Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Not Everything is Bigger in Texas

So with the Powerball Lottery now over $500 Million, the question is, if you won, what would you spend it on?  For me, a cattle ranch would be the only way to go.

Perusing the available Texas spreads on landsoftexas.com, I found that the real big acreage for sale right now is up north aways and in Utah.   The Sandy Ranch is a paltry $37 per acre.  The catch is as follows: it weighs in at 253,100 acres... but still seems a bargain at $9.5MM.  Covering 395 square miles (bigger than County Louth, Ireland) it would seem that noisy neighbors would not be a problem.

Of the non-two legged variety, the ranch boasts elk, bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, as well as the more mundane coyote, bobcat, fox etc.

Per the listing agent:

The ranch is an efficient and modern cattle ranch with housing for owners, guests and employees and numerous cattle handling facilities. The property currently runs 1,000 plus Black Angus natural cattle and all the stock and equipment is included in the sale. The headquarters includes the following:
  • Manager’s home- 1,690 sq. ft.
  • Guest home adjoining managers house -740 sq. ft.
  • Large guest/employee house- 1,640 sq. ft. plus porch
  • Smaller employee house- 1,285 sq. ft. plus porch
  • Bunkhouse- 1,250 sq. ft. plus porch
  • Employee bunkhouse- 1,920 sq. ft. plus porch and 440 sq. ft. guest house
  • King Ranch historic/renovated cedar cabin- 1,200 sq. ft.
  • King Ranch log bunkhouse- 1,250 sq. ft. plus basement and porch
  • Shop with apartment- 5,000 sq. ft.
  • Machine shed- 3,000 sq. ft.
  • Livestock handling and other facilities include: livestock scales, scale house, squeeze shoots, calving barn, horse sheds, barns, and shelters, trailer homes and generator sheds.
One of the largest private landowners in the US is Brad Kelley.  He made his millions not through the lottery but selling discount cigarettes.  He owns over 1 million acres in Kentucky, Florida and Texas.  Recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal, Kelly stated  "I fell in love with the West; the wide-open spaces, the wildlife and beautiful landscapes. I knew immediately that I wanted more land-and lots of it."

If I win Powerball, I will no doubt get into some bidding wars with Brad Kelly.  He doesn't know that I married one and have an inside track on how to best him...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Whatever the combination that induces roses to thrive, we have it in abundance in the back yard.  Must be the cool nights, sunny days and limited rain.  These roses get hardly any attention in terms of fertilizer, mulch or pesticides and still flourish.

This one I know for sure is a Knockout Rose, developed by the fine horticulturists at Texas A&M, and renowned for its blooms and general hardiness.

I have no clue what this one is: Pink Lady sounds like a good name.

And this one, might be the best of all.  Planted and nurtured by our neighbors on their side of the fence, it crept through the slats and bloomed in our yard.  So we will call it Paddy & The Chinese Chicken Rose.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Open Letter To A President

Dear B.O.,

Congrats on getting re-elected. Even though 58.4 million people voted for the other guy, you found enough sycophants and hangers-on on either coast to get you four more years. We can merrily look forward to 48 more months of ill-advised policy, a stalling economy and a divided nation.  Yep, 50% of the voters endorsed you but 48% who do not drink Kool-Aid said "Hell, No".  Think about it, practically half of the people in this country chose someone named Mitt over you.  Not Matt.  Or Mutt.  But Mitt.  58 million people in your own country do not approve of your policies or leadership.  That, Mr. President, is close to mutiny.  We do not begrudge you the win in 2008.  Many bought into Hope & Change.  Somehow, four years later, the large urban sprawls like Chicago, Boston, Miami, NY, DC, and L.A. with tens of millions waiting for the handout, still buy into that.

Good job you were not running for President of Texas (world’s 12th largest economy); you would have been trounced 57% to 41%.  See here in Texas, we don’t like taxes (no state income tax) and we get off our butts and work (6.5% unemployment) and do not expect the Government to give us handouts.  Our legislature meets only every other year and then only for 140 days.  Then our officials go home and work.  No need for big government.  Coincidence between a healthy state economy and absence of meddling politicians?  Hardly. 

Since 1994, Texans have not elected a Democrat to a statewide office.  This is a Red State.  Yes, Perry is a buffoon, but remember he started out as a Democrat...

The First Four Years

I quote Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, "During less than four years under President Obama's leadership, the national debt has increased an astonishing $5.4 trillion. And yet the President persists in pushing his agenda of more spending and higher taxes on job creators that is crippling our economy."

Your crowning achievement: Obamacare. A healthcare plan that most people do not understand or need.  You want healthcare? Get a job that has benefits or pay for it yourself.  It is not the role of Big Government to provide healthcare to able-bodied people.  We already have Medicare and Medicaid for the old and poor.

The $800 Billion Lie: In 2009 you promised that the $862B stimulus package would reduce unemployment to 5.6% by July 2012. Well it didn’t.  Unemployment hovers at 8%.  More ill-advised policy.  No-one really seems to know where the money went.  Solyndra?  States coffers?  Wherever, it certainly did not stimulate much, other than heated discussion.

You and the team did not solve the debt ceiling in 2011; you kicked the can down the road.  The US got downgraded from its AAA credit rating.  Disgraceful.  Now we have the so-called “fiscal cliff”.  Can't wait to see how that gets resolved (let me guess; more taxes, more spending by DC).

Your diary since your so-convincing victory on Tuesday:
  • On Weds, the stock market, a bell weather of all to come, tumbled 2.5%.  The retirement accounts of those I plan to tax through the neck will appreciate that.
  • On Friday, the head of the CIA resigns... timing is everything. Had this happened a week ago, I would be out of a job. I appointed Petraeus and then couldn't shut him up fast enough once word broke of what really happened in Benghazi (mainly CIA operators caught in the attack in Benghazi requested military backup but were denied by the White House).  But it wasn't terrorism, it was that awful movie that made them do it... la-dee-dah.

 Oh, it will be a joyous 1,534 days until Jan 20, 2017.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It Could Be About The Bike...

With no apologies to DopeStrong.  After pedaling frantically through the Corporate Challenge on a mountain bike, I came to my senses and realized a road bike was the way to go.  262 miles later I am happy with the Fuji and have found a reasonably challenging route that winds 32 miles through Southlake, Keller, Westlake, Roanoke and Grapevine.  The key to success is traffic avoidance.  There are too many jackwagon cyclists that have give the rest of us a bad name and the are too many Chevy Silverado drivers ready to put same cyclist in the ditch.  So far (to use motorcycle parlance) I have kept the rubber side down and the weather the past few weeks has been just about perfect.

Bikes have come a long way from my first full sized bike that I rode to Tulsk cross every day to get the school bus to Strokestown. That was a single speed steel frame affir, probably a Raleigh.

The most modern bikes have an all carbon frame, electronic shifting and even disc brakes and can cost over $5,000.  Insane!  You could buy a very nice used car for that!  I settled for an entry level bike with an aluminum frame and a carbon fork.  So far it has proved to be an excellent choice.
Fuji Newest 1.0

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

A different kind of Halloween this year.  On a beautiful evening for trick or treating, eldest child got dressed up as cat and then made her way to Chipotle to avail of the $2 burritos - a bargain price for those in costume. 

Middle child at last minute announced he was going to his friends house in a different neighborhood and hastily transformed into a vampire.  Only junior was left and at least his costume showed some originality.  Watch out Daniel Day Lewis, we also have an Abe Lincoln, complete with muttonchops and stovepipe hat. He too disappeared with friends and the auld pair were left at home alone, doling out candy.  First time we had not gone out with the kids in about 15 years.  Getting old...

Abe Lincoln came home first, announcing that at various stages he had been called Babe-raham Lincoln and Abraham Franklin.  Dracula was next with bag full of candy.  Kitty-cat was last, no candy but brought me a big ol' burrito.  Best.  Halloween.  Ever.

Another first, I actually got creative withe pumpkin carving.

The Bat-O-Lantern