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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Economic notes from the Hinterland

Iowa Man writes:
Talking to a Bob, a older guy that mows lawns in his spare time. A big time Cubs fan in a town where your either a Cubby or Cardinals fan.

Bob works at Pinnacle Foods, which everyone calls Armour, recalling its' earlier owner.

He receives 2,000 pound, pallets of frozen deboned beef and pork. Placed into a large pot heated with spices and other ingredients, voila Chili, Beef stew or something else.

Bob says he has never seen it so busy. They are running 12 hour shifts 7 days a week. The weak economy is good for them, people are buying up cheap food.

Pinnacle is owned by the Blackstone Group which is traded as BX on the NYSE.

The stock is languishing but paying 16%
Some links:
Also Siemens started shipping its wind turbine blades (130') by rail from Fort Madison: Pretty amazing site, will try to get some pics.
The photo that accompanied the story about the wind turbine blades is pretty pitiful, so I went and collected some more off the net.

Theoretically speaking, wind turbines seem like a pretty good idea. Free power, or at least power without any fuel. But each of these turbines cost around $2.5 million installed. How long is it going to take to pay that back? Evidently some people think the payback time is reasonable.

And then there's the feeling I get when I see these things. Mostly they are installed in open fields, and it just strikes me that there is something wrong with sticking these enormous spindly structures in the middle of the fields. Maybe it's just my attraction to "wide open spaces", and there is no real good basis for my feelings.

And then there are the birds. I came across one story that claimed most bird strikes happened with older, smaller and faster spinning turbines, and since the newer turbines spin slower, it shouldn't be a problem. Well, the rotational speed of these turbines is much lower, taking maybe six seconds to complete a revolution, but the diameter is much larger and so the linear velocity at the outer ends of the blades is much higher. For a turbine with 130 foot long blades, turning at ten RPM (six seconds per revolution), the linear velocity at the tip of the blade is over 90 MPH.

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