Friday, December 26, 2008

Why Are All The Good Scams Taken?

As part of my daily entertainment, I faithfully peruse the online edition of the San Francisco Comical... err Chronicle in hopes of finding some absurdity that makes me glad I'm no longer in California. And almost without fail something will pop up with the ease of oh say breathing. Usually this will involve the latest foibles of the envirowacko movement. The wide eyed members of this group being led by cynical manipulators who exploit them for publicity and above all, money.

But are these manipulators dangerous con artists or simply brilliant business people? I think a combination is more accurate. In this case, just pepper your speech with the latest buzz words, "climate change", "green", (I'm really starting to hate that color), and "carbon footprint", and the envirosheeple will not only bleat along with you, but will be more than willing to part with their hard earned cash to keep you in the lifestyle they claim to disdain.

Anyway, the latest is a plan by a company in San Francisco to set up kiosks in the SF Airport that first allows you to calculate the dollar amount of the carbon dioxide that will be emitted during your upcoming flight. You can then use a credit card to purchase a carbon offset that this company in theory uses to invest in various projects such as renewable energy ventures, (which means that oil well I was digging in back yard may as well be converted into a swimming pool), and methane capture, (though how you fit a catalytic converter to a cow is beyond me). And of course every cent earned by these kiosks will be used for noble causes like this, except for those earnings that will mysteriously vanish into Cayman Islands banks.

If all of this isn't an obvious scam then nothing is. So why is the San Francisco Airport going along? With air travel down they need to get revenue by any means, and the folks running these kiosks are of course going to give the airport a piece of the action in leasing costs.

My only real problem with all this is that I didn't think of it. And somehow trying to set up a franchise at the Houston Airport doesn't seem like the best idea. Texans have more common sense than that.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Still Among The Living

After almost two months in Texas, I think I've settled down and adjusted pretty well for the most part. As expected, my consulting business has been slow getting off the ground. I have some good contacts from my previous job and from those some leads that are promising. But this being the holiday season people are going to have other priorities than water quality data management. I'll get serious about drumming up business after New Years.

Speaking of which, a slight digression to software. As a reward for using Earthlink, (sometimes referred to as Missing Link or Weakest Link, though overall as an ISP I can't complain), I was able to get Net Objects Fusion 8 for a pittance. It may be a version behind the newest and shiniest, but for features and ease of use it's light years ahead of any HTML generator I've used in the past.

Ok, back to miscellaneous ramblings. My wife is really into Christmas, and she's getting me more into the spirit this year. I imagine finally having my own home again, and a very nice one, plus living in a warm and cosy atmosphere does purge one of Grinch like qualities. We put some lights up outside, and at the risk of mass feline induced destruction, decorated inside.

For her present this year, I got her a complement to the house she got for Valentine's Day. My budget for the rest of my life is shot anyway because of that, so I did the logical thing and got her a better car. Her Ford Focus was becoming like an ice sculpture, nice to look at but fragile. We did some checking, and went to Carmax, (where ironically she had bought the Focus), and found a 2002 Toyota RAV4. It's a handy size with room for her saddle and other horse riding gear, decent on gas, rides and handles well, and best of all, isn't likely to have annoying and expensive mechanical issues for some time. At least that's the plan. My hope is it won't have anything go wrong for at least the five year loan.

As for me, I've put a little over 300 miles on my still trusty Corolla since getting here, so that isn't exactly wracking up the miles. And that's 300 miles of local driving. This is Texas after all, and even in this small town things are a little spread out. I still need to get the registration changed over, though I rather enjoy the perplexed looks of locals seeing my California license plates and then the Texas State Troopers stickers for supporting their charities.