Saturday, August 22, 2009 Who needs gas if you have old beer?

Shaquille O'Neal is an investor in this concept. You pay $10k for a "Micro-Fueler" which has a 250 gallon storage tank and makes ethanol. You will need an alcohol fuel producer's permit from the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to produce up to 10,000 gallons per year, but here's how it works.

You have the device on your personal property with a pump similar to that found at gas stations. It is most effective with wastes that are high in alcohol (like "liquid waste" from brewing companies), but can also take things like "lawn clippings, dairy products, old chemicals, cardboard, paper, bruised and discarded apples." They are all fermented and turned into fuel "in minutes." If you don't have enough waste to create enough fuel, the company will deliver some raw materials at the rate of $2.00 per gallon. GreenHouse International has contracts to convert 29,000 tons of brewing company waste using these MicroFuelers.

In addition to using it to make ethanol for your car, you can use the ethanol to run a generator that produces 23 kilowatt-hours of electricity per gallon of fuel.

One thing to keep in mind is that your miles-per-gallon rating with ethanol is not the same as with gasoline (it is less), but the carbon dioxide emissions is less with ethanol.

Not sure if it is worth all the hassle (application to the government, maintaining a delivery schedule, slight drop in mileage is difficult to compare actual price and price savings, etc.) but it is an interesting concept.

For more information, read the Los Angeles Times article by clicking here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

20 percent off at OfficeMax (including furniture)

Got one of those grocery bags in the Sunday paper (The Sun) advertising that everything you can fit inside will be 20 percent off. What caught my attention was that furniture is included.

So if anyone has been on the fence about getting some office-type furniture, check out their site and use the coupon code OMX20 when checking out.

Also remember that if you buy on line through this Upromise link, my kids will get 2 percent towards their 529 plans. So use that link and choose and then use OMX20 when checking out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fly unlimited for $599 on JetBlue from 9/8/09 to 10/8/09

But read the fine print. Here are key points:
  • Purchase by 8/21/09 (or while supplies last).
  • Book 3 days in advance (before 11:59 PM)
  • Pay $100 if you don't show or your "pass" will be suspended.
  • If you already have booked a flight during the travel period, you can "upgrade" by paying the difference.
  • Does not include Taxes and Fees to International destinations and Puerto Rico.
  • $30 for the second bag.
Click here for more details and also make sure you read the "Full terms and conditions"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nice summary of child car seat rules

Found this on NHTSA's website. I nice flyer that shows the age and weight threshholds for each car seat or booster seat.

Click here
for the PDF file.

Click here for their "Child Passenger Safety" site.

What do retirees do all day?

A U.S. News and World Report study breaks down the average day for 65 to 74 year-olds.

Click here to see how the day is broken up. Only 15 minutes per day for mail, email, and telephone calls and 21 minutes for casual computer use. About 46 minutes is spend reading (maybe on the internet?).

CDC Updates H1N1 recommendations for the upcoming school year

The CDC has updated their K-12 recommendations as follows if an outbreak is similar to earlier this year:
  • Stay home when sick (at least 24 hours without a fever off of fever-reducing medications)
  • Separate ill students and staff
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Routine cleaning (shouldn't they be doing this already?)
  • Early treatment of high-risk students and staff
  • Consideration of selective school dismissal
For an outbreak of increased severity, the following:
  • Active screening
  • High-risk students and staff members stay home
  • Students with ill household members stay home
  • Increase distance between people at school
  • Extend the period for ill persons to stay home (up to 7 days)
  • School dismissals
Click here for the detailed updated recommendations

Saturday, August 8, 2009

$19 a night at the Rancho Bernardo Inn?

Yup. For only $19 per night from August 16 to 31, 2009 they're running a special. Here's the catch.

The regular price starts at $219 per night for accommodations and breakfast for two. It drops as follows:
  • To $199 without the breakfast
  • To $179 without the honor bar
  • To $159 without A/C or heat
  • To $139 without pillows
  • To $109 without the sheets
  • To $89 without lights (bring your own flashlights)
  • To $59 without linens (Are these the towels? We already gave up the pillows and sheets above)
  • To $39 without toiletries (bring your own toilet paper)
  • To $19 without the bed (bring your sleeping bags)
It's called the "Survivor Package" and sounds like camping in the hotel room. At least they don't mention taking away the phone or the TV. Most people have wireless phones and you may not want to watch TV while you are there. Maybe you can use the difference to pay for a spa or golf package.

Click here to go to their home page.
Click here to view their specials (scroll to bottom).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Classic Debt Restructure: This time by Donald Trump

I know Donald Trump is controversial, but he's doing what a lot of people are doing in this downturn. Effectively buying their debt at a discount and reorganizing.

Long ago (college days), I read about this company whose debt was being hammered to around 20 cents on the dollar (can't remember the exact value). This story also happened to be in Forbes magazine. All the ratings agencies and pundits were saying how it was going to go bankrupt. The administrative leadership ended up finding a financial backer and they ended up buying a significant portion of the debt in the open market. By the time the current bondholders realized this, it was too late. In the end, the company effectively reorganized their debt at a discount.

Now Donald Trump, his daughter and a bank have done the same thing with the Trump Entertainment Resorts which operates casinos in Atlantic City. The company has been in bankruptcy for the third time and Donald et al placed the winning bid of $100 million to buy it and take it out of bankruptcy.

It is listed as having $2.06 billion in assets and $1.74 billion in liabilities. Equity equals about $320 million. The deal in the end will shrink the $486 million. They ended up converting their debt for $0.279 on the dollar.

That'll make things easier on the cash flow.

Read more about the story by clicking here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gary Strobel: The "Indiana Jones" of Fungus

Gary Strobel from Montana State University was featured in a Forbes article. They don't have it on their website.

He has found a fungus that can create Biodiesel in small amounts. There is still work to be done to see if there are ways to increase the volume of production, but if efficient, it would be another method of creating fuel.

Click here for his profile at Montana State University and links to some NPR features on "myco-diesel".

Leverage is a double-edge blade: Another story on Risk and Reward

This one is from Forbes Magazine. Still getting it for free. This story is about Louis Reijtenbagh, a Dutch cardiologist and investor who (sounds like) borrowed against everything. Sometimes he borrowed twice, using the same collateral.

Leverage (borrowing) is great when things are going great and it is properly used (on investments vs. lifestyle costs), but it also hurts when things go against you. Beware how you use this tool....

I love the paraphrase by Warren Buffet: "when the tide goes out you get to see who is not adequately covered by collateral..."

Click here for the article.