UT-A – Still Junk Mail U.

I previously griped about the quantity of unsolicited junk mail (physical and electronic) the University of Texas at Austin sends applicants, even when they aren’t enrolling. Well, it keeps coming. I just unsubscribed from the UT athletics e-mail list for the second time. I still get stuff from Austin-area apartment complexes.

Meanwhile, NYU and University of Detroit at Mercy keep inviting me to symposia and seminars. Drat.

EDIT 10/1: I hear that everyone else who applied at UT gets the same quantity of garbage, so it’s not just me. It’s apparently even worse for undergrads. UT is dropping, rapidly, in my personal ranking system…

Law School, Day One

Well, I really must be a geek, because I’m enjoying this. I enjoyed the first set of readings (minus one opinion by a windbag of a justice, which could have been reduced from 9 pages to maybe 2-3 sentences). Lunch included a discussion on political theory, especially the 2004 and 2008 Presidential elections. In any case, with the exception of ongoing Windows bugs billed as features or fraudulently claimed by Microsoft to be fixed, life is pretty good…

More Delays

Well, between hanging out with my new classmates, troubleshooting a very bad Internet connection, and trying to prepare for D11L (Day One, One-L year of law school), I have not delivered very well on my promise to blog more.

I will. I mean it. Just not yet.

Why Microsoft Really and Truly is Evil

Those of you who have ever traveled with a laptop running Microsoft Outlook probably realize by now that it handles time changes very, very poorly. If you enter appointments while in, say, the Eastern Time Zone, then travel to, say, Chicago, all of your appointments will be moved up one hour. Your e-mails will continue to show the time received in Eastern Time, so it will look as though you are getting messages from 1 hour in the future. Even worse, all day events will be shifted, as well, so that Thanksgiving will be partly on a Wednesday and partly on a Thursday. Duh. According to Microsoft, this is a feature (so that appointments “back home” will show in the appropriate local time), but nearly everyone seems to agree that it makes no sense, whatsoever. I am in that group.

Now, imagine a major computer geek (yours truly) actually moving (permanently) between time zones. What a mess.

Also, Outlook appears to be resetting my Windows time zone settings (that is, it lets me keep the appropriate time, but keeps switching to the Eastern Time Zone). Anybody know how to fix all these problems?

Wrigley Field – First Visit

I went to see the Cubs play, tonight, with some of my fellow 1Ls. It was pretty cool to finally see a game at Wrigley – it’s kind of sacred ground for baseball fans. Too bad the Cubs blew a 3-run lead and dropped 3 more runs in the 11th….

How NOT to Assemble Furniture from IKEA

How NOT to Assemble Furniture from IKEA

Rule #1: Do not assume that the instructions for your furniture correspond to the furniture you bought. My desk came with assembly instructions for about 30 desks. Half a dozen of them are lumped into one section, which supposedly includes my desk. If you follow those directions, you can’t put the legs on. This is bad.

Rule #2: Read (well, look at the pictures for) all of the instructions before doing anything. You might find out that you have a Rule #1 problem.

Rule #3: Turn your brain on before beginning assembly, and take the instructions with a grain of salt. I forgot this step and discovered Rule #1 and Rule #2 violations.

Rule #4: Budget a lot more time than budget furniture should require.

There you have it, folks.

Post-Move Blogging from the Windy City

I apologize for the long break in posting. I had to pack up and move all my belongings to Chicago, so I could start law school. I haven’t unpacked fully, but I’ll be there within 24 hours.

Anyway, I plan to begin blogging much more regularly, now that the major hassle of moving is past. Upcoming (likely) topics: Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ophelia, President Bush, FEMA, DHS, spam, foreign policy and the 2008 Presidential election cycle, Judge John Roberts and his confirmation hearings, loony policies in our schools, Chicago life, and much, much, much more. Feel free to suggest a topic – I’d love to know what my audience wants to hear.

As for right now, I’m learning why this is called the Windy City – we had such a strong and noisy gust of wind against the side of my building (I’m on the 20th floor) that I thought there had been a wreck or the scaffolding across the street had fallen down or something. Wow.

A quick note for my PCB buddies: hang in there; the directory is coming back. I just haven’t had time to deal with it, yet.

$4 Gasoline – Coming Soon, to a Pump Near You

I’ve been saying for years, now, that $4/gallon gasoline is an inevitability in the United States. Between the fragility of global oil production, the popularity of gas-guzzlers and the fondness of legislators of tacking on all sorts of gas taxes, it is bound to happen. Well, it looks like it’s happening a few months earlier than I expected. Gasoline futures prices jumped to $2.65, today, which translates into just about $4, when all local and federal taxes (not to mention a little profit for the station owner) are tacked on at the pump. These are futures, so we’re not looking at these prices immediately, but certainly in the near future.

If you’ve spent much time on this site, you may be familiar with the Elliott Wave Theory, which basically states that prices in equities and commodities markets (among others) are driven by psychology, not the “news,” or outside events. In this case, supply is obviously a real consideration, as the already delicate balancing act that is the petroleum industry has been jarred by seriously reduced refining capabilities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Side note: I am, of course, deeply saddened by the impact of Katrina in terms of loss of life and the financial impact on the Gulf coast. The costs of this storm will be with us for many years, in both social and economic terms.

Note that President Bush’s opening of the Strategic Petroleum Reserves is an empty political gesture, capable only of calming the public, if that. The oil in question is crude oil, which must be refined before it can be used. Since the impact of the storm was on refining capacity more than production, the impact of the SPR releases will be negligible, if not actually negative (since the one thing it will definitely do is reduce the SPR’s size, at least temporarily).

My advice: fill your car’s tank every time you can – the next time you pass the station, the prices will probably be higher. Also, the chairman of BP Capital is predicting serious gas shortages; he ought to know. If you have some money to throw around, buying gasoline futures (not oil futures) is not a bad idea, short term. If you have a ton of money to throw around, buy an oil refinery or import business. Personally, I think we’re looking at $6.50-7.50 pump prices, sometime in the next 2-3 years, before prices drop back down for a while.

UPDATE: Gas futures actually reached $2.90 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, according to Reuters. The same article explains that, on average, pump prices run about $0.65/gallon higher than the futures, and that the impact should be felt at the pump within about 3 weeks. That’s $3.55, folks. It’s coming.

DISCLAIMER: nothing on this site should be construed as recommending specific investments or a financial course of action. All statements represent the opinion of the author only. Seek professional advice before making any investment decisions, and risk only money you can afford to lose.