Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oxygen Thief OR Idiot with a Passport

You have all heard the phrase “The Ugly American”, well how about the “Stupid American”. So, I'am checking into my flight at the Prague Airport for my return home after 2-weeks of slaving away making the Dome project work. I was tired and homesick, really tired of living in hotels and eating rich foods with little exercise.

So, I am in line going through security at the departure gate. They do it differently in Europe; actually they do it differently in Germany and England too, not just the Czech Republic. Here you get an initial screening interview where you check in your baggage. They ask you questions about what your baggage and what you are taking onto the aircraft. They specifically ask you if you are aware of “Prohibited” items and if you are not, they will tell what they are, reading from the list. Jut to be sure.

They ask if you have any of these items on your person or in your hand baggage. Hand baggage is the luggage you are taking onto the jet with you or simply your “carry-on”.

If you have traveled even a little bit you know what these items are: weapons or anything that can be used as a weapon, glass items, anything that will start a fire, flammable liquids, liquids in more than 4 ounce container or more than a quart in total.

After that initial interview you can proceed to the gate where they put you through the actual screening. This is the part where all your stuff is X-rayed and you go through the metal detector. At least here you don’t have to take your shoes off, but you do have to pull the laptops out (yes that is plural, your humble scribe travels with no fewer than two laptops, sometimes more), empty your pockets and remove the belts.

Again, I am going through the screening, I got all my stuff laid out in the bins and a guy ahead of me sets off the metal detector. He has to step back and get a ton of items removed and put in a small bucket for X-ray, a huge key chain, watch, bracelets, necklace, a belt with metal studs all around and he had a nice pair of sun glasses on a strap hanging off his neck but onto his back. Mr. Hipster was also wearing a jaunty little hat that he was told more than once to remove.

So, he gets the up close and personal pat down which basically stops the flow on my line. We were early and there was not a lot of people waiting. Just me in fact, anxious to get home. When they are done with the pat down on the Hipster I am waived through. No problems for me. I pass right on through.

I cannot however collect my things because all the security Agents are now busying themselves with examining Mr. Hipster’s hand baggage. Yes folks, this guy is one of those that makes you wish you were not an American.

They pull out of his stuff a set of glass beer glasses not mugs mind you but they were tall, the kind that would hold a liter of beer, something maybe Paul Bunyan would drink from. Then out comes a set of shot glasses, they are nice looking, heavy set with a blue dollop in the middle of the base. Then a Lighter, one of them Zippo’s: the Agents all take turns thumbing it on getting a nice flame off the thing. Zippo’s are the best you know. They also pull out a small can of the lighter fluid for the Zippo and boy they are sure going to need it because they called over a Supervisor and he too flicked it on a few times, marveling at the flame.

Out of a pocket on the backpack they pull out 4 or 5 wine puller tools. “I collect those”! says the Hipster Duffus. They only look at him with contempt and pull out the small knife blade that is attached to each.

Then out comes something wrapped in paper and taped up pretty good. They use the knife blade on the Wine pullers to cut through the wrapping and they pull out a bottle of Moskovskaya which is a kind of vodka sold here. I think it’s actually Russian but it can be used for not just getting drunk, it can clean carburetors, thin paint and disinfect wounds.

The Hipster Duffus must have had a party planned because it was a full 500 ml size bottle. But that was not the capper.

Out of a cardboard box they pull out a tall bottle with a long skinny neck. It looks like one of those Olive oil disperses you see at fine Italian Restaurants. Only this one is quite large. And it has a very clear liquid in it, with a kind of rope that is immersed into it. The top is all sealed off with wax and then a plastic wrap.

It’s a Lamp. You know the kind you ignite and use for illuminating a room. The clear liquid is pure alcohol and the rope is the wick. Several of the Security Agents look at him while holding the bottle up at him. “I was told this was safe to bring on the plane. All this stuff is supposed to be ok.” He said.

Now, I am standing there waiting patiently hoping I would be asked my opinion of what they should do. You know, some time in a Turkish prison may do this Duffus some good. A good beating with his contraband items or at the very least they should pull his boarding pass and make him go home via another means of transportation where Motivic Cocktails are not prohibited.

The Supervising Security Agent looks at all the stuff and then to the Duffus he says: “Sir, we must speak with you about all these things you have here. These things, they are,,” he stops for a moment thinking of the English word for what he wants to say. “Criminal” I say under my breath, several of the Agents look at me with little smiles on their face. Duffus also gives me the look that says “Don’t give them any ideas.” “Irregular.” The Supervisor says.

They gather his stuff into several bins and march him and his stuff to an interview room.

I start getting my stuff together and packed back where they belong. The Czech Security Agents are all gabbing in Czech, I am sure it is about the Duffuss. They smile at me as I am preparing to leave the area: “Thank you sir for your patience.” One says to me.

“You know, you guys could always keep him here.” I say. They all laugh with me. “No, we have many of our own.” The one says to me as I depart. I wave to them and shake my head.

This guy is using up good oxygen and he is an American! They should test you first before they give you a passport.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Obama's War on Oil

How important is the Oil Industry to the national economy? Let’s look at a few facts.

First off Oil as it turns out is a very useful base product. From a single barrel of oil (42 gallons) you not only get gasoline (19.36 gals) which we all put into our cars but they also refine Diesel fuel and Jet fuel. This accounts for only about 33 of the 42 gallons in the standard barrel of oil.

Graphic above taken from the U. S. Energy Information Administraion (

That remaining 9 gallons of oil is used to make many, many items. They are called “petrochemicals” a byproduct of distilling oil further is the production of ethylene and propylene. These are the backbone of the huge petrochemical industry.

Ethylene and propylene are used to produce plastics. Plastics in many forms have literally revolutionized our lives. Used in everything from cookware to blood bags, from computers to carpeting. There is virtually noting that does not benefit from the many forms of plastic.

The petrochemical industry employs more than 7 million people in this country this is over and above the 2 million jobs directly related to oil and gas production (these are the oil and gas field jobs, and those employed in the first tier refineries).
Plastics includes: bottles, laminated table/counter tops and flooring,, appliances, toys and medical equipment (including artificial joints, prosthesis as well as the tubing and surgical equipment). More than 1 million people work in the plastics industries and increases as a component of the national GDP by more than 2% per year.

Derivative oil based products include asphalts, dyes, waxes, lubricants and the base for paints and of course tires (car and truck) which are all “artificial” rubber.

Cosmetics include all the dyes, colorants and aromatics which are re-applied to other plastic or derivative (in the case of color agents of paint).

All of these industries are included in that 7 million job count. All of these products are directly affected by the price of the barrel of Oil. The pain of high oil goes beyond the gas pump that we all feel.

Begging to curry favor with the far left the Obama Administration has embarked on a considered effort if not to destroy the Oil Industry at least to hobble it to the point of near non-existence. The Administration is vested in high energy prices as a way to make Wind and Solar (supposed “Green” energy) more attractive.

The Administration has worked hard to restrict access to both oil and natural gas fields where many new jobs would be created. At the same time, drawing oil locally or at least in this hemisphere would reduce our multi-billion dollar to Middle Eastern nations for their oil. Witness the near total ban on re-opening drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and all the effort this Administration has expanded in trying to keep oil drilling a thing of the past in that region. All to the detriment of the many tens of thousands that depend on those jobs.

At the same time the EPA is on the way to adopting regulations that would restrict the development of new oil and gas fields, new and improved refinery plants which all would spur new jobs and reduce the cost of the raw material to the many industries that we rely on, not just the gas for our cars.

All of these initiatives pushed by the Administration (High energy prices, restricted access to the raw resources itself and the overreaching EPA regulations) is a concerted effort to cripple the oil and gas industries. With little or no regard to how the public feels or to its needs. No one can deny that high energy prices ripple into the fabric of our society.

That barrel of Oil is used many times in our integrated economy so that the high price must be factored into the ultimate cost of items purchased by the consumer many times. Not just in the transportation of the finished product to market, in many cases the actual manufacturing of the product is done in plants or with methods that rely on oil or petrochemicals.

There is no questioning that we are an oil economy. The fact that the Obama Administration is at war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Semolina (albeit a low yield, low intensity) he is also at war with the Oil and Natural Gas resources within this country.

We are blessed with enough of both to make the country completely independent of foreign oil. If only the envorowinnies would let us.

BT: Jimmy T sends.