Best of 2008

I know I am suppose to write this post before the year end, but with travel and children I ran out of time.

So, in no particular order here is what has happened and what rises above the rest when I think of 2008:

  • E started kindergarten and Z started preschool.
  • I posted my favorite business books of 2008 over on the 800-CEO-READ blog and worked with us on their selections.
  • Jack and I turned in the manuscript for The 100 Best Business Books of All Time in April. And we just got finished books today and they look great. The book hits shelves February 5th.
  • My 91 bookmarks remind of these yummy sites:
    • Spoonflower for custom fabrics based on your designs
    • Sticker Robot for custom stickers
    • Moo for business cards, holiday cards, and sticker books from your Flickr photos
  • We survived the snowiest winter on record in Waukesha. I think it was 109″.
  • That turned into a flooded basement after warm weather and some huge rains.
  • Mac Apps you should be using: NetNewsWire for RSS feeds, Ecto for blogging, VoodooPad for note taking, and possibly WriteRoom for a clutter-free writing space.
  • Mac Apps to consider: Things (I use to manage to-dos in BaseCamp, but I think I like this desktop/iPhone combo better) and TweetDeck (allows filtering, grouping, and searching all in one Tweeter app)
  • I posted 305 tweets this year. I would have never guessed that and TweetStats tells me I have been accelerating my use of Twitter.
  • Music that worked for me:
  • This American Life provided the best description of the credit crisis I heard, read or watched anywhere. Listen to The Giant Pool of Money. It is worth all 58 minutes. In second place is Michael Lewis’ Panic, an anthology of articles, reports, and missives on the bubbles we have gone through since 1989.

Your Choice in Power

I got a letter from my electric company, We Energies, with an interesting offering.

They are offering me the choice to use alternate resources to power my home. These are resources that are local to state and renewable. They say it is a combination of wind (17%), small hydroeletric (8%), and landfill gas (75%). They offer three participation levels with the highest being able to match 100% of your electricity with the purchases of renewable energy. That highest level adds an additional $15 a month to your bill.

I thought this was pretty remarkable. You typically do not have alot of choice over the energy you consume in your home. The old answer was consume less. Their new answer is renewable energy costs more, but here is option to pay for it if you value it.

Speculation Adds to Rising Oil Prices

WSJ reports [sub. needed] that speculators are heavily involved with energy futures. They are lured by the ever increasing prices for oil and natural gas driven by both supply issues and surging demand.

Analysts believe speculators are playing the role of marginal buyers, sending prices higher than they would otherwise be, but doing little to alter the basic upward trend driven by broader market pressure such as high demand. Jeff Curry, head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, estimates prices would be in the low $40s a barrel were it not for the these speculators.

Prices are rising

I can’t understand how people keep saying there are not many signs of inflation in the economy. And if they admit there is inflation they will point to the price of oil and how it is coming back down already.

My father runs a small sheet metal fabrication shop. The price of steel and copper have almost doubled in the last 18 months. Aluminum is now headed that way. He has passed on those increases to his customers. It is only a matter of time before those increases ripple through the economy.

There was an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel yesterday that illustrated the rippling. Kopp’s, a local frozen custard chain here in Milwaukee, is raising their prices. “The price of materials- everything from plastic forks to custard mix- have increased about 20% over the last couple of months”, says manager Bud Reinhart. Later this week, the price of custard will go up about 12.5% and the price of cheeseburgers will go up 10%.