Arizona Lovebirds


Early one morning, while my wife and I were taking our dog out for a walk, we heard some birds chirping quite loudly.  We looked across the street where the cacophony was, and we saw some brightly colored birds high in our neighbor’s tall palm tree. They were chirping and flitting from one place to another high in the crevices of the trimmed palm fronds.

 

Since there were only a few of them, we suspected that they were fugitives from a cage in the home of a nearby neighbor. We began looking out for them each morning, and over time it became apparent that there was quite a colony of these pretty birds living in this tree. A friend told me that they were Arizona Lovebirds, and they were widespread in the area. I did some research and came across a few articles on these very pretty little birds.

According to the Journal of Arizona Field Ornithologists, these birds are Rosy-faced Lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis). They are small feral parrots, that have been breeding in the area for over 30 years. It’s not typical for exotic birds to survive in the wild. However, it is believed that the opportunity for them to thrive in our dry desert climate, is due to the availability of water and nesting provided by humans. This population in the Phoenix area is thought to be the only feral population of the Rosy-faced Lovebirds in the United States.

Rosy-faced Lovebird in saguaro cavity at Gilbert Water Ranch, 2008. Photo by Brendon Grice

 

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Remembering Newton, Iowa

I spent a number of years working for a local Phoenix appliance distributor, selling major appliances to home builders. Later in my career, I went to work for the Maytag Company to help them get new business for their Maytag, Amana, and Jenn-Air brands in the Western U.S.

Maytag was making a push to grow their business in this sector, and they had hired several experienced builder specialists. Early on, we had a welcome get together at Maytag headquarters in Newton, Iowa.

We had dinner one evening at the Newton Country Club. When the waitress came by for drink orders, I asked for a glass of Chardonnay. When she brought my drink it had a fruity taste, not at all like Chardonnay. I mentioned this to her, so she returned with the bottle. It was Riesling. I pointed this out, and she replied, “Oh yes, that’s what we call Chardonnay.” Who knew you could do that? Later that evening I discovered that the golf course was an 11 hole layout. Somehow, it was all beginning to make sense.

Newton is a town of 15,000 residents about 30 miles from Des Moines, Iowa. I would rent a car for the half hour drive from the airport in Des Moines to the Maytag Headquarters. The downtown center of Newton is the Jasper County Courthouse. 

 

 

 

 

 

Each time I passed the Courthouse, I was reminded of the movie, Back to the Future. In front of the courthouse is diner, the Midtown Cafe. (Last Thursday’s special was tater tot casserole.) Farmers from the area gather there for their morning coffee and have the weather, and the crop reports blaring on the radio. Down the street there is a Maid-Rite, a fast food chain in Iowa, and nearby states. They are famous for their loose meat sandwich, a hamburger made from well…loose meat…no patty…just loose meat on a bun. I know; I don’t “get it” either. 

There was a Radisson Motel across the street from Maytag’s headquarters where we always stayed. Our hangout while in Newton, was the Scoreboard Bar and Grill- mostly bar, not much of a grill. That was really the only watering hole for those of us who were staying at the Radisson. Not much of a night life in Newton. For dinner, we usually drove somewhere outside of Newton. My favorite, about a half-hour drive to Grinnell was The Depot Crossing Restaurant. Named for the nearby train stop, the train still went by, it just didn’t stop there any more.

In addition to my regular visits to Maytag for business meetings, I was also responsible for product training for our western Maytag dealers and distributors. Maytag had a well-equipped training center in Newton, and I would regularly host 10-12 sales associates from builder distributors in my region to a 3 day 2 night trip to Newton, Iowa. We’d have a nice evening out on the first night, and on the second night the group would actually cook their own dinner in the Maytag and Jenn-Air kitchens supervised by one of Maytag’s home economists. The wine would flow freely, everyone had a great time, and we learned how to cook on the appliances that we were selling. The final day was a half day wrap up before departing to Des Moines for our flights home. 

In August 2005, Maytag was purchased by Whirlpool. On May 10th 2006, I was in Newton finishing up a training session. When I woke up in the morning I looked out my hotel room and noticed a couple of trucks with TV station markings and antennas in front of the training building. I knew something was up. My group was scheduled for a morning session before heading to the airport for our flights home. Well, that morning one of the facility managers came in to ask me what time she could have the training room. I told her that we’d be leaving the room at 11:30 to go to lunch. She wanted to be sure because they needed the room by noon. She was quite adamant. 

Our training room had a very nice appliance display in the front of the room where we had a speakers podium. The President of Whirlpool had flown in that morning to announce that Whirlpool was closing three Maytag factories as well as the Maytag headquarters in Newton, Iowa. They were going to use that backdrop in our training center for him to make the announcement.

WOW! I made sure that our 11:30AM lunch was quick, and that we were all in our cars and headed to the airport before all hell broke loose. I got to keep my job and worked for Whirlpool for several years before retiring. Newton, Iowa has survived and seems to be about the same, but I’m sure that they miss those good Maytag jobs.

Art Johnson

 

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Trump Will Lose The 2020 Election – But Don’t Take My Word For It

HEADLINES:

TRUMP WILL LOSE POPULAR VOTE IN 2020 – NBC News

TRUMP WILL LOSE 2020 ELECTION BY A LANDSLIDE – Daily Mail

TRUMP WILL LOSE IN 2020 – NY Times

PANDEMIC SURGE DAMAGES TRUMP, BOOSTING BIDEN’S WHITE HOUSE BID – ABC News

TRUMP KNOWS HE’S GOING TO LOSE – The Washington Post

STUDENTS WHO PREDICTED A TRUMP WIN THREE MONTHS AGO NOW THINK HE’LL LOSE – Newsweek

TRUMP ADMITS IT: HE’S LOSING – Politico

I know, I know…everybody predicted that Trump would lose in 2016, but look what happened. The truth is Trump was never under siege this way in 2016.

Here are the facts:

*87% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going. At the same time only 17% are proud of the country’s condition, and only 39% approve of Trump’s handling his job as president. As a result, Biden leads Trump in the polls by 10 points 54-44. This is significantly higher than Clinton’s lead at the same time in 2016. Moreover, Trump’s trend line is heading the wrong way!

But let’s look at Trump’s base. “White evangelical Protestants and older white men with less than a college education- are rock-solid.” How about white working-class women? They supported Trump by a whopping 27 point margin in 2016. The latest Quinnipiac survey shows that 47% of non-college-educated white women would “definitely not” vote for trump vs 43% who would. That’s a huge change!

While holding his own in his base of older white working class voters, Trump is losing among working class white voters under 40. Think about this. White American men under 40 (and women according to a separate poll) have lost faith in Trump.

Moreover, the all important geographic data is also working against Trump. He is shown losing where he most needs to win: the battleground states. A new Oxford Economics model shows Biden flipping Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. In addition, the same research shows Trump losing in Ohio, Iowa, and Missouri. (I’ve got my own concerns on Iowa and Missouri).

Just to reassure myself, and verify that I didn’t just grab Trump’s worst polls, I went to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website. He analyses and posts all the major polls. While noting that there is one poll that has Biden winning by 15 points, FiveThirtyEight has Biden currently leading Trump by an average of 9.1 percentage points. That’s very consistent with last week and last months numbers.

Silver’s key takeaway is not only that Biden is outpolling Trump overall, but he is and has been outpolling Trump in most swing states. If the election were today Biden would win, and win where it counts electorally.

Let’s look at the reasons for this. How do you think the economy is doing? How well is Trump doing in handling the coronavirus? Trump’s recent press conference speeches have been downright embarrassing.

Think of Trump’s strong points in campaigning. Big events, with lots of cheering fans, and lots of hoopla. How likely are we going to see stadiums full of Trump fans between now and election day? Then compare this with Trump’s lackluster and stumbling White House speeches and press conferences.

It’s hard to imagine a turnaround for Trump between now and November. All the Democrats need to do is keep Biden on track, keep the Russians out of our election, and sit back and watch Trump self-destruct.

*Brookings

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My New Blog: I’m back!

It’s been a few years since I’ve blogged on this site. Now, I’m back! What brings me here is Facebook. I believe that Facebook is often not the best venue for posting thoughtful comments, to take a political stand, or to express a strongly held opinion.

From now on, when I have the urge to blast out my dislike for Trump, to express other political viewpoints, or to speak out on any other topic that might take more than a few words to express; you’ll find me here.

My plan is to post a link to these blog posts on Facebook. Anybody, who wants to see what I have to say can click on the link to be directed here. Others can just move on to the latest Facebook photo of my dog, AZ weather report, family news/photos, vacation plans, and other common Facebook comments.

 

 

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Art Johnson, Author at Arizona Wholesale Supply

Source: Art Johnson, Author at Arizona Wholesale Supply

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GE Sells Appliance Unit to Chinese Firm, Haier

$5.4 Billion Sale Follows Failed Deal With Electrolux

Haier-GE

General Electric has announced the sale of its appliance division to the Chinese firm, Haier for 5.4 billion dollars. The sale includes GE's 48% share of Mabe, a Mexican based appliance firm. GE's previous attempt to sell its appliance operation to Swedish-based Electrolux Appliances was opposed by the U.S. antitrust authorities, and eventually terminated.

It's highly unlikely this sale will face such opposition, since Haier does not have a significant U.S. market share in large appliances such as full-sized washers, dryers, refrigerators, and ranges. This is good news for U.S. workers. While the sale to Electrolux was sure to bring some factory closings due to plant redundancies, Haier does not have the same large scale appliance manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

While GE had several very good options, this appears to be a very straightforward transaction, and GE got a nice increase in the sale price over the 3.3 billion dollars they would have received in the Electrolux deal.

There are many who would have preferred that GE Appliances would have remained U.S. owned, but there just aren't other US appliance firms that would be viable candidates. A spinoff might have been possible, but $5.4 billion must have seemed a lot better to GE.

Congratulations to GE Appliance management. They have a great team, and this deal should keep them fairly well intact, as well as thousands of factory workers.

 

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U.S. Sues to Stop Electrolux – GE Appliance Merger

FEDS Sue to Stop Electrolux Deal with GE Appliances

In a shocking move, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to prevent the 3.3 billion dollar sale of the GE Appliance business to Electrolux.

According to Chris Kenning of the Louisville Courier-Journal

The suit argues the move could lead to price increases as the combined company dominates sales of kitchen appliances to customers like home builders, property managers, hotels and government”.

Evidently, the big appliance retailers just sighed and shed a tear, but the big guys on the contract side of purchasing appliances weren’t afraid of going up against the big guys building all the appliances. As I have written before, monopoly is a bad deal – duopoly isn’t so great either with GE/Electrolux and Whirlpool dominating the contract side of the appliance industry (and also segments of the retail appliance industry sales).

I’m sure that there is more good data coming, so I don’t want to jump the gun. However, I’ve written about how bad the airline mergers were for the flying public, and also pointed out that GE selling their appliance business to Electrolux would be a bad thing for appliance buyers. Click on the links below:

GE Attempt at Deception Doesn’t Fool Anyone

US Appliance Manufacturer Selling Out

Who will buy GE’s appliance division?

The only surprise here is that the Feds are fighting the acquisition. My guess is they’re buoyed by “encouragement” from the building industry.

Time will tell.

P.S. It looks like Electrolux thinks that disposing of the Hotpoint brand will solve the problem. I really hope that the Feds can see through this for the canard that it is.

 

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Tree Lighting Ceremony At Rockefeller Center

Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

On next Wednesday, December 3rd, the 2014 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be lit for the first time. Overlooking the ice rink, and the gilded statue of Prometheus, the tree will remain the centerpiece for Rockefeller Center until the lights are turned off on January 7th, 2015.

A large tree has been erected in Rockefeller Center since 1933. ranging from 69 ft. to 100 ft. tall. The tree is almost always a Norway Spruce. A 9.5ft. diameter, 550lb “Swarovski Star” will be placed at the top of the tree, accompanied by 45,000 LED lights that are draped on the tree's branches.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree photographed in December 1987, a 75 ft (23 m) high Norway Spruce decorated with 18,000 lights.

ENJOY

 

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When to buy Christmas presents

Black Friday not always best for Christmas purchases.

It’s nice to brag about the killer price you got by shopping a midnight Black Friday sale, and while that is great news when factual, the truth is that today’s Black Friday price on a KitchenAid mixer is the same as last year’s price.

The Wall Street Journal hired a research company to analyze prices for two plus years to determine when prices for certain items and categories went up or down over time. While the researcher did confirm that for some item prices were lowest early in the holiday season, significantly this is often not the best time to purchase many products.

For example, the lowest price of a Samsung LCD big screen TV was actually in October, and went up almost $200 on Black Friday. According to the WSJ,

“It turns out that gifts from Barbie dolls to watches to blenders are often priced below Black Friday levels at various times throughout the year, even during the holiday season, and their prices follow different trajectories as the remaining shopping days tick down.”

For example, luxury items such as jewelry and watches tend to spike up throughout the holiday season. The Citizen watch tracked by the research firm does not change in model number or style each year. Also, luxury items such as this are often last minute purchases and not very likely to be price-shopped on Christmas Eve.

So, if you scored big time on Black Friday good for you, but if you’re still looking for a deal don’t worry. If you can wait long enough for that Citizen watch the lowest price in over two years was in March.

 

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Operating Appliances by Remote Control

A practical idea or ahead of its time?

Are connected appliances for you?

I’ll admit it. I’m an early adopter when in comes to technology. Also, having 30 plus years experience in the appliance business, I still follow and write about appliance industry trends. But, when it comes to high technology “connected” appliances, I’ve not been a fan.

But now, they are beginning to gain traction. On the high end, both Dacor and Viking are beginning to test the waters with appliances that are operated by smartphones. Recently, GE introduced a wall oven controlled by it’s Brillon mobile app, and now it’s available in a more economical range line.

GE-Range

GE Range

They’ve also begun to incorporate some common-sense safety features into remotely operated appliances. Nevertheless, “connected” appliances all seem to come at a premium that can’t be justified just for a remote feature.

However, the iDevice Kitchen Thermometer provides a useful function, looks very promising, and retails for less than $80.00. Here’s what they say about their device:

iDevice-Kitchen-Thermometer

iDevice Kitchen Thermometer

The iDevice Kitchen Thermometer

A Bluetooth Smart enabled cooking thermometer designed specifically for indoor use. The beautifully designed device magnetically mounts to your oven or stove and will transfer the real-time temperature of whatever your cooking right to your free iDevices Connected app available in the App Store℠ and Google Play™ Store. The thermometer has two probes, a display with proximity wake-up, magnetic mounting and two probe wraps that conveniently clip together and mount to the back of your device. This is the cooking essential to creating the perfect meal.

iDevices Kitchen Thermometer Specs

  • 150′ Bluetooth Smart Range
  • Dual Probe Capability
  • 200 Hour Battery Life
  • Illuminated Display with Proximity Wake-Up
  • Magnetic Mounting

Worth a look!

*Disclaimer: I don’t own this device. I’ve no connection to this company, and I’ve not been requested or paid to write anything about it.

 

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