Retail and More

Busy but cold as we roll into the ChartPack this morning.  After that, another chapter of Building Your Personal Ark.

Our column review of headlines will be somewhat abbreviated due to the weather. But we will have Retail Sales and the Trade data.

Weather here is supposed to warm up into the 40’s later on.  But we likely lost the tomato plants in the greenhouse even with the diesel heat on.  They just don’t like cold temps.  Still, been gathering lots of useful vegtel along the way. Never a plant lost without teaching us some of the errors of our gardening plans.

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George Ure
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38 thoughts on “Retail and More”

  1. “Frozen ones, at that, today. 47 in my office as these numb fingers keep moving.”

    I have this image of Bob Cratchitt hunched over a table in a darkened room with only a candle for light and heat. A typewriter with icicles hanging off the keys and Jacob Marley standing at the door. “he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.”

    We your readers appreciate you and your cold fingers George.

      • Mr. Abbott may wish to contemplate a name change for Eagle Pass.

        I suggest he use the name “Fort Sumter.”

        If I were in the TNG and had orders to hold that 15,000 feet of dirt, I would absolutely shoot anybody who tried to encroach on it, or take it from me — from either side of the border.

        • I find is kind of comical on just how the US Administration is now declaring War on Texas because they are trying to protect the border of the country. instead of fort sumpter.. I think ALAMO would be good.. remember the Alamo… LOL LOL LOL when you think just how much worse it is.. you wake up to see more of what the bozo the clown parade are doing to destroy the USA.. LOL LOL LOL Just watch.. they have the laws in place to do it .. And a Congress that I believe they can’t even wipe without assistance.. they don’t do anything but count the days till the next federal holiday LOL LOL and the citizens are so bogged down with poor quality of life all they hear is the drive at five news.. It reminds me that we all have seen this all before.. oh hey they made movies about this administration and congress… .. LOL LOL

        • I don’t think there will be an election this year.. the boss has the laws in place to delay the election until the situation is under control.. we don’t know if the brand was given money to allow this or not.. they sure could of… here we have this golden horse LOL..and by stopping the election due to the country being in a state of emergency.. he can stay in power.. LOL LOL

        • LOOB- Not to be a stickler for historical facts, but the Alamo was a one-sided massacre, regardless of the heroic spin.
          The US Border Patrol was using the park as an unsanctioned border crossing out of public scrutiny, without paying rent to the owner. If the Feds want to lease the park for say, $2 billion a year, then that would pay for a lot of one-way bus tickets to Hollywood and the Hamptons.

  2. My oldest daughter and family lived in White Fish, South Dakota for a few years. Beautiful town, great people, but they listened to the old people at church who had to drive hours to get needed medical care at not so close bigger cities. They made the decision to move to a city with more accessible medical care.

    My city has 3 hospitals but if you want exceptional care and/or complicated surgery you really need to go to Oklahoma City.

    • Not just the distance.. but the availability.. you just don’t walk into a clinic in the USA and get seen.. and if you aren’t insured you are referred to the ER or just refused care.. the healthcare industry is totally broken in the USA.. having worked in the halls of hospitals and medical centers I can tell you its a real thing.. the video done by comedy central is a real depiction of how it is..

      Before deregulation.. doctors and nurses got into medicine for the right reasons.. to care for those at their weakest.. It is why I got into it.. I felt like I was accomplishing something.. today not so much the kids get into it for ….MONEY.. LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY….
      And the wait periods.. phew.. I am still waiting to see an optometrist.. around the wastelands if your on Medicare.. because of how much the medicare is willing to pay for healthcare services.. ( 3.50 an hour most of the time of course that was for adult care…) So the doctors that they get are retired or the ones that they pay off their school loans.. one doctor.. he got into it for the right reasons.. is at the VA healthcare system.. and he is only there to get the healthcare benefits they offer employees and to get his school loans paid off..
      medications.. thousands of percent higher than our closest countries.. I knew one gent.. ( a friend teaches at GWU in georgetown) had to have a reconstruction surgery.. the doctor that teaches the surgery at gwu.. has a clinic in I believe he said Brazil.. it was cheaper for him to fly there get the surgery done and recoup than it was to get it done in the USA..
      NOW if they opened the borders.. to medications and insurance companies..
      I won’t say I have seen it all.. every time you think there isn’t anything more that could shock you.. something new comes along.. I can say it is a challenge to find it anymore.. how many elderly that love their spouses.. end up living in the back seat of a car over medical care expenses is shocking to say the least..
      NOW if your RICH and can afford it.. you can get into a doctor right away.. but then I believe that is true just about anywhere..

      • The Orthodox venerate a number of saints known collectively as “The Unmercenary Saints” (the best known are Saints Cosmas & Damian).

        They healed people without asking for payment. Can you imagine?

        • “They healed people without asking for payment. Can you imagine?”

          Yes I can.. when I fell almost thirty feet and got busted up really good.. boy was I a hurting unit.. they wanted to put me in the hospital.. I didn’t have insurance.. and I thought that my ex would stick around and take care of me.. instead she left.. and i had to crawl for food and water.. ( heat and eats still at bottom shelf level.. even though I know my wife now would never do that to me .. )
          The one doctor and his kid would stop by and check on me.. the two doctors with him in the clinic.. got into medicine for all the right reasons.. I worked with two of them on the hallways.. when they were going to school..
          one got into medicine because illness hurt her family deeply and she seen the atrocities.. the other two doctors got into it to help others at their weakest.. they are still there.. you just have to look for them..
          Now… there are good ones.. but working the Halls I have seen nurses cry because they have to call the doctor.. he wrote some note in the chart that they have to abide by.. and they get down right mean.. one patient was so sick.. they had to call the doctor after clinic hours.. he had the phrases written in the charts where no one would touch her.. the doctor came in screaming and yelling and being mean and obnoxious.. threw the chart at the nurse working then went to stomp out .. ( Not seeing his patient) as he was going and she was crying at the nurses station terrified.. I said to him.. I was the one that reported the issue.. why don’t you chunk that chart at me once.. he was smarter than he looked and didn’t.. that was many years ago.. years later.. when my mother got on medicare.. they wanted her to have him as her doctor.. ( the company my father worked for the owner took care of his workers..she had excellent insurance because of it) I said absolutely not that man would’t be allowed to see my dog.. then I went to my physician that was a really nice kid.. ( even though he did buy a hummer LOL LOL LOL ) he would come in and see his patients after hours.. bring pizza or fried chicken or doughnuts for the staff.. ( we had worked together when he was going to school ) even gave me a hand doing rounds.. I asked him if he would be my mothers doctor since her regular doctor refused to see medicare patients.. of course he did and she had excellent medical care up until she they are there.. the business model has to be changed..

    • If you want to be treated well and eat better, you have to come to Italy, in Rome there are 8 public hospitals, 2 of which are university hospitals which are also at the forefront in the study of tumors. Obviously everything is free, even for those who cannot pay, the state pays.

      • I love Italian food….
        just about any country has better healthcare than the usa..wait periods are just as long or longer in the USA than anywhere else..prices are horrible in the usa..of course that’s why everyone heads to me,I can border in they can get the needed medications..

    • Having grown up surrounded by OLD people the medical care issue as you grow older issue is a BIG ONE for me. If I do move out of the city a very good medical care situation within a short drive is a MUST in my mind, with emergency care being only at most only 15-20 minutes away.

      (good care in my city with our 3 large hospital systems … if need something exceptional that is beyond their abilities the Cleveland Clinic with it’s “Best In The World” care in many specialties is easily drivable – CC saved the lives of a couple of friends that the local big city hospital systems gave up on).

      I have some very stringent requirements as to where I would “idealy” move to for a retirement location if I left this general area … none of them in Florida btw … with the nearness to GREAT medical care being part of my 3 legged stool requirement. (2. being near good cultural outlets where I can go enjoy classical music /plays /etc withOUT having to go into a major city … 3. the people who live in the local area are stable with good values and NON criminally inclined – ie: if you have a home there you could leave it for months on end and nobody would break in and steal out of it – not all rural or small town parts of my current state would pass that last requiement, other parts would)

      • My daughter went to a big city on vacation in the SW.. anyway she got really sick there.. they took her to one hospital and withing an hour she seen what it was like there.. checked herself out and flew home to the wastelands..
        the sixties and seventies.. up unitl the early nineties.. when healthcare started to make the huge changes.. from the middle of the Eighties.. ( after they deregulated the industry to the present business model) the healthcare industry was pretty good.. you had those that were worthless.. but it wasn’t like it is now.. When I met my wife now.. ( shes a nurse) her wage was 4.50 cents an hour.. the techs.. made about a dollar less than the nursing staff..
        Now that the business model has changed.. those getting in are now just going into it for money.. I always thought that how it would be changed is make a system similar to what canada and all the industries have around the world.. just considering operational costs.. even assisted living centers have a huge expense.. they have to charge lots of money.. to keep the doors open.. since pharmaceutical companies can charge what ever they want.. prices of medications are huge.. take tylenol.. you can buy a years supply for ten dollars.. but in the medical facilities it is what five hundred dollars for thirty of them.. around fifteen dollars a tylenol.. the same thing before I discovered red ginseng tea.. my inhaler was six hundred a month.. but I can buy that same inhaler in canada for what ten dollars.. and in mexico it is five.. huges difference..the system is broken.. it had its faults before.. but it is totally broken now..

  3. – I have a lot of skills, knowledge and experience that I have no intention nor desire to “pass down” to a younger generation. Teaching a twelve year old how to knife fight is not on my agenda., and hopefully, it’s not on theirs. And I have met very few that are capable of reading an opponent across a poker table. My extensive knowledge of and experience with bourbon is all subjective and basically useless to anyone else. Gardening? Go buy a couple of books, watch a couple of video’s and go dig some dirt. Community relations? That is nothing more than a fully loaded, STI Custom Combat 1911. My local “Trade Partners” know who I am, and I have helped each one with the security of their property – seems I have a knack for spotting all the weak-links in property / personal defense., guess that comes from years of figuring out how to get into someplace where that guy standing over there with the Ak47 is telling you, you are not welcomed.

    It is a little disquieting and discouraging to read that the “Handy Man of The Year” is working in his office at 47 degrees. My green house is warmer than that ! No excuse for that, buddy. Step it up.

    • George, do you know if a knife sharpening stone 8 inch long 2 inch wide 1 1/4 inch drop should be cleaned and if so how? Wife got from her Dad a tool maker who retired from Chrysler. She gave to me and asked me to clean it? Everything he had was sharp and many things hand made.

      • I have never cleaned a stone. I like like 3-in-1 oil. And wipe the excess off when done – it will be dirty. But never needed to clean a stone… BUT…

        Generative AI is experimental. Learn more
        Yes, you should clean your sharpening stone. Here are some ways to clean a sharpening stone:
        Wash with water
        Run the stone under warm water for 1-2 minutes to remove debris and metal filings. You can also use water as a lubricant.
        Use oil
        Apply a small amount of mineral oil, also known as honing oil, to the surface and gently rub it in with a soft cloth. After using oil, you can’t use water because it won’t have the right effect.
        Use WD-40
        If your stone is old, you can use WD-40 and steel wool to remove dirt and oil.
        Use a scouring brush
        If your stone has a lot of buildup, you can use a scouring brush and a lubricant like WD-40 or honing oil to scrub away grime. Then, you can rinse the stone in warm water and let it dry completely before using it again.
        Use a stiff brush
        You can wipe the surface with a stiff brush, then use an eraser or rubber to remove any remaining marks.
        You can also flatten your stone every 10 sharpening sessions to help keep it even and remove embedded metal fillings.
        Regular cleaning and flattening can help extend the lifespan of a sharpening stone.
        – – –
        Also there are videos on YT about this, but like I said, if I want something really sharp, I go to my own wit and wisdom…

        • Thanks George!
          I have several wet stones but about the only sharpening I do is my hoe.
          My wife had a small bloke of wood she thinks was somehow goes with the stone from her Dad, she thought forcleaning but my searches came up nil.
          Have many Franklin Mint knives and others but never seem to need to sharpen them, they are just for display.

        • When you sharpen a good piece of steel, too much, you can get an edge on it called a “bur.”
          A block of wood can be used as a strop in this case, and a little leftover oil and grime on it isn’t a bad thing.
          On the other hand, there is an edge around the wood such that that stone fits in it, that’s part of the box the stone came in. People use them to hold the stone (a bit more protection for the hands) so could be that. m Got a shop? Build a stone holder and cover.

      • She wants it clean for show? is what I am guessing, get a can of carb or brake cleaner.
        being he was a toolmaker, probably oil soaked
        I wonder what kind of stone it is,,
        the stone will bleed for a while, keep some paper towel under it. My stones are oil-ly and ready to hone, different sizes and grits

        waterstones are commonly used for sharpening knives, like chef knives

      • My professional 2x8s are about 5/8″ thick and mounted to a turret. A stone that thick would be a bench stone (laid on a bench with 1x1s nailed around it to hold it in place) and would be used mainly for sharpening chisels and plane (or spokeshave) blades, and things of that nature, although I’m sure he sharpened knives and fish hooks on it as well. When not in use, he’d have kept it submerged in a can of oil, or at least wrapped in a presoaked oilcloth (not on the bench.)

        Those stones are never “water stones.” He would have used 3-in-1 most of the time, and Brown & Sharpe, Norton, or a light cutting oil some of the time. (Then, if he were like my Dad, he’d have used cooking oil, motor oil, fish oil, or any other handy oil, perhaps even #2, because getting the job for which he needed the sharp tool done, was more important than the kind of lube & cleaner he used on his stone.)

        Honestly, I’d spread a little Dawn on it, dip it in hot water, lay it out on a table or shelf, then let it set for a few days and see what the dishwashing detergent lifts. Then I’d hit it with more Dawn and a bristle (natural, not nylon) brush and maybe a magnet.

        Those stones are not really meant to be clean. They are tools, not decorations, and should be used. The cleaning should only be done to get powdered metal out of the natural grit of the stone. Bear in-mind that even when clean, it may not feel rough. My India Stone is close to 3000 grit, and has no perceptible abrasive feeling about it, even dry.

        Also, be careful. That stone is likely, nearly irreplaceable, and worth several hundred dollars in today’s world, even if there’s only a small fraction of a percent of people who would know how to use it properly…

    • I have never learned how to knife fight and I don’t ever want to know.. those talents I wouldn’t teach the kids either..
      I even made the mistake of showing them how to melt stone with the sun.. that to was a bad thing to teach a young child.. instead I showed them how to freeze stuff with the sun..
      I am going to pass on how to use frequency to their benefit or make a catalytic type heating system.. things that the business model today refuses to allow being known.. but someday I hope they will be more acceptive.. like our grid.. and the solar tower.. I will make a mockup of it to show the kids.. so far it isn’t acceptable.. but one day it will be necessary to have that knoweledge to pass it on..
      kind of like the light house in alexandria.. those kind of talents will be necessary in a future world..
      right now the only thing holding it all back is the business model.. it will have to wait till my great great great grandkids ages before they become acceptable..

      • I still have the “practice knives” I bought to teach mine. The idea was to teach them knife defense. Unfortunately, some small amount of offensive training is necessary, even with a defensive focus.

        I was in exactly one knife fight (which was at least two, too many.) It was terrifyingly scary in a way neither guns nor clubs (both of which I’ve also faced) are. These things did not occur in especially “bad” neighborhoods or “bad parts of town” but in “working class” areas — neither “crime-free” nor notorious.

        It is because I recognize that bad stuff can happen anywhere, at any time, to anybody, that I taught my kids certain skills and ways of pursuing life. It is my sincere hope that they merely take these teachings and pass them on but, no one is immune, and in the climate that’s rising in CONUS right now, likely no place is immune, either.

  4. For some types of medical procedures, the only place I would want to be is Houston. Having a staffed full service hospital with 24/7 emergency room nearby is good, but if you have an opportunity to plan ahead, go where the best services are available.
    For the most part, people end up living at the intersection of random opportunities, unless one has resources that most of Ure readers do not.
    Finding a way to live 100 miles from the nearest metro in a rural setting, and make a decent living, without breaking Ure back in the process isn’t the way it works out for most. The right intersection of opportunities might lure me down the road, but that would be happenstance, not because I willed it to happen. It isn’t quite like sitting on the beach under a palm tree, waiting to see what the tide washes in, but it has some similarities. ROI figures into it. $200 a square foot and an enormous mortgage has no appeal to me; however, every land owner has their price (the lure of resources).

    I’m think that partitioning off a smaller insulated office with double doors and separate climate control sounds like it could be in Ure future. The mini-splits can be reasonable. Any place you spend 4 – 10 hours a day should be comfortable (but not necessarily spacious and extravagant). I found that I can shrink my activities center to a trestle table with a couple of extra racks and shelves to each side, with a recliner in the flanking position, and have a comfortable work and entertainment station. Close proximity to the snack bar (kitchen) is also helpful.

    • (“Finding a way to live 100 miles from the nearest metro in a rural setting, and make a decent living, without breaking Ure back in the process isn’t the way it works out for most.”)

      I had made a suggestion once..with Tele health now.. I had suggested mobile clinics for outreach to rural communities..
      I had considered if I ever won the lottery.. that’s one thing I would invest in..
      along with a cancer clinic for people that cannot afford the treatments.. in years past I have seen so many that were refused care..or at best get delayed needs to be fixed unfortunately it won’t be as long as we have the present business model.

  5. What Ure needing is to rethink your wardrobe.

    1) some nylon/rayon/dacron undersocks to put against your skin then covered by THICK WOOL socks (NO cotton)
    2) boots that have THICK wool liners and wool insulated soles (forget that useless “Thinsulate” shit!)
    3) wool or silk long john underwear (NO cotton!)
    4) thick wool long pants
    5) nylon/rayon/dacron etc. undershirt for wicking the moisture off your body
    6) wool or silk upper shirt to match your long johns
    7) wool shirt … ideally a turtleneck so cold air doesn’t leak down your shirt (forget cotton!)
    8) thick wool sweater over that wool shirt
    9) nice real fur Hat to cover that thinning hair, see what they wear in Russia for an idea
    10) nylon /rayon etc. undergloves
    11) wool lined waterproof leather gloves with long forearm extensions so no cold air gets up your sleeves (forget that “Thinsulate” shit)

    With that outfit you will be all set to stay warm, and if still a bit cold? Well THEN you can throw on your knee length fur coat!!

    Stay toastie!! I know Ure thanking me for saving you from having to redo anything in your office.

  6. Iran.

    “The United States has imposed restrictions on activities with Iran under various legal authorities since 1979, following the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.”

    Sanctions for 44 +/- years. Sanctions were briefly lifted between 1981-83 then full on since.

    Americans financed trillions on defense and Iran still bullies America. “We never saw it coming.” The best jobs are .gov and have no accountability.

  7. 47°? Really?

    I showed you a part of my 3rd tier backup heat source, last year, I think. I was using one of these:

    to make toast while bacon was frying in a 10″ Revereware skillet on a Kero-Sun Moonlighter.

    I had one of these:

    which I wired to the HF heater at that time. I have since made a device from ¾” square aluminum and 2″ aluminum angle which attaches to the elements of a HF or Mr. Heater two element propane tank heater (I have both) to form a shelf, and upgraded the blower to one of these:

    From actual observation: Both burners on low (20kBTUH) will raise a 2250 ft³ room (2 exterior walls) from 50° to 80° in about 15 minutes. Once there, one burner (10kBTU) will maintain it when it’s -20°F outside.

    Menards and the Dollar stores are clearancing thermal curtains right now. They’re a wise buy for anyone, anywhere (especially those that’re “blackout rated”) but ya don’t have to buy all pretty ones, and the plain (read: “Cheapest”) ones could make a dandy temporary “small room inside a big room” sort of enclosure.

    Just sayin…

  8. “Jamie Dimon tells Davos that Bitcoin is a ‘pet rock’ that does nothing—except help with fraud and money laundering”

    Once Jamie Dimon figures out that his traders can do their “magic” with Bitcoin like they have done with Gold and Silver over the years (recently plead guilty to ANOTHER criminal charge wrt manipulating those markets for YEARS) I imagine he will change his tune.

    Can’t let morals get in the way of making money!! It’s not the JP Morgan/Chase way!!

    • Jamie was being kind to the digital pet rock owners. The bankers still seem to be in denial as to the toxic effect the pet rocks have had on the velocity of money, and investment in job-creating ventures. Kids can’t get jobs which will allow them to live a decent standard of living, while the token holders invest in a never-ending pyramid scheme. The partisans do nothing, because the largest class of recipients of fraud and money laundering is, of course, them. At least of you own a PM, you have a tangible asset, not an unbacked promissory.

  9. Question:

    For the “Percent change in retail and food services sales from previous month” graph, is the “Auto” column “automobile (and light truck) sales” or “expenses spent on automobiles” (like gas, oil, electricity for EVs, etc.)?

    Also, that graph, too, is based on dollar sales, not unit sales, correct?

  10. “Any discussion of peace talks about Ukraine can be round filed for now: Putin’s Slip of the Tongue Destroys His Favorite Ukraine Narrative”


    The US/EU narrative of fast-tracking Ukrainian membership in EU/NATO destroyed Putin’s Ukraine narrative. It takes a real idiot or someone with the intellect and experience of a child to believe they can move the goal posts and expect the opposing player to not make compensatory adjustments in their trajectory.

    I could say I hate being right virtually all the time, but I won’t, because I think most people realize I don’t lie, and this would be one…

  11. “Vivek is still out there: Ramaswamy draws cries of ‘VP!’ at NH event with Trump”

    He would add a few colors and kiddies to the Trump Express, but he’s essentially a Trump clone at this point, and not the candidate who’d fill the traditional role of “VP” during the election runup — that of getting voters from a bloc or demographic the headliner wouldn’t, to sign on to help fill out the ticket.

    However, wouldn’t he make an awesome Press Secretary or Communications Officer? Couldn’t y’all just imagine some Jim Acosta wannabee firing an inane question at Rammy?

  12. “And a couple of gems on Study Finds today: Success of Human Evolution is Actually Threatening Earth’s Future, Study Warns. Yah think?”

    Nope. The first line of the writeup invalidates the whole of the article:

    “”Human evolution might be the biggest threat to solving the climate crisis.”

  13. “And this looks useful: Infinite energy? Dirt-powered fuel cell ‘can potentially last forever”

    The problems being:

    1) Were the previous article valid, and this concept viable, it would accelerate human evolution

    2) It ain’t da dirt, it’s da bugs. The energy comes from microbes found in the dirt, so when the microbes die, so does energy production

    3) Don’t see any numbers regarding production, do you? That’s because it would likely take a solid planet the size of Jupiter to generate a significant amount of electricity.

    It is an interesting exercise, and worth noting (and probably revisiting every 50 years or so) but given present technology, it’s a nothingburger…

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