The Progression of a Take Home Final

Before receiving the exam: Complacency - I don't need to outline and cram as much because I will have soooo much extra time to organize and review the material most pertinent to the issues posed on the exam itself.

Receiving the exam: Skipping a beat - You get that gut reaction of nerves, and the reality sets in that the clock has just begun.

The first read: Holy $@*t! - I don't know any of that material, I better starting learning this subject (of course now that the semester is over).

Several hours later: Realization - oh no, I'm not going to be able to learn all of this, I better start typing some of the stuff I know.

Several more hours go by: Panic - I have used the alloted amount of time suggested for the entire exam on the first half of the first question. The typing quickens

The next day: Comparison - How many hours is everybody else dedicating to this? Maybe I should have woken up earlier?

The final push: I don't care any more. I just want to finish it, because this is not my only exam, in fact its only worth 2 stinking credits!


$4 Corn

This ARTICLE on the current rise in the price of Corn (to $4/bushel), which I stumbled upon in my local coffee shop, is well worth the read. I found it particularly interesting as it brings together many of my interests - the environment, agriculture, farming, domestic food production, alternative energies, government subsidies, food security/safety, and the corporate intersection of all of this.

For a tease of the article:
Four-dollar corn. The price probably doesn't mean much to many Fortune readers, certainly not the city slickers who wouldn't know a combine from a planter. But in farm country, $4 corn is more than a big deal. It's a phenomenon. "It's the center of conversation in the center of the country," says Elizabeth Hund, head of agricultural lending for U.S. Bancorp.

In the span of just eight months, the price of the U.S.'s most important crop - our biggest agricultural export as well as the staple feed for our livestock - has doubled from $2, about where it had been stuck since the late 1990s, to $4 a bushel. The cause is soaring demand from ethanol plants, which bought 2.2 billion bushels last year, 34% more than in 2005. Previous price spikes were short-lived and usually caused by drought, but the futures market thinks this rally has legs.

May 2008 corn recently traded at $4.20 a bushel, while December 2010 futures were at $3.74. This means farmers can lock in terrific prices not just for the 2007 crop but for the three after that as well.

Problem is, what's good for farmers - and even better for the companies selling them tractors, seeds, and fertilizer - has started to roil other parts of the economy. The feed costs of cattlemen and hog farmers have skyrocketed. Ethanol producers have seen their profits slashed. Food companies are being squeezed and are starting to pass along higher costs to consumers. (This isn't just a U.S. problem: Mexico is in an uproar over soaring tortilla costs.)

I know people have been quick to point out that this is the hidden evil of alternative fuels, but I don't see it quite that way. This goes to the whole Free Market argument ... when the true cost of farming is realized, the cost of subsidized livestock feed and exported crops will be balanced out my local economies demanding the most efficient use for the resource. Read on to realize just how complicated this issue may become.


Take a moment

Take a moment & READ THIS. Then take another moment.



I need to hear some simple

Its been awhile ... and maybe that is why I need to hear some simple so badly. Say what?!

From Patagonia's new in-house blog, THE CLEANEST LINE, I love that name and its underlying meaning by the way ...
Fifteen year-olds scare me to death. I’ve never been cool, and 15 was when my nerdiness fleshed out in all its glorious fullness. And now, the great karmic card dealer has dealt me this hand: I’ll be living with a whole posse of them in the Tetons for the next three weeks.
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This crew—all boys—is LOUD; all loud voices, noisy bodies, clamorous movements. They come from loud places where they have to struggle to hear and to be heard.
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Just trust me on this one, you need to read IT, your gonna love IT, so just click IT.