"The 100-Year Toaster" Ch. 14

Equational madness:  At the limits of business models.  We know that there is a logical upper bound for any product.  One (OK, several) for every person on the planet.  And we know there is a lower bound, too. Zero.

The problem is what the planet needs is an resource optimized model.  While Wall Street (and individuals) all want the financially optimized model.

In order to “solve for saving planet” we need  to understand slopes of price-demand curves which is our work this morning.

After a few headlines (Impeachment Fever hasn’t broken yet…) our ChartPack, and one more half cup of the bean.  Just so we can be as jittery as a DNC operative, don’t you know?

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24 thoughts on “"The 100-Year Toaster" Ch. 14”

  1. Which economic cycle disaster will we be repeating next? I heard a suggestion today from someone not prone to apocalyptic paranoid fantasies that we are being set-up for a simultaneous repeat of ’29, ’00. and ’08. That begs the question: Is the reason that the slow-mo play-out seems to morph continuously because we are in an era in which markets have been completely deregulated by high speed transactions, unconventional leverage, and nonexistent oversight, and are we collectively revisiting each and every business cycle mistake ever made on an accelerating schedule, with the Fed expanding the credit line to cover? Why repeat one disaster when we can do ’em all.

    • Sir,

      I dreamt that Zeus was rolling in dough, but woke up to the smell of burnt toast. Adding a grounded plug to the Hallicrafters S-38D is still on the to-do list here. John Connor will be happy to read the Unitrex UC-75 is still ticking. Maybe if Doc and Marty fire up the flux capacitor, we can go back in time and scoop up some deals?


      • When you figure out where there is a deal to be made in this, let us all know. That is the main point in this line of discussion- diminishing opportunities approaching nada for individual investors.
        Hanging on to a paying job seems to be the current best pick.

  2. One of the 100 year toaster like products is Tesla. This is a car that updates itself through free software updates. See V10 below…Tesla needs very little maintenance. No oil changes, tune ups, oil filters…I don’t need a mechanic…just routine stuff like tires and windshield fluid and wipers. Even the brakes last 5 times longer than a regular car, because when I take my foot off the pedal, the car goes into regeneration mode which recharges the battery and slows the car down . I rarely even use the brake at stop signs lights and don’t need to brake on steep downhills roads. Regeneration slows the car down. Depending on how you set up your regeneration, if I remove my foot from the pedal,it can slow to a stop at a stop light or stop sign.

    This is why the auto industry is not keen on Tesla’s. The aftermarket biz suffers. And despite most mechanics and engineers admitting there is not a better car available on the market today, it also has the potential to eliminate their jobs. It’s a catch 22.

    Elon Musk wants market share…and he is getting it at a rapid pace..at least here on the west coast…the self updating Tesla is unlike any other transportation option on the road ever. Americans have a short attention/honeymoon/new toy span. We start off by needing that newest Lexus only to have Lexus come out with a newer looking model the next year, making the one we have already obsolete. BUT….Just when the honeymoon wears off with Tesla, they reel you back in with new software updates that refresh your enthusiasm without having to buy anything. That’s good and bad for jobs though…it would seem at the surface.

    But, as with most paradigm shifting technologies, there is a light at the end of this tunnel….more Electrics are being built and more jobs will result from the re-tooling of auto plants, conveyor systems, parts manufacturing, etc. Mechanics need to shift with the times. More Electrics, means a re-education of how to assemble or re-assemble them as more get into crashes, accidents and fender benders like I did a month ago. I had to take mine to a Authorized Tesla body shop. The people at Chilton Auto Body said that Tesla has intense training classes to ensure that the world’s best car is re-assembled as good or better than it was prior to a crash. Those educators are part of a new job SIC…So, Tesla is a value added job creator in education and re-training too. And that includes being up to date on all software…Here is their newest V10 update downloaded automatically in cars…we just have to accept the download…usually done overnight.

    This week, Tesla owners around the world will start waking up to Version 10.0 features via an over-the-air update. Here’s a look at what’s new:
    Tesla Theater
    Get the most out of Model S, Model X, and Model 3 center displays by connecting to your Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu or Hulu + Live TV accounts to watch your favorite shows, movies and content right from your car while parked. Additionally, all customers will have access to Tesla tutorial videos to learn more about their vehicle.
    Smart Summon
    With Smart Summon, customers who have purchased Full Self-Driving Capability or Enhanced Autopilot can enable their car to navigate a parking lot and come to them or their destination of choice, as long as their car is within their line of sight. It’s the perfect feature to use if you have an overflowing shopping cart, are dealing with a fussy child, or simply don’t want to walk to your car through the rain. Customers who have had early access to Smart Summon have told us that it adds both convenience to their trips and provides them with a unique moment of delight when their car picks them up to begin their journey. Those using Smart Summon must remain responsible for the car and monitor it and its surroundings at all times.
    Our new “Car-aoke” feature lets you sing your heart out with friends on a road trip – or by yourself. Caraoke comes with a massive library of music and song lyrics, with support for multiple languages.
    Restaurants & Destinations
    Our new “I’m Feeling Lucky” and “I’m Feeling Hungry” navigation features will lead you on an adventure to a local restaurant or point of interest that’s within your car’s range. In testing, we’ve been taken to hole-in-the-wall restaurants, gourmet meals, national parks, city landmarks and more.
    We’ve also improved our maps so that your search results will be sorted based on distance to each destination. Owners can also tap on highlighted points of interest, businesses, or search results in the larger map view to see business ratings, start a phone call, or begin navigating to the location.
    Music & Podcasts
    We’re expanding our music and audio platform to enable Spotify Premium account access in all supported markets – one of the most requested features from Tesla owners. This will be in addition to Slacker Radio and TuneIn, which are also available in Tesla vehicles.
    Tesla Arcade
    Cuphead, Studio MDHR’s popular run-and-gun action game, is now available in the Tesla Arcade. Traverse strange worlds, acquire new weapons, learn super moves, and discover hidden secrets while you try to pay your debt back to the devil. Using a USB controller, single-player and co-op modes are available to play in the Tesla Edition of Cuphead, which includes the game’s full first level as you play as Cuphead or Mugman.
    Security & Convenience
    To help make USB storage for our Dashcam and Sentry Mode features easier to manage, video clips taken while your vehicle is being protected by Sentry Mode will now be stored to a separate folder on your USB drive. Older clips will also be automatically deleted if you’re low on storage.
    We have also made several UI and options changes available to drivers. One of our favorites is the new “Joe Mode,” which lowers the cabin volume for select alerts such as parking chimes – perfect for when you have sleeping passengers in the rear seats that you don’t want to wake up. Additionally, you can now do even more with your car from your Tesla app with the latest mobile software, including opening and closing your garage door via HomeLink, defrosting your vehicle’s cabin at the maximum temperature, and remotely controlling your Model 3 and Model X windows.

    • When Electronic vehicle batteries can be recharged without having to use energy sources dependent on fossil fuels let me know because then and only then might I have an interest otherwise it’s just it’s another ruse built around saving the environment and combating Climate change nonsense. By the way the Porsche Taycan is eating musk’s lunch ……

      • California and most of the west coast don’t use dirty fossil fuel. Less than two percent of our power comes from coal. The rest is hydro, solar, wind, thermal and although technically a fossil fuel, but much cleaner…natural gas.

        But your reasoning doesn’t make sense. Even if the fuel to charge was dirty…there are zero emissions after that. The process to make, transport and distribute oil and gas requires almost three Times more pollution and emissions than it takes to burn that fuel out in a car. Therefore a fossil fuel run car is responsible for triple the pollutants.

      • Oh I’m sorry I didn’t know that California is the only State with Tesla’s – my bad – there you go again Cali the only State that matters in the Nation – the world doesn’t revolve around California …….. What a self serving response.

      • The environmental cost of manufacturing the vehicle is 4x to 6x higher than the environmental cost of manufacturing a dino-fuel vehicle.

        Mark is deluding himself if he believes Cali’s electricity isn’t coming from either coal or uranium. California’s nonconventional electricity generation produces between 6% and 8% of the total of electricity used within the State. The remainder comes off the Western Grid, and is fed from Nebraska, Texas, and the energy corridor along Interstate 70. The reason a 200km HEMP over SLC, or a 350km HEMP over Omaha would take out the leftist coast is not ’cause they’d roast the dams (although they would), but because they’d roast every transformer along 1400+ miles of high-tension cable.

        The EV is an amazing bit of tech. If I lived in the LA Basin, I’d have been driving one 40 years ago, because doing so would make sense, in the LA Basin. Steam and electric powered vehicles proffer much more initial torque than gas or diesel, and 100% of it is available instantly, at the flip of a valve or switch (respectively.) I’m not sold on the value of an EV for ‘Frisco (I’d have to see the regen curves) because hills eat power, but a hybrid vehicle, set-up with the electric “oomph” dedicated to “torque boost on startup” may well be the ideal urban transport buggy for that area.

        In no way would I ever be sold on a “connected vehicle” or one that’s “semiconnected” but maintains an open comms port. If a manufacturer or maintenance entity can push software updates, so can a hacker, cracker, or phreaker (and yes, Virginia, there ARE still phone phreakers around, although all but one I know personally, work for the NSA now…) If you can call your Camry or Genesis with a smartphone, and have it pick you up curbside (which they’ve both been able to do since 2015), a savvy phreaker or hacker can hack yer ride…

        BTW Mark, we folks in the Midwest don’t use dirty fossil fuel either. We use clean fossil fuel, and nuclear — lots and lots of nuclear. Our potential radiation incidents line the Ohio River and the Great Lakes to keep the lights on both here, and in the Seattle to San Diego corridor. You have my permission to lobby Sacramento, to allow Cali to become more energy-responsible, and independent of the Grid, by building your own enhanced radiation piles…

      • I personally don’t have a problem with fossel fuels or any fuel Clawsy…. we heat using coal and other replentishable products, I did make an alteration to the burn basket. so I get the double burn to burn the waste exhaust.. a couple inches difference in the basket height is all it took and no black smoke from looking at it you can’t even tell that there was a change made.. I put the old basket in the garage ready to change out… I would love to get a coal stove gravity fed but costs of the stove is more than my budget can handle at this time…. coal is cheap and efficient.. just change it a slight bit to burn the exhaust gases…. we have an electric plug in hybrid and recharge using solar cells.. you can even have a solar roof put on to recharge while it is parked.. I bought it because it is the future.. and I promote the use of renewable energy.. yet support the energy sources we already have.

    • It won’t be long though, some hacker hacks into your program and scrambles the brains of your computer then your car is dead .but it sounds like it’s pretty neat

    • Your numbers are a little off. California’s sources for electricity are 3.3% coal, 34.7% natural gas, 9% nuclear and the rest a mix of hydro, bio and renewable with a very suspicious 10.7% ‘unspecified sources’ according to the 2018 California Energy Commission figures. The CEC is a highly politicized group with deep roots from the first Brown administration so it’s figures must always be taken with two grains of salt.
      That said, Tesla has broken the paradigm for close proximity light vehicle transportation in an amazing way and deserves accolades on so many levels in my opinion. Without Tesla, we might still be meandering down the hydrogen or natural gas fuel paths which both have significant drawbacks compared to battery electric vehicles.
      Where non fossil fuel electricity is predominant, BEVs have a slightly lower lifetime carbon footprint than internal combustion diesel vehicles. The smaller than expected differential in lifetime carbon footprints is in part due to end of life disposal/recycling costs associated with lithium based storage. However, where electricity is sourced through the common mix of fossil fuel based generation, the lifetime carbon footprint of BEVs significantly exceeds that of ICDVs. This is from studies sponsored by EU agencies, not some coal or petroleum advocates.
      This is the frustrating truth that most BEV owners don’t recognize because the facts have been obscured.
      As we slowly come around to understanding that oil sourced via fracking requires $100/bbl market price to be profitable, we will also become aware that solar and other renewables will be most economical in the long run; not because the price of solar, wind or bio is reduced through greater efficiencies but because other sources will become more expensive. So, maybe Tesla and other BEV makers have it right for the not too distant future.
      I just wish they would work towards battery swap out stations so people with long drives could have a ‘quick battery change’ and keep going down the road instead of lengthy charging stops.

      • Ric, a very thoughtful post.
        Although I don’t mention it often, the DC power instrumentation systems company I was with for a few years did the instrumentation for the hybrid electric vehicle challenge for Argonne National Labs in the 1998-2001 period. In a world of “voltage prescalers” and data loggers, one becomes acutely aware of the tradeoffs between individual vehicle performance on the one hand and systemic performance, on the other.
        The laws of physics just don’t bend – to anyone’s politics of agenda.

        It still takes so much energy to move one pound a distance of one mile. You can nibble at the efficiencies of doing this any number of ways. My personal favorite is extremely high-pressure tires. Anyone who has ridden a Schwinn balloon tire nightmare and one of the early 70 PSI three-speed English Racers (mine was a Robin Hood, a knock-off of the Raleigh) will appreciate this efficiency.
        That said, while the Tesla is an admirable vehicle in many ways, it simply shifts the pollution to a new source: The generating station, as all EVs do.
        In terms of systemic efficiency, however, I’d note that my sister is on her second Toyota Prius (having worn out the first). And, like me, if the real goal of a new vehicle is to move cargo from A to B in an environmentally responsible manner, a small, highly efficient hybrid would be the hands-down winner, were it not for the impacts of its battery pack.

        While the Tesla (and Porsche’s new EV) is impressive, systemic efficiency, which begins with the energy source and ends with recycling at the far end of product life, is the honest measure of a product.

        We live in a world where it’s impossible to improve much on nature. I can move my 220 pounds 10-miles with a “fuel input” of a couple of cheeseburgers, and my recycled energy output is used as fertilizer when complete.

        That’s a might high metric. Granted, I can’t do 0-60 in “set your hair on fire” time, but with only modest maintenance, I’ve gotten 70-years out of my cheeseburger powered feet. No sign of anything close, although a Nashiki rod bike with disk brakes is my second choice.

        Side story: Seattle Times did a race between whatever the hot cars were bac k in 1970, or so, and a 10-speed bike. One end of downtown (Jackson st.) to the other (Denny Way) at 4:30 PM.

        Bike won by five minutes in about a five mile challenge.

        Sometimes, the future is behind us.

  3. The cicadas crack me up. How that fat bug even flys is a miracle. They are always flying inti sh!t. One domed me the other night. Hahaahahh.

    Hi, George. Im back to Seattle Tuesday, grab gears until after the holidays. My 100 day vacation/sebaitcal has produced much fruit.

    Then off to either London for a couple weeks after the new year. Giving away all my belongings except some clothes actually gave me sooo much freedom. i can just crash in an airbnb anywhere i go. My Lithuanian princess friend is buying me a round trip ticket. Just trying to figure out dates.

    Sill got my union gig, but i will be cranking out that SIE next month and after the first of the year, i will get on at a firm. Probably Morgan Stanely and get that 7 done. Not sure where to land for a home base. Maybe back here in the desert. I made some friends at that firm.

    Hope ya have a great day. Think i will buy me one of those Jag’s. They are super fun and have some seriously good reviews.

    I got invited to Mexico city. My buddy’s family owns the oldest hacienda there. Built in 1822, i think. Said i could stay as long as i want for free. He wants me to come down there too. Maybe in march. Said we will take a trip up.to the sea of cortez and do this cleanaing retreat where you only eat veggies and take all these herbs to clean your body out for a month. And do some herbal enimas. Hahahha! Sounds legit.

    Let me know if the world crashes. Hahaha

  4. And my Manhattan money chick wants me to go to the big apple for new years. Said i could stay with her at her 5th ave apartment. Said she would take me on the floor of wallstreet And introduce me to some people. first she would take me shoping for a suit because camo pants and a dirty tractor supply ballcap on backwards wouldnt be appropriate.

    So i may take off from the big apple to london from there.

    And you know me. I may just say fck it, keep grabbing gears, swoop on some country girl and buy a place out in the sticks. Sit around the bonfire with a dog on a stick, have a smoke and a cup of black coffee and ponder the universe and do none of that stuff. but its nice to know i can if i want. Hahahha

    I will send ya a picture of me and the fellas with the TM. Funny. Me the dumptruck driver and the totality of all these mens wealth well over a billion. All just regular dudes to me. Atleast thats how i treat them. Its been super super good. I spent an entire season here in the desert. :)

  5. “The public could demand better warranties, and there could be a repairable products movement.”

    ‘Won’t happen. LL Bean cancelled their “across the board” unlimited lifetime warranty and now offers a one year warranty. Their quality hasn’t diminished appreciably. They were bleeding money though, because people were buying worn-out Bean merch for pennies, then “returning” it to Bean for new “replacement” merchandise. As a society, we’ve become immoral in many ways not related to sex or “sin-tax” industries. As long as a significant portion of the populace feels “empowered” to game the system and commit wholesale fraud, this can never happen. Manufacturers will shutter, rather than commit financial suicide by extending warranties.

    As to repairable products, my classic Sunbeam T-9 (ca. 1939), round, chrome, and the epitome of art deco, has two slots, each lined with steel wire to hold the bread away from the heating elements. It has two heating elements per slot, each comprised of nichrome wire stretched between ceramic standoffs. It has a spring-loaded lowering drawer which latches to a hook on the end of a bimetallic strip, and a screw which adjusts the tension on the bimetallic strip (IOW it’s made off Sunbeam’s license of Toastmaster’s original patent.) It has a cleanout door on the bottom, and two bakelite handles. A handyman-type person can fix anything which could ever go wrong, wear out, or burn up, probably with stuff that’s laying around their house or garage. That’s not much of an issue though, because there’s pretty much nothing to ever go wrong, unless the toaster is abused.

    New toasters, even the $10 cheapies, have replaced the bimetallic strip and its adjuster with a bundle of electronics, and the chrome-plated brass (later, stainless) with plastic. When the electronics go tango uniform, the $10 toaster suddenly costs $60 to repair, and you discover there are no user-serviceable parts inside, because the manufacture potted the PCB in epoxy.

    “But, the MEANINGFUL change will come when all products are required to post cycle life.”

    SO, wanna buy a cigarette-pack sized 200 watt amplifier? I had another of my top-shelf “24 year” LEDs die a few days ago. That’s two out of three, in a fixture that’s only existed since March. Manufacturers will lie — not legally, but they will conduct tests under highly specific and not typical or consumer-repeatable conditions, then extrapolate the results.

    “Also useful would be a mandatory sticker on everything showing the country where it was built. Given there even is a US product, I would buy American over Chinese, given comparable cycle life, every time even if it cost a bit more.”

    …Not just where it was assembled, but where the individual parts were made.

    I don’t want “comparable life cycle.” I want superior life cycle and I want product that’s actually usable. The U.S. has had its share of 3rd tier manufacturers, too (think “Buffalo” or “Fuller” tools, back in the ’60s They were worse than Pakistani tools, and softer, but not as brittle.) “Buy American” has never meant one was buying quality, merely that the product they were buying was more-likely to be of good quality than products made most other places.

    I want my plier jaws, bearing balls & races, and knife edges hard, and my Oilite porous and spongy. I also want my wool soft and not itchy (which means UK or New Zealand) and my silk, warm & tough (which means China.) That doesn’t mean I’m going to buy an American hand-axe. The Swedes and Germans make better steel for sharps than we. The Japanese make sharper throwaways. That said, my Ontario machete is probably the finest made at any price, and it’s made in New York. The blurb from the “knife nerds” is it’s the only one made from hardened tool steel.

    I buy American whenever I can, sometimes to the point of burning $10 of petrol for a $5 item. I do so because it keeps people working and supports our economy, and because I generally know EXACTLY what I need to complete the job I’m doing, and “different” or “less” won’t cut it. Now north of 60, I refuse to sacrifice an actual need on a compromise which may, or may not work. I refuse to sacrifice quality for a throwaway item, unless circumstances force me to. I also refuse to sacrifice my principles. I make sure management “overhears” me when I’m in an “everything store” which has 300,000 sq.ft. of gofasters & bling, and does NOT have what I need. I always make a reference to “having to go to Amazon” to get the item I want. That may be the true value of Amazon — bludgeoning stupid store managers into realizing sometimes you have to sacrifice high-profit shelf-space for “necessary stuff” shelf-space, or the customers you lose won’t make up for the crap you sell…

  6. Something in the stock market makes me nervous, although I can’t put my finger on it. The DOW & NASDAQ both are below their 50 day moving average & show red for direction, but The S&P 500 is still above its 50 day moving average & is green for go. Bollinger Bands are narrowing signaling something is changing & stochastics are negative. Cash looks good for now.

  7. I did some looking around at toasters.

    Kohl’s offers toasters. They range in price from $9.99 for a compact 2-Slice Toaster to $379.99 for a Classic 4-Slice Toaster.

    38 to 1 ratio on price ranging from one hour of minimum wage to about one week of minimum wage.

    Macy’s offers toasters. These range in price between $18.99 (compact two slice) to $399.00 (4 slice). 20 to 1 ratio or 2 hours Vs a week of pay @ minimum.

    Macy’s offers fancy toasters that toast an imprint of a dog or Darth Vader onto the toast. These go for $32.99. $32.99 must be the sweet spot for toaster prices.

    When you are in the market for a toaster, do you look at the most expensive and talk yourself down or look at the cheapest and talk yourself up?

    I already mentioned that when I was working on my floor, I crinkled two hydraulic jacks. Clearly, I bought starting at the cheapest point moving up. I approached the jack this way because I figure it’s a use once and then sit for years tool.

    I took a look at my toaster. My toaster looks like I went with a $9.00/20.00 model. I don’t remember when I bought the toaster so I think I got a good deal. At the 20 – 1 ratio I still have 19 toasters to go.

    Ideally, I want the toaster to fail soon after I do. If the toaster goes on living long after I’m gone – I overspent on quality. I could have purchased an increment of quality in something else, Cîroc instead of Five O’Clock.

    We’re the low bidders out in the marketplace.

    I suppose these “low bidder” techniques apply to most actions. Think about when you are young and you ask a dame on date. Do you take her to the dollar show or downtown to the theater?
    From her point of view, she wants a high-quality experience – the theatre.
    From the other point of view, they want low-bid.

  8. And another thing, the next best thing to cheap is free. People will give anything for a freebie.

    On one side of the ledger we have Facebook, free. Chocked to the gills with advertisements, data mining and algorithms.

    The other side of the ledger has “Vero”. Cost – “the subscription would cost the equivalent of “a couple of cups of coffee a year”.” No gills filled with advertisements, data mining and algorithms.

    We all know the winner of that one.

    “Vero is a social media platform and mobile app company.[3][4] Vero markets itself as a social network free from advertisements, data mining and algorithms.[5]”

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