Coffee Talk: A Few Things I Learned from my “Old Contract” Grandfather

Nonno Aldo, Piazza Delle Carceri, Prato, Italy, c. 1928

This post is inspired by a writing challenge series started by Instigator Sandy L @ First Gen American, per the following rules: 1. Write an article with the following as a topic:  “What my Dysfunctional ________ taught me about ________.” 2. The article must feature a loved one and an interesting topic I immediately thought of my Nonno Aldo as an example. I have many fond memories of Nonno, and some not so much so. There’s a number of things that I’ve absorbed as lessons from these memories. Respect It wasn’t that Nonno Aldo was necessarily dysfunctional in his relationship with Nonna Silvana. Certain aspects of their marriage could even have been considered commonplace by the standards of their day. He usually referred to … [Read more...]

Random Flotsam and Jetsam in a Storm Surge of Links

Random Doodle #25

I thought I would do a post on earthquake and hurricane disaster preparedness, but several other PF bloggers have already done so. I limited myself to commenting on their posts, and torturing the title for this week's roundup.  Maybe throw in a couple of notes and other comments on disasters. Chop Chop A couple of items though that merit a mention, beyond the usual 72-hrs worth of food and water, batteries, first aid kits (everyone should have one), are long handled garden lopping shears,  a chainsaw, and perhaps even a machete or brush knife. High winds equal downed branches and trees, and these tools are vital to clearing them away. If nothing else, the yard debris will have to be cut down to size for the removal services, or for … [Read more...]

Need A Career Change? Try Welding…

There are some jobs that will likely never migrate offshore.   People like educators and medical personnel and other professions that require face-to-face interaction. And making big things.    Three-hundred-foot high wind towers, composed of rolled cylinders of heavy three-inch-thick steel plate at the base, are not economically transported from China to Western Oklahoma. They’re manufactured in Texas or Kansas plants, close to their final locations. The welding work force is getting older.  Walk through any steel fab shop, and headfuls of gray hair are not unusual.  It’s not a profession that seems to attract the younger generation. Although large fabrications are not easily offshored, the continuous drain of … [Read more...]

Getting Rich Through Homeownership – The End Of An American Dream

Ottis Cook Home, c.1890

The following is a guest post of sorts by Fred Carach, author of “Forty Years a Speculator“. This article is re-posted with permission from Fred’s blog. Much has been heard in the press lately about the end of the great American dream of homeownership, but what the press has missed is that what has really died in the crash is a perversion of the American dream... the perversion of getting rich exclusively through homeownership. That perversion really started in the 1970s and died in the great real estate crash that began in 2007. Prior to the 1970s home-ownership was regarded as a key asset in the accumulation of wealth but it was never considered the only asset. Real estate values rose too slowly to accomplish that mission. In … [Read more...]

Why is the Mainstream Media Ignoring Ron Paul?

It’s been a long-standing charge by Ron Paul supporters that the major media largely ignores their candidate.  This was once again brought to the fore a few days ago when the results of the Ames Republican straw poll being announced on the TV. As the TV was playing in the background during dinner-fixing time, Michelle Bachmann was loudly proclaimed to have won the day with 4,823 votes (28.55%), but only barely.  Of Ron Paul’s coming in a very close second at 4,671 (27.75%), nary a peep. This was on CNBC, I think.  As I was making dinner, Mrs. 101 kept  switching through the channels, but not once did we hear Ron Paul’s name mentioned. It’s as if he didn’t exist. Go over to Fox News, the self-described “fair and … [Read more...]

Melting Markets and Last Week’s Random Links

Random Doodle #24

Another roundup of links coming your way.... With the markets in turmoil, an economy in a holding pattern and close to stalling, consistently high unemployment figures, it’s a semi-grim picture that we could paint. On the other hand, an infernally hot summer is coming to a close, this blog is coming up on a one-year anniversary,  and there’s a steady flow of veggies from the backyard garden.  Life is good. Investing, Markets and the Economy From Yahoo Finance:  Moody’s Analyst Breaks Silence: Says Ratings Agency Rotten to the Core with Conflicts, Corruption and Greed.   The title pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?  Issues like these (right or wrong) are to be expected in an industry controlled by an … [Read more...]

Pestiferous Pests in the Remote Garden

All is well on Cucumber Lane

On every stem, on every leaf,... and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes It's hard enough dealing with the distance of a remote garden, even with low expectations.  Add in drought conditions and an abundance of pests, and I'm just glad enough that we got anything out of what I planted this year. It started first with the blister beetles, attacking first the potatoes and then the tomato plants, and later moving on the to pole beans.  The tomato hornworms came next,  lopping off the tops of the dozen tomato plants.  After that, it was the turn of the … [Read more...]

The 7 Links Project

Postwomen with their mail bags and bundles of mail, Brisbane February 1943.

And here we go with the 7 links project. My blogging friends  Molly on Money and Beating the Index tagged me to carry the blogging chain letter going (thanks, Molly and Mich!).   The meme was started by Trip Base, with the idea of uniting bloggers and revisiting older content that may not have had the readership back in the younger days of a blog. THE GOAL:  To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again. Bloggers link back to seven older posts, then pass the hot potato to five more blogs, and on it goes. Seeing that my blog is just not even a year old, the retrospective is not that retro, … [Read more...]

Are Travel Agents Worth Their Fees?

“You want to know what its like to be on a plane for 22 hours? Sit in a chair, squeeze your head as hard as you can, don’t stop, then take a paper bag and put it over your mouth and nose and breath your own air over and over and over.” -- Lewis Black, comedian Leaving last Sunday for a business trip to Europe, I was getting ready to check in at the Delta counter for the 3:40 flight to Minneapolis (with onward connection to Amsterdam and Luxembourg the next day), fumbling with papers and printouts and passport. The drill these days is that you either check in online, or self-check in at the machine before being called up to the counter.   All was well until it was time to swipe my passport, and it didn’t work.!  I looked … [Read more...]

Random Links from Last Week

Random Doodle #23

After a week-long travel to Luxembourg and Germany, it sure is good to be back home.  As always, while some aspects of traveling are stimulating and personally enriching, I’d prefer to stay at home with the wife and kids.   Chris Thomas from Freelance PF did a great job hosting the site.  Chris is an accomplished and interesting writer, and I’m very pleased with the content  that he provided. As such, I highly recommend his services and professionalism (and, he refers to me as Mister USA Financial Service --- flattery always works). Also, effusive thanks to all the readers that continued to visit, comment and support the blog in my absence. Podcasts of the Week I normally load my iPod to the gills for travel abroad, but this past … [Read more...]