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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   investing in fracking
Friday, November 16 2012
Gretchen and I had an appointment to talk to our new investment accountant in Kingston today, so we went early so we could go to Carpet One first and look at more flooring options. (Gretchen has come around to my view that we put wood flooring in the first floor office instead of wall-to-wall carpet.) Getting into Kingston is a little trickier these days; a small bridge (the one over a small creek, not the big steel bridge across the Esopus) is being replaced on Wynkoop and so our main connection to Kingston is cut off during the day. We're forced to take Hurley Mountain Road all the way north up to Route 28 and drive into town that way, as if we're coming from Woodstock to buy a dime bag along Broadway. At Carpet One, we pretty much decided on a kind of bamboo flooring, which we think will be different enough from our existing hardwood flooring to look good juxtaposed with it.
At the accountant's office, our accountant cheerily pointed to the wreckage of our existing holdings, many of which had lost value even in an up market. Part of the problem was Gretchen's insistence on only buying socially-conscious investments, many of which underperformed. This has been particularly true of green energy investments, which are being out-competed by cheap natural gas. Ironically, though, the worst-performing stock in our portfolio is a company called GASFRAC, which has lost 89% of its value and is, as the name suggests, a firm that extracts natural gas from the ground using fracking technology. Gretchen would have never agreed to invest in such a firm, but there it was, highlighted by our accountant in what-the-fuck yellow. Clearly our old investment advisor had screwed up. Not only had he invested our money in a fracking company, he'd invested in the one fracking company in the Universe that was actually losing money. Gretchen was outraged, of course, and would soon be composing an email to the bosses of her old investment advisor demanding compensation for this multiply-insulting error.
Our new investment accountant is young, chatty, and clearly has a well-developed sense of when to say what to whom. All through today's conversation, he kept dropping phrases clearly tailored to appeal to Gretchen's do-gooder instincts. I tended to roll my eyes when he did this, but Gretchen seemed to be eating it up. In the end, Gretchen and I are sold on his idea of divesting from the stock market and moving most of our money into municipal bonds, where the bottom can never fall too far and where money is never spent on reprehensibly things.

Back at the house, I finally got around to working on resupplying our woodshed with firewood for the upcoming season. I'd already cut up a bunch of Red Oak in our uphill neighbors' field; all that I needed to do was bring it home, split it, and stack it. The bringing it home part proved unexpectedly easy; I'd already made a hauling path, having cut away vegetation and leveled places along it with Esopus Creek gravel. And then it also proved easy to split (Red Oak is one of the easiest woods for splitting). The only problem was that none of the wood had dried over the summer. I'd left it over the summer in bucked-but-unsplit segments, during which time its moisture content had permitted the flourishing of small shelf fungi extending across the cut faces of the segements. This shouldn't be a problem, though. Split Red Oak pieces dry quickly when placed atop a hot woodstove. And I still have most of a years' worth of bone-dry firewood in the woodshed.

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