Happy Thanksgiving

A Brief History of Thanksgiving

While prayers of thanks for a successful harvest have occurred in various civilizations for hundreds, maybe thousands of years, the English tradition became formalized in the Reformation during the reign of Henry VIII in 1536.

In the New World, though poorly documented, Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the Puritans in 1621. As President, George Washington declared a national Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. on November 26, 1789. This year, 2014, the U.S. Thanksgiving Holiday will be on Nov. 27th.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

 

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It’s A Beautiful Day…Leave Us All Enjoy It!

Words of Wisdom from One-Eyed Jack

This morning I was enjoying my morning coffee. It was a typical cool November morning in Arizona with all the promises of a mid-seventies afternoon. I thought to myself. “It's a beautiful day in Arizona”…and the words “leave us all enjoy it.” immediately followed. I was SHOCKED. I don't speak in that way or even think with that syntax. How did this happen?

When I first came to Arizona in 1970, the Governor of Arizona was an amiable fellow, Jack Williams, who was sometimes referred to as One-Eyed Jack. He'd had lost vision in one eye as a child, and wore glasses with one lens frosted over.

Jack William's career (outside of politics) had been in radio. Even as Governor, he maintained his noontime homespun radio show which he always ended with the phrase, “It's a beautiful day in Arizona. Leave us all enjoy it!”

Jack-Williams

Gov. Jack Williams

I never thought much of Williams either as a politician or as a radio personality, but he seemed amiable enough. Of course, these days with all the polarization in our politics, we fly right by amiable to hostile once we find out whether or not someone's political leanings are the least bit to the right or left of ours. Sad. Oh well…

It's a beautiful day in Arizona. Leave us all enjoy it.

 

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Why Make A Paper List

Do you make lists?

Here are some paperless options.

I'm working on going paperless. One of the outcomes of going paperless is getting rid of paper notebooks such as Moleskines that serve as a repository for a variety of lists: shopping lists, to do lists, books to read, etc. Does that mean I don't make lists? Of course not, but mostly they're just not paper lists. They're electronic lists that go on my iPhone, iPad, and/or Macbook Pro. Here are some tools that can work as substitutes for pen and pad:

1. Wunderlist. Everybody loves Wunderlist. Me too! Easy to use. Very intuitive. Good for keeping multiple lists. Works on nearly every mobile platform, and a web-based version for your desktop. It's Free. Did I say Free? Yes.

2. Clear. This is such a cool app. It is very cleverly designed, and actually fun to use. It was a great replacement for Remember the Milk – maybe the first of the basic electronic todo lists. BUT…how many to do lists do you need? I cut both these apps because Wunderlist is a great to do list, it handles basic to dos just as Clear and RTM, but it is also super powerful and goes beyond the basics.

3. DayOne. I think most people probably use DayOne as a journaling tool, and that's what it is designed for, but it is also a great place just to hold info, make lists, keep notes. I often use it if I want to write something to refer back to later, sort of a place holder.

4. Trello is a great project/task manager. Works perfectly with iPad for dragging and dropping tasks from one place in the process to another. Great for visualizing workflows, responsibilities, etc., and for making lists!

5. Evernote I saved for last. It is such a hard program to explain because everyone seems to use it differently.

It's probably my very favorite app because it does so much. Evernote is very good at a lot of things, but the best at very few. So, I wind up using Evernote and make the tradeoff. It's so worth it because of the value of keeping (almost) everything in Evernote.

All said, there are a ton of electronic list substitutes for keeping lists. That may be the problem. Pen and paper versus 100 different apps. I prefer the electronic solution, but i keep paper and pen handy just in case.

 

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Carving a Turkey

Choose your Turkey Carving Method

or How I Learned to Carve a Turkey on YouTube.

I have spent several Thanksgivings struggling with big birds, trying to teach myself everything I never wanted to know about carving a turkey.

Eventually, I resorted to the internet, reading articles from ButterBall® to Martha Stewart to POPSUGAR Food (I’m not kidding). This was but a meager beginning. I soon found the motherload for TCI (Turkey Carving instructions) on YouTube. Here I discovered a plethora of live action videos, purporting to make me into a Grand Master in the art of turkey carving in just 3 to 5 minutes.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to review this video plethora. I have done it for you. I’ve divided these videos into three TCI methodologies: elegant (Norman Rockwell style), clever, and simple.

The Norman Rockwell carving style takes place in the dining room by showing off your skills in front of your guests by slicing the breast meat while it is still on the bird. It’s pretty…very pretty. Then the master retires to the kitchen to finish the ugly work with no witnesses.

The clever methods involve the tricks and speed-carving methods of professional chefs using ninja knives. They take apart turkeys in a flash, using knife skills that could easily cost me a limb. I’ll pass on the clever.

And, the simple method is for the really smart 1% (I don’t qualify), who have thoroughly researched the matter and found out that even Julia Child gave up on carving turkeys. In 1989 she proposed that the best way to cook a turkey was to separate the bird pieces in advance. Hence her recipe for a deconstructed turkey. No carving required. Of course, to many of us that kind of defeats the purpose of having a turkey in the house.

At the end of the day, I became a follower of Alton Brown’s Turkey carving method. It’s a bit clever and about as simple as could be without deconstructing in advance, but maybe not elegant. I’ll stick with it until I find a better system. I’m especially indebted to Mr. Brown for his technique of removing the thigh bone and carving the thigh.

Here’s a link to Food Network’s Alton Brown Turkey Carving Video 3:28.

My final bit of advice is that whatever method you choose, have a sharp carving knife for the slicing, and a sharp boning knife for that tricky thigh bone. ENJOY!

P.S. This blog is a follow-up to my earlier posting this month on turkey cooking tips:

TURKEY TIME

 

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Beverage Dispensers for the Home

We've Come a Long Way Baby

From Maytag's Skybox to the Dacor Wine Station

Launched somewhere around 2003-2004, the Maytag Skybox home beverage dispenser could dispense either bottles or cans. With a distinct sports theme (you could order panels for your favorite team), the Skybox was great for a basement or rec room. MSRP priced at $499 (most sold for less), this product was all about fun and whimsey. However, the Skybox was mostly plastic, made in China, and not what you'd describe as fitting the durable, premium image of the Maytag brand.

Maytag-Skybox

Maytag Skybox

It had a short life, but then Maytag itself didn't have a long life left, being sold to Whirlpool in 2005. Now let's fast forward to 2014 and the Dacor Discovery WineStation®.

Elegant, luxurious, and built for the true wine connoisseur –

Dacor-WineStation

Dacor Discovery WineStation

The Discovery WineStation® is the first automated, temperature-contolled, four-bottle wine dispensing and preservation system for the home.

Unlike the Skybox, The WineStation® is a serious product for serious wine lovers, and it carries a serious price of $5299. It's also not likely you'll find this on sale at the big box or home improvement stores, but just like the Skybox, the WineStation® is definitely an attention getter and a conversation starter.

As a commentator and observer of macro-trends in the appliance industry, it's great to take a step away from serious and often distressing appliance news to take a look at fun and interesting products such as the Maytag Skybox and Dacor WineStation®. Can you think of any unique appliance products that made you curious or put a smile on your face?

 

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GE Attempt at Deception Doesn’t Fool Anyone

Shocking Overstatement by GE in Leading Trade Magazine

 

The Nov. 2014 Retail Observer has a two-page GE ad/editorial pronouncing-

“GE Appliances is committed as ever to serving our customers and helping them grow their business.”

They must be kidding. GE is selling its appliance business to Electrolux. Of course, they’re not kidding and that makes the offense even larger. As you might expect, those clever PR folks were careful to cover their bottoms. They don’t actually say that GE is committed to serving their customers, do they? No, they say GE Appliances. You see, GE is not committed to serving its appliance customers because GE is SELLING GE Appliances, so it’s safe to say that GE Appliances not GE is the entity committed to the business. BUT, GE Appliances will be owned by Electrolux Appliances, a Swedish firm. Oh, how we can twist words. How about some honesty?

This is a BAD deal for GE dealers. It’s a BAD deal for GE employees, and one could easily argue that it’s also a BAD deal for a lot of U.S. employees of Electrolux. More importantly, it’s a really bad deal for the U.S. appliance industry and American consumers. I’ve written about monopolistic practices before, and even the Electrolux takeover of GE Appliances. See below:

US APPLIANCE COMPANY SELLS OUT

I have to say that I was particularly offended by the second page of the ad with a headline saying “THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING AMERICAN JOBS.” GE and Electrolux have not addressed the question of which factories will be closed and how many jobs will be lost. Anybody who has been around this industry and witnessed these takeovers knows that they never result in new factories or increased jobs. Sad about the sale of GE Appliances, but much sadder about this really pathetic deceit. Shame on you, GE.

 

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An Old Appliance Name: Chambers

Chambers Ranges and the Famous Daisy Burner

Chambers-Cooktop

Chambers Cooktop

This is a real blast from the past. I don’t remember much about Chambers Ranges and cooktops. They were purchased by KitchenAid back in the mid-1980’s. (At the time KitchenAid brand was part of Hobart. Later Whirlpool purchased KitchenAid).

Chambers had some unique and distinctive features and a price point that definitely put it in the premium brand category for ranges. Of course, back in the 1980’s, brands weren’t segmented as they are today.

The Daisy Burner

Chambers-Daisy-Burners

Chambers Daisy Burners

Chambers had a funky pop-up griddle/broiler feature, a thermostatic cooktop control that was called “a burner with a brain”, a deep well burner with a sunken pot, and the famous daisy burner. The daisy burner was adopted by KitchenAid and continued to be used on some KitchenAid cooktops long after the demise of the Chambers brand.

The daisy burner was impressive. It consisted of 4 or 5 small burners arranged in a circle. Each small burner was not any bigger in circumference than a quarter and had maybe 12-15 individual burner ports. I’ve read that it produced about 12,000 btus which was enormous back in those days.

Among the antique brands that are being sold on the internet today, a restored Chambers range can fetch a handsome price.

 

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Employee Dress and Appearance at Starbucks

Tattoos OK…Jewelry Not So Much

Starbucks-Coffee

Starbucks-Coffee

There’s been so much blather on social media about the recently announced Starbucks’ Dress Code, I wanted to see for myself what this dress code actually says. I looked it up, and I’ve attached the entire (1 page) Official Starbucks’ Dress Code at the bottom of this posting.

I personally don’t much like rules and I think the best rule book I’ve ever heard of was Nordstrom’s. Printed on a single 5″ X 7″ card, I’ve duplicated the entire rulebook contents below:

Welcome to Nordstrom

 

We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

 

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

 

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

I’m not certain that this remains their rulebook today, but I feel that the overall policy of employee empowerment is still respected today at Nordstrom.

I’ve always believed Starbucks to be a progressive company, but I hated Starbucks‘ tattoo policy. Many times I’ve noticed baristas with flesh colored bandages covering up a small tattoo on their neck, or a stud on their nose. How silly. I have no tattoos or nose jewelry, but this is the world we live in. It’s not for me to judge. I just want a smile and a cup of hot coffee.

Now, they have removed this foolish policy, but added the provision that employees may not wear watches or rings with stones in them. It turns out that Starbucks is not alone. Many restaurants and food service establishments severely restrict the jewelry employees can wear, and it appears that there there are in fact FDA rules related to this.

There’s more than meets the eye here. In the next few years, Starbucks aims to increase their food sales to 50% of their revenue. Because of this, I don’t think it’s likely they’re going to back down on the minimalistic approach to jewelry. I guess this is a you win some – you lose some proposition. Lightening up on Starbucks’ tattoo policy will make most employees happy, but as far as the jewelry decision goes, it’s just not likely to go away. Like others in the food service business, Starbucks will most certainly stick with the policy citing both legal and health safety reasons.

Click below to see Starbuck’s new policy:

StarbucksDressPolicy

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Management Advice

Peter Drucker’s Wisdom

Peter-Drucker

As I review my previous blogs, a brief blog referring to one of Peter Drucker’s famous quotes shows up in my top 10 blogs, no matter how I seem to sort them. It’s at least partly because the blog remains evergreen. I continue to get views on this blog regardless of the time of day, the day of the week, the season, the country, etc. It just seems to endure. I neither did nor said anything magical in the post. The reason is that Drucker’s name and the profound wisdom packed into one short phrase, shows up in name and topic searches.

Here’s the blog link:

Drucker’s Advice. Don’t solve problems – pursue opportunities.

Today, we’ll focus on entrepreneurship. Here’s what Drucker had to say about entrepreneurs:

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

Peter Drucker

It helps to know that when Drucker refers to entrepreneurs he is not talking about corporate managers, but genuine entrepreneurs, leading small and medium-sized businesses in various growth stages.

In fact, a big problem with many startups today is that early on they want to hire experienced corporate executives. Though these execs thrive in their corporate world, they lack the unique decision-making skills or leadership talents that are so critical for early-stage entrepreneurships. Moreover, they’re myopic. They only know how to act in a corporate way, not in an entrepreneurial way.

When Drucker says the entrepreneur always searches for change, he exposes the key difference between corporate managers and entrepreneurs. Corporate managers are looking for situations where they can leverage their accumulated strengths. Corporations want to apply their power and strength in manufacturing, distribution, or simply apply their corporate size and strength to win in the marketplace.

On the other hand, entrepreneurs don’t have scale and strength. They can’t bully their way to success. They win because they are all about new ideas, changing the game, and doing things different.

Successful small businesses are nimble almost by definition. They can change directions quickly, make decisions immediately, and will single-mindedly pursue a worthwhile goal. They have no choice. It’s all on the line for the entreprenuer.

 

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What do you want in an insurance policy?

Need Insurance? Get these provisions on your new policy.

Ask your agent to make sure that any insurance policy he offers you has these provisions. Do you think they are reasonable requests?

-Your children can remain on your policy up to age 26.
-There are no lifetime limits on total payout.
-Any appeal to a denied claim will be handled by a third party (instead of the insurance provider itself).

Issue of the policy is guarenteed. You cannot be refused.

-No pre-existing condition riders can be applied
-You cannot be rated (i.e. charged more)
-Your policy cannot include exclusion riders
-80% of premium charges will go to actual services, not administrative costs or profits.

-Key preventative care is covered at 100%

– immunization/flu shots
– blood pressure/cholesterol screening
– mammograms/colonoscopies
– type II diabetes screening
– Obesity Screening and counseling
– Tobacco use screening

Any policy your insurance agent recommends is sure to comply to these requests. It's the law!

By now you've probably guessed that these are key provisions of The Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as ObamaCare. An OVERWHELMING majority of Americans favor these ACA provisions, even though they rail at the bogeyman of ObamaCare. As much as America voted Republican over Democrat candidates in the off-year 2014 election, the repeal of the ACA is unlikely. The new Congress will not fall on their sword over this law, because its specific provisions are so popular.

So we don't like the Affordable Care Act, but we like its provisions. Similarly, we oppose an omnibus immigration reform law, but the American public is in favor of most of the reforms if presented to us individually. Go figure. My personal view is that we're pretty much decent folk, and favor what's sensible and fair. But we get our ire up and look for something or someone to blame when our govenment is intractable and unable to govern as it is now.

 

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