Wednesday, July 21, 2010

So I was curious about overpopulation...

A few weeks ago I overheard a group of people discussing China's concerns of overpopulation. I began to think...A) Is the earth overpopulated? and B) I should learn to eavesdrop on cooler conversations. Anyhow, I decided to see how much of the earth humanity would inhabit should we all live together in one giant city.

Math people: check my math. I think my numbers are right but I am too lazy to double check.

The Texas Panhandle, according to the infallible wikipedia, is 25,823.9 square miles. 25,823.9 square miles could =
160.698 miles X 160.698 miles =
848,486.3073 feet X 848,486.3073 feet =
7.19929E+11 square feet =
a lot of square footage in the Texas Panhandle.

Translation: if you divide the Texas Panhandle into 10x10 lots (100 square foot lots) you would end up with 7,199,290,138 100 square foot lots in the Texas Panhandle.

The population of the world is estimated to be 6,854,901,988 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

So, if every person in the world was given a 10x10 plot of land we would all fit in the Texas Panhandle with some room to spare. Granted, Humanville (that's what we would call it) would be a cest pool of socialistic depravity; but, it would leave the rest of the world free to be green...99.9% unihabited (I made up 99.9%, but it seems about right). Here's a visual in case you aren't sure what the world looks like:

So what's my point? I don't really have one. Scratch that, I do have one. Dear China, there's enough room in the world for your people to have babies.

Disclaimer: yes, I know that the overpopulation issue is more an issue of consumption than it is space. I don't care. I was curious how much space we took up. Perhaps I'll deal with consumption issues in a future boring blog post.

Friday, July 9, 2010

So, I was curious how much I have been shelling out to Xcel Energy for my deep freeze each month...

Earlier this week I bought this fancy toy called a Kill A Wat. It allows me to measure how much energy various things in my house are using, and do a little spreadsheeting to figure out how much these various things are costing me per month. Hooray! A nice lady at Xcel Energy was kind enough to help me break down my bill and figure out how much I am paying per kilowatt hour. Oddly, she acted as if people don't regularly ask this question. The answer is 7.322 cents per KwH plus 4% in various taxes. Here are some results of my boring study:

Xbox: .914 cents per hour. Not much. However, if you work 24/7 at leveling up in World of Warcraft, it will not only cost you the respect of society but also $6.58 per month.

Wii: Interestingly, the Wii is 10 times more energy efficient than the Xbox, costing just .137 cents per hour.

Clothes Dryer: by my math, it costs close to 25 cents per load (high heat, 45 minute dry cycle, front loading washer and dryer). So, 2 loads per day costs you $15 per month to dry your clothes.

Linksys Wireless Router: costs 22 cents per month.

Computer: .495 cents per hour when active. i.e. it costs you $3.64 per month if you don't put your computer in sleep mode.

Iphone charger (whilst doing its job): .0457 cents per hour

20" CRT TV: .312 cents per hour

LCD vs. Plasma (using cnet's numbers LCD: .845 cents per hour Plasma: 2.29 cents per hour

Alarm Clock: 16.44 cents per month per clock

Dishwasher: 16.55 cents per load (Energy Star certified dishwasher)

1 100 watt light bulb: .761 cents per hour ($5.48 per month if left on 24/7) (the new funky looking energy efficient lights cut your costs by about 75%)

Refrigerator: $13.71 per month

Deep Freeze: It looks like it is costing me around $6.10 per month to keep my turkey, waffles, mysterious item in tupperware, pizzas, and popsicles frozen. Bummer.

Basically, with electricity, every little bit adds up. This morning I discovered this website: This guy has done WAY more work on this than I will ever do. Also, he has great mad scientist hair.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Random car buying thoughts...

I bought a car last year. Sadly, I did not have a blog then. Alas, all of my mostly useless information never made it to the internet. Thankfully, I now have a diary blog. As you might imagine, I did an unhealthy amount of research before buying. I'll spare you the spreadsheets; but, in 4-door sedan world, it seems that you get the most most "bang for your buck" (factoring in depreciation, fuel expense, insurance cost, car longevity, upkeep, maintenance, etc.) by buying a 4-6 year old luxury model (Acura, Lexus, Infiniti) with 50,000-100,000 miles. Also, you can get great deals on bank/credit union-repossessions (make sure to make a ridiculously low offer). If you are in the market, here's a list of a few credit unions I found that take the time to list their repos online:




Wichita Falls






Friday, July 2, 2010

Sam's vs. Walmart

I have always been curious as to how good of a "deal" Sam's Club is. I remember from my marketing classes that Sam's was a master of making one think that he or she is getting a deal by buying straight from the warehouse. Did you know Sam's Club stores, when they first opened, hired guys to drive forklifts around the store? These guys didn't actually do any work; they just drove around the store to give the customer the feeling of bargain shopping in a warehouse. True story. To compare Sam's and Walmart, I broke down everything into cost per unit or per ounce. I also threw in generic brands out of curiosity. My ridiculously nerdy spreadsheet containing all of the data can be found here: The comparison:

Sam's Club:

Huggies Natural Care wipes $0.021/wipe
Huggies Size 4 Diapers $0.22/diaper
Quilted Northern Double Rolls $0.47/roll
Honey Nut Cheerios $0.14/oz.
Peter Pan Peanut Butter $0.08/oz.
Honey $0.15/oz.
Krusteaz Pancake Mix $0.041/oz.
Tyson Dino Chicken $0.16/oz.
Tyson Chicken Breasts $0.14/oz.
Blue Bell Ice Cream $0.083/oz.
Eggs $0.07/egg
Ego Waffles $0.15/oz.
Cheddar Cheese $0.13/oz.
Red Seedless Grapes $0.10/oz.
Gala Apples $0.09/oz.
Strawberries $0.09/oz.
Milk $2.83/gallon
Ritz Crackers $0.14/oz.
Goldfish Crackers $0.14/oz.
Mrs. Baird's Large White Bread $0.08/oz.
Crest Toothpaste $0.31/oz.
Energizer AAA Batteries $0.42/battery


Huggies Natural Care wipes $0.024/wipe
Huggies Size 4 Diapers $0.23/diaper
Quilted Northern Double Rolls $0.50/roll
Honey Nut Cheerios $0.15/oz.
Peter Pan Peanut Butter $0.11/oz.
Honey $0.19/oz.
Krusteaz Pancake Mix $0.057/oz.
Tyson Dino Chicken $0.17/oz.
Tyson Chicken Breasts $0.17/oz.
Blue Bell Ice Cream $0.055/oz.
Eggs $0.1/egg
Ego Waffles $0.1/oz.
Kraft Cheddar Cheese $0.25/oz.
Red Seedless Grapes $0.12/oz.
Gala Apples $0.07/oz.
Strawberries $0.12/oz.
Milk $4.78/gallon
Ritz Crackers $0.16/oz.
Goldfish Crackers $0.21/oz.
Mrs. Baird's Large White Bread $0.09/oz.
Crest Toothpaste $0.38/oz.
Energizer AAA Batteries $0.56/battery

Walmart Generic Brands:

Parent's Choice wipes $0.017/wipe
Parent's Choice Size 4 Diapers $0.17/diaper
Angel Soft Double Rolls $0.46/roll
Honey Nut Spins $0.13/oz.
GV Pan Peanut Butter $0.07/oz.
GV Honey $0.2/oz.
GV Pancake Mix $0.046/oz.
GV Dino Chicken $0.15/oz.
GV Chicken Breasts $0.14/oz.
GV Ice Cream $0.035/oz.
Eggs $0.1/egg
GV Waffles $0.1/oz.
GV Cheddar Cheese $0.23/oz.
Red Seedless Grapes $0.12/oz.
Gala Apples $0.07/oz.
Strawberries $0.12/oz.
GV Milk $3.98/gallon
GV Crackers $0.08/oz.
Cheddar Whale Crackers $0.12/oz.
GV White Bread $0.04/oz.
AIM Toothpaste $0.14/oz.
Rayovac AAA Batteries $0.42/battery

Summary: Average per ounce/per unit savings at Sam's vs. Walmart = 21.13%. Not bad. The biggest savings items are milk (68.9%), cheddar cheese (88.2%), goldfish crackers (52.26%), and peanut butter (48.92%). View all the data here:

However if you, like me, are cheap and buy generic for most things it is cheaper to shop at Walmart...average savings of 4.17%. PSA: if you do choose to go the generic route, please avoid the following knockoffs that can only be described as abominations: Honey Nut Spins, Cheddar Whales, AIM toothpaste, and Parent's Choice diapers.

One other thing I discovered: At Walmart it is not always cheaper per unit or ounce to buy the larger-packaged quantity of an item. For example, yesterday it was more expensive (per ounce) to buy a 2lb block of cheddar cheese than it was to buy a 1lb block of cheese. Walmart can be a tricky little vixen. Beware.

The rest of the story....

This study came at a price. I got the squeaky-leaner cart at Walmart. I would pay 10% more to avoid a squeaky-leaner-carted Walmart trip. Also, I made the mistake of shopping at 5:15 on a weekday...and getting in the self-checkout line behind a couple who bought no fewer than 10 bottles of pickle relish (sadly, they purchased no breath mints) who couldn't master the art of placing their item in the bagging area. For 10 minutes I listened to the repeated "Please place your item in the bagging area.", to which the lady argued back, "I AM PLACING MY ITEM IN YOUR DAGGUM BAGGING AREA!" (she was not). I would have read a magazine, but my only choice had a shirtless Zac Efron on the cover and I didn't want people to judge me. By the way, I think that we can all agree to dislike this Efron fellow.