? Are you afraid somehow the system is rigged (it is, it’s called the Electoral College) and will deny you the presidency? What scares you so much that you have to publicize one of your biggest whoppers yet?

Donnie claims, without any evidence, that millions of people voted illegally. Who? Where? How? If you had a shred of proof except ravings of conspiracy theorists why don’t you demand a recount! That could be awful, if it weren’t just another lie, and something should be done about it.

But this absurd claim (aka lie) is just to attempt to debunk the growing majority that Hillary got. So what, Donnie. Popular vote doesn’t elect presidents. Are you embarrassed that you didn’t get the majority, that the people don’t love you? A narcissist like The Donald needs to have adoration. A real president needs the legal process and gets inaugurated. Who cares what the popular vote is if you won? But with such a thin skin and monster ego Donnie does.

Now many others have commented on the insanity of Donnie’s rant, but an interesting question is why he does shit like this. Did Dumbya cry and moan about his 2000 win (and loss of popular vote) or did he just take the oath and move into the White House. Presidents get all sorts of criticism and as experienced politicians they shake it off and get on with the job. What sort of insecurity does this man-child have that it makes any difference at all? And the answer is, he is totally insecure. He knows he’s a fraud and he’s afraid someday we might figure that out. He knows he’ll be the worst president ever (his inept “transition” is already demonstrating and his selection of horrible people (what happened to “best people”?)). So he actually knows this. He knows this is all a con. He just doesn’t want us to figure that out. Sure the rigged media and illegal voters and lefties know he’s an incompetent fraud, but his dumbed-down uneducated haven’t figured it out yet.

So it’s not purely his fragile ego and infantile behavior. It’s a test. Here is a fact – Hillary won the popular vote. He thinks he can con the rigged media (who is still more worried about access and ad revenues than truth) and so this is just practice for bigger lies to come. Once he abolishes climate change research then he can claim polar ice is really increased, if you don’t count the science-y view of all the ice that melted. Jobs are coming back if you don’t count all the jobs lost to robots, which will continue. We’re safer if you don’t count all the attacks by supremacists on the innocent. We’re winning in Afghanistan once Donnie replaced his strategy over those know-nothing generals if you don’t count the Taliban just took Kabul.

IOW, up is down and white is black because Dear Leader says so and thus he is accountable only to himself and never reality. He lives in a bubble of alternate reality where he is loved and praised and admired and successful. America will be great again, in his head, and the truth on the ground is just rigged.

Now I’ve reached the point of view that Donnie is already tired of being president. It’s too much work, too many people to see, too many decisions (even when made impulsive without facts or analysis), and it’s too much scrutiny (even with the cowed rigged media). Donnie just wants to open more golf courses and hotels and casinos. The presidency is just part of his deal-making bag-of-tricks. Ivanka will tag along in every meeting collecting the bribes and expanding the empire. Count on, at some point, people who come to White House not just staying in Donnie’s (now illegal to own) hotel but wearing branded Trump merchandise. Donnie likes making money, the easy way (purely on promotion and no substance, like real entrepreneurs) and it’s an easy part-time job so he can spend the rest of his time getting back in dressing rooms with naked woman and grabbing you-know-what. The real work of being president is way too much trouble since Donnie only wanted the ego-boost of winning it. Which, of course, is why he has to deny the popular vote, a bit of stain on his win. Getting inaugurated is not enough, he must be adored as well.

Most of us grew out of this by about age two and Donnie is stuck in it.

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The second week of American disaster

Continuing my series of silent protests against the murder of America I was undecided about my title – continuing in the style of previous posts or more the thought on my mind: broken promises. During the campaign Dear Leader often was able to contradict himself between the beginning and end of a sentence in the word jumble that flowed like vomit out of his mouth. He was slightly more consistent in “policies” (hard to apply that word to him) but even those he frequently flip-flopped, even denying what he’d said that was recorded (I loved the SNL joke about the rigged press being rigged because it played videos of what Donnie himself had said).

So with no real policies (just pure ego and narcissism and revenge) it’s not surprising that Donnie would continue to contradict himself. He had even downgraded ‘wall’ to ‘fence’ earlier, which is amusing since he attacked others in Repug debates that absolutely he was talking about a wall not a fence. Of course no one, except his most stupid supporters, actually believed Mexico would pay for the fence (even if they got to build it). So the cry of “Build the Wall” is being forgotten almost as quickly as it arose. It is hardly even on the map of all the stuff Donnie wants to do, but especially Congress wants to do (it even slightly contradicts their Ayn Randian wet dreams anyway and probably not much graft they can extract from it).

And the “Lock Her Up” chants seem like they’ll go unanswered too as Donnie seems to have flip-flopped on that. After all Hillary has disappeared into the twilight and most likely Donnie has some business dealings with the Clintons anyway and he wanted this office primarily to enrich himself (courtesy of Bush Senior it appeared conflict-of-interest may not apply, very much, to presidents, so Ivanka can follow Donnie around taking the actual bribes), Strangely I find myself agreeing (a bit) with Ann Coulter (a shock to me) except that her context is entirely different. She actually complained that the president shouldn’t decide who is prosecuted or not, instead it should be left to relevant parts of the government to decide (where I disagree is naturally Ann thinks Sessions and Comfy will still go after Hillary). But what do rednecks in Ohio or Michigan really care whether Hillary is locked up in Club Feb they might have to pay for (not to mention the huge cost of investigation and trial).

In many ways Donnie scares me (and will screw his base) more by the fact he has little policy or actual interest in government and thus will leave the crazy Repugs in Congress to do the dirty work. So I found it interesting that in their rush of deciding which policy to repeal first they had zeroed in on Obama’s expansion of overtime regulations. Killing those (and later minimum wage) would be a real gift, mostly likely often to themselves. One claim of the rigged press was that 20 million Trumpkins would be impacted (so much for “winning”, at least when it comes to money in their pocket). But Donnie was saved by a judge (just as he reversed another promise and settled his TrumpU lawsuit which he said he’d never do). Instead of the president killing overtime a judge did it and it’s unlikely the Department of Justice (or Labor?) can refile the lawsuit before the Trump purge of those agencies begins. So bye-bye better wages you sucker. You didn’t get your wall or Hillary in jail, but money out of your pocket hurts you where it counts.

Now not for a second do I believe Donnie’s most recent notion he’ll reconsider climate change and/or torture. This is just window dressing. What he’s probably learned is that the Paris agreements don’t mean much anyway, so why bother creating a ruckus when you can just ignore them anyway. It’s probably just part of his PR campaign to get out of the broken promises to coal miners. Donnie couldn’t do anything about the decline of coal even if he wanted to (which he doesn’t) so it’s nice to have a scapegoat when coal jobs decline. But he (or Congress) will abolish safety regulations so more coal miners will die but with fewer jobs and less pay. As to torture Donnie didn’t so much renounce it as to simply recognize what the intelligence community has long known (and proven empirically) that it doesn’t work. To stop the torture the bad guy will say anything and we waste tons of resources chasing down lies (KSM was particularly good sending us off on wild goose chases). But one promise I don’t recall him making he will do and that is to vastly expand Gitmo and put all sorts of people there on even the most vague suspicion (that is, unless they spend their sheikhs money at his hotels). But these are both much too complex issues for Donnie’s base to understand and in the fact-free world they live in they’ll probably believe he did it anyway.

So now Donnie thinks he’ll be able to take credit for Apple making iPhones in U.S. (unlikely, but again truth doesn’t matter with him). Oh joy, Apple sets up its sweatshop somewhere in West Virginia or Kentucky and then those kids can commit suicide like many in China. Of course killing TPP just means China is now free to pursue economic coalitions in the Pacific that previously were going nowhere. Killing TPP does nothing for U.S. jobs (probably a net loss) and lets his nemesis China have a free hand in the Pacific. The small countries there need some partner in the bilateral competition between us and China, so if not us, then China is next best thing. All Trump wanted from his meeting with Japanese is to get introductions for Ivanka to go make some deals. Meanwhile since Donnie believes tech companies should freely assist in political spying, Facebook now has the justification to build their censorship mechanisms so they can enter the Chinese market. Funny, Donnie, how things are more complicated than you can imagine and how they are lots of other greedy entities in the world quickly figuring out how they can get more goodies by adapting to the changed reality.

One article listed 15 different flip-flops already in 14 days, but most of those are also off the radar of the Trumpkins. They’re still waiting for those factories to reopen and good pay to result, especially after kicking all the people of color back into slums or onto registries. In just two weeks Donnie has reversed much of what he claimed – imagine what he’ll do once he really is president.

So since lying and fake promises are integral to this two-year-old who is now going to be president what is he going to do? Well, that’s also emerging. He’s going to loot every power of the presidency to increase his own personal fortune. His purge of Chris Christie (and the so-as-possible pardon of his son-in-law’s father who Christie put in jail) shows he’ll continue to reward friends and punish enemies. Even Romney, once he learned proper genuflection and kissing of Dear Leader’s ring demonstrates how Donnie only holds grudges against those who haven’t mastered or won’t do ass-kissing. Clearly, as his gaudy and ugly homes and clubs demonstrate, Donnie is just an old-fashioned (and crass) potentate with full imperial notions. But his real crime will be encouraging and allowing Congress to do even more looting than Donnie could even do. They’re licking their chops. Under Dumbya the Repug Congress instantly dropped any fiscal austerity and hostility to budget deficits and just starting shoving their hands in the cookie jar and stuffing their mouths with the spoils. The only dilemma Congress has is which piece of graft they’ll do first – who to screw, who to steal from, how to enrich themselves most quickly. The ideologues (Randian wet dreamers) will have trouble keeping the rest of the greedy Repugs (and probably a few Dems who will sell out too) focused on anything except personal enrichment. Is killing Obamacare (and Medicare as well through “modernizing” (i.e. cutting), or even now with Social Security in their sights) going to line their pockets or cost them – that is the only restraint we’ll see. The social “safety net” mostly means transferring money from taxpayers to special interests (i.e. medical industry, the expanding eldercare infrastructure) and a lot of Repugs get their pockets lined from that.

I expect the one-a-day flip-flops to diminish but mostly it’s all just going to blend into the background. As much as people are saying we won’t “normalize” Donnie that is exactly what we’re doing. Even the New York Times gave in, rather than be locked out entirely, they surrendered any hint of freedom of the press. One by one the dominoes are falling into place and soon all this will be the new normal.  Melanie won’t even live in the White House (undoubtedly it’s too shabby and preservation societies will prevent coating everything with gold gilt) and soon Donnie will be bored and off buzzing around and doing openings in his rapidly expanding hotel, casino and golfing empire. We’ll have a part-time president and a full-time grifter living Congress to do the real thefts from the American people. And what will all the Trumpkins do, especially since they can’t read? What will Rush and Laura and O’Reilly tell them to do? (Depends on what share of the goodies they get). Soon Trump will be denounced as liberal and the red meat crowd really will be looking for Hitler since Hitler-light wasn’t good enough.

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Potential problem with wind power

I’m a big fan of wind turbines. As I’m often driving around in prime wind country doing geodashing I’ve seen many wind farms and have noticed their steady increase. I’ve also watched an anti-wind documentary (from leftie POV, not fossil fuel lovers’ POV) and I could understand how people near a turbine don’t like them, especially as only the landowner where the turbine is gets money (unlike oil and gas where it gets shared with property owner adjacent wells). And, of course, I now have a direct interest in that I’m inheriting a ranch in Oklahoma that has a wind turbine on it and soon will be getting checks from it. And many farmers and ranchers around here are realizing the revenue potential. Unlike oil wells (which I also have on my property) the wind turbines don’t seem to bother cattle, plus they have a small footprint and so don’t interfere with farming. OTOH, oil wells (like mine) can produce a toxic surrounding (bad for cattle and crops) and also frequently have accidents (a tank on my well caught fire once and almost burned everything; then the damage from the fire caused leaks that weren’t entirely caught by the gravel berm around the well).

Anyway what I learned on my recent trip, however, exposed me to a new issue. Most wind turbines are relatively new, but like any piece of machinery they will wear out. THEN what! Like much of the energy play there are a lot of middlemen involved in producing energy. Many of them are playing tax games and all of them use a lot of leverage (debt). So it’s not uncommon for one of the middleman somewhere in the power structure ends up going broke. And that’s what I’m facing.

For years I did my mother’s taxes and so have seen the 1099’s from wind company. And it seems every year it’s got some different name on it. I never paid much attention until now. Furthermore when the contract was signed my mother was competent and so I stayed out of it and thus have no clue about any of the terms and conditions. So, now I have to pay attention. The direct owner of my wind turbine is bankrupt (not due to economics, but due to bad management). Furthermore somehow they’re connected to some other company, mostly solar, who is also bankrupt (I think that company buys and distributes the electricity). So who’s responsible for the wind turbine? It was running when I was there last week – who was operating it and where was the power going? It’s a mystery.

My concern is with bankrupt operating company what happens if the wind turbine breaks (which it certainly can without some routine maintenance). But worse, eventually it will wear out! Then what? In case you’ve never seen one of these things they are huge. Around here, driving the freeways, I almost always seen parts of the tower (shipped in pieces) or the blades (shipped as one piece) clogging up interstates. Drive past one of these components and you really get the sense of their scale. Standing at the base of my wind turbine you really can’t entirely comprehend its size. But it’s a lot of material.

All over farm country you see the much smaller wind mills used to pump underground water for animals. Many of those are in disrepair. But they just gradually fall apart. The tower is mostly steel and it will just rust away. So while it takes quite a while for them to disintegrate eventually they’re just a pile of rubble and even that will just go away.

But what happens if a wind turbine begins to fall apart? If the company that owns it is broke who will pay to dismantle the thing. These things are way too large to just stand by and watch them collapse. Having one of those fall on you or your house or anywhere on your property is going to do some serious damage. The thing needs to be carefully dismantled.

So while tax gimmicks and junk bond financing is paying to build the things what is going to pay to dismantle them. And what happens to the debris, how is it transported and recycled or discarded. Already on my land the road the wind company built to bring in the construction equipment and now the maintenance equipment is slowly falling into disrepair. Another few decades and it will just be a double track, not suitable for heavy machinery. So the work to dismantle the thing is going to require much of the same construction activity (including the huge crane). And that’s not going to be cheap, so where will the money come from to do that.

Supposedly the answer is that the original builder had to put aside money to do this, in a bond. But, did they really allocate enough (or just some pittance to make some regulator happy). Is the bond itself secure (or the money from that got invested in some of Wall Street’s toxic securities that end up worthless)? And what about inflation? Tearing them down in 30-50 years is probably going to cost far more than it cost to build them. So is there really enough money in some safe reserve? I doubt it?

I do know, in Wyoming, that the same issue exists with the coal mines. Unlike West Virginia and Kentucky (even bigger problem since they remove an entire mountain top) the Wyoming coal mines are: a) surface mines where restoring the land isn’t too difficult, and, b) the mines are in the middle of nowhere with few people nearby. But any mine disrupts stable geology with the consequence of lots of water pollution, if the land isn’t properly recovered. So even in nowhere Wyoming an abandoned coal mine will destroy the water for the ranchers and their cattle. So, of course, coal companies were required to post a bond for reclamation. But then along came Dumbya, who decided it wasn’t necessary for the bond to be real and detached from the coal company – the bond is just a line item (liability) on their balance sheet. But now many of those companies have go into bankruptcy, so exactly what good is their “promise” to do the reclamation? Even if they wanted to, after bankruptcy, is there any money to do it? So now Wyoming is facing having to come up with the money and of course they don’t have it so then they want the (in their view) evil gubmint to provide the money. And of course the Federal government is also heavily in debt – even the Social Security Trust Fund is a myth, just a line on piece of paper based on good faith, with no actual money in a “lockbox”.

So too often we’re mortgaging the future and not really putting any real funds into some safe place to cover these obligations.

So, as now the landowner, I wonder if I could be out hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions to pay to dismantle that wind turbine of a bankrupt company with a bankrupt (or unfunded) bond. And in bankruptcy my claim will just be one of many where debtors get haircuts, so can the wind company only pay half, or a quarter, or pennies on the dollar?

Now on my land, fortunately the wind turbine is situated where if it just fell over, the debris would just end up on my land. But of course that’s just based on measurement of its size and the area of my land. If it crashes might some of the debris end up on adjoining land and those land owners suing me to clean up the mess, plus damages. Even on my land I have a tenant rancher with his cattle – if the wind turbine kills some of those, do I have a liability to him (it’s my land, my wind turbine, not his fault – seems reasonable he’d be able to blame me).

With nuclear power we rushed into that without thinking about the waste. Now we have nuclear reactors all over the country with ponds (that require maintenance and power, as we learned at Fukushima) filled with very dangerous fuel rods, that will stay dangerous for thousands of years. And we had no plan to do anything with that extremely dangerous waste (which is also a great source material for terrorist to build dirty bomb if there is no money to guard these ponds). So AFTER we built the things we learned some of the consequences and still have no plan to deal with it.

Wind and solar seem far more benign, but what really are their long-term hazards? And who pays the bill? I can only hope that wind turbine will last longer than I will live so I can, as everyone else does, kick the can down the road, and pass on the problem to some future generation. Boy, are our grandchildren and great-grandchildren going to have a bill to pay – we’re mortgaging their entire future with our greed today.

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