4.19.2014

Organize your neighborhood: NextDoor



NextDoor - Referral

Comment: So far we've reached 29% of the 76 homes in Forster's Preserve. In May I'm going to do a big push: Balsam, Deerwood, and Evergreen. Hoping to reach 50%.

About Nextdoor

Use the above referral link, and receive a $ 25 Amazon gift certificate (I will receive one as well).

Forsters is one of 4 Plymouth NextDoor neighborhoods: Map below:


Cobalt Condos




Today's condo viewing (open house - drop in)

Cobalt - Unit 310
Observations:
  • Nice location - 45 SE University
  • Lund's Grocery on 1st floor - private entrance to store from main lobby of condo w privacy fob.
  • Across the street and overlooks Chute Square park
  • Stacked washer and dryer off hallway
  • 2 bed / 2 bath
  • Needs paint (and in my view) and refresh on carpeting in bedrooms
  • Hardwood in kitchen and living
  • Kitchen very nice with high end appliances and granite 
  • 1 parking spot with unit
  • Last sold for  $440,900 in January 2007
  • Negatives: custom beds in both bedrooms (built-ins). Not our style. Also built-in custom desk in master bed room  

4.18.2014

New Mailbox



Jim Dahlheimer from Homewise Repair installed our new mailbox today. We bought an Avalon at Menards. Lower photo is from January. A new 45° support was also installed. We had lost that more then 10 years ago to a snow plow. Numbers to be installed tomorrow. Existing wood needs to be scraped and painted.

4.17.2014

Bodyguard for El Presidente Echeverría



In 1969, through a seemingly unusual sequence of events, in a jam-packed plaza, in an unruly crowd, at a Mexican presidential campaign event, I came face to face with Luis Echeverría. Concerned for his safety, I was enlisted to extricate the candidate to safety.

  1. American Airlines campus sales representative - Not an typical student job
    1. In my Junior and Senior year at University of Cincinnati
    2. Paid $ 50 per month = approx. $ 300 per month in today’s dollars
    3. What did I do?
      1.  Booked charter flights for students to fly back to NYC for holidays
      2. Worked with the athletic department for flights for the football team
      3. Booked an “Arts” charter to NYC for Broadway & off-Broadway plays
    4. The Student Union was my office
    5. Also recruited (really “tried to recruit” candidates for stewardess) f. I can attest that “you would make a great American Airlines stewardess” is not an effective pickup line! 
    6. An unusual benefit: 2 free 1st class passes annually … anywhere AA flew - my first trip was Christmas 1969 … to San Diego to scuba dive. I had a one day excursion to Tijuana
  2. Tijuana – Not an ordinary American tourist destination
    1. For beaches: Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, or Puerto Vallarta,
    2. For Aztec or Mayan ruins: Morelos
    3. For natural wonders: Mazatlán
    4. For Spanish colonial history: Mexico City.
    5. For Mexican traditions (of say tequila, mariachi music and charros): Guadalajara
    6. Tijuana:
      1. Tijuana Zebra: donkey painted like a zebra
      2. VW bugs as taxis
      3. The origin of Caesar salad @ Hotel Caesar’s
      4. Slums
      5. Denture clinics (more than 50)
      6. Bullfighting (Bullring by the Sea)
      7. Inspiration for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (the Lonely Bull & Tijuana Taxi)
      8. Now also known for the Tijuana crime Cartel
    7. To Tijuana:
      1. Bus from San Diego
      2. Through the San Ysidro border crossing
        1. One of the busiest border crossings in the world
        2. On foot
        3. Over the Tijuana River
      3. And into the sprawling city of more than 1 Million people
  3. Luis Echeverría – Not an uncommon Mexican politician
    1. The 50th President of Mexico
    2. From 1970-1976
    3. B 1922 … still alive / In 1969 he would have been 47 years old
    4. He was campaigning for President:
      1. PRI party - Institutional Revolutionary Party
      2. July 5th 1970
      3. 86% of vote
  4. An unusual, fortuitous meeting
    1. Avenue of Revolution the main tourist route
    2. Running parallel the Avenue of the Constitution
    3. I ate in a genuine Mexican restaurant:
      1. My 2 year of HS Latin and 2 years of HS Spanish had not prepared me well for the immersion into Mexican culture
      2. Not seated at an individual table but with 2 mexicans
      3. Common bowl of salad w flat bread
    4. West of Avenue of the Constitution – the Parque Teniente Guerrero
    5. Parque Teniente Guerrero or Park warrior Lieutenant
      1. Oldest park in Tijauna
      2. Really the heart of the city
    6. Drawn there because a large assembled crowd
      1. Banners & placards
      2. And there Luis Echeverría was publically campaigning for President
    7. I worked a seam and pushed to the center of the activity and
    8. Came shoulder to shoulder with the next President of Mexico – cream colored guayabera – an embroidered linen shirt
    9. If ever been to a US campaign event … completely unlike that - Where the President or candidate is insulated from the public by a security detail
    10. Call it fortuitous, chance or luck, I was just left of center of the focus of activity
    11. The crowd became rambunctious and his security detail became secure and the enlisted me to rush El Presidente to safety
    12. I was joined to a phalanx of men:
      1. A row in front of the candidate
      2. And a row behind (I was in the rear)
      3. Who hurriedly moved him to a secure place

Comment: Outline of my Toastmaster's speech from 2 weeks ago and also tonight

4.16.2014

The Chicago Railroad bottleneck

Freight Train Late? Blame Chicago

Excerpt:


Shippers complain that a load of freight can make its way from Los Angeles to Chicago in 48 hours, then take 30 hours to travel across the city. A recent trainload of sulfur took some 27 hours to pass through Chicago — an average speed of 1.13 miles per hour, or about a quarter the pace of many electric wheelchairs. With freight volume in the United States expected to grow by more than 80 percent in the next 20 years, delays are projected to only get worse. The underlying reasons for this sprawling traffic jam are complex, involving history, economics and a nation’s disinclination to improve its roads, bridges and rails. Six of the nation’s seven biggest railroads pass through the city, a testament to Chicago’s economic might when the rail lines were laid from the 1800s on. Today, a quarter of all rail traffic in the nation touches Chicago. Nearly half of what is known as intermodal rail traffic, the big steel boxes that can be carried aboard ships, trains or trucks, roll by or through this city.
Winter Took its Toll on the Achilles’ Heel of American Railroads

Excerpt:


CSX Corp.chief executive Michael Ward insisted today that the railroad operator is not running out of capacity, even as analysts questioned the continuing costs, delays and fallout from the great rail tie-ups and tangles of the first quarter. “You don’t build the church for Easter Sunday,” Mr. Ward said in an interview after his first quarter earnings call. “We have plenty of capacity for all the growth you can foresee — but not for one of the coldest and snowiest winters in history.” Normally in Chicago, you have either cold winters or snowy winters, he told the analysts. “It’s highly unusual the winter is both,” he said. But in what has become a railroad mantra lately, he said there had been twenty-five significant snowfalls during the third coldest winter ever in Chicago this year. And Chicago happens to be the Achilles’ Heel of the rail system — a major bottleneck where all the major railroads converge. Problems there have a “cascading impact” on the rest of the network, Mr. Ward said.

Here's the long-term solution:

Plan floated for $3 billion Chicago rail bypass

Excerpt:



Under the plan, a six-track, freight-only rail line would be built between Coal City, Ill., and Wellsboro, Ind., in a portion of the right-of-way that transit officials hope to acquire for the proposed Illiana Expressway. The line could be extended farther west later. The $3 billion structure faces all kinds of obstacles, not least among them the fact that the Illiana Expressway still is just a dream. But the idea of getting private investors to put up money that would be repaid by railroads paying charges to use the tracks does have a certain big-picture beauty to it. That would make the line something like a public utility.


4.11.2014

Coldwater Creek to fold



Coldwater Creek files bankruptcy, to close all stores

Excerpt:

Women's clothing retailer Coldwater Creek Inc. on Friday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to find a buyer said it plans to close its stores by early summer.

Coldwater Creek joins other retailers to seek protection from creditors in recent months as consumers keep a lid on spending.

The company said it plans to wind down its operations over the coming months and begin going-out-of-business sales in early May, before the traditionally busy Mother's Day weekend. Coldwater Creek said it has 365 stores and employs about 6,000 people.
Comment: My wife's goto store for clothing.

About Stock Symbols - The Single Character Symbols



The Ticker Symbol

Historical components of the DJIA

Interesting to me:

  • "C" formerly was Chrysler
  • Surprised no one has requested "J", "U", "W"
  • Who would think "Y" would be Alleghany Corporation?!

4.08.2014

Ditch XP ... fast!

Microsoft Windows XP support ends Tuesday: Why users need to upgrade -- now

Excerpt:


Microsoft will end support for the persistently popular Windows XP on Tuesday, and the move could put everything from the operations of heavy industry to the identities of everyday people in danger.

An estimated 30 percent of computers being used by businesses and consumers around the world are still running the 12-year-old operating system. "What once was considered low-hanging fruit by hackers now has a big neon bull's eye on it," says Patrick Thomas, a security consultant at the San Jose, Calif.-based firm Neohapsis.

Microsoft has released a handful of Windows operating systems since 2001, but XP's popularity and the durability of the computers it was installed on kept it around longer than expected. Analysts say that if a PC is more than five years old, chances are it's running XP.

While users can still run XP after Tuesday, Microsoft says it will no longer provide security updates, issue fixes to non-security related problems or offer online technical content updates. The company is discontinuing XP to focus on maintaining its newer operating systems, the core programs that run personal computers. The Redmond, Wash.-based company says it will provide anti-malware-related updates through July 14, 2015, but warns that the tweaks could be of limited help on an outdated operating system.
Comment: Whenever Microsoft releases a patch for Windows 7 or 8, malicious hackers will look at the patch and consider whether it telegraphs an XP vulnerability. Options:

  • Windows 7: A solid operating system. 
  • Windows 8:1: Probably better (I'm not keen on touching a laptop screen all the time - messy - but one can use in keyboard & mouse mode too!)
  • The non-Microsoft options: Mac OS (matches Apple hardware); Linux (works great on older desktops ... sometimes doesn't install well on laptops because of specialized drivers for the screen); IOS (IPAD) (someone said that the IPAD is analogous to a microwave in a kitchen. Not the oven or range top but can cook with it). Or Android (for a tablet)
For the Peets: Windows 7 at work. MacBooks at home + an Ipad. 

The Myth of 77%

The '77 Cents on the Dollar' Myth About Women's Pay

Long Excerpt:


But every "full-time" worker, as the BLS notes, is not the same: Men were almost twice as likely as women to work more than 40 hours a week, and women almost twice as likely to work only 35 to 39 hours per week. Once that is taken into consideration, the pay gap begins to shrink. Women who worked a 40-hour week earned 88% of male earnings.

Then there is the issue of marriage and children. The BLS reports that single women who have never married earned 96% of men's earnings in 2012.

The supposed pay gap appears when marriage and children enter the picture. Child care takes mothers out of the labor market, so when they return they have less work experience than similarly-aged males. Many working mothers seek jobs that provide greater flexibility, such as telecommuting or flexible hours. Not all jobs can be flexible, and all other things being equal, those which are will pay less than those that do not.

Education also matters. Even within groups with the same educational attainment, women often choose fields of study, such as sociology, liberal arts or psychology, that pay less in the labor market. Men are more likely to major in finance, accounting or engineering. And as the American Association of University Women reports, men are four times more likely to bargain over salaries once they enter the job market.

Risk is another factor. Nearly all the most dangerous occupations, such as loggers or iron workers, are majority male and 92% of work-related deaths in 2012 were to men. Dangerous jobs tend to pay higher salaries to attract workers. Also: Males are more likely to pursue occupations where compensation is risky from year to year, such as law and finance. Research shows that average pay in such jobs is higher to compensate for that risk.

While the BLS reports that full-time female workers earned 81% of full-time males, that is very different than saying that women earned 81% of what men earned for doing the same jobs, while working the same hours, with the same level of risk, with the same educational background and the same years of continuous, uninterrupted work experience, and assuming no gender differences in family roles like child care. In a more comprehensive study that controlled for most of these relevant variables simultaneously—such as that from economists June and Dave O'Neill for the American Enterprise Institute in 2012—nearly all of the 23% raw gender pay gap cited by Mr. Obama can be attributed to factors other than discrimination. The O'Neills conclude that, "labor market discrimination is unlikely to account for more than 5% but may not be present at all."

These gender-disparity claims are also economically illogical. If women were paid 77 cents on the dollar, a profit-oriented firm could dramatically cut labor costs by replacing male employees with females. Progressives assume that businesses nickel-and-dime suppliers, customers, consultants, anyone with whom they come into contact—yet ignore a great opportunity to reduce wages costs by 23%. They don't ignore the opportunity because it doesn't exist. Women are not in fact paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.
Comment: Our family: My wife makes more than I do (I was out of the business world for 18 years (2 years for graduate school and 16 years of vocational ministry). When I was in  the ministry, among my siblings, my sister made the most (working for American Airlines). See also As Obama Spotlights Gender Gap in Wages, His Own Payroll Draws Scrutiny and CBS: WH 'Roughed Up By Its Own Pay Equity Rhetoric'