Saturday, January 15, 2011

Successful LED Lights

I intended to post this several months ago, as my last post on this subject said: "It will probably be next week before I post about my current assortment of lights, mostly made by Ray-O-Vac"

I have owned quite a few LED lights over the last 5 years. There has been much improvement in the quality of white light LED's over that time. The main improvement has been in the quality of white light. White LED's in 2001 were of such poor quality someone wrote an article titled "White LED's Suck" and they were fairly correct. Today's LED's are much better.

The flashlights around my house in the 90's and early into this century were the ordinary 2 D-Cell kind with fairly good bulbs and were decent quality. However, in the last several years, I have set out to replace each and every one of them with LED lights. And for mainly this reason: The cost of batteries is soon greater than the cost of the flashlight, if you use it very much. Also, while I have never had an LED flashlight bulb burn out or just quit, regular bulbs used to quit on me from time to time in the past.

The best LED replacement I have found for the most common house and car flashlight is the Ray-O-Vac "Brilliant Solutions" variety. These can be had at Wal-Mart, and are fairly inexpensive. Oddly, they are available on the Net for about double the price.

Naming convention for most of the Ray-O-Vac flashlights is fairly straightforwards. If you see 2AA in the name, it takes 2 AA batteries. If you see 3AAA in the name, it takes 3 AAA batteries.

Brilliant Solutions also includes a $1 conventional flashlight that takes 2 AA batteries, and might be useful somewhere you hope to never need a flashlight, but must keep one for safety reasons.

I believe I have written in the past about the headlamp I use at work, and I still think the Ray-O-Vac 3-in-1 LED Headlamp is the best headlamp on the market for under $30 apiece. I don't know if it is still in production, but it is still intermittently available from Amazon for about $13 (but you have to buy them in the 2 pack for $26).

For an extra bright flashlight, I recently bought Ray-O-Vac Sportsman 3W 2AA DC-DC Regulated Flashlight that is rated 80 Lumens. That model may not be available, but similar models are. Expect to pay between $20 and $35 each. They are water and impact resistant, and use a twist bottom switch with push button momentary. I don't particularly like that type of switch, but it is the most trouble free and longest lasting type of switch around.

The 5 LED basic headlamp I used to get on line for about $6.50 is now available at Wal-Mart near the checkout for $5.75 and will probably show up at places like Family Dollar stores soon. This is a very generic headlamp that shows up from time to time and place to place with inconsistent model and UPC numbers.

I waited for some time for Ray-O-Vac to make a caplight that I liked, but Energizer beat them to it. They make a caplight and a headlight that are virtually the same, for around $15. Has two red LED's and three white LED's. Runs on 2 AAA batteries.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Economic Outlook for 2011

Hopefully this will be the longest post I make all year.

Here is a list of subjects I will cover:
  • Markets and Jobs
  • Gas price forecast extension
  • Governments roll in our current economy
  • Biggest holders of our national debt
  • A dismal future

Markets and Jobs

I heard on the first day of trading this year (3 Jan) that if the markets move upwards by at least 1% on that day, it will be a good year. By the 5th, they were congratulating themselves on how good the payroll numbers would look. Payroll numbers come out on the 7th of this month. I have news for them. The good or bad of a year does not revolve around the markets, but around good jobs for the masses. Payroll numbers, especially manufacturing payrolls are the key.

At first, it looked pretty good. The manufacturing sector expanded on several fronts, and orders for durable goods were up. But remember, the indexes were above the waterline most of 2010, and yet the manufacturing jobs numbers were not so good. I think, to be good, the ISM manufacturing index must be above 55, instead of the 50 we normally associate with improvement. That goes along with the need to add more than 200,000 jobs a month to the economy, and 20,000 must be manufacturing jobs. This month's numbers are just over 100,000 jobs and only 5000 in manufacturing. The manufacturing number is the most sobering.

Gas price forecast extension

The current market forces indicate gas will be over $3.50 in May, and over $4 by Christmas. And my numbers are for the areas of the gas price map that show green.

Governments roll in our current economy

The biggest drags on our economy are renege prices and expansion of government. In the past year, the Obamacare legislation, and the gifts of bailouts to bankers and unions were the biggest government drags. And the many moratoriums on energy production, both before and after the BP spill (and still today) are one of the biggest factors driving up energy prices.

So, currently, the Obama administration is the biggest cause of our economic problems. But it is not even close to being alone as a culprit. We have a fun and games mentality that will snap up anything shiny (I believe it was Dave Ramsey who called it a "culture of bass"), will not defer pleasure and is centered around instant gratification. This is the same mentality that led to the demise of both the Greek and the Roman empires. And we have more of it than they did.

Add to that the idea that government is supposed to be all to everyone (the builders of a perfect law and order society for the republicans, and the santa clause of the democratic party) and it is a recipe for disaster.

Biggest holders of our national debt

Just as a side note, here are the biggest holders of our national (government) debt. The website I got this from only lists about $3T of the reported $14T national debt. I suspect the disconnect may be the $14T is obligations (contracts have been signed) and the $3T is what is already payed out, but I am not certain of this.

Who holds how much of our federal governments debt - in Billions
  • Total 2845.8
  • Country or entity Oct 2010
  • China, Mainland 906.8
  • Japan 877.4
  • United Kingdom 477.6
  • Oil Exporters 213.9
  • Brazil 177.6
  • Hong Kong 139.2
  • Carib Bnkng Ctrs 133.7

Oil exporters include Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar,Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Gabon, Libya, and Nigeria.
Caribbean Banking Centers include Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles and Panama.

A dismal future

To make this clear, I don't think we will pull out of this. If we see any prosperity at all again, it will be a short and very hollow economic upswing. The only questions is when and how suddenly will we slide into desolation. The numbers lately (look at the third chart) are looking more and more like the slide is imminent, but I am no expert at this, and it could be months or even years away.

After repeated warnings by Moody's that they might be "stretching" the AAA credit rating of US Treasury bonds, many others around the world broke with Moody's and downgraded our credit rating last Spring. Of course, in my own personal opinion, Moody's also kept many bond ratings too high in the past, becoming part of the problem that led to the recession and bailouts. I once said we could know when the recession was ending by the interest rates on T-Bills going up, but at the time I could not visualize our national debt becoming so large we might pay higher interest rates because investors are unsure if we will slide into such an economic abyss, of unemployment and inflation, that the T-Bills would be nearly worthless.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Entering the End Game

I believe we have entered the "End Game" (reference to Chess Strategy) between God and Satan.

Only time will tell. No man knows the day nor the hour. We have been very near the end game before. In 1982 we were within a hair's breadth of entering the end game, but then God raised up Ronald Reagan, and the timetable was set back 30 years. We approach it again, but this time I believe we have crossed the line, and the elements are in motion, that will bring about the end of the age of the Gentiles. (And the Church Age)

I ran across a good write up on this subject, that may be of interest to any who read my blog to find out what the future holds for us and our nation.

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ….Revealed

Since no two people completely agree on the interpretation of Scripture, I will say right up front that I have a couple of minor disagreements with his interpretation, about halfway through his article. That is it. Minor disagreements on a couple of points. The more two Christians engage in serious, prayerful study of the Scriptures the less disagreement they will have.

The watchmen on the wall are sounding the alarm.

From the midst of Jerusalem! Now blow a trumpet in Tekoa and raise a signal over Beth-haccerem; For evil looks down from the north, and a great destruction.
Jeremiah, Chapter 6

So, what should we be doing about this? Not much other than what we should have been doing, all along. As Luke 12:37 says: "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes ; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.

I wrote some time ago about the characteristics of a good Church. Well, that article could become obsolete really soon. Should things take a turn for the worse, it will be time to start looking for a good House Church ministry, as the True Believers move back underground. More on that later, if the Lord is willing.