6.23.2017

Ferguson vs FaucetDirect


We needed a new faucet for our laundry room utility sink. I purchased the Elkay 406GN05T4 above. I found this interesting.


  • First I searched Ferguson and called their wholesale / retail location. They've got it but it wasn't in stock at their Plymouth location and would have to be shipped in. Price $ 229.44
  • Then I searched and purchased it from FaucetDirect. Price $ 154.70 with free shipping and no sales tax
  • When it shipped, I checked out the shipping source and it was a Ferguson warehouse
  • Interestingly, digging deeper, FaucetDirect is a Build.com company and Build.com is owned by Ferguson

6.18.2017

Diamonds as an investment? Not really and this story proves it!





Have you ever tried to sell a diamond?

Excerpt:

In the fall of 1978, a thirty-two-year-old Californian computer wizard named Stanley Mark Rifkin discovered an ingenious way to become a multimillionaire overnight. While working as a consultant for the Security Pacific National bank in Los Angeles, he had learned the secret computer code that the bank used to transfer funds to other banks telegraphically at the end of each business day. With this information and his mastery of the bank's computer, he realized that he could transfer tens of millions of dollars to any bank account in America. The problem would be withdraw the money from the system. In early October, he devised a plan for siphoning this money out of the bank and converting it into Russian diamonds.

The first step was establishing an alias identity. Under the pseudonym "Mike Hanson," Rifkin opened a bank account at the Irving Trust Company in New York, arranged a phony passport and other. documentation and retained a respected diamond broker, Lou Stein, to acquire for him a multimillion dollar consignment of diamonds from Russia. The Russian diamond organization, Russ Almaz, agreed to sell "Hanson" at its fixed wholesale price 115,000 perfectly cut, round, brilliant stones for $8,145,000. For arranging this low price, the broker took a standard 2 percent commission, or $162,000. For the deal to be consummated, Rifkin only had to wire the money to Zurich.

On October 25, Rifkin coolly entered the bank's transfer room under the pretext of inspecting the computer. He picked up a telephone connected to the computer and dialed in the necessary digits. Instantly, the computer withdrew $10,200,000 from a non-existent account and transferred it to the account of "Mike Hanson" at the Irving Trust Company in New York. Rifkin then had the New York bank transfer $8,300,000 to the Zurich account of Russ Almaz.

A few days later, using his phony passport, Rifkin flew to Switzerland, took delivery of the diamonds, which weighed under five pounds, and smuggled them through customs into the United States. He then began contacting dealers in Los Angeles, but none was willing to buy the diamonds.

Meanwhile, the Security Pacific National Bank discovered that more than ten million dollars was missing. It was one of the largest bank robbery in history. The FBI, investigating the loss, received a tip about Rifkin, and arrested him in Carlsbad, California and found on him the Russian diamonds, as well as the remaining cash.

Initially, bank officials assumed that most of stolen money prudently invested in diamonds would be easily converted back to money. Only a few weeks earlier Newsweek had reported in a cover story, "The Diamond Boom," that diamonds were "the ideal asset" and that quality diamonds were soaring in price. While the diamonds that Rifkin had bought were commercial-grade stones used in jewelry. the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit had such diamonds, which had increased by at least 50 percent that year, were still increasing in price. Independent appraisers estimated that the diamonds, which Rifkin had bought at a low price, were worth at least $13 million at the retail level, and so the I bank foresaw that it might make a profit of some $5 million with the reported appreciation in value of the diamonds. In anticipation of this windfall, they agreed to pay the ten percent custom tax on the diamonds which Rifkin had evaded, as well as part of the cost of the FBI investigation. Before this expected profit could be realized, the bank had to await the outcome of the trial, since the diamonds were important evidence.

Finally, in September 1978, the bank announced that it would sell its hoard of diamonds to the highest bidder. Twelve major dealers were invited to the bank's vault to inspect Russian diamonds. They were instructed to submit sealed bids by the end of the business day on September 18. A minimum price Of $7.5 million was established to encourage high bids, though independent appraisers assured the bank that the diamonds would fetch far more.

On the day of the auction, bank officials anxiously waited to see how much profit they would garner from the diamonds. However, only a single bid had been submitted, and when it was opened, it was for several million dollars less than the minimum. The bank officials were disappointed at this turn of events. Even though the diamonds had been purchased through a reputable broker at wholesale price, no American dealer would pay anywhere near this price nearly a year later.

The bank offered to sell the Russians back their own diamonds at the original 1978 Price. But they refused to buy the diamonds back at any price.

The bankers learned that two Israeli banks were also trying to sell large quantities of diamonds received as collateral from Tel Aviv dealers; and this might make it far more difficult, if not impossible, for the Security Pacific Bank to unload its 115,000 diamonds. So they decided not to wait any longer.

Walter S. Fisher, the vice-president of Security Pacific, was charged with the responsibility of selling the 115000 diamonds. He realized that diamonds were not a standardized, or fungible commodity, as were gold, silver and platinum. Different appraisals of the same diamonds varied widely dependent on what the prospective buyer thought he could sell them for. And, though all the bank's diamonds were commercial stones for the mass market, Fisher found that it was extraordinarily difficult to find a buyer. None of the dealers in the United States were willing to buy such a large consignment of diamonds. Fisher found it necessary to deal through De Beers' main broker in London, I. Hennig. Finally and accept the terms dictated by the buyer, if he wanted to sell the diamonds. He then had to deliver the diamonds to an unknown corporation in Liechtenstein, G. S. G. Investments, without receiving any money for them for eighteen months. These were terms that the bank probably would not have accepted in selling any other commodity. With a flourish of understatement, the banker concluded, "Selling diamonds is far more difficult than I had anticipated."

While the Security Pacific National Bank's problem was made worse because it had to dispose of the diamonds quickly, even when diamonds are held over long periods of time, selling them at a profit can prove difficult. For example, in 1970, the British magazine Money Which tested diamonds as a decade-long investment. It bought two gem-quality diamonds, weighing approximately one-half carat apiece, from one of London's most reputable diamond dealers for $1,000. For eight years, it kept these diamonds in its vault, inflation ran As high as 25 percent a year. For the diamonds to have kept pace with this inflationary spiral, they would have had to increase in value at least 300 percent. When the magazine's attempted to sell the diamonds, the highest bid that received was $1500 pounds, which led the publication to conclude "As an eight-year investment the diamonds that we bought have proved to be very poor."
 Comment: Top image is Laurence Olivier from Marathon Man. Middle is Security Pacific and bottom is Stanley Mark Rifkin

6.16.2017

Powder Room Remodel


Start - Basically plain

The marble for the vanity-top

Kathee selected the stone


Tear out




Need new hinges: "double demountable"

New door pulls



New art from art.com



Bathroom painted and Vanity (now painted) reinstalled




Marble counter-top and sink install by 

Finished job with Ron


New mirror and light fixture



Bill of material

Lori H from Studio M was our design consultant





6.15.2017

Finally burying the Sarah Palin - Gabby Giffords "targeting" link



The bogus claim that a map of crosshairs by Sarah Palin’s PAC incited Rep. Gabby Giffords’s shooting

Excerpt:

“Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established.” — New York Times editorial board, June 14

This quote is from a corrected version of a New York Times editorial that had falsely claimed that the gunman in the 2011 Giffords shooting was politically incited by Palin’s political action committee. Many readers asked about the uncorrected version, which initially claimed “the link to political incitement was clear” between the gunman’s actions and the map portraying crosshairs, including one over Giffords’s congressional district in Southern Arizona.
Comment: More from above link under the heading "The Facts"

Gun control is back in the national debate, after the shooting Wednesday at a baseball practice among congressional Republicans. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was critically injured, and four others were wounded. The shooting quickly became political. The gunman, who died after a shootout with police, had volunteered for the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and posted angry and vulgar comments on social media aimed at President Trump.

The Times argued that our politics has become lethal, and argued for stricter gun control measures. The Fact Checker obviously has no opinion on this matter.XXX Here’s what happened in 2011.

Jared Lee Loughner shot Giffords in the head during a Jan. 8, 2011, constituent event, then opened fire on the people lined up to meet her there — injuring 14 and killing six. Contemporaneous news reports noted that Giffords was one of 20 Democrats targeted in a map circulated by Sarah Palin’s political action committee in March 2010. The map portrayed stylized crosshairs to mark each of their districts, in a “Take Back the 20″ campaign to reclaim seats in the 2010 midterm elections.

After the map was published, Giffords said in an interview: “We’re on Sarah Palin’s targeted list, but the thing is that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district, and when people do that, they’ve got to realize there are consequences to that action.”

As the corrected version of the Times’s editorial notes, no connection was established between this map and the 2011 shooting.

After Loughner’s shooting, some of Palin’s surrogates claimed the map was never intended to portray crosshairs, and instead said they were “surveyor’s symbols.” But that was debunked by Palin herself, when she acknowledged that the symbols were intended to be crosshairs.

It’s unclear whether Loughner even knew of Palin’s map, but it probably would not have changed the outcome. His focus on Giffords began as early as 2007, long before the map was published. He became fixated on her since he met her at a constituent event in 2007, and decided he was unsatisfied by her answer to his question: “If words could not be understood, then what does government mean?”

Three days after the shooting, authorities filed criminal charges against Loughner after finding items in his home that showed he had plotted her assassination. They found in his safe a 2007 letter from Giffords thanking him for attending the constituent event, and an envelope stating “I planned ahead,” and the words “assassination” and “Giffords,” along with his signature.

Loughner had no clear political views. Instead, he was a troubled man who abused alcohol and drugs, and whose mental illness was apparent to his classmates and family even before he was diagnosed as schizophrenic during his court trial.

... We’re glad to see this fixed in the editorial, but it’s not a good sign that the debunked talking point was included as fact in the editorial of a major media outlet. Any future references to this talking point by politicians or political groups will receive Four Pinocchios.



MORE: New York Times corrects editorial that drew huge backlash for blaming Sarah Palin in Gabby Giffords' shooting

Two REITs that lease to the Federal Government





This REIT Is Actually Printing Dividends

The REITs:



Comment: I don't have a position in either ... yet!

6.09.2017

Before Gal Gadot was Wonder Woman ...


The Data Center REITs






6 Great Data Center REITs For 2017

Top REIT Ideas: Shining The Spotlight On Data Centers - 2016 Recap

Comment: Got $ 12,000? Here's a way to invest in a diversified way in 6 REITs. Want even broader? Consider the VNQ ETF. Look at that low expense ratio!




Who's the True Muslim?


6.08.2017

Solus Christus now "[dis]respectful of other religions" and "[not] what this country is supposed to be about"



Watch Bernie Sanders Attack a Christian Nominee and Impose an Unconstitutional Religious Test for Public Office Excerpt:

You think your statement that you put into that publication, they do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned, do you think that’s respectful of other religions? ... I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.
Commentary:

Update: Is it hateful to believe in hell?

6.04.2017

6.02.2017

Hillary's Alt-Facts



Hillary Lacks Remorse of Conscience - Oddly, she seems completely sincere, as if she believes the alternative facts she’s peddling.

Excerpt:

I don’t want to beat up on Hillary Clinton. She thought she’d win and she lost, embarrassingly, to a man she considered deeply unworthy. At the same time she won the popular vote by 2.9 million. It would take anyone time to absorb these things emotionally and psychologically.

But wow. Her public statements since defeat have been malignant little masterpieces of victimhood-claiming, blame-shifting and unhelpful accusation. They deserve censure.

Last weekend she was the commencement speaker at her alma mater, Wellesley, where she insulted the man who beat her. This Wednesday she was at the 2017 Code Conference, hosted by the Recode website, where she was interviewed by friendly journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. She eagerly offered a comprehensive list of the reasons she lost the 2016 presidential election.

She lost because America is a hopelessly reactionary country in which dark forces fight a constant “rearguard action” to “turn back the clock.” She lost because Republicans are both technologically advanced and underhanded. Democrats, for instance, use data and analytics to target and rouse voters—“better messaging.” Republicans, on the other hand, use “content farms” and make “an enormous investment in falsehoods, fake news, call it what you will.” Democrats “did not engage in false content.” She lost because of the Russians: “Who were they coordinating with, or colluding with?”

She lost because of “voter suppression” and “unaccountable money flowing in against me.” She lost because the Democratic National Committee didn’t help her. “I inherit nothing from the Democratic Party. I mean it was bankrupt. . . . Its data was mediocre to poor, nonexistent, wrong. I had to inject money into it.”

She lost because FBI Director James Comey told Congress the investigation regarding her email server had been reopened. “So for whatever reason . . . and I can’t look inside the guy’s mind, you know, he dumps that on me on Oct. 28, and I immediately start falling.”

She lost because she was “swimming against a historic tide. It’s very difficult historically to succeed a two-term president of your own party.” She lost because she was “the victim of a very broad assumption that I was going to win.” She lost because the news media ignored her policy positions.

And then there was sexism. “It sort of bleeds into misogyny. And let’s just be honest, you know, people who have . . . a set of expectations about who should be president and what a president looks like, you know, they’re going to be much more skeptical and critical of somebody who doesn’t look like and talk like and sound like everybody else who’s been president. Any you know, President Obama broke that racial barrier, but you know, he’s a very attractive, good-looking man.”

Oh my goodness, how she thinks.

Comment: Please just go away!

6.01.2017

Elites and Climate Change - when One Plane just won't do!






Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton to attend service for Betty Ford

Hillary Clinton - Huma Abedin email exhange

Excerpt:

Huma: Looks like plane won’t be an issue. We got message that family is very inclusive and if you wanted to speak at the service, they would welcome it. Also, looks like michelle obama also going.

Hillary: I’d be honored to speak. Is it ok that we and Mrs. O take two separate planes?

Huma: I think its ok. But let me see what kind of plane she’s taking.

Hillary: I would rather have our own of course.

Comment: They haven't fully bought in on the carbon footprint thing! Top image source

See also: Why the Paris climate accord is meaningless