Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

If You Have Money, Don’t Bet on Any of These

Posted from Culver City, California at 12:48 pm, January 4th, 2011

Following a recent and disturbing annual tradition, here are the predictions for the year to come. Based on past history, anyone with any sense should assume that the vast majority of the predictions below will be so utterly wrong as to shame a man with any dignity into never again putting in writing his thoughts on the coming year.

  1. Gasoline, currently at about $3.30 per gallon here in Los Angeles, will rise in price to over $4.00 per gallon by the end of 2011 as the economy improves. There will be numerous predictions in the news media about prices hitting $5.00 per gallon for 2012.
  2. Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul will all announce that they are running for President. Michael Bloomberg will toy with people and then announce that he isn’t running (this may last into 2012). Newt Gingrich will not run as he will calculate that he can’t win while splitting votes with Palin and Huckabee. No Democrat will mount a serious primary challenge against Obama, although someone like Dennis Kucinich may run solely for the purpose of “expanding the debate” or some similar reason.
  3. Apple will offer minor updates to the iPad and iPhone but will not have any major new product offerings in 2011. They will, however, offer users the ability to store content such as movies and music on Apple servers and access that content on any Apple device, thus revealing the purpose of their massive new data center. In 2012 my guess is that they are planning a 4G iPhone for release early in the year (instead of the usual mid-year release) along with an Apple TV product, although those obviously aren’t predictions for 2011.
  4. The national unemployment rate will drop from its current rate of 9.7 percent, but will remain very close to nine percent. I’ll pin the prediction range at 8.8 to 9.1 percent since there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of job creation going on right now.
  5. US men’s distance runners will set national records in at least three of the following events: 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10,000m, marathon. The current crew of American distance runners is by far the best since the 1970s.
  6. Neither court challenges nor budgetary maneuvering will affect the Affordable Care Act / Obamacare. There is currently much hubbub about the courts overturning the recent health care law, or of Republicans in the House crippling it via lack of funding, but in the end neither will have an effect and the law will move forward as planned.
  7. Yahoo and Adobe will both be purchased. Companies are currently sitting on record amounts of cash, and I suspect Yahoo is actively shopping itself as a way out of financial trouble, while Adobe might be snapped up by the likes of Oracle or Microsoft as a hedge against Apple.
  8. SpaceX will launch only three of the five Falcon 9 missions on their current launch manifest, but all will be successful. They will also launch two of their Falcon 1e rockets successfully.
  9. 3D televisions will still not be a big deal, and may in fact be less of a big deal than they are now.
  10. Splits in the Republican party between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives will increase significantly. While this divide has always been a tension, Republican gains in the last election were made primarily by focusing on economic issues and avoiding social issues. Now that many social conservatives are in power those issues will again rise to the surface, causing party divisions that will lead to calls for “purity tests”, more frequent “RINO” accusations, and at least two Republican Congressmen leaving the party to become independents or Democrats.
  11. Labor disputes in the NFL will not affect the regular season as players and owners come to an agreement to avoid significantly damaging America’s most popular sports league. However, a lockout will be imposed in the NBA and the regular season will be shortened as a result; millionaire players and owners will be on TV crying about unfairness while fans look at $100 ticket prices and feel no sympathy.
  12. Cape Wind and Bluewater Wind will both start construction of their offshore wind farm projects in 2011 after years of legal wrangling and delays.
  13. Total downloads of JAMWiki (a pet project of mine) will exceed 15,000 for the year. This would be a huge jump given past year’s stats, but assuming I have a few months outside of the corporate world then some surprises may be in store. Stats for past years:

    2010: 10,841 downloads
    2009: 9,191 downloads
    2008: 11,146 downloads
    2007: 7,898 downloads

  14. Last but not least, 2011 will see not just two, but three journal entries every month. The quality of said posts will carry on the great tradition of poor writing and questionable judgment that has been a hallmark of this journal since its inception.

There they are, the fearless and (likely) completely wrong predictions for 2011. Check this space again in a year for the retrospective, and add your thoughts, predictions, and insults via the comments link.

2010 Prediction Scorecard

Posted from Culver City, California at 5:50 pm, January 2nd, 2011

Following a massive number of incorrect predictions for 2009, here’s the wrap-up of my predictions for 2010; clearly no one will ever mistake me for Nostradamus.

  1. SpaceX will launch their Falcon 9 rocket successfully in March or April and will have two successful launches before year end.

    The rocket launched successfully in June, and a second launch took place in December. This is a big deal for anyone interested in space, and, even though I was off by a month on the launch date, this scores as a correct prediction since I’m doing the scoring.

  2. Despite Democrats losing their 60th Senate seat in the Massachusetts special election there will still be some sort of health care bill passed this year.

    When this prediction was made there was near universal agreement that the bill was dead, yet it passed about a month later. Two out of two so far for the prediction game, but it’s all downhill from here.

  3. Tiger Woods will be golfing again in time for the Masters, will win at least one major championship, and at least five tournaments.

    He was back for the Masters, then didn’t win a single tournament. Historically I think my record for sports-related predictions stands at something like zero-for-ten…

  4. The iPhone is going to be available from carriers besides AT&T by mid-year.

    Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times says this is happening in early 2011, but that doesn’t make my prediction any less wrong.

  5. The stock market will end the year around 11,500.

    Another rare correct prediction. It rose from about 10,200 at the beginning of the year to close at 11,577 at the end of the year.

  6. NASA’s ARES rocket program will be canceled or scaled back to the point where it will no longer be a shuttle replacement.

    The program has effectively been canceled, although budget wrangling is keeping some aspects of it alive. While this scores as a correct prediction, in fairness anyone who is a big space dork would see this as a very safe prediction given the public pronouncements prior to the actual cancellation.

  7. The Beatles and Garth Brooks will start selling their music on iTunes.

    The Beatles came through for me, but Garth held out.

  8. The Browns will finish at .500 or better.

    I don’t want to talk about this one.

  9. I’m going to run a marathon.

    Nope, didn’t happen. 2011 may be a different story though.

  10. The 2010 elections won’t change Congress significantly… I’ll say the Democrats will have 57 Senate seats (plus-or-minus one) and 240 House members (plus-or-minus five) when it’s all over.

    This prediction was spectacularly wrong. Democrats now have 53 Senate seats and 193 House seats, so I was only off by… A LOT.

  11. Tesla will IPO and announce the opening of a plant in Downey. The plant will break ground, but full Model-S production will slip from 2011 to 2012.

    They did do a very successful IPO, and the Model-S has slipped to 2012, but the new plant will be in Fremont. Two out of three ain’t bad.

  12. Despite recent protests, the political situation in Iran won’t change in 2010.

    …and it hasn’t changed. Things have been relatively quiet in that corner of the world after a very noisy 2009.

  13. Google will partner with someone to ship a low-cost, Google branded PC running Google apps and the Google operating system.

    This is a prediction that probably should have waited until 2012. Oops.

  14. Apple will be on the verge of announcing an Apple television product.

    Another prediction that would have made a lot more sense for 2012. When they do finally announce it I’m definitely going to want one.

  15. China will announce plans to sell cars abroad.

    Although Jane says China is already selling cars in Asian markets, I’ll be surprised to see them in the US for another 2-4 years. My prediction batting average continues to fall into the “scary bad” range.

  16. It will be another bad hurricane year.

    While 2010 tied for the third most named storms and second most hurricanes in history, they mostly stayed out to sea or weren’t very severe when they did make landfall. Given the potential for damage, this is actually a good one to be wrong about, even if it is another blemish on an otherwise ugly prediction scorecard.

  17. I will make at least two journal entries a month.

    Nailed it! That’s right, for every month of 2010 there were at least two entries in the journal, even if many of them did come on one of the last days of the month.

The game will continue with predictions for 2011 coming soon, and the comments link is there for anyone who wants to join in the pain fun.

Things That Probably Won’t Happen in 2010

Posted from Culver City, California at 11:13 am, January 24th, 2010

After a truly dreadful job of making predictions for 2009, here’s the 2010 version. A psychic I’m clearly not, but they say even a monkey at a typewriter would eventually bang out a beautiful sonnet if he stuck with it long enough, so here goes:

  1. SpaceX will launch their Falcon 9 rocket successfully in March or April. This prediction comes from the fact that a) I want them to succeed, and 2) they’ve already put two smaller rockets in orbit so hopefully they’ve got the hang of it. They’ve got five Falcon 9 launches on their manifest for 2010, but I’m gonna guess that two will be all that make it up this year.
  2. Despite Democrats losing their 60th Senate seat in the Massachusetts special election there will still be some sort of health care bill passed this year. With control of Congress and the White House it seems supremely foolish that the Democrats would campaign without having passed any major legislation. “Re-elect me, even though I didn’t do much” just isn’t that catchy of a slogan.
  3. Tiger Woods will be golfing again in time for the Masters, will win at least one major championship, and at least five tournaments.
  4. The iPhone is going to be available from carriers besides AT&T by mid-year. Apple is able to charge higher prices because they offer a great product with great service, and based on my own experience AT&T’s network isn’t up to their standards.
  5. The stock market will end the year around 11,500. It’s at 10,200 today, and while I wouldn’t be surprised to see it drop, the economy can’t stay bad forever.
  6. NASA’s ARES rocket program will be canceled or scaled back to the point where it will no longer be a shuttle replacement. I’m a big space dork, but with budget issues and private companies now offering space transport I think NASA is going to be redefined as a research and robotic exploration organization, and not an agency that puts people and cargo in space.
  7. The Beatles and Garth Brooks will start selling their music on iTunes. I’m gonna make this prediction every year until it eventually happens. And if Kid Rock and AC/DC are reading this, call Steve Jobs and tell him to make the magic happen ’cause I’m not buying CDs anymore.
  8. The Browns will finish at .500 or better. I may be the only person on Earth who likes Eric Mangini, but I think the guy just needs some time to get the team he wants. I suspect Brady Quinn will remain the quarterback, but that one isn’t going on record as a prediction.
  9. I’m going to run a marathon. There is absolutely no reason to believe that I’ll actually sack-up and do this other than the fact that I’d like to get it crossed off of the to-do list.
  10. The 2010 elections won’t change Congress significantly. After the recent special election in Massachusetts this prediction may be a spectacular failure, but ten months is a long time in politics and I’m betting things may have bottomed out. I’ll say the Democrats will have 57 Senate seats (plus-or-minus one) and 240 House members (plus-or-minus five) when it’s all over.
  11. Tesla will IPO and announce the opening of a plant in Downey. The plant will break ground, but full Model-S production will slip from 2011 to 2012.
  12. Despite recent protests, the political situation in Iran won’t change in 2010.
  13. Google will partner with someone to ship a low-cost, Google branded PC running Google apps and the Google operating system. This prediction might be premature, but I suspect that’s something they’re eventually trying to do.
  14. Apple will be on the verge of announcing an Apple television product. They sell movies through iTunes and games for the iPod, so it seems like only a matter of time before they launch an all-in-one device that is a TV / video game / media center. I am going to want one when it does get announced.
  15. China will announce plans to sell cars abroad. They seem to be following the exact same roadmap as Japan, first developing manufacturing infrastructure, then improving quality, then become industry leaders. Given the fact that fire extinguishers are supposedly included in most domestic cars sold in China, this is another prediction that might be a few years early.
  16. It will be another bad hurricane year. There were five category five hurricanes in 2005, but there have only been two since. With El Nino supposedly back, this looks like another year for big storms.
  17. Finally, I will make at least two journal entries a month. It’s gonna happen in 2010, really.

Check back this time next year to mock me for being completely wrong about all things 2010. For those who can’t wait a year to begin the mocking, the comments link below is there for your immediate gratification.

2009 Predictions Redux

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:56 pm, January 19th, 2010

About one year ago I made some predictions for 2009, first because it seemed like it might be fun if I got any right, and second because it seemed like it might be amusing how wrong I would inevitably be. Here’s the scorecard:

  1. The stock market will be close to 10,000 at the end of the year.

    The year closed at about 10,400 after opening around 9,000 and hitting a low of around 6,600, so this scores as one of my few correct predictions.

  2. By the end of 2009 everyone will know what the smart grid is.

    Failed that one. No one ever accused me of being a smart man.

  3. There will be at least two new national parks or monuments created.

    Failed again. Too bad, national parks are good things.

  4. I will schedule another big expedition-style trip.

    The whale trip was a pretty big deal, but not on the scale of something like South Georgia. Half points for this one.

  5. Chrysler is going to go out of business or be purchased; GM and Ford will keep chugging along. Another major bank will fail or be purchased.

    Chrysler was split up and is now sort of part of Fiat, so let’s say that’s three out of four. Not bad.

  6. Obama’s approval rating will drop from its current 80% levels but still remain over 60%.

    Oops. I still like him.

  7. I will run a marathon or some similar endurance race.

    Nope.

  8. The “buzz” in energy will be all about bio fuels and concentrated solar.

    Didn’t get the dorky prediction either.

  9. The Beatles and Garth Brooks will finally get released on iTunes. Kid Rock will not.

    Along with AC/DC these guys are all iTunes no-shows. The prediction batting average continues to drop…

  10. The Boeing 787 will not face any further delays – two years is late enough. The 747-8 will move into production on schedule.

    There were six additional months of delay for the 787. The prediction game is clearly not one of my talents…

  11. The Indians will not make the World Series. The Browns will not make the Super Bowl but will win at least seven games. The Cavs… will not be jinxed by me.

    Five wins for the Browns. That is a terribly small number.

  12. Tesla Motors will still be in business, although the Model S will be delayed until the end of 2011.

    Tesla is going strong, which is great. There’s been no recent updates on the Model S, but 2011 seems likely. I finally get another prediction right.

  13. I will still be working at DIRECTV.

    I made it through the full year before moving on to greener pastures, and since I’m doing the scoring that one counts as a correct prediction.

  14. Yahoo will be purchased or merge with someone like AOL.

    They made a deal with Microsoft, but it wasn’t a merger. Didn’t get that one.

  15. Lance Armstrong will finish in the top ten in the Tour de France but won’t be on the podium.

    He got third; I was half right.

  16. I will manage to make at least two journal entries a month, doubling my pitiful performance of 2008.

    Clearly I’m bad at more than just making predictions.

It was fun making the (wrong) guesses. Predictions for 2010 will follow soon.

Flyin’

Posted from 32,000 feet above San Luis Obispo, California at 9:30 pm, January 22nd, 2009

Soley because they might be fun to read in a year, here are some predictions for 2009:

  • The stock market will be close to 10,000 at the end of the year. I’m probably jinxing it by writing that, and instead it will be closer to 6,000, but this point in history seems a lot like the mid-to-late 1990s when there were tons of promising technologies on the verge of becoming useful and creating work.
  • On that note, by the end of 2009 everyone will know what the smart grid is. With Obama focusing so heavily on energy it seems inevitable that there will be a push to upgrade the electrical grid, electrical companies will be looking for ways to save money through efficiency, and homeowners will want to save money by using smart meters to gauge when electricity is cheapest.
  • There will be at least two new national parks or monuments created. This prediction is based on nothing other than the fact that it’s been a long time so there must be something in the pipeline.
  • I will schedule another big expedition-style trip. Due to changing IAATO regulations the Cheesemans Antarctica trip in 2010-11 will be their last, although I suspect that instead of returning to Antarctica some other opportunity may arise.
  • Chrysler is going to go out of business or be purchased; GM and Ford will keep chugging along. Another major bank will fail or be purchased.
  • Obama’s approval rating will drop from its current 80% levels but still remain over 60%.
  • I will run a marathon or some similar endurance race; this one is probably wishful thinking but I am definitely getting tired of being out of shape, so who knows…
  • The “buzz” in energy will be all about bio fuels and concentrated solar. Wind and corn-ethanol will still be the most heavily used alternative energies, but concentrated solar will be seen as the most economical and reliable while fuels made using algaes and other biological sources will be seen as the future replacements for petroleum.
  • The Beatles and Garth Brooks will finally get released on iTunes. Kid Rock will not.
  • The Boeing 787 will not face any further delays – two years is late enough. The 747-8 will move into production on schedule.
  • The Indians will not make the World Series. The Browns will not make the Super Bowl but will win at least seven games. The Cavs… will not be jinxed by me.
  • Tesla Motors will still be in business, although the Model S will be delayed until the end of 2011.
  • I will still be working at DIRECTV. As much as I want to move back to the Bay Area there are a huge number of good things about my current job, and they’re being even more flexible now about letting me work remotely on occasion, making it easier to come home for three day weekends.
  • Yahoo will be purchased or merge with someone like AOL.
  • Lance Armstrong will finish in the top ten in the Tour de France but won’t be on the podium. I like the guy, but three years away from cycling is just too tough to come back from.
  • I will manage to make at least two journal entries a month, doubling my pitiful performance of 2008.

That’s what I’ve got. The comments link is there for anyone who wants to add their own or mock me for making such geeky predictions (“bio fuels?”).