Archive for June, 2010

Electricity & water: the hazards of bad timing

June 13, 2010 11 comments

 Trophy Wife recently installed an electrically-powered waterfall and stream on the Humbert Estate.

The birds love it. (“Chirp, Chirp.”)

The deer love it. (“Slurp, Slurp.”)

Trophy Wife loves it. (“Ahhhh….”)

Alas, when the electric bill came, Rocky didn’t share in the euphoria.  Instead, he decided to install a timer.  A  project that begs the question, “How many trips to Home Depot does it take to screw-in a lightbulb?”

On Thursday, Rocky purchased a timer at his local True-Value Hardware store and synchronized the river tide with Trophy Wife’s comings and goings. ( Trophy Wife’s weekday departure time=Waterfall Off.   Trophy Wife’s weekday arrival time=Waterfall On.  Sleeptime=Waterfall Off.)

 And all seemed well … until Saturday.

“Why is the waterfall turned off?” ask Trophy Wife.

“Because you aren’t supposed to be home,” answered Rocky.

“But I’m always home on Saturdays and Sundays,” observed Trophy Wife. “You need to fix this problem.”

So, Rocky set off for the local Ace Hardware Store and bought a new timer — one with a label that read  “WEEKLY schedule — every day is different.”

After struggling to remove the plastic wrapping (which rendered the product non-returnable,) Rocky sadly discovered that this was a “Vacation Timer”  designed to  turn lights  on and off at entirely random moments. This timer’s intent is to confuse burglars — especially burglars who check a waterfall before breaking and entering.

Timer #2 could not be programmed,  but at least the timer’s description was honest: “Every day IS different! ”

Rocky knew better than to propose  a waterfall that starts and stops randomly.  Instead, he tossed it in the back of the trunk and headed to Home Depot.

At Home Depot, Rocky  found two suitable choices: (1) An in-line 7-day digital programmable timer with waterproof box (which risked electrocution for both the installer (i.e. Rocky)  and local chipmunks. (2) An idiot-proof 7-day timer with “no assembly required.”  Rocky chose the latter, programmed the weekday and weekend settings, installed a professional-looking weatherproof box,  and went inside to take a well-deserved nap.

[Disclosure: Before purchasing the third and final timer, Rocky sent a Blackberry Email to Trophy Wife which read: “Please note that NONE of the timers can be set to turn on for Federal Holidays.  Trophy Wife replied, “Yes. We’ll deal with those manually. If you’re still there, buy more lawn bags. “]


Where angels fear to tread…

June 1, 2010 5 comments

Rocky’s Daughter called the office and said,  “Dad, I want to buy some BP stock.”

Rocky: “I see that it’s down 15% today on their continued failure to stem the catastrophic leak. And it’s lost about $65 Billion since the story began. What are you thinking?”

Daughter: “I’m thinking that they will eventually get this thing under control, and while the damage may run into the billions, you taught me to be brave when others are fearful — and to be fearful when others are brave.”

Rocky: “Yes. I did teach you that. But sometimes it’s RIGHT to be fearful. Why not buy some Apple stock? It just keeps going up…”

Daughter: “No!!! I don’t want to go near Apple. It’s a fad. It’s a cult. ”

Rocky: “But BP really could go bankrupt on this situation. How do we analyze that? And, why should today be THE low?”

Daughter: “I want to  buy 10 shares ($370) right now. And we’ll revisit it in a few weeks. If the stock goes a lot lower with no new developments, I might buy a little bit more. But it’s hard to imagine how the news could be worse. Please also buy some Chevron stock for diversification in the sector.”

Rocky: “Ok. You are brave!”

[Disclosure: Rocky has no position in BP shares. However, his daughter now owns 10 shares of BP at a cost of $37.  Since May 1st, BP’s share price has lost about $65 Billion (27%) in value, and during the same period, Chevron’s share price has lost about 12%. It is not entirely crazy to think the market may be close to discounting the possibility that the leak will continue until the relief wells are finished at the end of the summer. However, there is also the possibility that the leak could continue for years;  the government taxes the oil companies into oblivion; and BP faces criminal/civil penalties.]