No. of Recommendations: 3
Denny, the news about the effects of the drought there in V is really discouraging: water and energy rationing; govt. limiting work and power distribution. How are you holding up out there? Are we getting the real news here or is it not as worrisome as it sounds?
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The drought is real enough, it's bad but not all that unusual. We have a clearly defined rainy season (winter) from May to the end of November and a dry season (summer) from December through the end on April. The sugar cane industry sets their timetables accordingly. Harvest goes from December 1 through early April followed by planting for the next season. Then the sugar mills are shut down for maintenance. During the rainy season heavy equipment would get bogged down in the mud of the sugar cane plantations.

On April 1 I drove back from Puerto La Cruz (about 200 miles east of Caracas) and noticed that the brush fires were larger than I had ever seen before. In the following weeks we had a haze of smoke over Caracas from brush fires 30 to 50 miles east of Caracas. On some days soot would fly right into my apartment -- quite unusual. This week we had the first serious rains of the season, enough to have cleared the air over Caracas.

We have had water rationing before but not electricity rationing. When water runs out, when the reservoirs run dry, there is not much you can do about it but to ration. While Guri produces a lot of the electricity in Venezuela we also have lots of thermoelectric and diesel power plants. Before Guri was built they produced most of our power.

It is a fact that Lake Guri is low on water to critical levels. The government blames it on El Niño. Critics say the water usage was exaggerated because the equipment is in such bad repair that it did not perform to standard. I can't vouch for either side but lack of maintenance is a typical Venezuela disease specially in installations run by the military. They should be locked up in their garrisons and the keys thrown away. We had a bit of an energy crisis a few years back and critics showed pictures of just how badly the equipment was kept. Back then the government placed orders for lots of diesel power plants, the quickest way out of the crisis.

The situation is not homogeneous across Venezuela. In Puerto La Cruz they had water but electricity was rationed. Where I was they would cut power from 10 to noon ruining the morning working hours. The Internet connection was so poor that I had difficulty in getting work done. In Caracas we have electricity but water is heavily rationed. In Caracas instead of rationing electricity they send government workers home and shorten private enterprise working hours. Yesterday I went to get a package and I was told the business would only open at noon. Since it was 10 o'clock I decided not to waste two hours and went on my way.

Prices are rising alarmingly. Yesterday I bought olive oil and it was 33% higher than a month ago. My courier rates are rising 25% monthly. The craziest price disparity I have seen lately is that beer was cheaper at a restaurant than in the grocery store. How can that be?

The Chavista government was a disaster but the Maduro government is disaster squared. In 1997 Chavez won with a landslide majority. In 2015 the opposition won a 2/3rd supermajority in the National Assembly. The discontent on the street is palpable yet people are not rising up pitchfork in hand.

Worrisome? A real pain in the "sitting flesh" as the Germans call it! People are unhappy but they cope. Where I see the most danger is in the shortage of medical drugs and supplies. As a historical note, the hotel my dad ran from 1957 to 1977 had both an emergency diesel generator and a deep water well. One learns to cope.

Denny Schlesinger
 


PS: Internet connection. Some days the internet in Venezuela slows to a crawl. A colleague told me the problem is the electricity rationing. So many DNS servers are down that making connections becomes very difficult. In addition, the local government run telco (CANTV) censors some IP addresses. One day I got so frustrated that I changed my DNS servers from the default telco ones to public servers in the USA. My Internet connection is working much better and I now have direct access to a website, blocked by CANTV DNS servers, that quotes black market dollar rates. Screw Maduro and his buddies.
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That's for the picture of things there. In the spirit of "coping", if you want me to send something from No. Carolina (Raleigh), let me know.
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Meant to say, "Thanks" for the picture not "that's"...
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Thanks for the offer. I'm fine. I have bought a few things via Amazon including bath soap, deodorant, socks and underwear! ;)

As long as the orders are for under $100 they don't pay the regular customs duty or VAT tax so you get a pretty good deal. Just don't bring anything heavy, the freight kills you. One thing to understand about these stupid revolutions is that the people who are truly hurt are the very people the revolution is designed to defend, the poor people. They still get miserable salaries and have to queue up for hours to buy at "regulated prices" if they can find what they need.

The middle class can find all the fresh food they want at free market prices that the poor can't afford and lately even meat and poultry has been available.

A curious oddity of the revolution is that since packaged good are scarce or expensive one gets to eat healthier fresh food instead. Venezuela is very fertile and the produce markets are all brimming with fresh veggies and fruit.

Denny Schlesinger
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Tonight's dinner, a variation on Spanish potato omelette:

Slice a medium potato as if to make shoestring fries. Slice fine some cabbage, a small onion, and a sweet pepper. Fry on low heat in olive oil in a covered skillet seasoning with salt and black pepper. Scramble an egg (or two). Stir the potatoes occasionally, a little burn is OK. When the potato is soft add the scrambled egg. Swirl the skillet so the egg covers the potato mix as much as possible. After a minute flip over the omelette. In another minute it's perfect!

Serve. Enjoy dinner! A cold beer goes nicely with it.

Denny Schlesinger
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You may not remember me, Denny, but I attended the BMWm conferences in San Diego and in Raleigh. I met you in the Hilton bar on the first evening although we didn't converse. I attended with Sandy Caster, if you remember her. She did a presentation at that Raleigh meeting, something related to "Better Investing", I believe.
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Hi Beishma!

My apologies for intruding into your conversation with Denny, but to my knowledge he has never been to a BMWM conference. (Since I was unable to make the San Diego conference, my info might be incorrect).

Personally I wish he had, given all he has done here.

We did engrave and send him a special "BMWM" pen....from Tiffany's as I recall, to recognize and thank him for all the hard work.

Cheers!
Murph
Home Fool
(Host of the first BMWM conference in Charleston, SC)
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Murph:

Boards are like party lines. Welcome to the conversation! You are right, I didn't attend a single BMW conference but I did record them as best I could. Maybe Beishma can identify who he means from the pictures:

TMFMurph & company:

http://bmwmethod.com/conference/gallery.php

Denny Schlesinger
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Very sorry. I stand corrected... not the first mistake I've made. There was a fellow with a distinct mustache, and I thought his name was "Denny". He's actually in the photo on the BMW Method home page. Unfortunately, I only remember a handful of people who attended: Sandy, of course, and Vik, Mike K., Jim Schout, the late Gary A. and Icy (Stan). I still have the yellow & blue folders from each conf. Ah well...
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Well, if you talking about the guy in the white shirt at the end of the table, that me! (Photo from the first BMWM conference in Charleston)

Cheers!
Murph
Home Fool
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Yep. Looking over those attached photos, Murph, you're the man. No we didn't talk to one another.

After the last conference, Jim S. came out to Raleigh (Cary) and spoke to a group of us, hosted by Sandy, called "The Cyber Cafe". This was just after the 2008 scare-a-thon. Gary, one of the nicest guys, attended once with his son, at a different meeting.
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I'm honored to be confused with fellow Fool, Sailor, Investor, and Entrepreneur, Murph!

Denny Schlesinger
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Are you two, by any chance, fans of the "America's Cup" races?
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I used to be when it was less professional, when Ted, "The Mouth that Roared," won it. When they were racing 12 meters. Back then I was racing Stars.

The Captain
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What Denny said...an America's Cup fan back in the "good ole days". ;-)

Cheers!
Murph
Home Fool
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VERY kind words, Denny!

Thank you.

Cheers!
Murph
Home Fool
(who hopes to be able to raise a glass with The Captain someday)
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Coal to Newcastle?

BP Ships U.S. Crude to Venezuelan Terminal

http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/bp-ships-us-crude-...
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PDVSA has said Jose port is working without delays.

PDVSA most likely is lying. It's the not so new modus operandi of our government.

The way I've heard the story (I can't vouch for it), Venezuelan crude is so heavy and sour that it needs a boost before it can be refined. I know that the deposits on the Orinoco belt are extra heavy. They used to make bunker fuel from it, Orimulsion, by emulsifying it with a process developed by or in collaboration with BP. For some reason they seem to have stopped making it, or so I heard.


Another reason given by current PDVSA management is that with rising crude oil prices, it has been found that mixing or diluting Orinoco bitumen (extra-heavy oil) with a lighter crude oil can make this blend more profitable as a crude oil on the world market than by selling it as Orimulsion. An example of this is the popular Merey blend (Orinoco bitumen and Mesa crude oil). ConocoPhillips along with PDVSA operate the Merey Sweeny 58,000-barrel-per-day (9,200 m3/d) (bpd) delayed coker, vacuum tower and related facilities at ConocoPhillips' refinery in Sweeny, Texas, U.S.A. for processing and upgrading heavy sour Merey crude oil.[citation needed]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orimulsion#Decreasing_usage

Denny Schlesinger
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