Understanding Scale

There’s all sorts of bad advice about how people just aren’t trying hard enough to not be poor — if only you saved more money like there is a surfeit of money around to save. Work more like you can add a couple of extra hours to each day or just jam another day into the week. And this guy … who evidently thinks the whole problem is that people don’t understand … scale?

The funniest part to me? This dude wants to start with “you don’t understand scale, I’m gonna educate you …” and then proceeds to not understand scale. Small scale purchases will yield the highest price per pound — someone who is buying tomatoes by the tonne certainly isn’t paying a buck a tomato or even fifty cents a tomato. What’s the price for a tonne of tomatoes? The tomato price per tonne data I’ve found are a little outdated, but lets say $100 a tonne for easy mental math. Even if these tomatoes weigh a pound each (unlikely), then every 2k tomatoes gets you $100. He has about 4 million tomatoes … so 2,000 tonnes of tomatoes @ $100 a tonne grosses $200,000. In addition to not understanding scale, he is not understanding gross v/s net income. And, well, tomatoes.

Even if we ignore the required land (which wouldn’t be trivial — planting 150k tomato plants with adequate spacing is going to be 10+ acres), equipment, and labor required to produce and harvest all of those tomatoes. Say they ripen over a 90 day period (which is super generous in my part of the world, but again pretending it’s reasonable for the sake of argument), you need to move some 44,000 tomatoes A DAY for 90 days. Where are these things going as they get picked? How to I transport them to these hypothetical customers? And who are these customers? Even if every customer buys ten tomatoes a week, I need over 30,000 unique customers (every single one of whom repeats their ten tomato a week purchase for three months straight). Are there actually 30,000 people willing to buy a $10/week tomato subscription for the entire harvest season?

This guy’s hypothetical tomatoes aren’t an example of scale, they’re an example of generational wealth. If you inherited a few thousand acres of land (probably complete with an irrigation system and greenhouses), equipment, warehouses, and a fleet of trucks to move ’em … then maybe you could employ a lot of people for planting, harvesting, and selling at farm markets where you might hope to get something even approaching a buck a tomato. Even then, you aren’t netting hundreds of millions of dollars — you’ve got electrical, transportation, and labor expenses to pay. That’s not building a tomato empire from fifty bucks and a handful of tomato plants — that’s millions of dollars in inherited assets to net maybe a million bucks a year.

Ash’s Age

We’re trying to figure out a birthday for Ash — On August 08th, we thought there was a bigger Cali-Kitty … but that was probably just Patches being pregnant. Patches didn’t look pregnant anymore on September 05th, and on October 11th we first saw the kittens. There are just over five weeks between these two dates. Five or six weeks old (per a quick Internet search) is about the time kittens have good enough vision & are coordinated enough to be running around and starting to play.

That means he was probably born a few days before September 5th … now we have to figure out a cake for cats … tuna cake? Well, we’ve got about nine months to figure it out 🙂

Chicken and Dumplings

I made chicken and dumplings (well, spaetzle) this evening. Pressure cooked chicken bones with some garlic, onion, and salt for an hour to make broth. Added sauteed onions, carrots, corn, green beans, and diced chicken. I thickened the broth with a little corn starch. And we each mixed in some hot pepper sauce to make it spicy 🙂

Turkeys in the rain

It’s the time of year where people on TV keep saying that turkeys are soooo stupid that you cannot leave them out in the rain because they’ll look up and drown. I cannot speak for the broad-breasted white franken-turkeys from massive turkey farms, but you know what you get if you put a black Spanish turkey out in the rain? A wet turkey!

In warm weather, they seem to like the rain. Our turkeys rarely run for shelter when it is raining.

Decaf Coffee

I used to call decaf “what’s the point” coffee … because the whole point of my coffee consumption was staying awake on as little sleep as possible. Since I’ve cut back on work hours (a.k.a. set some boundaries), I had stopped drinking coffee. But I really like good coffee. So I got a bag of decaffeinated coffee from the grocery store. Strange experience from the last time I got a bag of coffee — now, half of the coffee section is Starbucks which I don’t much care for, at least 3/4 of the remaining bags were ground … which struck me as strange because the whole bean coffee is going to keep much better. And there was only one whole bean decaf option — a $22 bag that seemed like a lot of money for a pound of coffee. If we use this whole bag, I’ll probably buy a bag of whole bean decaf online.

New Batch of Soap

We made a new batch of soap this evening — my normal 20% superfat coconut oil recipe but with 2 oz of beeswax. Anya melted the oils, and I mixed in the lye.

I mixed in a cool blue pigment. The portion I was stirring stayed nice and fluid, but the un-colored soap seized up rather quickly. Anya swirled it around in the mold. The cool blue color … turned purple!

All in all, it wasn’t my most successful soap making adventure 🙂 But it’ll clean us up (and we were pretty much out of soap in the house!)

Bath Time for Kittens

Ash had his first bath today — he was pretty calm. He wasn’t super thrilled to be walking around in a tub full of water, but he loved her rubbing soap into his pelt. Getting rinsed off wasn’t awesome, but he was happy to be snuggled in a fluffy towel and dried off.

Kitten Returns

Anya got Ash back in the house! She fed him a big dish of tuna, and he let her pet him as he ate. She was petting his face and moved back down to pet his shoulders … and she picked him up and brought him back inside. I know she’ll be a lot more careful in the future so he doesn’t get outside until he really trusts us!

Kitten Escape

Ash got out today — and he’s really afraid of us outside. Hopefully he’ll come in again when it starts to get cold in a few days (20’s and 30’s overnight!)

Pancake Molds

I had purchased silicone pancake molds a while ago — Anya likes to make fancy shaped pancakes, but I really do not like scrubbing cookie cutters that have been used as pancake forms. Finally tried them out today — they are really easy to use. If you put the part with the lip facing down, pour in some batter, and let them cook … you can pick up the mold and flip it to continue cooking the other side.

Voila — we’ve got heart and flower shaped pancakes: