May 272008

I finally got around to listening to episode 355 of This American Life. The subject of this episode is the housing crisis. Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg have done a fantastic job diving into the details and people all wrapped up in the bubble to crisis process.

As expected, they do a wonderful job of interviewing people all connected to the issue. But they also have done a fantastic job on exploring exactly how the housing bubble started, which is something many people still do not understand. It all has to do with the giant global pool of money.

May 232008

Some people (like the US House) seem to not understand how oil prices are calculated. Luckily, Marketplace has a great introduction to the subject called “Who’s getting fat on higher oil prices?

Economist Philip Verleger watches the oil industry. He says the ultimate price is decided by traders in New York, London and other global markets. There are no wellheads that read out in dollar signs. Instead, producers write contracts based the prevailing price at a future date — when a Saudi shipment arrives in Houston, for example. The producer gets almost everything.

It’s the sweeter variety that’s in high demand right now, because it makes more of the more profitable diesel fuel. Verleger argues that $133-a-barrel oil won’t sell if there’s no buyer.

It has nothing to do with speculators. It has everything to do with the inability to make enough diesel fuel to meet the European, Chinese, Asian and U.S. demand.

Oil is was the lifeblood of the 20th century, and continues to be lifeblood in the 21st century. The market place is a whole lot more crowded though.

Oil is not cheap.

Oil is not expensive.

Oil is worth exactly what someone will pay for it.

May 112008

It almost didn’t happen due to low turnout on the boat, but we managed to head up the coast with DCI to Scripps Canyon. I’ve gotta say, the boat is a lot nicer than doing the long swim from Scripps Pier or the walk from the access road. Luxury!

The first dive was down to a max of 125 feet*. It was cold, around 50F on my computer, which means it is really more like 48F. Visibility was bad up top due to the green bloom, but opened up to around 15 feet past 90′. Of course the batteries in my strobe decided to die after a couple shots, so I didn’t get much in the way of photos.

The second dive was mostly in the 110-120 foot range. The tide had come up, and the water was even colder than the first dive. But the freezing temps were well worth it, the visibility was 30+ in certain spots. It was too bad it was still so dark from the green water, as it was really nice to be able to see the topography of the canyon.

* I dove 29% nitrox on the first dive and air on the second. My computer is very conservative compared to others (e.g. Mani gets 13 minutes at 130 feet, I get 9), so the nitrox helps me stay within limits without going into decompression mode. Plus, I generally feel better after diving deep with nitrox.

May 102008

Last Sunday I headed out for back to back dives on the Yukon. Conditions were OK, considering the very green water these days. I’m patiently waiting for the nice blue water day with 30 foot visibility on the wreck so I can get some decent wide angle shots of the ship on the sand. That probably won’t happen until later summer or the fall though, as we have several months of bloom to go.

I’ve dove the Yukon around 8 times now, and am getting a pretty good feel for where I am on the wreck in low visibility. I’ve done a few swim-throughs, but need to take the full wreck class and a cave/wreck line with for any exploration of the interior.