We are always proud to share the Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers’ newsletter because a) it’s informative and b) it LOOKS so good. Here is the latest from this stellar organization. It takes a while to load. Good things are worth waiting for.
Yesterday was December 4 and I could not find a parking spot in Old Town. This year is one of those with only three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I hate when they do that. We have cause to rejoice- the waterfalls in Yosemite are falling again. No, the drought’s not over but at least the mountains are looking more normal. Elsewhere..
Sacramento papers reported that the July California bar exam had the lowest pass rate of any in recent memory- 61% for first-timers, down from 68% last year. the pass rate for repeaters was only 14%, down from 21%. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but it seems to me that with all the confusion about Prop 47, possibly changing weed laws and definite changes in immigration policy, we shouldn’t be facing these challenges with dumb lawyers. Be forewarned!!
Are you a Twitter user? (I call them twits.) The Economist reports that Twitter has ore than quadrupled its revenues since 2012 but is not expected to be profitable until 2017 if then. One reason is that they devote more cash to compensating their employees than do Google and Facebook. 285M folks log onto Twitter monthly which includes 20% of American smartphone users. 75% of Twitter’s ad revenues are from the mobile market. They observe that Twitter’s user-growth has slowed and that Facebook has four times the number of users. Me? I did two tweets. I’m done. I’ll check in next time there’s civil disorder.
Finally , you looking for a job? The Rite Aid in Henderson Center has NOW HIRING on their marquee. Union jobs! Go for it!
..is holding its official opening tomorrow. Here’s a link to the menu as posted on Facebook (they don’t have their website operational yet) so you can check it out before lunch tomorrow ’cause it sounds like there’s going to be a stampede. You have to scroll down aways to see the whole menu. The beet salad sounds incredible. Good luck to them!
This month’s Index reflects an economy in the doldrums. Although the Composite Index increased 1.2 points this month, it is down 2.2 points from this time last year. Retail and Employment are up, Home Sales, Hospitality and Lumber showed declines. Again our thanks to Dr. Eschker and his hardworking team.
When I saw that strange-looking letter, I knew it meant trouble. Here was a letter from BOTH North Valley Bank and Tri-Counties Bank, which has absorbed them. At the bottom were TWO signatures, one from each bank. When I worked at Pearl Harbor, the CO used to say, “Split responsibility is no responsibility.” The Old Man was right.
The letter was dated October 3 and notified me that as of October 25, a new servicer, Tri-County, ‘will be collecting your mortgage payments from you” and exhorted me to send all payments due on or after October 25 to TriCounties Bank at a Chico address. I called both numbers to find out that to expect. My mortgage payments are automatically deducted from my Coast Central account. I called Coast Central and both of the numbers on the letter. No one knew anything except that one person thought that TriCounties would be sending me a letter, maybe even telling me what my new account number would be. Nothing came.
I called Tri-Counties again and was told that all the information was in the packet that was sent to me. I explained that no packet had been sent. Finally they told me to visit the TriCounties branch after November 1. On the morning of Monday , November 3, my mortgage payment cleared! Now I could avoid a useless trip to Tri-Counties, right? Oh no, I called and was told by a nice young lady that I had to come in, anyway. I obediently drove to their branch, which was having the signage changed. It turned out the only reason for making me come in was to pick up the stupid packet, WHICH THEY COULD HAVE MAILED TO ME.
Now that I know Tri-Counties is in such dire financial straits that they cannot afford first-class postage and an envelope, I will be following their fortunes with renewed interest.
Meanwhile, a Friend of the Blog filed the following:
“I tried to simply cash a small $260 check (usually $300) from my wife, done monthly , mostly in McKinleyville’s CCCU. Both of us have an account at CCCU. I told the teller my member #. I assume somewhere on their screen it would show that I have 10Kin checking alone. I have lived at the same home address with the same phone number for 43 years and have been a member of CCCU for decades. My CDL was expired and the clerk was not going to let me cash the check without an unexpired CDL. When I pointed out much of the above, I was told that next time I would need an unexpired CDL. I asked the teller to ask management why? Are they law enforcement? What next, you need to be a currently licensed driver? I have both a current license and a CA ID card. I have never had a point against my license since I started driving at age 15 1/2. DMV is using the same photo for both. My credit score is well above 800. I have a VISA with CCCU. I have two monthly deposits from CAL-PERS and Social Security into this CCCU’s checking. DMV never asked for the expired license. I held onto it thinking it would be a valid Government issue photo ID- not at CCCU. What a tale of woe.”
What a tale of woe, indeed. Whatever happened to recognizing your customers?
I drop into Tasty Tacos (in Cutten, on Walnut) every week and when Tom announces “Julie, you’re order’s ready,” all’s right with the world. The banks should be learning from small business. Boy, should they.
I don’t profess to be a “Famous Humboldt blogger” like our friend Fred. (Fred has a good sense of humor.) And I have to confess that I haven’t been as involved in politics as I normally am, due to family and health issues, but elections are important and I’ll put my two cents in. I think most of you know that I’m a nonvoting member of the HCDCC, and a lifelong Democrat.
Eureka City Council- this is the easiest call. Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel are like a breath of fresh air compared to their undistinguished opponents, about whom the less said the better. Give these two women a shot. You won’t regret it.
Fair Wage (Prop R)- I just accosted John Forrest, the owner of Hole-in-the -Wall, down at the store. I had not visited my favorite sandwich place in some weeks because I was so irritated at his apparent callousness in remarks reported by the Times-Standard. Then on Saturday, while I was struggling with my groceries in the Winco parking lot and the rain was starting to fall, one of the HITW employees saw me and helped me. Now I’m a regular again because of his STAFF. Mr Forrest is a genial guy but no one patronizes HITW because of him, it’s because of the STAFF. I hope the Fair Wage initiative passes. Yes, I know prices will rise. As an old lady on a fixed income, I’ll manage and so will others. There has been more ugliness and hypocrisy around this issue than any I can remember and it has been dismaying to behold.
No GMOs (Prop P)- If the family farmers who bring us the Farmers’ Markets and enhance our quality of life so much are for it, then I’m for it. ‘Nuff said.
FInally, the public safety measures, County Measure Z and Eureka Measure Q, are certainly worthy of your support. Thanks to ALL the candidates and campaign workers for giving your time.
Social Security wants my sister’s birth certificate. Her copy is in a storage locker in Sonora, she thinks. I head down to the Courthouse. It’s drizzling.
For the first time ever, I try parking in the gravel lot at the North end of the building. Big mistake. I drive a lowslung car. The lot consists of huge cavities in the gravel. My car rocks back and forth as I pull into a space, listening to the oil pan scraping the gravel. I wouldn’t call it “accessible” but at least it’s on the same block. After a long, long walk back to the front entrance, I go through the security line. A table near the elevator is marked “Courthouse Information.” A young man fields inquiries while not missing a beat of his cellphone conversation. I need to go to the 5th Floor, which means going to the 4th, then switching elevators to ride to the 5th.
I enter the offices of the Clerk/Recorder. The view from here is normally stunning, but today it’s gray and dismal. There are four or five workers inside and one woman who appears to be doing research of some kind. The workers approach helpfully. I only need one.
I have already downloaded and filled out the request form. A pleasant man says he’ll be back in five minutes. He is. I pay the $25 for a super-official document because I really don’t know what kind they want.
In the elevator I look at the certificate. I remember her doctor, a nice man who died in a plane crash, leaving a young family. Remembering him makes me sad.
The drizzle continues.
The Humboldt Economic Index. produced by Dr. Erick Eschker and his team at the Economics Department of HSU, does not show a pretty picture this month. The leading indicators are, shall we say, mixed.
Lumber is up, but Hospitality, Retail and Home Sales were down in July, as were building permits and help-wanted advertising. On the positive side, manufacturing orders are up slightly and UI claims are down. The national jobless rate declined to 6.1 percent in June while the unemployment rate was 7.2, virtually the same as the State as a whole.
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: gas prices. “Both California and the Northern California region have seen 8% decreases in their average gas prices this month, while Eureka’s average price stayed at $4.25 in June.” Enjoy the report, and our continued thanks to the HSU team.
PART ONE: Imagine there were a company that offered on-line shopping, business-to-business sales, online payments, wholesale trade and cloud computing- in other words a combination of eBay and Amazon that is actually bigger than eBay and Amazon combined. Welcome to Alibaba.
Started by a schoolteacher named Jack Ma on his kitchen table in Hangzhou in 1999, the company, now based in Hong Kong, is about to launch what may be the biggest initial public offering in history, one which could easily surpass Facebook’s fumbled IPO of $16B in 2012. Why will be the biggest beneficiary? Yahoo, which owns 24% of Alibaba and will probably use the infusion of cash from the IPO to continue its buying spree of smaller tech companies. To give you an idea of the scale, Alibaba processes $248B in retail sales yearly. Here’s a description from the Mercury News:
‘”Nearly 8% of all Chinese online shopping goes through Alibaba sites; on Singles Day last year, a popular holiday in China for online shopping, the site processed $5.8B in in purchases. By comparison, eBay’s total sales on its online marketplace for all of 2013 were $6.8B.”
Alibaba is also moving into mobile commerce in a big way, investing in American companies like Mountain View -based Tango Me and in Lyft, the San Francisco -based ride sharing app, while attempting to consolidate its position amidst its nearest rivals, Baidu and TenCant, which is already rolling out its own IPO. (Google and eBay have departed the China market). Alibaba’s IPO was scheduled for August 8 (eighth day, eighth month- the Chinese like “8”s) but may be delayed due to last-minute glitches involving SEC approval of some of their subs which are based in the Cayman Islands. Ma, who is worth over $8B, has stepped down as CEO but remains as Chair of the 21.000 employee firm and is devoting his time to a charitable trust.
It’s a global economy for sure, and becoming more so every day. Wonder how long it will be before we start seeing Singles’ Day promotions? That ‘s too good an idea to skip.
PART TWO: The Analects of Jack. The early history of Alibaba is set forth in a documentary and a book (Alibaba, by Liu and Avery, 2009) which describes how at one time in the early days, Ma was literally kidnapped and held hostage in a Malibu mansion at gunpoint until he talked his captor into going into business with him). Ma only got into college on his third entrance exam but his English major has definitely been put to good use in the following phrases which were compiled by American City Business Journals from various interviews and an appearance on Charley Rose that I’m sorry I missed. Here’s a sampling.
Why he likes small businesses and tries to help them through Alibaba: “I’ve seen people make a fortune by catching shrimps, but I’ve never seen anyone make a fortune by catching sharks and whales. It’s like Forrest Gump.”
On putting customers first: “It’s customers No, 1, employees, two, and shareholders, three. It’s the customer who pay us the money, it’s the employees who drive the vision, and it’s the shareholders who when the financial crisis comes, these people ran away. My customers and my people stayed.”
On technology: “I know nothing about technology. I use the computer to browse the Internet and receive email. That’s it.”
On developing a business: “If you want to be a great company, think about what social problem you could solve.”
On money and Alibaba’s large cash reserves: “When you try to solve problems with money, that is when your real problems start. A company’s assets are like a country’s armed forces.You cannot use it lightly, but if you ever need to mobilize it, you must win.”
A new law just signed by Governor Brown (AB 2486) and effective immediately allows wine and cider tasting at Farmers’ Markets under the following conditions:
-The wineries (or cideries) must grow ALL the fruit in their product
-Only one winery can hold tastings on a given day
-Each Farmers’ Market can determine whether to hold testings
-The tasting area must be cordoned off
-Samples are limited to 3 ounces of wine or cider per adult customer.
The bill, which was authored by Assemblyman Mark Levine, D-San Rafael, passed both houses UNANIMOUSLY.
The delightfully named Portia Bramble of the North Coast Growers’ Association reported that Winnett Vineyards from Willow Creek would be a likely participant at the Arcata Farmers’ Market, at least by next season. This is one story which does not seem to have a downside.