Toothpaste Engineering and a Career Tip from a Former Boss

Helios Factory, Germany 1892

A former boss and mentor emailed me this story a while back. I'd give credit to the author if I could, but it's one of those random internet stories that go around the world a dozen times, and get changed along the way. In fact, I've heavily edited the story for content and added a title, so maybe it bears little resemblance to the original.  In any event... Toothpaste Engineering A toothpaste factory had a problem: they sometimes shipped empty boxes, without the tube of toothpaste inside. The problem was thought to be in the production line setup. Manufacturing engineers will be quick to point out the difficulty in designing 100% reliable production lines.   Small variations in the environment, worker attitude and moral, lighting, … [Read more...]

“Making Money”, plus Four Other Not-Your-Usual Personal Finance Books

undercover 10475497

Cursed this morning by a mild case of writer's block, here's an idea that I've been mulling on for a while: a set of mini-reviews of books that are in my bookcase.  Not "your usual" in the sense that there's no The Four Hour Work Week, no Your Money or Your Life, or The Millionaire Next Door. These titles have been covered ad nauseam by other bloggers. Before we start, be advised that the links will take you to Amazon.  Buy though that link, and you'll be contributing all of three pennies to support my whiskey and cigar habit. Right, here we go. Making Money, by Terry Pratchett. It might be that non-fiction British humor isn't your bag, but for me, the Discworld novels are a hoot. Pratchett has varied takes on our contemporary … [Read more...]

Kiss Real Estate Goodbye – A Real Estate Appraiser’s Viewpoint

Tiny Victorian-style house, Eureka Springs, Arkansas - photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This is a guest post of sorts by our own resident investment guru, Fred Carach, a.k.a. The Riverboat Gambler.  Fred is the author of "Forty Years A Speculator". Bear in mind that this article was originally written on July 15th, 2008.  Today we are told that the real estate crisis is in the 8th or 9th inning. I don’t think so, the 3rd inning is more like it. I have a rather a unique insight on the problem. For thirty years I was a State Certified General Appraiser. That means I was licensed by the state of Florida to appraise everything from a chicken coop to office towers. I guess you could say I was there at the creation. Those who champion a quick recovery are quick to trot out trite statements. The one I find the most … [Read more...]

Investors Use Spread Betting to Trade on the Falling Market

falling  market

The following is a guest post from City Index Last year (2011), a fall of 5.5% in the FTSE 100 occurred, seeing investors turn to spread betting in the hope of making a gain from the falling markets. Continuing through to 2012, as global stock indices continued to show signs of volatility, investors saw an opportunity to profit by spread betting on further misfortune and selling short on stocks and indices when they believed a short term fall in prices would occur. This tactic can still be considered somewhat difficult, with many investors minds ingrained in the notion that you can only make money in a bull market when prices are rising. Traders insist that there is money to be made from stocks prices that fall, as well as rise … [Read more...]

Redneck Dividends

eligibility for the Redneck Dividend Portfolio

As I was editing the notorious USA Financial Service Dividend Portfolio that is featured on this site, it occurred to me that some of the dividend picks shared certain characteristics that would not be out of place wherever banjos are playing and teeth are few and far between. What do rednecks call duct tape? Chrome. Lot of blog posts in the personal finance arena devoted to retirement.  Have your house paid off, do whatever you want, when you want it, with good friends and quality time.  Well, if you think about it, there's plenty of rednecks how have that kind of lifestyle right now.  Now, they may not have much in the way of material goods (call them minimalists), but they sure can go fishin' when everybody else is commuting. They have … [Read more...]

An Extra Large Pipeline of Links

Pipeline work in Iraq, sometime in the black-and-white past

The Keystone XL pipeline has been in the news a lot lately. For those who don't follow pipelines, or who don't watch the news, the Keystone XL is a project sponsored by TransCanada (TRP) that would carry oil from the Alberta tar sands down to United States, specifically the terminus at Cushing, Oklahoma (not too far away from yours truly), and onwards to refineries on the Texas and Louisiana Gulf coast. The pipeline has been blocked for now by the Obama administration. Broadly speaking, Democrats are against it, Republicans are for it, and both sides are full of crap. Proponents of the pipeline fulminate on how the project will create high-paying engineering jobs, and how opponents are anti-growth, anti-capitalist redistributive … [Read more...]

Nickel-Plated Trailers: a Centavos Dividend Portfolio Update

... going back a ways ...

With the last portfolio update back in November, we're about due for another one. Some new additions to the lineup: United Mobile Homes (UMH) Vale  (VALE) Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (PBR) United Mobile Homes UMH, is a subsidiary of one of my current holdings, Monmouth (MNR).  From their website, UMH invests in quality “manufactured home communities”.   This blurb from the S&P report: According to the company, manufactured homes are being accepted by the public as a viable and economically attractive alternative to common stick-built, single-family housing. The affordability of the modern manufactured home makes it very attractive. Modern residential land lease communities are similar to typical residential … [Read more...]

Caffe’ Macchiato: Learning a Foreign Language… With Baby Steps

Caffe' Schiumato (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Continuing with a series of short blog posts on topics I can write about in between longer, better-researched articles.  On this coffee break, have a little Espresso Macchiato, which literally means "stained".  A little drop of milk and a bit of foam on top of regular espresso, and you've got yourself a little shot of vitality. Also known as "Schiumato" (skew-mah-to), or foamed. The first time I saw a "latte macchiato" at a Starbucks, I had to stifle a chortle.  More like milk stained with little coffee, which is exactly what latte means: milk.Other examples of 101C coffee breaks can be found here and here. A goal of learning a second language seems monumental to some people. Teachers of foreign languages will focus on the why, on … [Read more...]

Rounding Up Not The Usual Suspects

all credit to South Park, of course

I went back and checked some past roundups, and they were getting a little stale with the same names.  Now, many of those I consider my internet friends, people who come by the blog often and leave good feedback.  Plus, they tend to put out good and worthwhile content, week in and week out.  This week's roundup takes a break from the usual, and showcases other names which don't make it in on a regular basis, or ever.  Enjoy. Shawanda @ You Have More Thank You Think lays out why exercise machines and label makers are   10 Things We Love To Buy and Hate to Use. Hunter of Financially Consumed has a fine new blog, Bike Lane Living.  Check out this manifesto for life. Matt @ Rambling Fever Money: Insider Stock Tip, New Trucking … [Read more...]

Weekend Sweep: No Twinkies for You!

Not all food stocks are created equal

The weekend is a good time to go through all the bits and bobs in the draft folder, and the various pieces of paper with blog post ideas.  A couple of articles dovetailed nicely this morning: Not All Food Stocks Are Created Equal(Investor Place) How do you fight food inflation? The traditional answer for many investors is to own defensive stocks like food companies, whose products will always be in demand no matter the economic cycle. That strategy used to be pretty solid. Hostess Returns To Bankruptcy Over Pensions(Reuters)  Twinkies and Wonder Bread maker Hostess Brands Inc filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time (!!!!) in less than three years, after failing to reach an agreement with workers on pension and health … [Read more...]