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Bad Astronaut Brewing to open north of downtown Houston; City Acre Brewing, Brash Brewing sold

City Acre Brewing and Brash Brewing were recently sold, and Bad Astronaut Brewing Co. plans to join the local brewery scene this fall. These are just the latest changes for the local market......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsJun 23rd, 2022

How to Generate Listings Despite a Tight Housing Supply

The lull in available homes for sale continued to be the crux of many of the challenges plaguing buyers and real estate professionals alike. Despite gradual growth in the housing stock, agents and brokers argue that it’s not enough to account for the deficit that has been brewing for a decade now. “We’re in a… The post How to Generate Listings Despite a Tight Housing Supply appeared first on RISMedia. The lull in available homes for sale continued to be the crux of many of the challenges plaguing buyers and real estate professionals alike. Despite gradual growth in the housing stock, agents and brokers argue that it’s not enough to account for the deficit that has been brewing for a decade now. “We’re in a housing crisis, and conventional thinking does not work,” says Greg Potts, district director for Fathom Realty in Texas. “Regardless of the crisis, you have to get unconventional and begin figuring out how you will assist your clients—whether their buyers or sellers—achieve their goals.” Recent reports from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) show that housing stock hit 1.16 million units in May—up 12.6% from April but down 4.1% YoY. Couple that with the fact that there are more agents in the industry—more than 1.5 million REALTORS@ and counting—than ever before vying for the same business. Competition for listings is a given in any housing market. However, Brenda Maher, senior vice president at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties, tells RISMedia that it’s especially vital for agents to stay proactive in a market with tight inventory and a growing number of agents competing for a limited number of properties. “You do need to have bold moves in today’s market,” Maher says. “It’s really just going above and beyond, but to be in business as a REALTOR®, you need to have inventory.” Rather than sitting back and waiting for inventory to hit the market, Maher says that she has witnessed agents leaving no stone unturned when trying to generate more listings. “In any market, that’s the way to operate in real estate,” she says. “Those that are aggressive are the ones that can start getting the listings, and one leads to another. That’s always been the way it is.” From direct mail pieces and reconnecting with clients to targeted consumer outreach through social media, Maher adds that getting the word out to homeowners is critical to potentially finding sidelined sellers. “They’ve also been hosting or attending different parties in the neighborhood where they can generate listings,” Maher says. According to Potts, thinking outside the box has become imperative for those looking to find listings for their buyers. That has included door-knocking and cold-calling homeowners in desirable markets to see if they’d be interested in listing their homes. “In many cases right now, you must go create that inventory,” he says. “The unconventional thinking is maybe identifying a home that is specifically in a target area, and you’re literally sending a handwritten note to that client saying, ‘I know your home’s not on the market; however, your house fits the exact needs of my client, and I simply want to know if you’d even consider possibly having a conversation about it.'” He also leverages his extensive database of previous clients in these efforts, but he says that that approach can be difficult for newer agents that haven’t built their cache of clients yet. While the approach has fared well for Potts, who says that he has between a 20% to 25% conversion rate, he notes that the method’s success is predicated on a “numbers game.” “If I only send one letter out, my odds are pretty low, so instead, I’m going to identify maybe ten homes in a neighborhood or area that fit my client, and we’re going to send out ten of those letters,” he says. Potts adds that he sometimes includes a non-descriptive snippet written by a client highlighting what they are looking for. That ultimately drives the point home for the homeowner that an interested client is ready to buy if they are interested. “Many of the agents in the industry had called for-sale-by-owner listings for years and said, ‘I’ve got a client possibly looking’ when they didn’t,” Potts says. “They were just trying to create a listing opportunity, and we feel we have to lead with truth and value.” Cold-calling and door-knocking have also been a part of Miami-based sales associate Mick Duchon of The Corcoran Group’s arsenal as he looks to drum up more business in the Sunshine State. Duchon says that he and his team have taken different approaches to generate business in the current state of the market. “I think the most effective way for us is being very targeted,” Duchon says. “Because we focus in a particular space in the market, we’ll seek out properties that we feel are aligned with our business, and we reach out to the owners directly.” Casting a wide net with letter-writing and marketing campaigns through social media, emails and direct mail are all mixed into his arsenal. However, Duchon has found that targeting specific property owners in Miami’s luxury homes and condo market has yielded better results. “In the luxury market, there’s a handful of buildings that exist that are considered luxury, high-priced or exclusive, and we’ll reach out to the top units in each building and find out if the properties have been sold recently, for how much and what the market is for them today,” Duchon says, adding that from that information gathered he creates his angle and pitch for the homeowners. “We’ll cultivate the owner and reach out to them and send something nice to try to get their attention somehow through a mutual contact or by illustrating our experience in that space,” he continues. “Because there are such few properties in the market today and there are still several buyers that are looking, we’ll reach out to property owners directly when they are not listed and tell them about a client that may be interested in the property before asking them if they’d consider selling.” Indeed, the imbalance between supply and demand has created a conundrum for real estate professionals looking to meet the needs of their buyers. However, some brokers have found that a bit of tact and asking the right questions can yield positive results. In San Diego, Bobby Martins, a broker associate with Move Up San Diego brokered by eXp Realty, often uses his open houses to source new listings. Martins has suggested in previous interviews that he and his team have used their open houses to find sellers among the visitors touring their listings. “One of the things that we’ve been doing with our team is a trade-in option, and it’s a great tool to talk to a potential seller who comes in,” he says. While many agents focus on finding a buyer during tours, Martins notes that many could miss an opportunity to cultivate a relationship with local homeowners that are likely among the pool of buyers checking out homes in their neighborhood. “The script is very simple,” he says. “The buyer’s agent there asks everyone coming in if they live in the neighborhood. Depending on the answer, the next one is ‘do you own or rent?’ Now that you’ve identified the owner, you can tell them about the trade-in option.” Martins partners with banks like Homelight Mortgage and New American Funding which will purchase the buyers new home with 100% cash and close in as little as 15 days. The bank assesses the value of buyers’ existing homes and will front 80% and 90% of the value of property so they can buy before they sell. Once the first transaction closes, owner moves into the new home as a short-term renter while previous property goes on the market after extensive cleaning and staging is done which allows home to sell for more money. Once that home sells, then the bank sells first property to the client at the same price as first transaction with just a small fee. This allows sellers to buy first and know exactly where they want to live before having to commit to selling their existing home. “In my opinion, if we can get every homeowner in America approved in a trade-in, they are always going to be looking for that next property, and that will create more transactions as a whole,” Martins says. While agents and brokers agree that taking proactive and, in some cases, bolder steps towards generating listings and business are part of a winning equation, Dermot Buffini, CEO of Buffini & Company, tells RISMedia that the best trained agents using “tried and true recession-proof systems” will get the lion’s share of the business in today’s market. “Working by referral has been the lifeblood of our membership through 20 years of overheated markets as well as downturns and recessions,” says Buffini. He encourages agents to leverage their “CRM A-List” of past and current clients tops to find referrals and business opportunities amid the tight inventory challenges in the market and warns professionals to avoid becoming “paralyzed by national headlines.” “Real estate is still local, he says.  “It’s your job to become the go-to resource in your community, providing relevant and timely advice,” he says. “Surviving and thriving in today’s market requires a reinvestment in yourself through training and systems and a refocus on past and future clients.” The post How to Generate Listings Despite a Tight Housing Supply appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaJun 23rd, 2022

The pandemic upended my lazy retirement plans, and now I"m taking 4 steps to save for my new dream: owning a brewery

Before the pandemic, Stephanie Hallett thought she'd retire to a cottage and relax in her golden years. But now she's saving to open a brewery. BI GraphicsThe author, left, with her husband at their brewery wedding.Kat Rizza I used to think I'd retire like my dad; he worked for the same employer for decades and achieved "Freedom 55." With life and work so uncertain in COVID's wake, though, I shifted gears to focus on something new. This article is part of the "Re/Thinking Re/Tirement" series focused on inspiring financial planning for a different type of future than the 9-to-5 life allows.     My dad retired at 55 with a wide-open horizon before him: no plans, no commitments, no worries. After decades in the child and youth services industry, he was ready to kick up his feet, flip on the radio, and settle into his golden years — with a healthy pension to support him and my mom.As a union worker employed by a municipal agency in Toronto, he knew early on in his career that if he worked hard for long enough, he'd have a guaranteed income in retirement. I can remember hearing about his "Freedom 55" plan from a young age, watching him go out for strategic promotions that would boost his pension.In 2010, when I started my career, I had moved to the US from Canada and the dust from the Great Recession was just beginning to settle. It is an understatement to say I was walloped by culture shock. I had no idea what a 401(k) was let alone how to use one when it was offered, and it frankly hadn't occurred to me that I'd have to save on my own for retirement. I was 23 and knew only one retired person, my dad, and I thought pretty much everyone's retirement looked the same. Suffice to say I missed out on many years of savings before finally getting it together.When I did start tucking money into a 401(k), around 30, it was with the expectation that I'd follow in my father's footsteps — I'd stop work at a reasonable age (say 65 or so), then enjoy relaxing days with my family and friends, traveling, seeing movies and live shows, working on house projects, and generally taking it easy. But the COVID-19 pandemic flipped a switch in my brain. I suddenly started rethinking my ideal 'retirement'Maybe it was watching my friends get laid off left and right, or feeling, suddenly, the fragility of life, work, and the balance of the two, but at some point in 2020 I abruptly stopped picturing my cottage-oriented retirement and suddenly started to think about building my own business — something that was mine, something that would bring me joy. A pandemic cliché, I know, but it's a cliché for a good reason. When I casually mentioned my small-business dreams to my husband one night, he said he'd been thinking the same thing. Maybe it was all the reality restaurant TV we'd been watching during lockdown, or lingering memories of our brewery wedding, but we started dreaming of a place we'd want to be, many years into our retirement: a brewery with a stage where we could host live shows — theatre, dance, poetry. There would be food trucks, there would be laughter, there would be art and friends and very good beer. Watching so many Americans shift from day jobs to entrepreneurship during the pandemic convinced us it was possible — we just needed the time… and the money.Ah, the money. While we're nowhere near throwing open the brewery's doors today, we've started to think about how to finance our "retirement" dream (because let's be honest, "retirement" today does not mean Freedom 55 for most people — it means leaving your 9-to-5 at whatever age and doing work that can sustain your lifestyle but doesn't require punching a clock, so to speak). We've got a few strategies going to get our financial ducks in a row.1. We can leverage our houseBefore the brewery, I really only had one big-picture money goal: to buy a house. I didn't think it would happen for me until much later in life, but in 2020, my husband and I decided to move from expensive Los Angeles to a lower cost-of-living city and buy a home. With our relatively small mortgage of less than $250,000, we can make extra payments toward our principal now and be in a position to leverage our home's equity in about a decade or less. 2. We're saving and investingWe're still saving into traditional retirement accounts (because life is long and we'll need that money eventually) but we're also setting aside cash every month into savings and brokerage accounts with a plan to put it toward our business. Our "education savings" account is there to support us as we learn new skills, and the money in our brokerage account will be available to cushion us if and when we get the business off the ground.3. We're building our credit scores to take out a small-business loanI'm sure we'll need to borrow money for the brewery at some point, whether it's to buy the industrial supplies we need to start brewing or to rent a space to house the business. With good credit, we can get the best rates available. So we're doing everything we can now to bump up our scores, like paying off our credit cards in full every month and keeping our credit utilization rates low.4. We're investing in home-brew supplies to actually learn the craft of beer-makingIf you've been rolling your eyes while reading this essay wondering what skills I think I have, exactly, that would qualify me to open a brewery, I don't blame you — I frankly have none. This business is a dream at the moment, and it'll take work to get to the finish line. For now, we're investing in home-brew supplies and turning our basement into a workshop. We have to start somewhere. Come by for a drink?Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 9th, 2022

Rabo: Sorry, Boy And Girl Geniuses, But How Does Inflation Go Down If Commodity Prices Keep Going Up

Rabo: Sorry, Boy And Girl Geniuses, But How Does Inflation Go Down If Commodity Prices Keep Going Up By Michael Every of Rabobank Fed 50 vs. Fedoggy#4292 The Fed went 50bp. I will come back to this in a moment, but I need to set the scene properly. Back in 2020, I was expounding that “-isms” were soon going to be back in vogue. Our conflating structural problems --caused by global neoliberalism-- were going to see clashes over what our system should be, which would involve ideology, and understanding liberalism, capitalism, socialism, communism, and fascism. That was before common prosperity, and today we can add imperialism. Indeed, from “-isms” we have moved to a related clash of “-cies” – democracy vs. autocracy. Markets do not yet fully understand this implies not just war in Ukraine but economic war, from commodities to supply chains to technology to finance to FX. Now to the Fed. As Philip Marey summarises here, “As widely expected, the FOMC decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate by 50bps. The Fed also decided to start balance sheet reduction. More interesting was the press conference, where Powell said that there is broad consensus in the Committee that 50bps are on the table in the next couple of meetings, but 75bps is not something the Committee is actively considering.” The fact that the 75bp weapon last seen in 1994 is off the table was enough to smash the dollar (DXY down from 103.5 to 102.5), see stocks soar the most on a Fed day in decades (S&P +3.0%), and bond yields plunge, and the yield-curve steepen (US Treasuries -14bp in 2s and -4bp in 10s). In short, the Fed not being as hawkish as some had feared is being taken as super-dovish. Sorry, boy and girl geniuses, but COMMODITIES WENT UP SHARPLY. Tell me how inflation goes down if commodity prices keep going up? And, in the clash between democracy and autocracy, Russia wants higher commodity prices and the US lower: do you think a dovish Fed is a good thing to be cheer-leading in a Balkanizing world economy that is about SUPPLY not DEMAND? You can celebrate your belief that the Fed is going to pumping assets again imminently just like you did in 2020-21 – right before inflation ripped markets to pieces. Watch India threaten to curb wheat exports after a surprise RBI inter-meeting 40bp rate hike; see Brazil hike rates 100bp to 12.75%, as expected; and observe if China indeed launches another huge infrastructure push today. Listen to Maersk say they see structural global stagflation. And consider the impact if the EU pushes ahead with its proposed end-year Russian oil embargo (here is ours), which is likely to include banning EU vessels and insurance, and some commentators say uses language that could lead to secondary sanctions on *anyone* trading Russian oil. That, as OPEC underlines there is no spare capacity anywhere globally, and the US finally realises that there might not be an Iran deal after all due to Tehran ('US says it is now preparing for a world both with and without an Iran nuclear deal’) with serious geopolitical implications; and as Hamas representatives go to Moscow just as Russia-Israel diplomatic relations tank over very undiplomatic Russian statements. If stocks *and commodities* won’t go down, and autocracy won’t back down, then rates may keep going up and *stay* up. The Fed were not dovish – just not super-hawkish. Yes, they didn’t go 75bps because they know who will pay them $250,000 for an after-dinner speech when they retire. But if they had they might not now have to make as many 50bps hikes as they will be forced to both by markets and geopolitics. (As the US today launches its revised Indo-Pacific Strategy aimed at China.) Don’t think that yesterday’s weak ADP employment data mean rate hikes will slow either. Philip adds that while overall employment growth dipped to 247K, it showed a sharp contrast between large and small firms: in large firms it was up to 321K, but at small firms it fell by 120K. Small firms seem to be losing the competition for workers against large firms, who have more pricing power, higher profits, and more scope for higher wages. So, we do have a wage-price spiral – at larger firms, and small businesses are going to be decimated in trying to compete. Yes, yes, ‘Buy the rumor, sell the fact’. But The Street sees these facts and thinks it’s time for a huge ‘new normal’ market rally, and that democracy, meritocracy, and capitalism win: I am thinking kleptocracy, idiocracy, and aneurism. It ironically thinks of itself as an ‘apolitical’ technocracy and diverse meritocracy – yet it champions paying small money to people with big common-sense talent stacks, and big money to people with some of the lowest functional intelligence. Look at the reaction to the Fed: and look at how we got into this mess in the first place. And if you want another example from an endless list, the Wall Street Journal just bewailed that: ‘The NFT Market is Collapsing’, as issuance is down 92% from its peak of last September, and many NFTs are now worth less than they were bought for. The truly classic quote was: “An NFT of the first tweet from Twitter Inc. co-founder Jack Dorsey sold in March 2021 for $2.9m to Sina Estavi, the chief executive of Malaysia-based blockchain company Bridge Oracle. Earlier this year, Mr. Estavi put the NFT up for auction. He didn’t receive any bids above $14,000, which he didn’t accept. Mr. Estavi said failure of the auction wasn’t a sign that the market is deteriorating, but was just a normal fluctuation that could occur in any market. The NFT market is one that is still developing, he said, and it is impossible to predict how it will look in a few years. “I will never regret buying it because this NFT is my capital,” he said. Another NFT buyer purchased a Snoop Dog curated NFT, titled “Doggy #4292,” in early April for about $32,000 worth of the cryptocurrency ether. The NFT, an image of a green-skinned astronaut standing on what looks like a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, is now up for auction, with an asking price of $25.5m. The highest current bid is for 0.0743 ether—about $210.” Who on Wall Street peddling these things could possibly have known that a new asset class of ‘unique’ objects with an INFINITE cost-free flow of supply might not be the best foundation for one’s savings, or the global financial system? I am shocked --shocked!-- that the “-ism” and “-cy” we were all looking for was not Doggy #4292! (Nor Fedoggy#4292.) Yet Fortune magazine is still running a counter-story saying, ‘‘Revolutionize Wall Street’—$85 Billion Giant Pushes Into NFTs As Price Of Ethereum, Bitcoin, BNB, XRP, Solana, Cardano, And Dogecoin Soar’ and asset-managers are going *deeper* into NFT-ville. Oh, there is a revolution brewing alright. Just not the one they are thinking of. Rising commodities and national security concerns forcing the Fed into new ideological thinking for one. The Fed entering into Joe Public’s ideological thinking for another. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/05/2022 - 10:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 5th, 2022

U.S. District Court Deals a Blow to NAR and Major Franchisors in MLS Policy Suit

A legal conflict with potentially disastrous implications for the real estate industry has come to a head, pushing leaders across the industry to take swift action. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and several national brands named in a lawsuit over an NAR policy announced that they are fighting a recent court decision designating the… The post U.S. District Court Deals a Blow to NAR and Major Franchisors in MLS Policy Suit appeared first on RISMedia. A legal conflict with potentially disastrous implications for the real estate industry has come to a head, pushing leaders across the industry to take swift action. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and several national brands named in a lawsuit over an NAR policy announced that they are fighting a recent court decision designating the case as a class-action lawsuit. “We are disappointed in the decision and plan to appeal,” said NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams in a statement. “This case threatens to disrupt consumers’ equitable access to the largest centralized database of homes for sale in a given market, as well as their ability to afford professional representation during what is likely the most complex and consequential transaction they’ll make in their lifetime.” According to Williams, losing this legal battle could deal a detrimental blow to the industry that would be felt by professionals and clients alike. “Forcing buyers to take on the additional out-of-pocket expense would cause them incredible hardship and would freeze many, particularly first-time and low- and middle-income homebuyers, out of an already competitive market,” he said. The outcry comes after a U.S. District Court Judge in Western Missouri granted a class certification order to a group of home sellers alleging that NAR and industry franchisors conspired to inflate seller costs through a multiple listing service (MLS) policy geared toward promoting cooperation among buyer and seller agents. The ruling, which came only days after the court heard oral arguments from both sides, opened the door for “hundreds of thousands” of home sellers to possibly join in and sue the real estate association and companies for the money paid with their commissions. “The Court agrees with Plaintiffs that a class action is the superior method for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy. Accordingly, the superiority requirement of Rule 23(b)(3) is satisfied,” wrote Judge Stephen R. Bough, who is presiding over the case. According to Bough, the plaintiffs—listed as Scott and Rhonda Burnett, Ryan Hendrickson, Jerod Breit, Scott Trupiano and Jeremy Keel—pushed to have the antitrust case tried as a class action suit based on the size of the case and the issues involved and because “the identical claims would result in uniform damages calculation, each class members’ damages will be small compared with the relatively high costs of bringing litigation, separate proceedings would produce duplicative efforts and risk inconsistent verdicts.” Williams stated that NAR is poised to “aggressively contest the allegations.” NAR isn’t alone in that fight, as Realogy and Keller Williams—also defendants in the case—plan to take similar actions. “The court did not decide the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims, which we categorically deny,” said Keller Williams spokesperson Darryl Frost in an emailed statement. “The case is far from over, and we will continue to defend ourselves in court vigorously.” In a recent SEC Filing, Realogy indicated that it plans to “pursue an interlocutory appeal of the decision” on the class certification order. “Realogy disputes the plaintiffs’ allegations against it in the antitrust litigation, believes that it has meritorious defenses, and will vigorously defend these actions,” read the SEC document. The court decision and looming appeals mark the latest development in a court case that has been brewing for several years following a 2019 lawsuit filed by Joshua Sitzer and Amy Winger initially against NAR, Realogy, RE/MAX, Keller Williams, and HomeServices of America—including its subsidiaries BHH Affiliates and HSF Affiliates. The Burnetts and the other plaintiffs joined the case later. At issue is an MLS policy that the case file referred to as the “Adversary Commission Rule.” However, the policy is commonly known as the “Participation Rule” or “Buyer Broker Commission Rule.” The longstanding MLS policy mandates that brokers list buyer agent compensation as a prerequisite to listing a property on certain multiple listing services. The lawsuit contends that NAR’s policy is anticompetitive, alleging that NAR and the company conspired to inflate commissions by requiring all seller brokers to “make a blanket, unilateral and effectively non-negotiable offer of buyer broker compensation,” violating federal antitrust laws. The lawsuit argues that buyers’ agents wouldn’t show their clients a listing depending on the commission a seller’s agent was offering. Conversely, the suit also alleges that buyers’ agents may prioritize showing homes with higher adversary/buyer commission offers. “If NAR’s Adversary Commission Rule were not in place, then the cost of buyer broker commissions would be paid by their clients (home buyers),” read an excerpt from the original court document. “Buyer brokers would thus have to compete with one another by offering a lower commission rate.” Williams argued the contrary, stating that “the pro-competitive, pro-consumer local broker marketplaces serve the best interests of buyers and sellers.” “Local broker marketplaces ensure equity, transparency and market-driven pricing options for the benefit of home buyers and sellers,” he said. “These marketplaces reduce transaction costs by ensuring, among other things, that a buyer broker and their client understand how much the listing broker will pay the buyer broker for procuring a buyer for the listed property.” Aside from a list of real estate companies and NAR, the lawsuit also targets a group of local MLSs—Heartland MLS, Columbia Board of Realtors (CBOR), Mid America Regional Information System, or the Southern Missouri Regional MLS—which also help lay the foundation for the following classes established in Judge Bough’s order: Subject MLS Class and Missouri Antitrust Law-Subject MLS Class: People from April 29, 2015, through the present, used a listing broker affiliated with HomeServices of America, Inc., Keller Williams Realty, Inc., Realogy Holdings Corp., RE/MAX, LLC, HSF Affiliates, LLC, or BHH Affiliates, LLC in the sale of a home listed on the Heartland MLS, Columbia Board of Realtors (CBOR), Mid America Regional Information System, or the Southern Missouri Regional MLS, and who paid a commission to the buyer’s broker in connection with the sale of the home. MMPA Class: All people who, from April 29, 2014, through the present, used a listing broker affiliated with Home Services of America, Inc., Keller Williams Realty, Inc., Realogy Holdings Corp., RE/MAX, LLC, HSF Affiliates, LLC, or BHH Affiliates, LLC, in the sale of a residential home in Missouri listed on the Heartland MLS, Columbia Board of Realtors, Mid America Regional Information System, or the Southern Missouri Regional MLS, and who paid a commission to the buyer’s broker in connection with the sale of the home. The court filing gave plaintiffs 14 days from April 22 to submit the appropriate documentation to add class members who sold their homes using the CBOR and Southern Missouri Regional MLS. While the Sitzer/Winger case centers on markets in Missouri, the lawsuit’s implications could send ripples throughout the industry. However, onlookers and leaders nationwide aren’t convinced that the recent ruling signals that the plaintiffs will prevail. “It is possible that, once the plaintiffs walk the court through how the transaction would look under the system they are suggesting, it may become evident that consumers would end up in a worse position than under current custom,” says Craig Cheatham, president, and CEO of The Realty Alliance. “I certainly wonder about the plight of the first-time homebuyer unless the housing finance industry adjusts to allow them to finance payment of their trusted advisor. “Agency law has been examined and reexamined time after time over the past few decades, and policymakers continue to allow the current practice,” Cheatham continues. “And the marketplace has continued to affirm the value of having an agent and paying that agent.” Ken Trepeta, executive director of the Real Estate Services Providers Council, echoed similar sentiments. “The judge has allowed the case to go forward and is allowing for this class status, but it’s very early stages, and I think that there is a lot of evidence that this particular MLS rule has nothing to do with trying to set prices,” Trepeta says. Trepeta adds, “The idea was to disclose the compensation amount upfront, so there is no back and forth or debate over how much the buyer’s agent deserves. It’s basically out there in the open, and that’s that whole point behind the MLS. It was more about governing the relationships among agents concerning listings and aspects of listings.” This is a developing story. Stay tuned to RISMedia for further updates.  Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news to jgrice@rismedia.com. The post U.S. District Court Deals a Blow to NAR and Major Franchisors in MLS Policy Suit appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaApr 27th, 2022

Spring Ahead: Open Houses and the 2022 Market

Traditionally, spring has meant sunshine and showers, flings and flowers. It also has meant—to real estate professionals at least—open houses, as buyers emerge from hibernation to peruse a blossoming world of new listings and real estate agents ramp up in preparation for the busiest time of the year. But in 2022, with limited inventory and… The post Spring Ahead: Open Houses and the 2022 Market appeared first on RISMedia. Traditionally, spring has meant sunshine and showers, flings and flowers. It also has meant—to real estate professionals at least—open houses, as buyers emerge from hibernation to peruse a blossoming world of new listings and real estate agents ramp up in preparation for the busiest time of the year. But in 2022, with limited inventory and new technologies that can at least partially substitute for a traditional walk-through, does the open house even exist? Are buyers still ravenously descending on every property as soon as it hits the market? About a 90-minute drive to Manhattan (without traffic) the town of Fairfield, Connecticut has traditionally been seen as a stretch for the traditional New York commuter. With a median listing price of $775,000 this year, according to Realtor.com, a 2,300 square-foot four-bedroom ranch-style home in a quiet neighborhood falls squarely in the “affordable” category for this market, listed at $599,000. Cars line a rural road in Madison, Connecticut as buyers flock to the opportunity offered by an early spring open house. Over the course of four hours split between a Thursday and Sunday in early April, no one shows up to this property’s open house, though it receives three offers within five days of listing, all in the $530,000 to $560,000 range. Paul Ferreira is the listing broker, owner of a RE/MAX franchise in nearby Trumbull. He says he is not changing his strategy for running open houses this spring, despite also predicting that the market is on track for a major shake-up in the coming months. “We’ve been seeing a definite slow-down,” Ferreira says. “We haven’t seen as many bidding wars in the last four weeks as we’ve seen in the last nine months. We’re definitely starting to see a slowdown in that aspect, of people paying 8-12% over asking to get the houses.” “I’m not saying it’s not happening,” he adds. “I’m just saying it’s not happening as much.” Another house visited by RISMedia sits a little further out, in the more rural, coastal exurb of Madison, where bucolic country roads wind through lines of trees, and looming old-money beach mansions offer scintillating views of the Long Island Sound. An open house in the bucolic village of Madison, Connecticut drew big crowds amid low inventory, as agents plan for a potentially busy spring. Victoria Tavares is a veteran agent with William Raveis. On a Friday afternoon in late March, a line of cars already threatens to clog up the narrow country road in front of a modest 2,100 square foot ranch sitting on just under an acre of land (which includes a small pond and well-maintained garden). Tavares is the listing agent for this home, priced at $399,000, and she receives six offers by the end of the weekend—all well above asking. “It was crazy—the sellers did accept an offer, but I still have buyers and agents reaching out to me to see the property,” Tavares says. A little closer to the city of New Haven to the west in the town of Guilford sits a significantly larger home in a brand-new community with wide, well-paved streets—a much more suburban feel, though still removed from any sort of downtown or urban center. At nearly 4,000 square feet, this colonial is listed for $750,000, and offers a wine cooler, a finished basement, nine-foot ceilings and a unique playroom/home office wing connecting a wide-open well-lit space set with cubbies and playmats with a cozy work-from-home space. This home was also listed as “pending” two days after the open house, which drew a large number of families with young children. The agent at the showing declined to speak with RISMedia and only gave a first name. Messages left for the listing agent were not returned at press time. Vibe check It is difficult, and probably unwise to try to draw broad conclusions from a tiny sample size in an even smaller geographic area. The Northeast has struggled even more than some with low inventory, and many other factors are likely to make the market in this area unique. That being said, though, some of the storylines and stereotypes of the current wild market were on full display at these homes, even as Tavares and Ferreira disagreed—to some degree—on the likely path ahead for real estate. “Most buyers were saying they’ve been searching, they’ve been making offers and they’re just being outbid by higher offers,” Tavares reflects. “Most of the buyers seem pretty urgent…they’ve definitely been doing it a while.” At least 25 groups show up to the Madison open house in the first hour, a good mix of younger couples, families and a few older couples. A younger couple who only gave their first names—Jeff and Alyssa—showed up early and left Tavares’ open house relatively quickly. Jeff says that the couple are in their third year of house-hunting. He described the process as “a little discouraging,” after putting in six or seven offers just recently, all at or above asking price, often beat out by “corporations.” The couple had hoped to purchase a multi-family closer to the urban center in New Haven and make some rental income before selling to fund a single-family home that they could start a family in—something they had hoped would only take three or four years in total “I would say broadly, my time frame has kind of run out,” Jeff quipped. Another couple, who declined to give their names, had recently sold their house in the affluent and posh suburb of Darien—a quick hop from Manhattan, where the median listing price for a home is $1.7 million—and were looking to downsize. They were listing their own home as an “office exclusive” and expected a deal to go through within days, they say. More than an hour’s drive into what they describe as “country living,” the couple say they are excited for the opportunity to pay significantly less for a similar-sized home, and want to escape the intensity of Darien after their children moved out—working remotely for now, but looking ahead to retirement. Tavares says she sees plenty of mom-and-pop investors snapping up houses—mostly that are not “move-in ready.” At the $300,000 to $500,000 price range, though, houses are still getting snatched up almost instantly, and even waterfront million-dollar mansions in the area are subjected to bidding wars. This colonial in Guilford, Connecticut featuring a play room and copious yard space was perused by a mostly younger crowd during an open house earlier this month. For the Fairfield house that Ferreira listed, the end result does not necessarily reflect the market. The owner of that home was an elderly woman whose children were making most of the decisions, he says. After asking if he could sell the house in 90 days (no problem, he told them), the children pivoted and claimed they needed the cash faster—within days—rejecting all the previous offers and asking Ferreria to market the home to flippers, who would pay cash. It sold for $410,000, and Ferreira guessed the new owner would list it in a few weeks for around $800,000. “All you can do is advise people the best course of action, but it’s up to them to take the advice,” he says. Running a small company that still lists 60 to 100 homes a year, Ferreira says this kind of scenario is relatively uncommon and is not a reflection of the current market. He speculates that the children of this owner had personal reasons for leaving almost $150,000 on the table. More broadly, Ferreira says that he has been advising clients to wait on home purchases (if possible) for the last eight months, deeming that prices have become inflated and that the market is destined for a pullback. He specifically refers to the fact that around 20 of his listings in the last year or so have failed to appraise—the first time that has ever happened in his career. “We don’t think this great market is going to be as great as it has been—this is my opinion,” he cautions. “Some REALTORS® think this is never going to end, but if you lived through the 2008 correction—2006, we were seeing the same craziness.” “Nobody’s willing to wait—everyone wants it now, now, now,” he adds. Tavares does not express any particular concern about the market, and says that sellers are still getting almost whatever they want for their homes as buyers remain overabundant for nearly every town and niche. “Buyers are just super eager to be the first one in the door,” she says. Anatomy of an open house Both Ferreira and Tavares agree that the open house is not only still a useful tool, but can be especially important for a variety of reasons in the current market conditions. Both also regularly have times on weekdays, they say, for different reasons. Ferreira traces his open house strategy back four years ago, to an idea he borrowed from an agent in California. “A lot of people are exhausted on the weekends from working all these crazy hours that they’re working. So we try to get one on a Thursday or a Wednesday during the week, especially once Daylight Savings time changes so it’s not as dark,” he explains. “Just like that, the people who really want to see it, they’ll get into the property. Then we do something on a Saturday or a Sunday.” This strategy has been “extremely successful,” Ferreira says, with short weekday windows and longer times on the weekends, which can better meet the needs of more people’s schedules. Tavares says she has seen more weekday open houses recently, and the weekday opportunities are often the busiest. It also saves a lot of time because otherwise you are spending a lot of unnecessary time scheduling showings seven days a week for a horde of desperate buyers. “If you’re serious, come now and that’s it. And it works. Serious buyers show up,” she says. “Basically you’re finding that the second a property hits the market, you have buyers and agents calling.” If a property is listed on a weekday, it is hard to tell people to wait until the weekend for an open house, Tavares claims. Often agents schedule evening open houses that day or the next day. “That’s really to accommodate the demand and the desire for buyers to get in right away,” she says. Ferreira agrees that with how busy agents are, an open house is just more efficient as long as finding buyers is easy. With the internet, he says the timing and windows for open houses can be completely flexible, and he will often schedule public open houses at the same time people request showings from him, to maximize efficiency. “I’ll not just meet them, but if anybody else wants to come at that timeframe, they can,” he says. All the other traditional benefits of scheduling an open house—training new agents in your brokerage, meeting new people and getting your brand out there—remain just as important as they’ve always has been, according to Tavares, even in the face of new technology and shifting consumer behavior. “All around the board, it just kind of facilitates that entire process,” she explains. One practice that might be new, and not necessarily welcome at open houses are attempts by other agents to sneakily poach potential clients. A man at Tavares’ open house introduces himself as the husband of another agent working in the region, and admits he regularly trawls open houses to send business her way in hopes of “an earlier retirement.” “That is so bizarre…I wouldn’t say that is very—what’s the word—ethical?” she wonders. “That’s part of doing open houses, though. Part of that is, while we obviously require everyone to sign in, you get those people who try to slip by the sign-in sheet—not that it’s really a big deal at the end of the day, but you do kind of wonder.” Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas, jwilliams@rismedia.com. The post Spring Ahead: Open Houses and the 2022 Market appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaApr 25th, 2022

From Resort to Residential: Disney Expands on Community Living

Disney has always been well-known for its hospitality. Songs like, “Be Our Guest,” invite audiences to make a home for themselves—whether they’re visitors being delighted at the theme parks or families cozied up on the couch. Now, Disney hopes to repurpose its company commitment towards placemaking with a real estate venture sequel it hopes will… The post From Resort to Residential: Disney Expands on Community Living appeared first on RISMedia. Disney has always been well-known for its hospitality. Songs like, “Be Our Guest,” invite audiences to make a home for themselves—whether they’re visitors being delighted at the theme parks or families cozied up on the couch. Now, Disney hopes to repurpose its company commitment towards placemaking with a real estate venture sequel it hopes will have a better ending than its last. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, the entertainment and media conglomerate has announced the development of two major residential community properties. On April 6, the Walt Disney Company announced in a press release that it will be using  80 acres of land in Orange County, California to bring affordable housing opportunities to qualifying public applicants and its cast members (as Disney calls its employees). This development will expand on the initiatives it’s taken to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis—which also include several housing developments built around the Disneyland Resort. Credit: @Disney In February, Disney also announced the launch of its new Storyliving by Disney communities, which will offer housing, entertainment and unique amenities encompassing a plot of land in Rancho Mirage, California—dubbed Cotino. Aerial View of Palm Springs In collaboration with Scottsdale-based DMB Development specializing in planned communities, Cotino will allow homebuyers to purchase single-family homes, villa estates and condominiums, with some neighborhoods designated as 55+. Cast members will also manage day-to-day associations. While Orange County remains in a concept phase, Storyliving in Rancho Mirage has been approved and will include a mixed-use district featuring shopping, dining and entertainment, a beachfront hotel and beach park with recreational water activities that can be accessed by the public through the purchase of a day pass. Rancho REALTORS® have voiced their support for this endeavor, highlighting the power of influence communities like Cotino can have on a new era of homebuyers. “There is an increasing market for lifestyle communities with conveniences—hotel, shops, restaurants—and easy access through walkability,” says Geoff McIntosh, broker associate for Coldwell Banker and former president of the California Association of REALTORS®. “Leave the car at home! We have a clientele—especially baby boomers and millennials—looking for exactly that.” He adds that this development aims to deliver on its decades-plus mission of enchantment and enterprise. “Leveraging the Disney brand is brilliant—with Disneyland opening in 1955 that brand is uniquely positioned to have broad appeal. Recognized as a “quality-trusted” brand with incredible Imagineering looks like a winning combination to me.” The tagline on the Storyliving by Disney website reads, “Imagine. Create. Live your story.,” displaying illustrated, concept renderings of a diverse community backlit by a picturesque, desert-spring landscape. “A Living Painting,” another tagline suggests. The notion of a suburban utopia conceived by Disney isn’t new. Many are familiar with Disney’s past residential endeavors—the most recent being the multi-million-dollar luxury properties in Golden Oak, Florida, located within Walt Disney World Resort, and its first and former residential model in Celebration, Florida. The concept draws upon decades of achievements in innovation, brand loyalty…and quite a few learning-curves. Something to Celebrate In 1966, when Walt Disney outlined his vision for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT), it was less a suggestion for a compact representation of world heritage, but moreover an Arcadian Americana. Disney died a year later, and his grand vision metamorphosed into EPCOT park in 1982. In 1991, the company turned back the pages of his book and began planning an actualized version of Walt’s perfect town—climate-controlled bio-dome excluded. Epcot in Disney World at Sunset Disney secured nearly 5,000 acres of land in Osceola County, Florida, a stone’s throw away from the parks, and in 1996, his vision was fully realized. “Celebration” was a community styled off of the holistic design movement, New Urbanism, which aims to shift away from low-density zoning and single-use buildings and homes that became popular after the end of World War II. New Urbanism promotes walkable, mixed-family neighborhoods, a centralized main street, accessible public spaces and a community model where function influences social well-being. Disney hired celebrity architects around the world to design its residential and commercial infrastructure. Celebration’s Town Center contained commerce, a town hall, a movie theater, schools and other civic establishments incorporated into the town. Homes were designed in different architectural styles like Classical, Victorian and Colonial Revival, with a front porch and garage in the back. Everything from street signs to storefronts, even manhole covers, were designed to tie the whole town together. Postcard Perspective When Kim Hawk first heard of Celebration, she was one of the first (of 5,000) people who showed up for the lottery Disney held for the sale of the first 350 homes. “My mother, who was a broker at the time, said to me, ” Now’s the time to activate your life,” because it’s always smart when you can see a project from the ground up. I’ve been here for over 25 years since.” Hawk, a REALTOR® for Florida in Motion Realty and reputed locally as the “Fairygodmother of Real Estate Near Disney,” shared what it was like at the start in terms of buyer expectations. “There were people that put every bit of their energy into getting a house here,” she says. “Back in those days, it was required that you had to sell whatever property that you lived in prior because they wanted to have founding residents. All of a sudden, you really started to see the definition of supply and demand. The power of Disney behind the community really amped up the sales quickly.” Hawk reveals that the community’s walkable streets, fiber optics and locale under a no-fly zone are still attractable assets. “Because people are concerned about the pandemic returning, people have adopted this mindset of ‘who has the right resources where I can live the best lifestyle possible’,” she says. “I would say Celebration is skyrocketing because of that. Now, we’re getting calls from people who say, “I just want to live in Celebration, you don’t even have to show me the house.” Great Reflections of the Celebration, Florida Downtown and Lakefront Social analyst and author Andrew Ross, who wrote about his year-long stint living in Celebration in his book, The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney’s New Town, resounded in favor of Celebration’s design scheme. “The first people who came to Celebration were just dying to live on Disney land. You can compare Celebration with typical suburban subdivisions in Central Florida, but I think the quality of offering was far superior,” he details. “A master plan residential development wasn’t all that experimental at the time. However, when you think about the identity of the developer and that they were able to build a town center before people even moved in—that has never happened before in real estate history.” Ross also has been vocal about the issue of affordable housing in American suburbs and rural areas, and cites Disney’s own shortcomings on the issue. His 2021 follow up to Celebration Chronicles titled Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing, provides even further insight into Disney’s response (or lack thereof) to the need for affordable housing within Celebration itself. “At the time Celebration was built, the alternative was for the developer to put a bunch of money into a fund and have affordable housing built off-site, which is what they did,” he explains. “It was only $300,000—that doesn’t give you much affordable housing. As a result, there was nothing built-in in the way of permanent affordable housing in Celebration.” The town remains to be a mixed-income community, but Ross articulates how once these kinds of properties become commercially successful, they no longer become affordable—which is what happened in Celebration and other New Urbanist-showpiece towns like it. Hawk retrospectively addresses the issue of affordability in Celebration, saying, “It probably was a little bit of a stretch 25 years ago, but I think a lot of those people are now very happy with it because when they went to sell, they made a good amount of money from the properties.” Because of its Disney name, critics couldn’t help but perceive Celebration as an extension of the theme parks—which complicated matters of public interest, according to Ross. “The problem is, visitors and consumers of the theme parks are accustomed to a high level of customer satisfaction” he explains. “I think there were some people who expected that Disney would be on call if something went wrong and that they’d deliver customer satisfaction, but that doesn’t happen in real estate. You can’t control the speech of the residents in the same way you control animatronic figures in the theme park.” Walt Versus Wall Street Disney’s conflation of imagination and perception resulted in a fairytale-like dilemma. In truth, it was a real town, like any, with real problems. Even though Celebration proved to be a commercial success for Disney in terms of home sales, the company sold Town Center in 2004 to Lexin Capital, a private-equity New York City firm. Disney claimed that it wanted to focus on selling other commercial lands, but insisted it’d keep a watchful eye on the town for several more years. While Lexin assured that the effects on the town were going to be nothing short of a change in guard, the next decade plus proved otherwise. The years following ignited a media frenzy. Crime, educational tussles and a litany of lawsuits from disgruntled residents plagued the town. Hawk recounts how many residents wanted power to transfer over to its own residents who knew the town best. “I was a member of a group of people that said we wanted to buy downtown versus Disney going out and selling it to a group that wasn’t familiar. I think if that had been the case, it might have been a better situation.” She does maintain, however, that the issue involved both personal and public deception, since resolved. “As far as expectations of what should be delivered, the town’s doing pretty well right now,” she holds. “My heart does go out to a couple people who had to fight in order to get the results that they wanted, but I wouldn’t say it was the town in its totality that was an issue.” Celebration’s distinctive origins and design elements cement it as an entirely unique community, however, Ross addresses its drawbacks in a much broader context. “There are communities all across America with a similar story to tell when they get taken over by private equity. They usually don’t go after fairly affluent places like Celebration, and they don’t usually get pushback (i.e. residents who fight back), but that’s what happened in Celebration.” A New Chapter of Real Estate Though Disney’s past real estate ventures do not necessarily dictate the future of Cotino, it certainly informs how they move forward. The narrative for Storyliving characterizes this project as an entirely new venture for Disney, and in many ways it is. Since it is not the developer, it’s safe to assume that it would want to distance their brand more so than it has in the past. Bringing his expertise in planned communities and Disney into the fold is DMB’s president and CEO, Brett Harrington, who formerly served as Celebration’s town manager in its formative years. Though Rancho Mirage Mayor, Ted Weill, believes that Cotino will be a “fabulous fit” for the community and serve as a much-needed economic boost—he took the time to dispel some public concerns on the government website. Its location has raised eyebrows. The state of California is experiencing a two-decade drought, and with plans to feature a 24-acre, “grand oasis,” lagoon on the property, many are wary of the environmental impact a structure like that will do. Disney safeguards the potential water shortage issues by stating they will be employing the use of Crystal Lagoons, which promotes sustainable, eco-friendly, low-consumption technologies. Others question its location in relation to its nearest park. In contrast, Celebration is at arm’s length with Walt Disney World, and Golden Oak is located within the resort itself. Cotino does not have the luxury of such proximity (nearby Disneyland is two hours away). Disney squares this by tying the land to the magic man himself, Walt Disney. The Coachella Valley was a beloved destination for Walt Disney and his wife Lillian, as well as other golden-age celebrities and U.S. presidents alike. It was a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood, with Cotino offering a similar level of escapism. Disney has yet to announce how much homes will cost, but it has stated that they will not be developing, building or selling the homes themselves. What is certain, however, is that REALTORS® up to the challenge of selling these homes will be marketing towards a very niche demographic who might welcome the idea of morning tee times, solitude in the Santa Ana’s and a community of like-minds with a penchant for theatrics. David Cantwell, managing broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bennion Deville Homes, offered a generally optimistic approach to this development, and revealed that the Disney connection was unbeknownst to city officials until the day before the official announcement came through. “The response has been mostly positive,” he says. “It’s amazing was able to keep it quiet.” Cantwell, whose corporate offices reside in Rancho Mirage, is encouraged that the city has put in place conservation efforts so that the water being taken from aquifers underneath the land and through its Colorado River reserves is mitigated through the use of the advanced tech being used to fill the lagoon. “We have no thoughts on it going dry,” he maintains. He also gave insight into the potential rate of these Cotino homes in lieu of an already steep market. He noted that forces that have driven detached home prices higher, (i.e. low inventory and rising sales) continue to dominate the Coachella Valley housing market—currently averaging $630,000 for detached homes. “Considering that the median price for homes have gone up over 40% in the Coachella Valley, we expect that the rate for these new properties will go for $500,000 or more, which is actually below the median in the area.” As for who might be eying these homes, Cantwell categorized this target demographic as 55+ residents (the median age in Rancho Mirage is 65), Midwest and Pacific Northwest buyers who look for secondary homes in warmer climates and higher income families interested in the amenities being developed on the property. In regard to its future community impact, Cantwell assures that this project can only bring out good things for the housing market. “We need the inventory. A project of this size helps our market currently being affected by a low-cycle housing market. This property also offers plenty of room for growth in the commercial sector.” Geoff McIntosh of Coldwell Banker additionally gave insight into the eventual process of selling these homes—and is hopeful that these properties would foster new leads and growth opportunities for area real estate agents. “I would anticipate that there will be an onsite sales team that handles the initial sell out. Given the size and scope of the project it will likely take years,” McIntosh estimates. “Generally, new developments are very welcoming of the local real estate community as we are influential in introducing prospective buyers to all the options they have in the area. Usually the onsite sales office represents both the developer and the new home buyers received through referrals by local REALTORS®.” Though many are wary of this property’s large footprint negatively impacting the landscape, McIntosh trusts the experts and the bottom-line overview as compared to similar properties in the area. “I believe adequate studies have been completed to address these concerns and the location of the project is 618 acres of undeveloped desert land on the north side of most of the improved property in Rancho Mirage. In comparison, Del Webb Rancho Mirage is on a site about half the size with roughly 1,050 planned homes at completion. There are only 1932 residences and a 400-room boutique hotel on site at Cotino, so it will be relatively low density.” In a continued market that favors the seller, Judy Ziegler of Bennion Deville Homes contends that agents have the leg up. Compared to years past when the area really catered to secondary homes, work-from-home opportunities and an emphasis on life-work balance has made the greater Palm Springs area and alfresco living desirable year-round. “COVID changed our entire market. People are staying here,” she says. A project of this scale naturally invites some curiosity and criticism. It’s safe to say onlookers will be tuning into every phase of this venture—from the very first nail to the cutting of the ribbon. Storyliving seeks to expand on the concept of storytelling set out by Walt himself nearly a century ago wherein everyday is the story, and you hold the pen. There is hope, however, that these communities foster a new chapter of real estate beyond just its whimsicalities and brand name. These undertakings illuminate the desire and necessity for a larger scope of natural and accessible living spaces throughout the country. Whether Disney will be the one to change the status quo of real estate, only time will tell. Joey Macari is RISMedia’s associate editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at jmacari@rismedia.com. The post From Resort to Residential: Disney Expands on Community Living appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaApr 18th, 2022

I used the electric Kia EV6"s coolest feature to make breakfast outside

The electric Kia EV6 SUV can power appliances from minifridges to microwaves. It could revolutionize camping and tailgating. The 2022 Kia EV6.Tim Levin/Insider The electric Kia EV6 SUV offers one of the most innovative features on the car market.  Owners can use it as a mobile power source to charge computers and plug in appliances.  We tested the EV6's power-sharing capability to see how it performs and if it's useful. New Yorkers don't tend to raise an eyebrow at people clipping their toenails on the subway or the many other oddities of city life. But bring your espresso machine and a toaster to a public park and plug them into the side of your SUV, and people start to look at you funny. But I didn't do this for attention. I did it for science.Specifically, I did it to test out one of the most intriguing features offered on any new car today. You see, the 2022 Kia EV6, the Korean brand's newest electric SUV, doesn't simply use its massive battery pack to propel itself down the road. Owners can tap into the SUV's electricity reserves and use it like a giant, portable power source.The 2022 Kia EV6.Tim Levin/InsiderThe idea is you can drive your Kia to wherever, hook an included adapter up to the charge port and plug in whatever appliance your heart desires without adhering to the limitations of regular 12-volt car outlets. The EV6 can provide 1,900 watts of juice, so minifridges, TVs, pressure cookers, microwaves, and even other electric cars are all fair game. Kia showed off the capability in a Super Bowl ad featuring an adorable robot dog that desperately needs a charge. When Kia loaned me an EV6 last month, I tested out the feature to understand how it works — and see whether it's of any use in the real world.The 2022 Kia EV6.Tim Levin/InsiderTo tackle the first question first: It really couldn't be more straightforward. Using the adapter was as easy as plugging it in, sticking my toaster's plug into its socket, and letting the electrons flow by pressing a button on its face. You can clamp down a protective piece to shield the outlet from the elements, or you can just let that bit hang as I did. It was the same deal with the Nespresso machine I brought along. I plugged it in, let it warm up, and commenced brewing. When it came time to pack up, I panicked a bit when I couldn't figure out how to unlatch the adapter from the charging port. Then I learned through a reluctant browse of the instruction manual that I needed to unlock the vehicle first. This makes sense, as owners might like to leave something plugged in and walk away for a bit. The 2022 Kia EV6.Tim Levin/InsiderAnd don't worry that you'll get caught up toasting toast and brewing bean juice and be left with no energy for the drive home. Toggle a setting in the car's touchscreen, and the EV6 will automatically shut off the power when its battery level drops below a certain point. I enjoyed my warm espresso and avocado toast in the great outdoors — in the company of a hedgehog, no less. And as I munched away the prospect of ever becoming a homeowner, I considered what, if anything, this unique capability was actually good for. Clearly the EV6's power-sharing ability was built with more in mind than contrived tests in a Manhattan parking lot.The 2022 Kia EV6.Tim Levin/InsiderElectric and hybrid Ford F-150 pickups offer a similar feature, but clearly that's meant for truck stuff, like tailgating and power tools. The R1T, a pickup truck from the EV startup Rivian, offers not only outlets but an entire kitchen setup that impressively slides out from a compartment behind the rear seats. That's intended for camping and other outdoorsy adventures. It's less obvious how one would use this capability in the EV6 (or the Ioniq 5 from its sister brand, Hyundai, which has the same feature). Press photos from Hyundai show people using their cars to power a mobile office, which may be welcome in today's work-from-anywhere world but isn't exactly exciting. The 2022 Kia EV6.Tim Levin/InsiderWhen I initially set out to cook using the EV6, I had grand plans for an elaborate feast, prepared from scratch far away from the conveniences of an apartment kitchen. Then I thought about all the mess, all the lugging appliances and ingredients to and fro, and reconsidered. That is to say, there may be some inherent limitations in the activities people are interested in doing on the go. Still, I have no doubt that individuals and businesses will find interesting and practical ways to use the EV6.Street vendors and other mobile businesses that use gasoline generators to keep their lights on would probably welcome a quieter and less smelly alternative. In a power outage, the EV6 could charge a laptop or help keep food cold. Families could use it to put on an open-air movie night or glamp up a car camping trip. Having hot espresso available at the press of a button out in the woods? That might offend the camping purists, but it sounds pretty nice to me. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 12th, 2022

Revised high-rise concept coming for downtown Milwaukee Goll House site

Another apartment tower is brewing in downtown Milwaukee at the Goll House property on North Prospect Avenue where city officials in 2017 approved a 27-story development. Find out the details about the controversial project......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsApr 12th, 2022

"It"s impossible to explain what happens in your soul": A view from Ukraine"s exodus to escape the Russian invasion

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began just before dawn on Feb. 24, hundreds of thousands of people have joined a desperate westward exodus. The train station in Kyiv.Alan Chin for Insider An endless sea of red taillights fill every road from Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, to Lviv, in the far west.  Photographer Alan Chin reports from Ukraine.  An endless sea of red taillights fill every road from Kyiv – Ukraine's capital, in the middle of the country – to Lviv, on Ukraine's western border with Poland. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began just before dawn on Feb. 24, with missile strikes and later ground troops closing in on cities, hundreds of thousands of people got into their cars and joined a desperate westward exodus. Even the night before, this had seemed unthinkable: restaurants and cafes in Kyiv were open and operating as normal. There were no lines at markets or at banks. The undercurrent of anxiety was masked with, depending on who one spoke to, resignation, bravado, denial, or all the above.Starting at about 5 in the morning, explosions could be heard in the city's outskirts. More worrying, there were conflicting reports about fierce fighting with Russian ground troops at an airport 20 km from the capital. By late morning, the central bus station had shut down and people, dragging suitcases, began pouring into the train station. Most of the trains heading east, toward the most intense fighting, had been canceled, and an announcement over the PA system urged calm. Residents who couldn't, or wouldn't, travel west took cover in underground metro stations. Many others got into their cars. A stream of cars head west from Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.Alan Chin for InsiderOnce the exodus began, it was calm and orderly. Motorists mostly obeyed traffic rules, even in massive traffic jams, and yielded to ambulances. The long lines that now formed at cash machines, gas stations, pharmacies, and supermarkets were as polite and efficient as they could be in a society where a receipt is generated for the smallest transaction. Thus far, electricity, mobile phone service, and internet access have continued to function in most places.Online map apps like Google and Waze were largely accurate in showing delays. Because the apps are dynamic in real time – adjusting to estimate the best and fastest routes – and given the huge volume of vehicles on the move, every road was jam-packed, including potholed and cobblestone, rural lanes. Most of the vehicles, whether luxury SUVs and budget hatchbacks, carried Kyiv license plates.  That didn't mean that it was easy, though, with broken down cars on the side of the road, unpredictable obstacles, and unnerving dangers. Arbitrary rules about who had priority to buy fuel at gas stations added to the confusion. At one, a station employee was asking for a special "gas card," but it was utterly unclear what that meant and the request didn't come up at other stations. Fifty miles south of Kyiv, lawyer Andriy Oliev was able to fill up and eat a hot dog. He said he was heading to Lviv, where he had relatives. "It's more dangerous in Kyiv than anywhere else in Ukraine right now," he explained. "Russia is trying to catch Kyiv in a circle. They're invading from Belarus. They're trying to catch Kyiv between two lines of fire."The Bila Tserkva train station.Alan Chin for InsiderThat evening at the Bila Tserkva train station (above) nearby, M Ahtisham Bhutta (above,with orange lined jacket, bottom) was one of eight Pakistani students who had waited all day for the next train to Lviv. Speaking for the group, he said they had been studying at the National Agrarian University, in Bila Tserkva, for the last six months. "We were the first people here in the morning," he said. "Last night was very horrible for us, because of bombs blasting. More than 10 bombs. We were sleeping. Suddenly it happened and we woke up. I could see the flashes of light," he said. "We didn't change our clothes, just took small bags, and came here. My family listened to the news and have been calling and calling. They are very worried because I am the only son of my parents and they sent me here for a fine education. But now, who knows? It's very difficult for all the students' mothers."M Ahtisham Bhutta (wearing an orange jacket) was one of eight Pakistani students awaiting a train to head out of Ukraine.Alan Chin for InsiderNearby stood Anastasia Vasiliyevska, who works as a manicurist (above). "This morning at 5, hearing explosions, I was scared, very scared. Nothing ever happened like that before here," she said. She said she was heading to Poland, and added. "I hope they let us in.""I'm just sad," she continued. "My friends are here and some of my family. They can't leave. They have their own families and children. They don't know what life they would have after… They say, yeah, we could leave, but then what? Where will we go? What will we do? They already bought food, water, everything." Anastasia Vasiliyevska hopes to reach Poland.Alan Chin for InsiderLate at night, winding through the villages of central Ukraine – still not quite 24 hours into the invasion – the only visible military presence was occasional trucks and equipment clearly belonging to support, not combat, units. But near the small town of Skvyra, a large group of men gathered at a gas station. Some were in military uniform, some police, and some were civilians (or perhaps undercover cops). They declined to be photographed or answer any questions.As air raid sirens sounded, a Vinnytsia resident sought the relative safety of an alley, near the wide avenue where she had been walking.Alan Chin for InsiderAdding to the stress of the voyage were the corrosive power of rumors. In Vinnytsia, we heard that the Ukrainian government had shot down a Russian aircraft north of the city, though it couldn't be confirmed. Sirens continued to blare repeatedly on the streets downtown. Each wail was followed by an ominous recording announcing that the danger of aerial bombardment was high, and that people should take cover. The police were on edge, with official Ukrainian media constantly warning of "saboteurs" and Russian spies. Along with another American journalist, we were questioned by the police for over an hour and asked to produce our documents multiple times.At one point in heavily congested traffic west of Vinnytsia, many cars and trucks started making U-turns, telling oncoming motorists that a bridge ahead had been blown up. Doing some quick checking, I saw that there had been unconfirmed reports. Northwest of Kyiv, the Ukrainian Army had indeed destroyed a [different] bridge to prevent the invading Russians from using it. But Letychiv and its small span across the Vovk River are over 200 miles away. In fact, this bridge was intact, and the traffic jams were caused by police and military checkpoints.Avtandil and Maluza Glonti and their three children dine at the "Ne Puhu Ne Pera" ("Neither Feather Nor Fur") roadside restaurant.Alan Chin for InsiderIn Letychiv – nearly half way between Kyiv and Lviv – the Ne Puhu Ne Pera ("Neither Feather Nor Fur") roadside restaurant did a brisk business. Many of its menu items were sold out but what remained was a welcome hot meal for weary travelers.Avtandil Glonti, a lawyer, his wife Maluza, a doctor, and their three children (above) left their home in Dnipro right before their city was struck by air and missile strikes. The city, southeast from Kyiv, sits on the Dnieper River that divides east and west Ukraine. He explained, "We had to flee Georgia in 2008. It was the same – Putin attacked Georgia.""We've been driving 15 hours straight, because we don't want to waste time," he continued. "We're going to Poland. Once we're in a safe space, we'll decide what to do. Maybe Germany.""It's hard psychologically to be in an unstable situation," Maluza added. "We had to abandon everything. But we can go back only if Russia leaves."Dasha Polischuk, her year-old baby boy Maxim, and her husband Roma.Alan Chin for InsiderDasha Polischuk is a 28-year-old kindergarten teacher from Cherkasy, a city on the Dnieper River, was traveling with her year-old baby boy Maxim, her husband Roma (all above) and other members of her family in a van. They had been on the road for nine hours without stopping, because they had continued to hear the air raid sirens as they passed through towns and cities on the way."Shock. Panic," she said of the first explosions the night before. "We were running and rushing to pack everything. In a situation like that it's impossible to explain what happens in your soul. And more importantly, what might happen to your family and your baby. I wish for Putin and his family to live through the same that we just did. I want to ask the Russian people to stand up against Putin."The mass movement continues, although able-bodied men aged 18 to 60 are now forbidden to leave the country because they're supposed to stay and fight. Ukraine's cities at night are blacked out, to make it harder for Russian planes to find their targets, and quiet, with a curfew in place. It remains to be seen if any of these internally displaced people and soon to be refugees can return home any time soon.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytFeb 26th, 2022

33 unique gift ideas from "Shark Tank" that you can get on Amazon

Products from 'Shark Tank' often make great gift ideas since they're unique, fun, or solve a common problem. On Amazon, they're easy to send as gifts. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. This Rapid Ramen Cooker is just one of many "Shark Tank" products that make great gifts. Amazon If you gift a product from the show "Shark Tank," then you know it'll be both creative and practical. Games, kitchen tools, and food are thoughtful gifts to give the "Shark Tank" fan in your life. Most of these items are available with Prime two-day shipping, so they will likely arrive quickly. Whether you tune in for the pitches or entertaining banter between the entrepreneur judges, "Shark Tank" is an exciting show to watch with many nail-biting moments. The series is currently in its 13th season, and continues to highlight new and creative products.As we've seen over the years, some pitches do extremely well, while others aren't so lucky - but the fact remains that the show brings forward innovative ideas most of us have never considered.That's why the products from the show tend to make especially good gifts. They're far from generic and they usually solve a common problem or annoyance. Conveniently, most are also available on Amazon with free two-day shipping for Prime members, so you can get them as convenient gifts.If your giftee loves watching 'Shark Tank,' they'll recognize these 33 awesome gift ideas: A kit for homebrewing kombucha The Kombucha Shop Deluxe Kombucha Brewing Kit, $79.99Kombucha is essentially a fermented tea, and it's surprisingly easy to make at home. When entrepreneur Kate Field appeared on "Shark Tank" representing her business, The Kombucha Shop, she struck a deal with Barbara Corcoran and Sara Blakely.The deluxe brewing kit comes with an organic kombucha culture and everything else your gift recipient needs to get started. Insider's Home & Kitchen reporter James Brains reviewed the product and called it a "game-changer." For anyone who enjoys the fermented drink, this kit can be a fun project that provides more customizable options than store-bought kombucha. A car accessory that prevents items from falling in between their seat and console Amazon Drop Stop Car Seat Gap Filler (2-pack), $24.99Anyone with a car can probably relate to the frustration of dropping something in that tiny space between their seat and center console. Whether it's a smartphone or a couple of french fries, losing items in that gap is always annoying. This simple gap filler fits right around your giftee's seat belt to fill in that area and prevent anything from falling in there. It's a handy accessory that any car owner will appreciate. A towel for quickly drying their leafy greens Salad Sling Salad Sling, $19.99Washing lettuce and other leafy greens is important, but no one wants to eat a soggy salad. With this salad sling your giftee can avoid the hassle of using paper towels to pat their greens dry and save the counter space taken up by a traditional salad spinner.Just place washed lettuce in the center of the microfiber cloth, grab the four corners, and swing the towel around to dry your greens. Although the product did not strike a deal on "Shark Tank," the salad sling is a solid gift choice for any recipient who regularly consumes leafy greens. A phone charger and sanitizer that kills 99.99% of germs Amazon Phone Soap 3, $72.99This handy phone device completely sanitizes your phone while also charging it. It fits most phone sizes and small accessories like headphones or smartwatches. Stay healthy and safe with this innovative design. A memory foam pillow with a hood for more restful flights Amazon Hoodie Pillow, $29.95If privacy and comfort are essential for your giftee during long trips, this hoodie pillow is a perfect travel accessory. The cozy pillow is made from memory foam covered with premium sweatshirt material. With the addition of the hood, the travel pillow blocks light and reduces sounds. Wearable weights for workouts or everyday tasks Amazon Bala Bangles, from $44.99One size fits all with these adjustable wrist and ankle weights that upgrade your next workout. With a set of either one pound or two, they provide additional exercise to everyday activities. A powerful temperature controlled sponge Amazon/Insider Scrub Daddy (3-pack), $13.80One of the most popular Shark Tank products is the Scrub Daddy, which is designed to fit in your hand while also offering powerful scrubbing. The sponges change from hard to soft textures depending on if you're using them in cold or hot water. A reusable smart notebook Amazon/Insider Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook, from $24.46If they go through notebook after notebook, this reusable option offers a long-lasting solution. Use the included pen to take any notes, then scan each page using the accompanying app to save the pages in the program of your choice. A back support belt that improves posture Amazon BetterBack, $49.99Insider Reviews executive editor Sally Kaplan can't recommend this posture corrector enough. If your recipient suffers from back pain, this ergonomic belt provides the relief they'll need. A cake accessory for people who love surprises Amazon Surprise Cake Popping Cake Stand, $60.98This clever product lets you hide gifts inside a cake, giving the gift an extra oomph and wow factor. As long as it fits inside the Gift Pod, which measures 2.8 inches by 6 inches, it can go in the cake. A tool to help them reach every last drop Amazon/Insider The Spatty & Spatty Daddy Last Drop Spatula, Two Piece Set, $11.99They'll never have the guilty feeling of tossing a semi-full container again with this fun and useful two-piece set. The Spatty can be used in cosmetics, condiments, and any other container they can think of. Afterwards, it's safe to throw in the dishwasher for cleaning. An eco-friendly alternative to paper towels Amazon/Insider Bambooee Paper Towel Replacement 30-Sheet Roll, $10.99If they are passionate about creating less waste, these reusable paper towels are a great alternative to their one-time use counterparts. Made of organically-sourced bamboo, these paper towels can be machine washed up to 100 times. The eco-friendly benefits don't stop there: for every Bambooee roll sold the company pledges to plant a tree.   A tool to protect their fingers during home renovation projects Amazon/Insider Safety Nailer Framer, $8.99This simple tool will help them get through their ambitious home renovation projects without injuring their fingers. The Safety Nailer holds screws and nails steady when drilling or hammering and is designed to be used with either hand.  A memorable 3D card Amazon/Insider Lovepop Marvel Black Panther Pop Up Card, $15The cards are available in eight different "Marvel" designs, or you can visit Lovepop's Amazon page to find other types of themes. Don't worry — there's still room to write an actual message for your recipient in the included notecard.  A funny gift box Amazon/Insider Prank Pack Bathe & Brew Gift Box, $6The Prank Pack isn't the actual gift, but it is a funny way to prank your recipient and trick them into thinking they're receiving a strange or gimmicky present. The co-founder is a former writer at The Onion, so expect nothing less than hilarious fake products and product descriptions that your recipient will have to pretend to enjoy.  A travel accessory that combines a hoodie with a memory foam pillow Amazon HoodiePillow Memory Foam Travel Pillow, $29.95The clever design of this two-in-one hoodie and memory foam pillow, which feels like their favorite fleece sweatshirt, lets them fall asleep comfortably while traveling. The hood helps block out light and noise, while the pillow provides soft neck support. A baking pan that gives them more edge pieces Amazon Baker's Edge Nonstick Edge Brownie Pan, $36.95The days of fighting over the limited number of edge pieces are over. With this unique pan, every piece has two delectable, chewy edges. Other than to make brownies, they can also use it for other desserts, pasta, or any baked good that requires some extra crust. A fun outdoor game Spikeball/Instagram Spikeball 3 Ball Kit, $69.96On a beautiful sunny day at any park in the city, you'll probably see at least one group playing this fun and active game. With rules similar to volleyball, it's easy to learn so the whole family can get involved. Prior to the pandemic, the company even held nationwide tournaments.  A glass that makes any wine bottle into a single serving Amazon/Insider Guzzle Buddy 2GO Wine Glasses, $12.99This handy tool can attach a glass to nearly any bottle of wine. It's odor-free, virtually unbreakable, and top-rack dishwasher safe. Plus, it lies at the intersection between a humorous white elephant gift and an actually useful accessory, given how the past year has panned out.  An appliance that turns any beer into draft beer Amazon Fizzics FZ403 DraftPour Beer Dispenser, $118.59Using sound waves, this cool appliance turns any can or bottle of beer into fresh draft beer by turning its natural carbonation into compacted micro bubbles. All they have to do is insert their favorite beer, then pull and push the tap to receive the enhanced version of their IPA, pilsner, or stout.  A balance bike Amazon KaZAM No Pedal Balance Bike, from $58Featuring a patented footrest design that helps young kids find their center of gravity, this bike builds the confidence needed to transition to riding a proper bike. The ergonomic, adjustable handles and seat will get kids comfortable and ready to ride right away. The bike weighs only eight pounds and the puncture-free tires never need air.  A beach towel that gives back Amazon Sand Cloud Turkish Towel, $44This beautiful 100% Turkish cotton towel also works as a throw or wall tapestry. It's thin and compact, but durable. Plus, the company donates 10% of profits to help preserve marine life. High-fidelity earplugs to protect their ears during concerts Amazon/Insider Vibes High Fidelity Concert Earplugs, $23.98If you know someone who is planning on attending a lot of loud shows, their eardrums may be facing the consequences. Wearing these comfortable earplugs can reduce noise levels by up to 22 decibels, but they don't cancel out noise completely. Instead, they only filter out certain frequencies, so your recipient will still be able to enjoy the crisp vocals and instrumentation of their favorite band. The famous 'Comfy' sweatshirt that they'll never want to take off Amazon The Comfy Sweatshirt, from $44.95You can practically feel the comfortable softness and warmth of this oversized blanket sweater just by looking at it. Cozy up in The Comfy by the fireplace, at sports games, or while watching rom-coms.  Adorable leather moccasins Freshly Picked/Instagram Freshly Picked Kids' Soft Sole Moccasins (Newborn Baby), from $59The creator of the cutest little baby shoes you've ever seen got her start picking up yard sale leather scraps and selling on Etsy. Today, parents everywhere are obsessed with the unique and comfortable 100% leather designs that infuse style into their baby's every step.  A better protein mixing bottle Amazon Ice Shaker 26-Ounce Stainless Steel Protein Mixing Cup, $34.99The problem with traditional plastic protein powder shakers is that they tend to absorb odor and won't keep the contents cold. Former NFL player Chris Gronkowski's stainless steel water bottle is double-insulated, spill-proof, and odor-free — the upgrade that fitness enthusiasts deserve. A funny card game that tests the financial limits of various outrageous scenarios Amazon/Insider Pricetitution Card Game, $19.99Every card begins with the prompt, "How much money would it take me..." followed by a funny situation. It was a big success on both "Shark Tank," with four Sharks giving offers, and on Kickstarter.  A smart video doorbell Amazon Ring Video Doorbell Pro, Works with Alexa, $169.99Ring may not have secured a deal with the Sharks, but it did strike up a deal with Amazon for over $1 billion in 2018, so it's doing just fine. The smart security system has two-way talk, sends motion-activated alerts, and works with Alexa, giving homeowners the peace of mind that their house will be safe, regardless of whether or not they're home.  A pair of lightweight running sandals Xero Shoes/Instagram Xero Shoes Barefoot-Inspired Sport Sandals, Men's Z-Trek, $64.99Xero Shoes Barefoot-Inspired Sport Sandals, Women's Z-Trek, $64.99After constantly getting injured while running, cofounder Steven Sashen switched to barefoot running and loved the effects, so he created a thin running sandal. These comfortable and supportive shoes are great for runners and could inspire them to kick-start new running goals. They can also be used for outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking.  A suction silicone place mat Amazon Ezpz Happy Mat, $19.99Parents will appreciate any help they can get. The placemat stays right in place on any flat surface, making it that much easier to get food from the plate into their child's mouth. A temperature-regulating machine that goes under their bed Amazon BedJet 3 Climate Comfort for Beds, $449As an engineer who developed the heating and cooling systems of NASA spacesuits, the creator of BedJet has the perfect background to improve the sleep experience. Since temperature often impedes a good night's sleep, the BedJet blows hot or cold air onto the bed and over their body and creates "biorhythm sleep sequences" throughout the night.  A drink accessory that keeps their beer cold BottleKeeper BottleKeeper The Standard 2.0, $32.98Is there anything more frustrating to an avid beer drinker than a cold one that's less than cold in just half an hour? The insulated stainless steel BottleKeeper, complete with bottle opener, keeps their beer colder for a longer period of time. It's also a smart way to protect against drops and spills.  A rapid ramen cooker This Rapid Ramen Cooker is just one of many "Shark Tank" products that make great gifts. Amazon Rapid Ramen Cooker, $10.99What seems like a gag gift has actually come in handy for many busy students, parents, and office workers because it takes away the need for a stove and dish-washing session, cooks the noodles more quickly, and requires less water. It's the perfect size for a block of ramen and a faster, more reliable alternative to stovetop cooking.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 26th, 2021

I went to the equivalent of Disney World for coffee nerds and these are the coolest products I tried

The Specialty Coffee Association's annual expo is a bazaar's worth of coffee gadgets and accouterments. Here are our favorite products from the show. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Owen Burke/Insider We attended the Specialty Coffee Association's 2021 Expo in New Orleans this weekend. Through a bewildering array of all things coffee, we sifted out our favorite new coffee gear. From home espresso machines to compostable K-Cups, here's what we're most excited by. The Specialty Coffee Association is, in our opinion, the ultimate authority in all things coffee. When they put on an expo, the who's who and what's what in coffee is all there: it's the newest and best in the wide world of coffee.We toured the showroom looking for everything from the latest and greatest espresso machines to new takes on old designs like the French press, as well as a bazaar's worth of additives and accouterments.Below, we've rounded up our favorites from the show, some of which we'll be testing for forthcoming coffee guide updates, others of which we thought were worth checking out for yourselves.Stay posted for full reviews and recommendations, but in the meantime, here's what's new in java land. Sanremo's new Cube home espresso machine Owen Burke/Insider We've been on the hunt for a slightly more affordable home espresso machine, and Sanremo's new Cube has caught our eyes. Quiet as can be, this machine has almost no plastic components, and an internal water tank as well as a feed for direct water. The E61 group head is a standard in higher-end machines like this, but this is something a little more on the affordable end than most, and we're excited to see it hit the market.Shop and design your Sanremo Cube here R+R by Savoy Brands SCA/Owen Burke/Insider Not so much a product but a service, Savoy Brands' R+R (Reprocess and Repurpose) initiative installs cardboard boxes at your local coffee shop where you can deposit your spent coffee bags, which will be 100% recycled, metal clip and all, and turned into Smart Gravel for your garden with no added virgin plastic.Keep an eye out for R+R boxes at your local java joint and shop Smart Gravel on Amazon (starting at $18.99) Third Wave Water Third Wave Water/Owen Burke/Insider This stuff isn't new, but barista after barista, including Onyx Coffee Labs' Lance Hedrick, have been imploring me to get my hands on some, and after a demonstration at the Specialty Coffee Expo, I'm left with no reservations about it: this stuff will work wonders for your coffee.Third Wave Water offers potions for all types of coffee so you can pick the treatment that suits your brewing style best.Shop Third Wave Water on Amazon, 12 capsules for $15 Specialty Turkish Coffee Brewer Owen Burke/Insider Turkish coffee isn't a big fad in the US, but maybe it should be. File this along the lines of stovetop espresso from something like a Moka pot. Specialty Turkish Coffee's new copper-clad STC Pro series pots are a little on the thicker side with a narrow spout, which, as demonstrated at the show, is highly conducive to producing that nice layer of foam on top of your cup. Easy and compact, it's a great way to make coffee on the go or at home without taking up too much space.Shop Specialty Turkish Coffee pots (and accessories) at Specialty Turkish Coffee, starting at $50 De'Longhi 3-in-1 Specialty Coffee Brewer Owen Burke/Insider Drip coffee makers are almost invariably large, and De'Longhi has taken it upon itself to remedy that with its 8-Cup, 3-in-1 Specialty Coffee Brewer. Plainly, this design just makes a heck of a lot more sense, and Specialty Coffee Association Chief Research Officer Peter Guiliano made special note of this one when I caught up with him at the show.If you're looking for a basic drip machine that doesn't take up, say, your entire freaking counter, turn your eyes to this one. This meets the standards for the SCA's rigorous testing, which means that it offers even extraction within four to eight minutes and keeps coffee hot for at let a half hour. Plus, you can actually see what's going on inside, which is a novelty for these machines in and of itself.Shop the De'Longhi 8-Cup, 3-in-1 Specialty Coffee Brewer, available at Amazon, $149.99If this one doesn't suit your needs, here's our guide to the best coffee makers. Comandante's new C40 manual coffee grinder Owen Burke/Insider We've been eying the older version of Comandante's C40 grinder for our guide for months after both Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Labs and 2020 UK Brewer's Cup champion Matteo D'Ottavio grilled me for not having tried one. After making talcum-powder-fine grounds for an impeccable Turkish coffee at the show, we're pretty much sold. We'll have a full review up soon, but in the meantime, this is a great addition to your on-the-go-kit and minimalistic kitchen alike.Shop Comandante grinders, available at Specialty Turkish Coffee, starting at $329And if you are on the market for a new coffee grinder, also check out our guide to them here. Flask French press Owen Burke/Insider I've tested no shortage of French presses for our guide, and frankly, I'm almost invariably bored with the options out there. Glass, plastic, or stainless steel, the plungers are always about the same. Here's something different, though: a plunger that immediately stops the brewing process and keeps grit out of your coffee. With Planetary Design's 17-ounce Flask, you get the French-press-style brew with pour-over quality refinement. We'll be considering these for a forthcoming update, but so far, color us impressed.Shop Planetary Design's 17-ounce French-press Flask, available at Amazon, $100If you're after another type of French press, have a look at our guide here. Puqpress automatic espresso tamper Owen Burke/Insider This one's a little esoteric, but for the budding and aging espresso nerd alike, Puqpress's automatic tampers will simplify the process like little else, beyond a great machine and grinder.Dial the tamping pressure between 22 and 66 pounds, and save your wrist a little in the process. If you're young and spry or not a complete maniac about your espresso, this is overkill to be sure. But if you own a cafe and tamp scores of shots daily, are really into dialing things right, or you've got bad wrists, this will surely alleviate you. The brand has caused such a stir that a handful of the larger grinder companies are actually designing their grinders to fit atop this little ditty.Shop Puqpress automatic tampers, available at Amazon, starting at $790If you're in the market for a tamper and don't want to break the bank, check out our guide to them here. Dalla Corte's new Mina home espresso machine Owen Burke/Insider Dalla Corte's new Mina comes at a steep price, but if you're in the market for a new "pro-sumer" espresso machine, I can't think of a more fun toy or tool. The lever adds to this automatic machine pressure control so you can do, well, just about anything to your liking. Plus, it's not half-bad looking, either.Shop and customize your Dalla Corte Mina at Whole Latte Love, starting at $8,500If you're looking for a more basic home espresso machine, you'll find something that suits you better within our guide. Ifill's fillable and compostable K-Cups Owen Burke/Insider There's no shortage of fill-your-own Nespresso pods out there, but for some reason, the K-Cup market has been slow to catch up. Lo and behold, a great, compostable solution is here, and it comes at a very reasonable price. With an internal filter and a sealable sticker on top, Ifillcup's capsules are for entrepreneurs and home-coffee enthusiasts alike, and they blow open the door for what you can do with a Keurig K-Cup machine.Buy Ifillcup compostable K-cup pods, available at Amazon, $19.99 for 48 fillable K-cupsIf you're looking for more pods, including other fillable options for Nespresso and Keurig machines, see our guide to the best Nespresso and K-cup pods. BruTek's Steel Toe 2.0 Travel French Press mug Amazon We can't begin to count the number of travel French press mugs we've tested. None have been bad, necessarily, but none have truly impressed us, either. BruTrek's broke that cycle with its "brew-stop" plunger, which both keeps grounds out of your drink and stops the brewing process to prevent over-extraction. It also has an impressive and confidence-inspiring seal thanks to a robust clip on the side of the lid. We might be in love.Shop BrewTrek's Steel Toe 2.0 20-ounce French press travel mug, available at Amazon, $33And again, If you're in search of any other type of French press, have a look at our guide. Milkadamia Macadamia milk Amazon Milk alternatives seem never ending, and while this isn't the first one to catch our attention, it's up there with our favorites (looking at you, Oatly). Milkadamia won best-new-product-in-show at the expo, so we're not alone.Shop Milkadamia, available at Thrive Market, starting at $3.99 per quart Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 8th, 2021

I went to the equivalent of Disney World for coffee nerds and these are the best new products I tried

The Specialty Coffee Association's annual expo is a bazaar's worth of coffee gadgets and accouterments. Here are our favorite products from the show. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Owen Burke/Insider We attended the Specialty Coffee Association's 2021 Expo in New Orleans this weekend. Through a bewildering array of all things coffee, we sifted out our favorite new coffee gear. From home espresso machines to compostable K-Cups, here's what we're most excited by. The Specialty Coffee Association is, in our opinion, the ultimate authority in all things coffee. When they put on an expo, the who's who and what's what in coffee is all there: it's the newest and best in the wide world of coffee.We toured the showroom looking for everything from the latest and greatest espresso machines to new takes on old designs like the French press, as well as a bazaar's worth of additives and accouterments.Below, we've rounded up our favorites from the show, some of which we'll be testing for forthcoming coffee guide updates, others of which we thought were worth checking out for yourselves.Stay posted for full reviews and recommendations, but in the meantime, here's what's new in java land. Sanremo's new Cube home espresso machine Owen Burke/Insider We've been on the hunt for a slightly more affordable home espresso machine, and Sanremo's new Cube has caught our eyes. Quiet as can be, this machine has almost no plastic components, and an internal water tank as well as a feed for direct water. The E61 group head is a standard in higher-end machines like this, but this is something a little more on the affordable end than most, and we're excited to see it hit the market.Shop and design your Sanremo Cube here R+R by Savoy Brands SCA/Owen Burke/Insider Not so much a product but a service, Savoy Brands' R+R (Reprocess and Repurpose) initiative installs cardboard boxes at your local coffee shop where you can deposit your spent coffee bags, which will be 100% recycled, metal clip and all, and turned into Smart Gravel for your garden with no added virgin plastic.Keep an eye out for R+R boxes at your local java joint and shop Smart Gravel on Amazon (starting at $18.99) Third Wave Water Third Wave Water/Owen Burke/Insider This stuff isn't new, but barista after barista, including Onyx Coffee Labs' Lance Hedrick, have been imploring me to get my hands on some, and after a demonstration at the Specialty Coffee Expo, I'm left with no reservations about it: this stuff will work wonders for your coffee.Third Wave Water offers potions for all types of coffee so you can pick the treatment that suits your brewing style best.Shop Third Wave Water on Amazon, 12 capsules for $15 Specialty Turkish Coffee Brewer Owen Burke/Insider Turkish coffee isn't a big fad in the US, but maybe it should be. File this along the lines of stovetop espresso from something like a Moka pot. Specialty Turkish Coffee's new copper-clad STC Pro series pots are a little on the thicker side with a narrow spout, which, as demonstrated at the show, is highly conducive to producing that nice layer of foam on top of your cup. Easy and compact, it's a great way to make coffee on the go or at home without taking up too much space.Shop Specialty Turkish Coffee pots (and accessories) at Specialty Turkish Coffee, starting at $50 De'Longhi 3-in-1 Specialty Coffee Brewer Owen Burke/Insider Drip coffee makers are almost invariably large, and De'Longhi has taken it upon itself to remedy that with its 8-Cup, 3-in-1 Specialty Coffee Brewer. Plainly, this design just makes a heck of a lot more sense, and Specialty Coffee Association Chief Research Officer Peter Guiliano made special note of this one when I caught up with him at the show.If you're looking for a basic drip machine that doesn't take up, say, your entire freaking counter, turn your eyes to this one. This meets the standards for the SCA's rigorous testing, which means that it offers even extraction within four to eight minutes and keeps coffee hot for at let a half hour. Plus, you can actually see what's going on inside, which is a novelty for these machines in and of itself.Shop the De'Longhi 8-Cup, 3-in-1 Specialty Coffee Brewer, available at Amazon, $149.99If this one doesn't suit your needs, here's our guide to the best coffee makers. Comandante's new C40 manual coffee grinder Owen Burke/Insider We've been eying the older version of Comandante's C40 grinder for our guide for months after both Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Labs and 2020 UK Brewer's Cup champion Matteo D'Ottavio grilled me for not having tried one. After making talcum-powder-fine grounds for an impeccable Turkish coffee at the show, we're pretty much sold. We'll have a full review up soon, but in the meantime, this is a great addition to your on-the-go-kit and minimalistic kitchen alike.Shop Comandante grinders, available at Specialty Turkish Coffee, starting at $329And if you are on the market for a new coffee grinder, also check out our guide to them here. Flask French press Owen Burke/Insider I've tested no shortage of French presses for our guide, and frankly, I'm almost invariably bored with the options out there. Glass, plastic, or stainless steel, the plungers are always about the same. Here's something different, though: a plunger that immediately stops the brewing process and keeps grit out of your coffee. With Planetary Design's 17-ounce Flask, you get the French-press-style brew with pour-over quality refinement. We'll be considering these for a forthcoming update, but so far, color us impressed.Shop Planetary Design's 17-ounce French-press Flask, available at Amazon, $100If you're after another type of French press, have a look at our guide here. Puqpress automatic espresso tamper Owen Burke/Insider This one's a little esoteric, but for the budding and aging espresso nerd alike, Puqpress's automatic tampers will simplify the process like little else, beyond a great machine and grinder.Dial the tamping pressure between 22 and 66 pounds, and save your wrist a little in the process. If you're young and spry or not a complete maniac about your espresso, this is overkill to be sure. But if you own a cafe and tamp scores of shots daily, are really into dialing things right, or you've got bad wrists, this will surely alleviate you. The brand has caused such a stir that a handful of the larger grinder companies are actually designing their grinders to fit atop this little ditty.Shop Puqpress automatic tampers, available at Amazon, starting at $790If you're in the market for a tamper and don't want to break the bank, check out our guide to them here. Dalla Corte's new Mina home espresso machine Owen Burke/Insider Dalla Corte's new Mina comes at a steep price, but if you're in the market for a new "pro-sumer" espresso machine, I can't think of a more fun toy or tool. The lever adds to this automatic machine pressure control so you can do, well, just about anything to your liking. Plus, it's not half-bad looking, either.Shop and customize your Dalla Corte Mina at Whole Latte Love, starting at $8,500If you're looking for a more basic home espresso machine, you'll find something that suits you better within our guide. Ifill's fillable and compostable K-Cups Owen Burke/Insider There's no shortage of fill-your-own Nespresso pods out there, but for some reason, the K-Cup market has been slow to catch up. Lo and behold, a great, compostable solution is here, and it comes at a very reasonable price. With an internal filter and a sealable sticker on top, Ifillcup's capsules are for entrepreneurs and home-coffee enthusiasts alike, and they blow open the door for what you can do with a Keurig K-Cup machine.Buy Ifillcup compostable K-cup pods, available at Amazon, $19.99 for 48 fillable K-cupsIf you're looking for more pods, including other fillable options for Nespresso and Keurig machines, see our guide to the best Nespresso and K-cup pods. BruTek's Steel Toe 2.0 Travel French Press mug Amazon We can't begin to count the number of travel French press mugs we've tested. None have been bad, necessarily, but none have truly impressed us, either. BruTrek's broke that cycle with its "brew-stop" plunger, which both keeps grounds out of your drink and stops the brewing process to prevent over-extraction. It also has an impressive and confidence-inspiring seal thanks to a robust clip on the side of the lid. We might be in love.Shop BrewTrek's Steel Toe 2.0 20-ounce French press travel mug, available at Amazon, $33And again, If you're in search of any other type of French press, have a look at our guide. Milkadamia Macadamia milk Amazon Milk alternatives seem never ending, and while this isn't the first one to catch our attention, it's up there with our favorites (looking at you, Oatly). Milkadamia won best-new-product-in-show at the expo, so we're not alone.Shop Milkadamia, available at Thrive Market, starting at $3.99 per quart Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 8th, 2021

This resort is like an adult summer camp with hiking and archery, but with all the features of a spa hotel

Ojo Santa Fe is a spa resort with all-inclusive activities that feels a lot like summer camp for adults with mineral baths instead of a mess hall. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider I wanted the outdoor fun of summer camp but am too old for a dining hall or forced group activities. I found just that at Ojo Santa Fe in New Mexico with swimming, hiking, archery, and more included. The whole stay was fun but also relaxing with a spa, mineral baths, and my casita with a fireplace. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyAfter a year and a half of feeling locked inside amid the pandemic, I was itching to get outdoors. I craved wide open spaces, crisp air, and invigorating activities. What I wanted it felt like, were the summer camps I experienced as a kid. While summer camps for adults do exist, it seemed like each one was meant for day drinking 20-somethings whose idea of fun was a three-legged race followed by a boisterous meal in the dining hall.Being well north of that age, I knew I needed more privacy, high thread count sheets, and the ability to choose my activities.I decided to design my own adult summer camp at Ojo Santa Fe in New Mexico where camp-inspired activities like swimming, archery, hikes, and animal interactions were all-inclusive alongside a spa, mineral baths, and a restaurant. Designing my own summer camp was a great experience and one I'd gladly replicate throughout the year.Keep reading to see how I designed my own adult summer camp. Choosing the location Ojo Santa Fe sits on 77 sprawling, lush acres. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider I've been to New Mexico many times and knew the confluence of Native American and Mexican American cultures and the mountains would make an ideal setting.I landed on Ojo Santa Fe, with a spa, restaurant, and all-inclusive camp-inspired activities with no extra resort fee. As children under 16 were not permitted it also had an adults-only feel.The 77-acre resort is a 20-minute drive southwest of Santa Fe, with 52 rooms ranging from $290 for a garden room with a balcony or patio to $395 for a stand-alone casita. I booked a casita for four nights with my boyfriend, who planned to work and needed the extra room. Getting there A car is essential to reach Ojo Santa Fe, though you won't need one once you're on-site. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider My boyfriend and I flew from Chicago O'Hare International Airport to Albuquerque International Sunport, from where we rented a car to reach Ojo Santa Fe.Ojo Santa Fe offers complimentary shuttle service to and from the Santa Fe Regional Airport. Direct commercial flights to Santa Fe are only available from Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix.Driving to Ojo Santa Fe, GPS was essential on the winding country roads. I was grateful we arrived in the daytime. The security guard at the entrance to the hotel confirmed our reservation before letting us in. The grounds Picturesque hotel grounds felt plucked from a Monet painting. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider Walking to the small building that houses the front desk, we passed a bubbling fountain surrounded by native plants. Just beyond was the patio of the on-site restaurant, Blue Heron, perched above a mineral spring-fed pond. The idyllic scene felt plucked out of Monet's garden at Giverny. Mineral baths shimmered, hammocks swayed, and it was clear that the pictures on the website do not do this place justice.Check-in was easy and the staff was courteous. We were given our keys and driving directions to our casita.  Guest rooms Casitas are standalone lodgings with private patios. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider Our casita was located at the far end of the resort with a private entrance lined with native lavender and sage. The decor was classic Southwest with adobe walls, earth-tone furnishings, and artful driftwood. The casita counted 600 square feet, but the layout made it feel bigger. There was a sitting area, a desk, a gas fireplace (AC, too), and a bedroom with a Queen bed. The bathroom had a separate dressing area with a mirror, good lighting, and a mini-fridge. Coffee, tea, bath, and body products were provided and we also had a private patio.A central ice machine and shared microwave were available for casitas but there are no TVs. Wi-Fi, however, was provided and fast enough for video streaming.Sadly, there were no views to be enjoyed from our casita. From what I could see of the garden rooms, all overlooked the well-kept grounds, and from some, you could catch a glimpse of the mountains. Except for a few minutes of stargazing every night, our patio became a depository for wet bathing suits and pool towels. The space was pin-drop quiet and plenty big for a couple but could also easily work for a family. Adjusting to the elevation Lisa Marion Smith/Insider After settling in, we headed out to explore but quickly felt exhausted as Santa Fe is 7,000 feet above sea level.  The dramatic change in altitude required adaptation. If you are coming from a place with lower elevation, be prepared to spend a couple of days adjusting. Altitude sickness is not uncommon. Mineral baths and spa During our altitude adjustment days, I found myself in an endless loop, going from one bathing area to the next. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider As such, we started with low-exertion activities such as the three mineral spring-fed bathing areas that are the star of Ojo Santa Fe.I strolled the grounds in the provided white bathrobes, starting the day by the spa and moving between the hot baths that ranged in temperature from 98 to 104 degrees.These tubs overlook the pond, a gas fire pit, and hammocks. Private soaking tubs are available. Swimwear is optional in the private tubs but required everywhere else.  The pool After swimming a few laps, I'd walk to the shaded plunge pool with in-water seating. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider When I was ready to move on, I headed to the comparatively cool 85-degree, Olympic-sized saltwater pool. It was the only area with music playing, though the mood was still refined. Private poolside cabanas were available for an additional fee. Here, I noticed my fellow guests, which included couples, women for friends' getaways, solo travelers, and large groups. At the spa, I perused treatments like the Cactus Flower Massage and Scrub and the CBD Massage, but settled on the Bamboo Massage, which used heated bamboo rolling pins of different sizes to access deep tissue. It was one of the best massages I've ever had. Checking out the Puppy Patch The dogs are kept in their own small house and before entering the Puppy Patch, guests were required to sanitize their hands and take off their shoes. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider Ojo Santa Fe had one major advantage over the summer camp of my youth: it came with puppies. The Puppy Patch was open daily each morning, where guests could play with puppies in a fenced-in yard to socialize the animals while providing a calming, restorative effect for us humans.Ojo Santa Fe has fostered over 250 puppies for adoption through the Puppy Patch. At any given time, there are one to six puppies in residence. In the days I was there, three dogs found homes, and several new puppies arrived. Feeding hens in the Chicken Chat The hotel says the chickens will plop themselves in your lap to be pet, but I found most of the fowl to be skittish. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider There was also a daily Chicken Chat, where guests and I — many in our bathrobes — sat among the flock on stools in an outdoor coop with 25 Silky chickens with names like Bok Choy. I fed a few grains out of my hand, though most were a bit skittish.  Going for hikes The views from our hikes were stunning. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider Once we were acclimated to the altitude, we signed up for a guided morning group hike, which started with a drive to a trailhead about 25 minutes away, just outside of downtown Santa Fe. We enjoyed a moderate, shaded hike, and we were so impressed, we signed up to do another trail the next day. Having a guide to take us on hikes was something we would have paid for; the fact that the guide and transportation were included was a big bonus. Trying out archery The guide did his best to help us hit the target once or twice. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider This same guide led target arts in the afternoon. It turns out archery is a lot harder than I remembered from kids' camp. The guide did his best to help us hit the target once or twice.  Other things to do and winter activities Air rifles was one of many interactive activities offered. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider We did better with the air rifles. I have never shot anything and was squeamish at the thought of holding the thing, but soon took great satisfaction in making mincemeat of the paper targets.Alas, ax throwing was not available due to construction.Yoga and Pilates classes were also offered and required reservation,  and there was a small gym with basic cardio and weight equipment. When I peeked inside, there was only one guest using it and he wasn't wearing a mask. Since I can do all these things at home in Chicago, I opted to spend time doing outside activities instead.It's also worth noting that Ojo Santa Fe is a worthy place to design a winter camp, too. When snow makes hiking untenable, activities shift to feature snowboarding, cross country and downhill skiing, and interactive art experience at museums and galleries in the city. Dining at Blue Heron restaurant There is enough variety at Blue Heron to there every night, and we often had enough left over for lunch the next day. Lisa Marion Smith/Insider The resort had only one on-site dining option, the Blue Heron restaurant. The menu featured a range of food skewing healthy-ish, but with plenty of variety. They did not serve hard alcohol, only wine, even in their cocktails, which I decided were not worth the calories or money. The view overlooking the pond from the outdoor patio was stunning. Waiting for our food to arrive, I watched enormous carp lazily skim the water's surface while an actual Blue Heron looked on from the branches of a nearby tree. COVID-19 precautions Ojo Santa Fe follows the CDC recommendations for COVID precautions. I saw all staff wearing masks indoors, 100% of the time. Hand sanitizer was readily available in public areas as well.At the restaurant and spa, the staff wore masks outside, too. Prior to my massage, I had to answer health screening questions and keep my mask on throughout the treatment. None of the guests wore masks at the bathing areas, and some outdoor activities, such as the Puppy Patch, required masks. Others, like target arts and the chicken chat, did not.When indoors, guests were expected to wear masks in the spa and restaurant. Most followed the rules; some did not. The bottom line We loved the upscale, adult summer camp atmosphere and well-maintained grounds of Ojo Santa Fe.Ojo Santa Fe is for people whose idea of a party is going for a hike, followed by a dip in a mineral bath, puppy playtime, and capping the day sitting by a fire. This is not for those seeking a rollicking stay.If I were to go back with girlfriends, I would skip the casita and get a garden room since the extra space was nice, but not necessary, and lacked any views.For those seeking to replicate the feeling of summer camp as an adult, Ojo Santa Fe offered a variety of all-inclusive outdoor activities with the amenities of an upscale spa for a stay that felt like I received a lot of value for the cost. I loved designing my own summer camp here and I'd gladly do it again in fall, winter, or spring, too.Book Ojo Santa Fe starting at $290 per night Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 1st, 2021

"Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con

"Immunity As A Service" - The Snake-Oil Salesmen & The COVID-Zero Con Authored by Julius Ruechel via Julius Ruechel.com, The Snake-Oil Salesmen and the COVID-Zero Con: A Classic Bait-And-Switch for a Lifetime of Booster Shots (Immunity as a Service) If a plumber with a lifetime of experience were to tell you that water runs uphill, you would know he is lying and that the lie is not accidental. It is a lie with a purpose. If you can also demonstrate that the plumber knows in advance that the product he is promoting with that lie is snake oil, you have evidence for a deliberate con. And once you understand what's really inside that bottle of snake oil, you will begin to understand the purpose of the con. One of the most common reasons given for mass COVID vaccinations is the idea that if we reach herd immunity through vaccination, we can starve the virus out of existence and get our lives back. It's the COVID-Zero strategy or some variant of it. By now it is abundantly clear from the epidemiological data that the vaccinated are able to both catch and spread the disease. Clearly vaccination isn't going to make this virus disappear. Only a mind that has lost its grasp on reality can fail to see how ridiculous all this has become.  But a tour through pre-COVID science demonstrates that, from day one, long before you and I had even heard of this virus, it was 100% inevitable and 100% predictable that these vaccines would never be capable of eradicating this coronavirus and would never lead to any kind of lasting herd immunity. Even worse, lockdowns and mass vaccination have created a dangerous set of circumstances that interferes with our immune system's ability to protect us against other respiratory viruses. They also risk driving the evolution of this virus towards mutations that are more dangerous to both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike. Lockdowns, mass vaccinations, and mass booster shots were never capable of delivering on any of the promises that were made to the public.  And yet, vaccination has been successfully used to control measles and even to eradicate smallpox. So, why not COVID? Immunity is immunity, and a virus is a virus is a virus, right? Wrong! Reality is far more complicated... and more interesting. This Deep Dive exposes why, from day one, the promise of COVID-Zero can only ever have been a deliberately dishonest shell game designed to prey on a lack of public understanding of how our immune systems work and on how most respiratory viruses differ from other viruses that we routinely vaccinate against. We have been sold a fantasy designed to rope us into a pharmaceutical dependency as a deceitful trade-off for access to our lives. Variant by variant. For as long as the public is willing to go along for the ride.  Exposing this story does not require incriminating emails or whistleblower testimony. The story tells itself by diving into the long-established science that every single virologist, immunologist, evolutionary biologist, vaccine developer, and public health official had access to long before COVID began. As is so often the case, the devil is hidden in the details. As this story unfolds it will become clear that the one-two punch of lockdowns and the promise of vaccines as an exit strategy began as a cynical marketing ploy to coerce us into a never-ending regimen of annual booster shots intentionally designed to replace the natural "antivirus security updates" against respiratory viruses that come from hugs and handshakes and from children laughing together at school. We are being played for fools.  This is not to say that there aren't plenty of other opportunists taking advantage of this crisis to pursue other agendas and to tip society into a full-blown police state. One thing quickly morphs into another. But this essay demonstrates that never-ending boosters were the initial motive for this global social-engineering shell game ― the subscription-based business model, adapted for the pharmaceutical industry. "Immunity as a service".  So, let's dive into the fascinating world of immune systems, viruses, and vaccines, layer by layer, to dispel the myths and false expectations that have been created by deceitful public health officials, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and media manipulators. What emerges as the lies are peeled apart is both surprising and more than a little alarming. “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” - Sherlock Homes”  - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Table of Contents:     Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication     SARS: The Exception to the Rule?     Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity     Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses     Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection     Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly     Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu     Leaky Vaccines, Antibody-Dependent Enhancement, and the Marek Effect     Anti-Virus Security Updates: Cross-Reactive Immunity Through Repeated Exposure     The Not-So-Novel Novel Virus: The Diamond Princess Cruise Ship Outbreak Proved We Have Cross-Reactive Immunity     Mother Knows Best: Vitamin D, Playing in Puddles, and Sweaters     The Paradox: Why COVID-Zero Makes People More Vulnerable to Other Viruses     Introducing Immunity as a Service - A Subscription-Based Business Model for the Pharmaceutical Industry (It was always about the money!)     The Path Forward: Neutralizing the Threat and Bullet-Proofing Society to Prevent This Ever Happening Again. *  *  * Viral Reservoirs: The Fantasy of Eradication Eradication of a killer virus sounds like a noble goal. In some cases it is, such as in the case of the smallpox virus. By 1980 we stopped vaccinating against smallpox because, thanks to widespread immunization, we starved the virus of available hosts for so long that it died out. No-one will need to risk their life on the side effects of a smallpox vaccination ever again because the virus is gone. It is a public health success story. Polio will hopefully be next ― we're getting close.  But smallpox is one of only two viruses (along with rinderpest) that have been eradicated thanks to vaccination. Very few diseases meet the necessary criteria. Eradication is hard and only appropriate for very specific families of viruses. Smallpox made sense for eradication because it was a uniquely human virus ― there was no animal reservoir. By contrast, most respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 (a.k.a. COVID) come from animal reservoirs: swine, birds, bats, etc. As long as there are bats in caves, birds in ponds, pigs in mud baths, and deer living in forests, respiratory viruses are only controllable through individual immunity, but it is not possible to eradicate them. There will always be a near-identical cousin brewing in the wings. Even the current strain of COVID is already cheerfully jumping onwards across species boundaries. According to both National Geographic and Nature magazine, 40% of wild deer tested positive for COVID antibodies in a study conducted in Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. It has also been documented in wild mink and has already made the species jump to other captive animals including dogs, cats, otters, leopards, tigers, and gorillas. A lot of viruses are not fussy. They happily adapt to new opportunities. Specialists, like smallpox, eventually go extinct. Generalists, like most respiratory viruses, never run out of hosts to keep the infection cycle going, forever. As long as we share this planet with other animals, it is extremely deceitful to give anyone the impression that we can pursue any scorched earth policy that can put this genie back in the bottle. With an outbreak on this global scale, it was clear that we were always going to have to live with this virus. There are over 200 other endemic respiratory viruses that cause colds and flus, many of which circulate freely between humans and other animals. Now there are 201. They will be with us forever, whether we like it or not. SARS: The Exception to the Rule? This all sounds well and good, but the original SARS virus did disappear, with public health measures like contact tracing and strict quarantine measures taking the credit. However, SARS was the exception to the rule. When it made the species jump to humans, it was so poorly adapted to its new human hosts that it had terrible difficulty spreading. This very poor level of adaptation gave SARS a rather unique combination of properties: SARS was extremely difficult to catch (it was never very contagious) SARS made people extremely sick. SARS did not have pre-symptomatic spread. These three conditions made the SARS outbreak easy to control through contact tracing and through the quarantine of symptomatic individuals. SARS therefore never reached the point where it circulated widely among asymptomatic community members.  By contrast, by January/February of 2020 it was clear from experiences in China, Italy, and the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise ship (more on that story later) that the unique combination of conditions that made SARS controllable were not going to be the case with COVID. COVID was quite contagious (its rapid spread showed that COVID was already well adapted to spreading easily among its new human hosts), most people would have mild or no symptoms from COVID (making containment impossible), and that it was spreading by aerosols produced by both symptomatic and pre-symptomatic people (making contact tracing a joke). In other words, it was clear by January/February 2020 that this pandemic would follow the normal rules of a readily transmissible respiratory epidemic, which cannot be reined in the way SARS was. Thus, by January/February of 2020, giving the public the impression that the SARS experience could be replicated for COVID was a deliberate lie - this genie was never going back inside the bottle. Fast Mutations: The Fantasy of Control through Herd Immunity Once a reasonably contagious respiratory virus begins circulating widely in a community, herd immunity can never be maintained for very long. RNA respiratory viruses (such as influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses) all mutate extremely fast compared to viruses like smallpox, measles, or polio. Understanding the difference between something like measles and a virus like COVID is key to understanding the con that is being perpetrated by our health institutions. Bear with me here, I promise not to get too technical. All viruses survive by creating copies of themselves. And there are always a lot of "imperfect copies" — mutations — produced by the copying process itself. Among RNA respiratory viruses these mutations stack up so quickly that there is rapid genetic drift, which continually produces new strains. Variants are normal. Variants are expected. Variants make it virtually impossible to build the impenetrable wall of long-lasting herd immunity required to starve these respiratory viruses out of existence. That's one of several reasons why flu vaccines don't provide long-lasting immunity and have to be repeated annually ― our immune system constantly needs to be updated to keep pace with the inevitable evolution of countless unnamed "variants."  This never-ending conveyor belt of mutations means that everyone's immunity to COVID was always only going to be temporary and only offer partial cross-reactive protection against future re-infections. Thus, from day one, COVID vaccination was always doomed to the same fate as the flu vaccine ― a lifelong regimen of annual booster shots to try to keep pace with "variants" for those unwilling to expose themselves to the risk of a natural infection. And the hope that by the time the vaccines (and their booster shots) roll off the production line, they won't already be out of date when confronted by the current generation of virus mutations.  Genetic drift caused by mutations is much slower in viruses like measles, polio, or smallpox, which is why herd immunity can be used to control these other viruses (or even eradicate them as in the case of smallpox or polio). The reason the common respiratory viruses have such rapid genetic drift compared to these other viruses has much less to do with how many errors are produced during the copying process and much more to do with how many of those "imperfect" copies are actually able to survive and produce more copies.  A simple virus with an uncomplicated attack strategy for taking over host cells can tolerate a lot more mutations than a complex virus with a complicated attack strategy. Complexity and specialization put limits on how many of those imperfect copies have a chance at becoming successful mutations. Simple machinery doesn't break down as easily if there is an imperfection in the mechanical parts. Complicated high-tech machinery will simply not work if there are even minor flaws in precision parts. For example, before a virus can hijack the DNA of a host cell to begin making copies of itself, the virus needs to unlock the cell wall to gain entry. Cellular walls are made of proteins and are coated by sugars; viruses need to find a way to create a doorway through that protein wall. A virus like influenza uses a very simple strategy to get inside ― it locks onto one of the sugars on the outside of the cell wall in order to piggyback a ride as the sugar is absorbed into the cell (cells use sugar as their energy source). It's such a simple strategy that it allows the influenza virus to go through lots of mutations without losing its ability to gain entry to the cell. Influenza's simplicity makes it very adaptable and allows many different types of mutations to thrive as long as they all use the same piggyback entry strategy to get inside host cells. By contrast, something like the measles virus uses a highly specialized and very complicated strategy to gain entry to a host cell. It relies on very specialized surface proteins to break open a doorway into the host cell. It's a very rigid and complex system that doesn't leave a lot of room for errors in the copying process. Even minor mutations to the measles virus will cause changes to its surface proteins, leaving it unable to gain access to a host cell to make more copies of itself. Thus, even if there are lots of mutations, those mutations are almost all evolutionary dead ends, thus preventing genetic drift. That's one of several reasons why both a natural infection and vaccination against measles creates lifetime immunity ― immunity lasts because new variations don't change much over time.  Most RNA respiratory viruses have a high rate of genetic drift because they all rely on relatively simple attack strategies to gain entry to host cells. This allows mutations to stack up quickly without becoming evolutionary dead ends because they avoid the evolutionary trap of complexity.  Coronaviruses use a different strategy than influenza to gain access to host cells. They have proteins on the virus surface (the infamous S-spike protein, the same one that is mimicked by the vaccine injection), which latches onto a receptor on the cell surface (the ACE2 receptor) ― a kind of key to unlock the door. This attack strategy is a little bit more complicated than the system used by influenza, which is probably why genetic drift in coronaviruses is slightly slower than in influenza, but it is still a much much simpler and much less specialized system than the one used by measles. Coronaviruses, like other respiratory viruses, are therefore constantly producing a never-ending conveyor belt of "variants" that make long-lasting herd immunity impossible. Variants are normal. The alarm raised by our public health authorities about "variants" and the feigned compassion of pharmaceutical companies as they rush to develop fresh boosters capable of fighting variants is a charade, much like expressing surprise about the sun rising in the East. Once you got immunity to smallpox, measles, or polio, you had full protection for a few decades and were protected against severe illness or death for the rest of your life. But for fast-mutating respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses, within a few months they are sufficiently different that your previously acquired immunity will only ever offer partial protection against your next exposure. The fast rate of mutation ensures that you never catch the exact same cold or flu twice, just their closely related constantly evolving cousins. What keeps you from feeling the full brunt of each new infection is cross-reactive immunity, which is another part of the story of how you are being conned, which I will come back to shortly.  Blind Faith in Central Planning: The Fantasy of Timely Doses But let's pretend for a moment that a miraculous vaccine could be developed that could give us all 100% sterilizing immunity today. The length of time it takes to manufacture and ship 8 billion doses (and then make vaccination appointments for 8 billion people) ensures that by the time the last person gets their last dose, the never-ending conveyor belt of mutations will have already rendered the vaccine partially ineffective. True sterilizing immunity simply won't ever happen with coronaviruses. The logistics of rolling out vaccines to 8 billion people meant that none of our vaccine makers or public health authorities ever could have genuinely believed that vaccines would create lasting herd immunity against COVID. So, for a multitude of reasons, it was a deliberate lie to give the public the impression that if enough people take the vaccine, it would create lasting herd immunity. It was 100% certain, from day one, that by the time the last dose is administered, the rapid evolution of the virus would ensure that it would already be time to start thinking about booster shots. Exactly like the flu shot. Exactly the opposite of a measles vaccine. Vaccines against respiratory viruses can never provide anything more than a temporary cross-reactive immunity "update" ― they are merely a synthetic replacement for your annual natural exposure to the smorgasbord of cold and flu viruses. Immunity as a service, imposed on society by trickery. The only question was always, how long between booster shots? Weeks, months, years?  Feeling conned yet? Spiked: The Fantasy of Preventing Infection The current crop of COVID vaccines was never designed to provide sterilizing immunity - that's not how they work. They are merely a tool designed to teach the immune system to attack the S-spike protein, thereby priming the immune system to reduce the severity of infection in preparation for your inevitable future encounter with the real virus. They were never capable of preventing infection, nor of preventing spread. They were merely designed to reduce your chance of being hospitalized or dying if you are infected. As former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who is on Pfizer’s board, said: "the original premise behind these vaccines were [sic] that they would substantially reduce the risk of death and severe disease and hospitalization. And that was the data that came out of the initial clinical trials.” Every first-year medical student knows that you cannot get herd immunity from a vaccine that does not stop infection.  In other words, by their design, these vaccines can neither stop you from catching an infection nor stop you from transmitting the infection to someone else. They were never capable of creating herd immunity. They were designed to protect individuals against severe outcomes if they choose to take them - a tool to provide temporary focused protection for the vulnerable, just like the flu vaccine. Pushing for mass vaccination was a con from day one. And the idea of using vaccine passports to separate the vaccinated from the unvaccinated was also a con from day one. The only impact these vaccine passports have on the pandemic is as a coercive tool to get you to roll up your sleeve. Nothing more. Antibodies, B-Cells, and T-Cells: Why Immunity to Respiratory Viruses Fades So Quickly There are multiple interconnected parts to why immunity to COVID, or any other respiratory virus, is always only temporary. Not only is the virus constantly mutating but immunity itself fades over time, not unlike the way our brains start forgetting how to do complicated math problems unless they keep practicing. This is true for both immunity acquired through natural infection and immunity acquired through vaccination. Our immune systems have a kind of immunological memory ― basically, how long does your immune system remember how to launch an attack against a specific kind of threat. That memory fades over time. For some vaccines, like diphtheria and tetanus, that immunological memory fades very slowly. The measles vaccine protects for life. But for others, like the flu vaccine, that immunological memory fades very quickly. On average, the flu vaccine is only about 40% effective to begin with. And it begins to fade almost immediately after vaccination. By about 150 days (5 months), it reaches zero. Fading immunity after flu shot (Science, April 18th, 2019) The solution to this strange phenomenon lies in the different types of immune system responses that are triggered by a vaccine (or by exposure to the real thing through a natural infection). This has big implications for coronavirus vaccines, but I'll get to that in a moment. First a little background information... A good analogy is to think of our immune system like a medieval army. The first layer of protection began with generalists - guys armed with clubs that would take a swing at everything - they were good for keeping robbers and brigands at bay and for conducting small skirmishes. But if the attack was bigger, then these generalists were quickly overwhelmed, serving as arrow fodder to blunt the attack on the more specialized troops coming up behind them. Spearmen, swordsmen, archers, cavalry, catapult operators, siege tower engineers, and so on. Each additional layer of defense has a more expensive kit and takes ever greater amounts of time to train (an English longbowman took years to build up the necessary skill and strength to become effective). The more specialized a troop is, the more you want to hold them back from the fight unless it's absolutely necessary because they are expensive to train, expensive to deploy, and make a bigger mess when they fight that needs to be cleaned up afterwards. Always keep your powder dry. Send in the arrow fodder first and slowly ramp up your efforts from there. Our immune system relies on a similar kind of layered system of defense. In addition to various non-specific rapid response layers that take out the brigands, like natural killer cells, macrophages, mast cells, and so on, we also have many adaptive (specialized) layers of antibodies (i.e. IgA, IgG, IgM immunoglobulin) and various types of highly specialized white blood cells, like B-cells and T-cells. Some antibodies are released by regular B-cells. Others are released by blood plasma. Then there are memory B-cells, which are capable of remembering previous threats and creating new antibodies long after the original antibodies fade away. And there are various types of T-cells (again with various degrees of immunological memory), like natural killer T-cells, killer T-cells, and helper T-cells, all of which play various roles in detecting and neutralizing invaders. In short, the greater the threat, the more troops are called into the fight. This is clearly a gross oversimplification of all the different interconnected parts of our immune system, but the point is that a mild infection doesn't trigger as many layers whereas a severe infection enlists the help of deeper layers, which are slower to respond but are much more specialized in their attack capabilities. And if those deeper adaptive layers get involved, they are capable of retaining a memory of the threat in order to be able to mount a quicker attack if a repeat attack is recognized in the future. That's why someone who was infected by the dangerous Spanish Flu in 1918 might still have measurable T-cell immunity a century later but the mild bout of winter flu you had a couple of years ago might not have triggered T-cell immunity, even though both may have been caused by versions of the same H1N1 influenza virus. As a rule of thumb, the broader the immune response, the longer immunological memory will last. Antibodies fade in a matter of months, whereas B-cell and T-cell immunity can last a lifetime. Another rule of thumb is that a higher viral load puts more strain on your immune defenses, thus overwhelming the rapid response layers and forcing the immune system to enlist the deeper adaptive layers. That's why nursing homes and hospitals are more dangerous places for vulnerable people than backyard barbeques. That's why feedlot cattle are more vulnerable to viral diseases than cattle on pasture. Viral load matters a lot to how easily the generalist layers are overwhelmed and how much effort your immune system has to make to neutralize a threat. Where the infection happens in the body also matters. For example, an infection in the upper respiratory tract triggers much less involvement from your adaptive immune system than when it reaches your lungs. Part of this is because your upper respiratory tract is already heavily preloaded with large numbers of generalist immunological cells that are designed to attack germs as they enter, which is why most colds and flus never make it deeper into the lungs. The guys with the clubs are capable of handling most of the threats that try to make through the gate. Most of the specialized troops hold back unless they are needed. Catching a dangerous disease like measles produces lifetime immunity because an infection triggers all the deep layers that will retain a memory of how to fight off future encounters with the virus. So does the measles vaccine. Catching a cold or mild flu generally does not.  From an evolutionary point of view, this actually makes a lot of sense. Why waste valuable resources developing long-lasting immunity (i.e. training archers and building catapults) to defend against a virus that did not put you in mortal danger. A far better evolutionary strategy is to evolve a narrower generalist immune response to mild infections (i.e. most cold and flu viruses), which fades quickly once the threat is conquered, but invest in deep long-term broad-based immunity to dangerous infections, which lasts a very long time in case that threat is ever spotted on the horizon again. Considering the huge number of threats our immune systems face, this strategy avoids the trap of spreading immunological memory too thin. Our immunological memory resources are not limitless - long-term survival requires prioritizing our immunological resources. The take-home lesson is that vaccines will, at best, only last as long as immunity acquired through natural infection and will often fade much faster because the vaccine is often only able to trigger a partial immune response compared to the actual infection. So, if the disease itself doesn't produce a broad-based immune response leading to long-lasting immunity, neither will the vaccine. And in most cases, immunity acquired through vaccination will begin to fade much sooner than immunity acquired through a natural infection. Every vaccine maker and public health official knows this despite bizarrely claiming that the COVID vaccines (based on re-creating the S-protein spike instead of using a whole virus) would somehow become the exception to the rule. That was a lie, and they knew it from day one. That should set your alarm bells ringing at full throttle. So, with this little bit of background knowledge under our belts, let's look at what our public health officials and vaccine makers would have known in advance about coronaviruses and coronavirus vaccines when they told us back in the early Spring of 2020 that COVID vaccines were the path back to normality. From a 2003 study [my emphasis]: "Until SARS appeared, human coronaviruses were known as the cause of 15–30% of colds... Colds are generally mild, self-limited infections, and significant increases in neutralizing antibody titer are found in nasal secretions and serum after infection. Nevertheless, some unlucky individuals can be reinfected with the same coronavirus soon after recovery and get symptoms again." In other words, the coronaviruses involved in colds (there were four human coronaviruses before SARS, MERS, and COVID) all trigger such a weak immune response that they do not lead to any long-lasting immunity whatsoever. And why would they if, for most of us, the threat is so minimal that the generalists are perfectly capable of neutralizing the attack. We also know that immunity against coronaviruses is not durable in other animals either. As any farmer knows well, cycles of reinfection with coronaviruses are the rule rather than the exception among their livestock (for example, coronaviruses are a common cause of pneumonia and various types of diarrheal diseases like scours, shipping fever, and winter dysentery in cattle). Annual farm vaccination schedules are therefore designed accordingly. The lack of long-term immunity to coronaviruses is well documented in veterinary research among cattle, poultry, deer, water buffalo, etc. Furthermore, although animal coronavirus vaccines have been on the market for many years, it is well known that "none are completely efficacious in animals". So, like the fading flu vaccine profile I showed you earlier, none of the animal coronavirus vaccines are capable of providing sterilizing immunity (none were capable of stopping 100% of infections, without which you can never achieve herd immunity) and the partial immunity they offered is well known to fade rather quickly. What about immunity to COVID's close cousin, the deadly SARS coronavirus, which had an 11% case fatality rate during the 2003 outbreak? From a 2007 study: "SARS-specific antibodies were maintained for an average of 2 years... SARS patients might be susceptible to reinfection >3 years after initial exposure."  (Bear in mind that, as with all diseases, re-infection does not mean you are necessarily going to get full-blown SARS; fading immunity after a natural infection tends to offer at least some level of partial protection against severe outcomes for a considerable amount of time after you can already be reinfected and spread it to others - more on that later.) And what about MERS, the deadliest coronavirus to date, which made the jump from camels in 2012 and had a fatality rate of around 35%? It triggered the broadest immune response (due to its severity) and also appears to trigger the longest lasting immunity as a result (> 6yrs) Thus, to pretend that there was any chance that herd immunity to COVID would be anything but short-lived was dishonest at best. For most people, immunity was always going to fade quickly. Just like what happens after most other respiratory virus infections. By February 2020, the epidemiological data showed clearly that for most people COVID was a mild coronavirus (nowhere near as severe than SARS or MERS), so it was virtually a certainty that even the immunity from a natural infection would fade within months, not years. It was also a certainty that vaccination was therefore, at best, only ever going to provide partial protection and that this protection would be temporary, lasting on the order of months. This is a case of false and misleading advertising if there ever was one. If I can allow my farming roots to shine through for a moment, I'd like to explain the implications of what was known about animal coronaviruses vaccines. Baby calves are often vaccinated against bovine coronaviral diarrhea shortly after birth if they are born in the spring mud and slush season, but not if they are born in midsummer on lush pastures where the risk of infection is lower. Likewise, bovine coronavirus vaccines are used to protect cattle before they face stressful conditions during shipping, in a feedlot, or in winter feed pens. Animal coronavirus vaccines are thus used as tools to provide a temporary boost in immunity, in very specific conditions, and only for very specific vulnerable categories of animals. After everything I've laid out so far in this text, the targeted use of bovine coronavirus vaccines should surprise no-one. Pretending that our human coronavirus vaccines would be different was nonsense.  The only rational reason why the WHO and public health officials would withhold all that contextual information from the public as they rolled out lockdowns and held forth vaccines as an exit strategy was to whip the public into irrational fear in order to be able to make a dishonest case for mass vaccination when they should have, at most, been focused on providing focused vaccination of the most vulnerable only. That deception was the Trojan Horse to introduce endless mass booster shots as immunity inevitably fades and as new variants replace old ones.  Now, as all the inevitable limitations and problems with these vaccines become apparent (i.e. fading of vaccine-induced immunity, vaccines proving to only be partially effective, the rise of new variants, and the vaccinated population demonstrably catching and spreading the virus ― a.k.a. the leaky vaccine phenomenon), the surprise that our health authorities are showing simply isn't credible. As I have shown you, all this was 100% to be expected. They intentionally weaponized fear and false expectations to unleash a fraudulent bait-and-switch racket of global proportions. Immunity on demand, forever. Manufacturing Dangerous Variants: Virus Mutations Under Lockdown Conditions — Lessons from the 1918 Spanish Flu At this point you may be wondering, if there is no lasting immunity from infection or vaccination, then are public health officials right to roll out booster shots to protect us from severe outcomes even if their dishonest methods to get us to accept them were unethical? Do we need a lifetime regimen of booster shots to keep us safe from a beast to which we cannot develop durable long-term immunity? The short answer is no.  Contrary to what you might think, the rapid evolution of RNA respiratory viruses actually has several important benefits for us as their involuntary hosts, which protects us without the benefit of broad lifelong immunity. One of those benefits has to do with the natural evolution of the virus towards less dangerous variants. The other is the cross-reactive immunity that comes from frequent re-exposure to closely related "cousins". I'm going to peel apart both of these topics in order to show you the remarkable system that nature designed to keep us safe... and to show you how the policies being forced on us by our public health authorities are knowingly interfering with this system. They are creating a dangerous situation that increases our risk to other respiratory viruses (not just to COVID) and may even push the COVID virus to evolve to become more dangerous to both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated. There are growing signs that this nightmare scenario has already begun.  “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."  - President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Let's start with the evolutionary pressures that normally drive viruses towards becoming less dangerous over time. A virus depends on its host to spread it. A lively host is more useful than a bedridden or dead one because a lively host can spread the virus further and will still be around to catch future mutations. Viruses risk becoming evolutionary dead ends if they kill or immobilize their hosts. Plagues came, killed, and then were starved out of existence because their surviving hosts had all acquired herd immunity. Colds come and go every year because their hosts are lively, easily spread the viruses around, and never acquire long-lasting immunity so that last year's hosts can also serve as next year's hosts ― only those who have weak immune systems have much to worry about. In other words, under normal conditions, mutations that are more contagious but less deadly have a survival advantage over less contagious and more deadly variations. From the virus' point of view, the evolutionary golden mean is reached when it can easily infect as many hosts as possible without reducing their mobility and without triggering long-term immunity in most of their hosts. That's the ticket to setting up a sustainable cycle of reinfection, forever. Viruses with slow genetic drift and highly specialized reproductive strategies, like polio or measles, can take centuries or longer to become less deadly and more contagious; some may never reach the relatively harmless status of a cold or mild flu virus (by harmless I mean harmless to the majority of the population despite being extremely dangerous to those with weak or compromised immune systems). But for viruses with fast genetic drift, like respiratory viruses, even a few months can make a dramatic difference. Rapid genetic drift is one of the reasons why the Spanish Flu stopped being a monster disease, but polio and measles haven't. And anyone with training in virology or immunology understands this!  We often speak of evolutionary pressure as though it forces an organism to adapt. In reality, a simple organism like a virus is utterly blind to its environment — all it does is blindly produce genetic copies of itself. "Evolutionary pressure" is actually just a fancy way of saying that environmental conditions will determine which of those millions of copies survives long enough to produce even more copies of itself.  A human adapts to its environment by altering its behaviour (that's one type of adaptation). But the behaviour of a single viral particle never changes. A virus "adapts" over time because some genetic copies with one set of mutations survive and spread faster than other copies with a different set of mutations. Adaptation in viruses has to be seen exclusively through the lens of changes from one generation of virus to the next based on which mutations have a competitive edge over others. And that competitive edge will vary depending on the kinds of environmental conditions a virus encounters. So, fear mongering about the Delta variant being even more contagious leaves out the fact that this is exactly what you would expect as a respiratory virus adapts to its new host species. We would expect new variants to be more contagious but less deadly as the virus fades to become just like the other 200+ respiratory viruses that cause common colds and flus.  That's also why the decision to lock down the healthy population is so sinister. Lockdowns, border closures, and social distancing rules reduced spread among the healthy population, thus creating a situation where mutations produced among the healthy would become sufficiently rare that they might be outnumbered by mutations circulating among the bedridden. Mutations circulating among the healthy are, by definition, going to be the least dangerous mutations since they did not make their hosts s.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 25th, 2021

Blow up your Instagram with these 10 over-the-top hotels in the US

Here are 10 cool, photogenic US hotels to post about on Instagram, with over-the-top decor, dramatic architecture, and eccentric rooms. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. The Saguaro When choosing a hotel, social media-minded travelers place a high value on a visual appeal. Many hotels design with Instagram in mind, with decor ranging from highly curated to eccentric. We found the most photogenic hotels across the US with options for all budgets and travelers. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyThe saying goes, "pics or it didn't happen," and when it comes to travel, that is especially true. After all, vacation visuals that get posted to social media serve as photogenic proof that you had an incredible time away, inspiring others' travel decisions, and perhaps even a bit of travel envy.Whether or not you're an influencer commanding a major social media presence, it's nice to visit somewhere that is visually appealing, both on and off the 'Gram. That's why we rounded up some of the most Instagram-worthy hotels across the United States, each catering to a variety of aesthetics.You can be sure that each and every hotel on this list has gorgeous decor that'll photograph perfectly, even if you're relatively inexperienced behind the camera.Browse all the most Instagrammable hotels in the US below, or jump directly to a specific area here.The most Instagrammable hotels in the USFAQ: Instagrammable hotelsHow we selected the most Instagrammable hotelsMore photogenic accommodationsThese are the most Instagrammable hotels in the US, sorted by price from low to high. The Roxbury This suite is inspired by the tale of "Cinderella" with a bathroom entrance fashioned out of her pumpkin carriage. Roxbury Hotel Book The RoxburyCategory: Budget Location: Roxbury, NYTypical starting/peak prices: $95/$138Best for: Couples, families, friendsOn-site amenities: Pool, spa, hiking trails (to a waterfall!)Pros: Between the property's two hotels, there are about two dozen room themes, meaning there's something to tickle everyone's fancy.Cons: There's no on-site restaurant, but daily breakfast is included. Guests are charged to use the pool (a one-time, not daily fee), which eliminates the need for a resort fee.When it comes to themed hotel rooms, no one does them quite like The Roxbury in New York's Catskills region.Made up of two hotels, the Roxbury Motel and the Roxbury at Stratton Falls, there are 28 whimsical rooms and suites. Entry-level rooms are fairly traditional, though still bold in colors, but it's the suites and cottages that really dazzle.Themes range from Maryann's Coconut Cream Pie, where the ceiling looks as if it's coated in undulating meringue; and The Wizard's Emeralds, a riff on "The Wizard of Oz" complete with a yellow brick (or, in this case, yellow tile) road and a glittering green bedspread worthy of the Emerald City. Additionally, the Tower Cottages are standalone duplex suites with themes like the Faerie Forest, where interiors resemble whimsical woods plucked out of a fairy tale, with flowers, ferns, mushrooms, and gnarled tree branches adorning every inch.The Roxbury also has a pool with a spa that appears warped to create the illusion that it's defying gravity, alongside a hot tub, dry sauna, and treatment rooms. There are also hiking trails, one of which leads to a 50-foot waterfall.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Saguaro Palm Springs The colorful Saguaro is one of Palm Springs' most recognizable hotels. Tripadvisor Book The Saguaro Palm SpringsCategory: BudgetLocation: Palm Springs, CATypical starting/peak prices: $129/$350Best for: Couples, friends, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Pool, restaurants, bars, gym, spaPros: The pool is the place to see and be seen — and to take your Instagrams. Pool parties are particularly boisterous, and the rainbow backdrop of the hotel brightens up any photographs.Cons: There's a mandatory $38 (plus tax) resort fee, which makes seemingly affordable room rates less appealing.Palm Springs is a desert oasis primarily known for two things: amazing midcentury architecture and a raucous party scene, particularly at its hotels. The Saguaro Palm Springs is no exception to either.The hotel was built in 1971 but underwent a major renovation in 2012 by the same group behind the ultra-hip Ace Hotels. That refurbishment brought about the brightly painted exterior with a gradient rainbow effect for which the hotel is best known. These vibrant, cheerful colors carry throughout the entire property, most notably in the courtyard pool area. Paired with swaying palm trees, bright yellow umbrellas, and the cool blue of the pool, and it's positively photogenic.  That pool area, by the way, is one of the hotel's biggest draws. Lively parties are thrown regularly and often spill over into the Saguaro's restaurants and bars. Be sure to reserve a cabana in advance for the best spot for photos.Inside, guest rooms are similarly colorful with lemon yellow walls, royal purple carpets, and furniture done up in lime green, hot pink, or electric orange alongside technicolor striped bedspreads.COVID-19 procedures are available here. TWA Hotel Built into an old airline terminal, the TWA hotel offers a retro feel infused with heavy doses of '60s glam and nostalgia. TWA Hotel/David Mitchell Book TWA HotelCategory: BoutiqueLocation: New York, NYTypical starting/peak prices: $200/$280Best for: Couples, families, friends, solo travelers, aviation and design enthusiastsOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, gym, rooftop pool, event space, museums displays, ice/roller rinkPros: The main building is legendary among aviation geeks and architecture lovers, but anyone who appreciates funky design will enjoy the hotel. Don't miss the cocktail bar inside an old airplane. And, of course, if you're flying out of JFK, it doesn't get more convenient than staying here.Cons: The rooms are pretty small, even the suites. Mixed reviews cite cleanliness issues, too. You're far better off hanging out in the public spaces, which are more visually interesting anyway.As the only hotel within John F. Kennedy International Airport, the TWA Hotel is, of course, a place for those who need a place to rest pre- or post-flight. But it's also so much more, as a design-forward gem that feels like a slice of preserved history with front-row views of airplanes taking off and landing.Designed by midcentury architecture icon Eero Saarinen in 1962 (originally as a flight center for Trans World Airlines), the TWA hotel has jaw-dropping interiors. The main building, which houses the front desk, restaurants, and bars, features soaring, curved white ceilings that are not unlike a Jetsons-style spaceship with bright red carpets, classic midcentury furniture, and an old-school departures/arrivals board. Throughout the hotel and in some guest rooms, enjoy iconic views of the runway as planes land and depart, a boon for aviation enthusiasts. Rooms are small, but feel like you've stumbled onto the set of "Mad Men" with bright red Saarinen-designed Womb chairs, retro TWA travel posters, dark wood paneling, and brass accents on furniture, including a martini bar.Visiting this hotel is a lot like, walking into a time capsule, especially when you enter the hotel's cocktail bar housed within an actual 1958 Constellation airplane.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Madonna Inn The Floral Fantasy is one of 110 over-the-top themed rooms. Tripadvisor Book Madonna InnCategory: BoutiqueLocation: San Luis Obispo, CATypical starting/peak prices: $220/$580Best for: Families, friends, couplesOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, bakery, pool, spa, gym, dance floor, boutique, tennis, basketballPros: Every room is unique, meaning you can stay 110 times and have an entirely different experience for each visit. Cons: The decor is undoubtedly kitschy and even borderline gauche, which may not appeal to some guests. For others, it's the entire reason they're here.When it opened in 1958, the Madonna Inn in the midst of San Luis Obispo's wine country, had just 12 rooms. Today, it has 110, from economy kings to three-bedroom suites, and each one has its own absolutely one-of-a-kind, at times tacky, but highly memorable decor.In the Fabulous 50s room, teal walls are framed by pink trim, while gilded mirrors form a focal point in the bathroom. In the Victorian Gardens room, a four-post bed is matched with floral wallpaper, pink walls, and pink-velvet chairs and sofas. And in the Caveman room, the ceiling, walls, and floors are all made with rough-hewn rock, while furnishings are upholstered with animal print to complete the prehistoric theme.The rooms are spread across a 1,000-acre resort, which includes basketball and tennis courts, a pool, a retro gas station (a nod to the hotel's roots as a classic road trip stop, though today you'll find Tesla Superchargers there), a spa, a bakery, and several restaurants and bars.The eclectic decor doesn't stop in the rooms, either. Alex Madonna's Gold Rush Steak House is decked out in topsy-turvy pink and gold colors that recall either the Mad Hatter's tea party or the "Be Our Guest" scene in Beauty and the Beast." Hot pink circular banquettes are trimmed with gold, while a pink floral carpet provides punchy patterns. An organic, tree-like candelabra rises in the center of the room, its golden tendrils supporting dozens of electric candles. COVID-19 procedures are available by phone at 805-543-3000. The Greenbrier Bright colors mix heavily with punchy prints. The Greenbrier Book The GreenbrierCategory: ResortLocation: White Sulphur Springs, WVTypical starting/peak prices: $240/$425Best for: Families, couples, friends, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, casino, shopping, pool, tennis, golf, spa, ropes course, bowling, art studio, Cold War bunkerPros: Everything you could possibly want to do at a mountain resort, you can do here, whether falconry or jewelry making. It's almost shocking how many activities are offered.Cons: Some might find the decor a bit too traditional — there are lots of florals — but there's no denying it makes for a great Instagram post.Opened in 1778, the Greenbrier is an iconic American resort in West Virginia, having hosted 27 presidents throughout its history. Naturally, there have been many changes to the property over the centuries, but perhaps the most dramatic was a 1946 redecoration by lauded interior designer Dorothy Draper, who introduced lurid colors and punchy patterns into the historic buildings.Take the Greenbriar Avenue lobby, where black-and-white houndstooth club chairs sit atop bright red carpet, surrounded by teal-and-white striped columns, tropical-print wallpaper, and black-and-white checkered floors. Then in the Victorian Writing Room, rainbow-colored floral armchairs and drapes contrast with forest green walls and a bright red carpet.The guest rooms feature similar idiosyncratic decor, though perhaps not as in-your-face. Entry-level rooms all feature floral wallpaper with floral drapes to match, while higher room tiers have slightly more vibrant approaches to interior design. In the Windsor Club Rooms, you'll likely find brighter pink wallpaper, whole beds are covered by canopies, and furniture and carpets feature gingham or plaid patterns. The Greenbrier is also known for its many on-site activities, ranging from sports facilities, studios, and workshops for creative types to a casino, more than a dozen dining options, and plenty of shopping on the 11,000-acre grounds. But its most unusual amenity is a formerly secret Cold War-era bunker designed to house Congress. It's now declassified and open for tours.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Urban Cowboy Catskills Room designs are a feast for the eyes. Urban Cowboy Catskills Book Urban Cowboy CatskillsCategory: BoutiqueLocation: Big Indian, NYTypical starting/peak prices: $250/$500Best for: Couples, friends, solo travelersOn-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, games room, libraryPros: Despite being a wilderness lodge, there's very strong Wi-Fi for the WFH (or can't-be-disconnected) crowd.Cons: There are often minimum stay requirements, usually two to three nights on weekends.In New York's Catskills region, a popular weekend trip for city dwellers, the Urban Cowboy sits on 68 forested acres with plenty of outdoor recreation, but we wouldn't blame you if you wanted to spend your entire stay indoors.That's because the hotel's 28 accommodations feature super cool decor that focuses on quintessential rustic elements like deer antlers, live-wood furniture, rough-hewn wood beams, and outdoorsy accent pieces like snowshoes or oars. Colorful Native American pattern work covers the ceilings, beds, chairs, and rugs, creating a visual cacophony that feels high-design. And then there's the matter of the absolutely gorgeous copper soaking tubs set in front of big picture windows.This rugged-chic mountain style continues in public spaces, especially in the bar with a massive stone fireplace and columns that look like trees. The vibrant patterns make an appearance, too, from the walls to the sofas to the rugs.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Faena Hotel Miami Beach An attractive pool scene sets a sleek tone. Booking.com Book Faena Hotel Miami BeachCategory: LuxuryLocation: Miami Beach, FLTypical starting/peak prices: $445/$1,350Best for: Couples, friends, familiesOn-site amenities: Restaurants, bars, gym, spa, beach club, kids' clubPros: Despite its opulent, perhaps frenzied look, this is actually a surprisingly family-friendly hotel. Cons: It's 10 blocks north of South Beach, so you're not right in the heart of the action. However, there's plenty to do on-site.If it feels like Faena Hotel Miami Beach is some sort of phantasmagoric movie set, that's because it basically is. Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and production and costume designer Catherine Martin, a husband-wife team, spearheaded the design of this Mid-Beach property, and they went all out.Public spaces are filled with sumptuous colors, dazzling metallics, and all manners of prints and patterns, from leopard spots to Art Deco geometry. Even the spa, a typically soothing space, is filled with bright colors, a neon-colored pom-pom chandelier, and bird-filled, floral landscape wallpaper.In fact, public areas are absolutely buzzing with visual elements, with a gold-covered woolly mammoth skeleton by the pool (a Damien Hirst artwork) that takes center stage.Guest rooms, however, are a bit more subdued, with white walls and wood floors to keep things grounded, accented by red and turquoise furnishings. Bits of animal print are thrown in for good measure and as subtle reminders of your larger surroundings. COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Inn of the Five Graces Guest rooms, spaces, and even bathrooms are bursts of colors, prints, and international influences. Tripadvisor Book The Inn of the Five GracesCategory: BoutiqueLocation: Santa Fe, NMTypical starting/peak prices: $715/$1,175Best for: Couples, friendsOn-site amenities: Bar, spa, gymPros: A made-to-order breakfast is included, as is a wine and cheese reception on Fridays. The spa's Tibetan-style treatment room is beautiful.Cons: There's no true on-site restaurant, but in-room dining is available via the restaurant next door.From the outside, the Inn of the Five Graces is just another (450-year-old) adobe dwelling in Santa Fe. But inside, it's a global journey along the Silk Road.Public spaces and all 24 rooms burst with colors and patterns, whether from mosaic tiles, Central Asian textiles, or South Asian works of art. The look is definitely maximalist, but the blend of international styles is somehow never overwhelming thanks to the smooth and soothing adobe walls that serve as a calming backdrop. Natural elements like wood-beamed ceilings and stone hearths also provide simple contrast.The boutique property is limited on amenities, though it has an exceptional spa treatment room inspired by Tibetan tradition (both in decor and in therapies), a gym, and in-room dining provided by a neighboring restaurant.The Inn of the Five Graces is a five-minute walk from downtown Santa Fe, but thanks to its global influences, it seems to transport you to the other side of the world.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Villa Casa Casuarina Gianni Versace's former mansion is now a luxury hotel showcasing his ostentatious style. TripAdvisor Book The Villa Casa CasuarinaCategory: LuxuryLocation: Miami Beach, FLTypical starting/peak prices: $750/$1,400Best for: CouplesOn-site amenities: Pool, restaurant, barPros: The hotel's old-world-inspired grandeur truly is unmatched in Art Deco-filled South Beach.Cons: Because this is a major tourist site in Miami, there can be many people around snapping photos at all hours. Diners at the restaurant are loud, and noise can reach the rooms.Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was tragically murdered in 1997, but his lavish Miami Beach mansion was preserved to pay homage to his life, and now, operates as a luxury hotel. Today it's called the Villa Casa Casuarina, and was inspired by the Alcázar de Cólon in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The Spanish-style mansion, built in 1930, captivated Versace, who bought it in 1992 and renovated it to suit his extravagant taste. It's still exquisitely over the top.The hotel's suites feature ostentatious decor in various themes. In the Azure Suite, blue-and-white decor abounds with Roman-inspired architectural details, like the medallion-inlaid pediments above the windows in the bedroom and the tromp l'oeil "plasterwork" in the bathroom. In the Signature Suite, however, there's a far more sultry vibe, with animal print upholstery, a sumptuous warm-tone marble bathroom, and gilded furnishings.But the visual highlight of the entire property is the Million Mosaic Pool, which is comprised of thousands of 24-karat gold tiles. COVID-19 procedures are available by phone at 305-908-1462​​. Amangiri Utah's luxury Amangiri resort is a favorite with celebrities. Amangiri Book AmangiriCategory: LuxuryLocation: Canyon Point, UtahTypical starting/peak prices: $1,931/$3,500Best for: CouplesOn-site amenities: Spa, restaurant, bar, poolPros: This is desert minimalism at its finest — the hotel blends perfectly into its landscape with earth-toned decor. The luxury service is unmatched.Cons: This is not the easiest property to get to, as the closest major airports are more than four hours away. But the remote location is one of the many reasons why people visit.Arguably one of the most exclusive resorts in the US, Amangiri is a lesson in understated elegance. Architecturally, the sleek hotel is designed to blend in with the stark, rocky landscape surrounding its 600 desert acres in Utah, with color palettes that match near perfectly.Despite the indulgent luxury price tag, everything here is understated. Furnishings are made of sinuous wood or matte concrete with white upholstery to maximize the natural surroundings, which are often framed by views so beautiful, they appear like a work of art. With so many clean lines, use the sky for color and take pictures at different times of day to create variation. Though it'd be easy to rest in your luxurious suite all day long, you'll want to spend time in the dramatic Aman Spa, which covers 25,000 square feet. With looming concrete walls, it can at times feel cavernous, akin to the deep canyons found just a few miles away. While expensive, the rate covers all meals (sans alcohol), some activities, and some spa treatments, too. Stunning nature, hiking, horseback riding, or climbing, are all activities that await. COVID-19 procedures are available here. FAQ: Instagrammable hotels What are other unique hotels in the US?For unusual hotels, consider the Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho, where the main building is shaped like a beagle; ​​The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where Christmas is celebrated year-round; and the Railroad Park Resort in Dunsmuir, California, where guests sleep in converted train cars.How do I find cool hotels to stay in?If you're looking for an Instagrammable hotel, head to Instagram to get inspired by other travelers. Search hashtags like #beautifulhotels or #coolhotels. Or trust the experts, like us!What makes a hotel Instagrammable?Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Styles that some might consider Instagram-worthy might not be quite right for the aesthetic of your feed. But in general, bold interior design is key or a stunning setting. And bold doesn't necessarily mean maximalist. A stark, minimalist interior can be visually dynamic in photographs, too.What are some of the most photogenic hotels in the world?There's no shortage of beautiful hotels in the world, whether you're looking for the classic Italian style of Villa d'Este on Lake Como, the over-the-top safari lodge Ol Jogi in Kenya's Laikipia region, or the futuristic ME by Meliá Dubai, designed by Zaha Hadid. How we selected the most Instagrammable hotels in the US As a travel writer who focuses on architecture and design, I determined that every hotel has photo-worthy design elements, whether in the guest rooms, public spaces, or exterior areas.Each property on the list is highly rated on traveler review sites like TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Expedia.High-design hotels range greatly in budget. We've selected properties from each end of the spectrum; they cost anywhere from $95 to $$3,500 per night.Tastes vary, so we've picked a selection of decor styles. There's everything from kitschy-themed suites to magazine-worthy interior design.While COVID-19 policies vary from state to state, these hotels still have strict health and safety policies in place to protect both guests and staff. More photogenic hotels The Setai Miami Beach The best luxury hotels in the USThe best themed hotel suites for familiesThe best bucket-list Airbnbs in the US Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 21st, 2021

Oil Markets Could Face A Doomsday Scenario This Week

Oil Markets Could Face A Doomsday Scenario This Week Authored by Cyril Widdershoven via Oilprice.com, Expect lots of oil price volatility in the coming months as markets finally discover just how much spare capacity OPEC members really have. Oil production outages in Libya and the continued impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are going to push oil prices higher if new supply isn’t found. While some analysts are predicting oil demand destruction in the near future, there is little evidence to back up those claims. Global oil markets are going to be very volatile in the coming months if news emerging from OPEC’s main producers about production capacity constraints turns out to be true. OPEC will be meeting again in the coming days to discuss its export agreements, while today the oil group is presenting its Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB) 2022. While the media is likely to be focused on rumors in the next 24 hours of a possible change in the export strategy of OPEC+, the real focus should be on whether or not the oil cartel is even capable of substantially increasing its production.  For years, OPEC producers have been the main swing producers in oil markets. With a presumed spare capacity of more than 3-4 million bpd, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have always been seen as a point of last resort in case of a major crisis in oil and gas markets. During the former global oil glut, it seemed nothing could threaten the oil market, even when major conflicts emerged in Libya, Iraq, or elsewhere. The re-opening of the global economy after COVID-19, however, has brought fear back into the market that leading oil producers, including the USA and Russia, are unable to supply adequate volumes to the market. OPEC kingpins Saudi Arabia and the UAE are now being looked upon to increase production to historically high levels and bring oil prices down. Russia’s war against Ukraine, removing a possible 4.4 million bpd of crude and products in the coming months, has thrown this spare capacity problem into sharp relief.  This week, a possible doomsday scenario could emerge in oil markets, based not only on OPEC+ export strategies but also due to increased internal turmoil in Libya, Iraq, and Ecuador. Possible other political and economic turmoil is also brewing in other producers, while US shale is still not showing any signs of a substantial production increase in the coming months.  Global oil markets have long believed that OPEC has enough spare production capacity to stabilize markets, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE just needing to open their taps. There is ,however, no real evidence to suggest that OPEC has increased production capacity in place in the short term. A research note by Commonwealth Bank commodities analyst Tobin Gorey already noted that OPEC’s two leaders are producing at near-term capacity limits. At the same time, UAE Minister of Energy Suhail Al Mazrouei put even more pressure on oil prices as he stated that the UAE is producing near-maximum capacity based on its quota of 3.168 million barrels per day (bpd) under the agreement with OPEC and its allies. That comment could still indicate that there is some spare capacity left in Abu Dhabi, but the remarks were made after French President Emmanuel Macron had stated to US president Biden during the G7 meeting that not only is the UAE producing at maximum production capacity, but also that Saudi Arabia only has another 150,000 bpd of spare capacity available.  Macron stated that UAE’s president Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) told him that the UAE is at maximum production capacity while claiming that Saudi Arabia can increase production by another 150,000 bpd. Macron also claimed that Saudi Arabia won’t have a huge additional capacity within the coming six months. The official figures for both OPEC producers counter this narrative, however. Saudi Arabia is producing at 10.5 million bpd, with official capacity between 12-12.5 million bpd. The UAE is producing around 3 million bpd, claiming to have a capacity of 3.4 million bpd. The two countries’ spare production is still officially slated to be around 3.9 million bpd combined. Most analysts, however, have been questioning these figures for years.  Looking at OPEC+'s own production targets, the group has not been producing at agreed levels for months. At the Middle East and North Africa-Europe Future Energy Dialogue in Jordan, UAE’s Al Mazrouei said that OPEC+ was running 2.6 million barrels a day short of its production target. That means a potential shortage in the market, which could increase even further if internal turmoil causes further production decreases. For July-August, OPEC+ agreed to increase output by another 648,000 bpd, which would mean that the total output cut during COVID-19 pandemic of 5.8 million bpd has been restored. Whether or not OPEC+ is able to reach that level in the coming weeks remains very uncertain.  Pressure will build in the coming days, as Al Mazrouei’s remarks seem to rebuke claims of a spare capacity shortage, but as always “where there is smoke, there is a fire”.  A possible spare production capacity shortage, or non-availability at all, combined with an expected force majeure of Libya’s NOC in the Gulf of Sirte, and a suspension of Ecuador’s oil output (520,000 bpd) in the coming days due to anti-government protests, are likely to lead to an oil price spike.  There is still some optimism in markets about a real demand-supply crunch, as high inflation levels and a possible global economic slowdown could lead to lower demand. Until now, however, that optimism has not materialized at all, demand is still increasing, even though gasoline and diesel prices are breaking historical price levels. The re-opening of the Chinese economy, a natural gas shortage globally, and higher temperatures in the coming weeks, combined with the normal peak in demand due to the US and EU driving season, all look set to push oil prices higher. OPEC’s future is at stake if spare production capacity really has run out. For years, analysts (including myself) have been warning about a lack of investment in upstream worldwide. That has already led to lower production capacity of independent oil companies, such as most IOCs, and for national oil companies, the situation appears to be similar. Even though Saudi Aramco, ADNOC, and some others, have been keeping their upstream (and downstream) investments level during the last decade (even during COVID), other main OPEC producers have seen dwindling investment budgets or even full-scale crises. Most OPEC producers could increase their overall production still, but only for a limited period of time. Where most spare production capacity is short-term based, partly to avoid damaging reserves in the long run, the current oil crisis is a much more prolonged long-term issue. Western sanctions on Russia, combined with existing sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, will hurt markets for years to come.  There is no quick-fix solution to the current oil market crisis, even the lifting of sanctions on Venezuela or Iran will not result in substantial volume increases. At the same time, increased Western political interference in the already struggling market will hit volumes too. The growing call in the USA, UK, and EU, to put a windfall tax on oil and gas companies will not only constrain further investments in upstream but will also lead to higher prices at the pump. Consumers are not going to feel any positive price effects and can expect steadily increasing energy bills in the coming months.  No statements made by OPEC in the coming two days are going to be able to remove the worries in the market. OPEC’s future depends fully on its power to stabilize markets. At present, there appear to be no options available to the cartel. Without new oil production hitting markets soon, OPEC leaders MBZ and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman need to try to maintain the illusion of spare capacity. If spare production capacity is revealed to be under 1.5-2 million bpd, the future of both OPEC and oil markets would be bleak. Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 14:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge19 hr. 4 min. ago

I live and work out of Airbnbs in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and it"s paradise — here"s how I stay productive while still feeling like I"m on vacation

Meagan Drillinger's Airbnb in Puerto Vallarta has a rooftop pool and she's able to do her job "seamlessly" from an open-air Starbucks near the beach. The author is staying in an Airbnb with a rooftop pool in the quiet neighborhood of Versailles, Puerto Vallarta.Meagan Drillinger Meagan Drillinger has worked remotely from all over the world and says Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is her top choice. It's a beautiful, relaxed beach destination and modern international city all in one, with plenty of coworking spots. She keeps up a super productive, "semi-normal routine" — all while feeling like she's on vacation. One of the biggest perks of freelance work is that it can be done from anywhere, so when I left my desk job in 2014, I made it a point to pick up and work from all over the world wherever I could. I've worked from Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Colombia, Ireland, Italy, and, most extensively, Mexico. Of all the countries I've tried, it's Mexico that I find to be a remote worker's paradise — particularly the city of Puerto Vallarta.Puerto Vallarta blends the cosmopolitan with escapism I first started visiting the city in 2013, and it's since become a second home. I even met my now-husband there (on Tinder, believe it or not). A far-cry from the sleepy beach town it used to be, you can go so far as to call Puerto Vallarta a full-fledged city these days, thanks to all the hotels, Airbnbs, restaurants, infrastructure, shopping malls, coffee shops — you get the idea. But even though it's fully connected and modern in its own right, Puerto Vallarta is still very much a coastal Mexican town with all of the charm, history, and quirks that come with a tropical paradise. An example: After a day of work, I stroll down the Malecon (boardwalk) past an ever-changing rotation of public art toward El Solar, a cash-only beachfront bar with a relaxing soundtrack and a menu of succulent ceviche, fresh tacos, and frosty drinks. I usually go here for happy hour by myself after a long day to unwind, toes in the sand — and it sure beats my 9-to-5 desk job routine in my previous New York City life.Meagan Drillinger.Meagan DrillingerI've been able to do my job seamlesslyWifi is very fast and reliable in Puerto Vallarta, and it's free in most restaurants, bars, Airbnbs, and hotels. Unlike other more remote parts of the world, where the wifi can drop unexpectedly, you rarely have that problem here.The city's also teeming with coffee shops and coworking spaces, most of which offer air conditioning, lockers for storage, private meeting rooms, and phone booths. Vallarta Cowork is one of the best in the area.But as a creature of habit, I prefer working from a Starbucks on the Malecon and affectionately refer to it as "my office." It has outdoor tables under a covered awning, a picture-perfect view of the Bay of Banderas, and great people-watching. The WiFi is fast (and free) and they never kick me out, even if I sit there long after the ice from my cold brew has melted, which I often do.Drillinger affectionately refers to a Starbucks on the boardwalk as her office: "There's something about this spot that keeps me super focused and productive."Meagan DrillingerAround me is a constant rotation of people on their laptops, taking calls, or simply breezing in and out on their way to the beach. There's something about this spot that keeps me super focused and productive; I get more done in four hours at Starbucks than I do in an entire day in a beautiful Airbnb. I'm able to structure my days in a way I love Puerto Vallarta is a very easy city in which to adopt a semi-normal routine, while still feeling like you're on vacation. I'm a member of Anytime Fitness, a 24-hour gym with more than 4,000 locations around the world that costs about $50 a month (less if you buy six months at a time). The one in Puerto Vallarta is on the second floor of the Plaza Caracol mall. It's spacious, with strong AC and brand-new equipment. I go around 9 a.m. and frequently have the place to myself.The city does not lack grocery stores, either, from Walmart and Costco to more local (yet similar to Walmart) chains like Soriana or Chedraui. You can even find gourmet supermarkets like La Europea, which has high-end imports from France and Italy. I'll do a big shop at Soriana (since it's right underneath the Anytime Fitness) and will spend about $75 for two people for a week's worth of groceries.I often book an Airbnb so that I can cook most of my meals, but of course there are many restaurant options around the city. Prices now are a lot higher than in previous years, but you can still get a night out for four people at nice restaurant with two bottles of wine for less than $200, so it's cheaper than cities like New York City or Los Angeles.My work-life balance is never better than when I'm hereWhat I wanted most when I went freelance for the first time was a better work-life balance, and living in Puerto Vallarta allows for that beautifully. The surrounding mountains are veined with hiking trails and picturesque waterfalls. One of my favorite things to do is to grab the bus from the Zona Romantica and head south to the small fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan. There's a mountain hike here that runs along the coastline and weaves in and out of coves and secluded beaches, opening up to one of the most beautiful restaurants in the area, Casitas Maraika."What I wanted most when I went freelance for the first time was a better work-life balance, and living in Puerto Vallarta allows for that beautifully," Drillinger writes.Meagan DrillingerMy husband and I have also taken to driving our motorcycle up and down the coast of Nayarit, popping into the smaller beach towns that remind us of what Puerto Vallarta used to be like when we first started visiting.There are several great neighborhoods for a remote worker to liveI'm staying in an area called Versailles right now, and going forward, this is where I'll always stay. It's a quiet residential neighborhood with charming cobblestone streets and a mix of historic architecture and modern condo-style apartments. Our two-bedroom, two-bathroom Airbnb has a rooftop pool deck, full kitchen, and washer/dryer and costs roughly $70 per night (but can change depending on the season). We've been here a month, and will likely return for another month and a half in the fall.While we're walking distance to several grocery stores and shopping malls, it would require a taxi or a bus to get to the energy of downtown or a 15-minute walk to the beach. Remote workers who are newer to Puerto Vallarta might do better in either the 5 de Diciembre neighborhood, which is packed with restaurants, bars, and coffee shops; Centro, a busier and more historical neighborhood that can get noisy at night; or Zona Romantica, the oldest and most visually stunning neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta (that's also the main tourist section of the city, so expect prices to be a little higher). I've stayed in all three and had great experiences. San Pancho, one of the small beach towns along the Nayarit coast that the author and her husband visit.Meagan DrillingerOf course, there are a few downsidesFor one, Puerto Vallarta does not have the most beautiful beaches in Mexico; to find those, you'll have to venture outside of the city along the southern Costalegre or up north into Riviera Nayarit. Second, it's a city that's teeming with both domestic and international tourists and there's no way to get around that — though it's unique to see how well the tourists and residents intermix with each other. What makes Puerto Vallarta such an appealing spot for remote work is that while it's a beach destination, it has blossomed into such an international city that it can give people the best of both worlds. As long as I'm able to work remotely, I will always find a reason to come to Puerto Vallarta at least once a year. I'm not saying we are starting to look at real estate yet, but it certainly has been a conversation.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider20 hr. 20 min. ago

Escobar: Behind The Tin Curtain - BRICS+ Vs NATO/G7

Escobar: Behind The Tin Curtain - BRICS+ Vs NATO/G7 Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Cradle, The west is nostalgically caught up with outdated 'containment' policies, this time against Global South integration. Unfortunately for them, the rest of the world is moving on, together. Once upon a time, there existed an Iron Curtain which divided the continent of Europe. Coined by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the term was in reference to the then-Soviet Union’s efforts to create a physical and ideological boundary with the west. The latter, for its part, pursued a policy of containment against the spread and influence of communism. Fast forward to the contemporary era of techno-feudalism, and there now exists what should be called a Tin Curtain, fabricated by the fearful, clueless, collective west, via G7 and NATO: this time, to essentially contain the integration of the Global South. BRICS against G7 The most recent and significant example of this integration has been the coming out of BRICS+ at last week’s online summit hosted by Beijing. This went far beyond establishing the lineaments of a ‘new G8,’ let alone an alternative to the G7. Just look at the interlocutors of the five historical BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa): we find a microcosm of the Global South, encompassing Southeast Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, Africa and South America – truly putting the “Global” in the Global South. Revealingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clear messages during the Beijing summit, in sharp contrast to G7 propaganda, were actually addressed to the whole Global South: Russia will fulfill its obligations to supply energy and fertilizers. Russia expects a good grain harvest – and to supply up to 50 million tons to world markets. Russia will ensure passage of grain ships into international waters even as Kiev mined Ukrainian ports. The negative situation on Ukrainian grain is artificially inflated. The sharp increase in inflation around the world is the result of the irresponsibility of G7 countries, not Operation Z in Ukraine. The imbalance of world relations has been brewing for a long time and has become an inevitable result of the erosion of international law. An alternative system Putin also directly addressed one of the key themes that the BRICS have been discussing in depth since the 2000s — the design and implementation of an international reserve currency. “The Russian Financial Messaging System is open for connection with banks of the BRICS countries.” “The Russian MIR payment system is expanding its presence. We are exploring the possibility of creating an international reserve currency based on the basket of BRICS currencies,” the Russian leader said. This is inevitable after the hysterical western sanctions post-Operation Z; the total de-dollarization imposed upon Moscow; and increasing trade between BRICS nations. For instance, by 2030, a quarter of the planet’s oil demand will come from China and India, with Russia as the major supplier. The “RIC” in BRICS simply cannot risk being locked out of a G7-dominated financial system. Even tightrope-walking India is starting to catch the drift. Who speaks for the ‘international community?’ At its current stage, BRICS represent 40 percent of world population, 25 percent of the global economy, 18 percent of world trade, and contribute over 50 percent for world economic growth. All indicators are on the way up. Sergey Storchak, CEO of Russian bank VEG, framed it quite diplomatically: “If the voices of emerging markets are not being heard in the coming years, we need to think very seriously about setting up a parallel regional system, or maybe a global system.” A “parallel regional system” is already being actively discussed between the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and China, coordinated by Minister of Integration and Macroeconomics Sergey Glazyev, who has recently authored a stunning manifesto amplifying his ideas about world economic sovereignty. Developing the ‘developing world’ What happens in the trans-Eurasian financial front will proceed in parallel with a so far little known Chinese development strategy: the Global Development Initiative (GDI), announced by President Xi Jinping at the UN General Assembly last year. GDI can be seen as a support mechanism of the overarching strategy – which remains the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), consisting of economic corridors interlinking Eurasia all the way to its western peninsula, Europe. At the High-level Dialogue on Global Development, part of the BRICS summit, the Global South learned a little more about the GDI, an organization set up in 2015. In a nutshell, the GDI aims to turbo-charge international development cooperation by supplementing financing to a plethora of bodies, for instance the South-South Cooperation Fund, the International Development Association (IDA), the Asian Development Fund (ADF), and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Priorities include “poverty reduction, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines,” industrialization, and digital infrastructure. Subsequently, a Friends of the GDI group was established in early 2022 and has already attracted over 50 nations. BRI and GDI should be advancing in tandem, even as Xi himself made it clear during the BRICS summit that “some countries are politicizing and marginalizing the developmental agenda by building up walls and slapping crippling sanctions on others.” Then again, sustainable development is not exactly the G7’s cup of tea, much less NATO’s. Seven against the world The avowed top aim of the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau at the Bavarian Alps is to “project unity” – as in the stalwarts of the collective west (Japan included) united in sustainable and indefinite “support” for the irretrievably failed Ukrainian state. That’s part of the “struggle against Putin’s imperialism,” but then there’s also “the fight against hunger and poverty, health crisis and climate change,” as German chancellor Scholz told the Bundestag. In Bavaria, Scholz pushed for a Marshall Plan for Ukraine – a ludicrous concept considering Kiev and its environs might as well be reduced to a puny rump state by the end of 2022. The notion that the G7 may work to “prevent a catastrophic famine,” according to Scholz, reaches a paroxysm of ludicrousness, as the looming famine is a direct consequence of the G7-imposed sanctions hysteria. The fact that Berlin invited India, Indonesia, South Africa and Senegal as add-ons to the G7, served as additional comic relief. The Tin Curtain is up It would be futile to expect from the astonishing collection of mediocrities “united” in Bavaria, under de facto leader of the European Commission (EC), Fuehrer Ursula von der Leyen, any substantial analysis about the breakdown of global supply chains and the reasons that forced Moscow to reduce gas flows to Europe. Instead, they blamed Putin and Xi. Welcome to the Tin Curtain – a 21st century reinvention of the Intermarium from the Baltic to the Black Sea, masterminded by the Empire of Lies, complete with western Ukraine absorbed by Poland, the Three Baltic Midgets: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Czechia and even NATO-aspiring Sweden and Finland, all of whom will be protected from “the Russian threat.” An EU out of control The role of the EU, lording over Germany, France and Italy inside the G7 is particularly instructive, especially now that Britain is back to the status of an inconsequential island-state. As many as 60 European ‘directives’ are issued every year. They must be imperatively transposed into internal law of each EU member-state. In most cases, there’s no debate whatsoever. Then there are more than 10,000 European ‘rulings,’ where ‘experts’ at the European Commission (EC) in Brussels issue ‘recommendations’ to every government, straight out of the neoliberal canon, regarding their expenses, their income and ‘reforms’ (on health care, education, pensions) that must be obeyed. Thus elections in every single EU member-nation are absolutely meaningless. Heads of national governments – Macron, Scholz, Draghi – are mere executants. No democratic debate is allowed: ‘democracy,’ as with ‘EU values,’ are nothing than smokescreens. The real government is exercised by a bunch of apparatchiks chosen by compromise between executive powers, acting in a supremely opaque manner. The EC is totally outside of any sort of control. That’s how a stunning mediocrity like Ursula von der Leyen – previously the worst Minister of Defense of modern Germany – was catapulted upwards to become the current EC Fuhrer, dictating their foreign, energy and even economic policy. What do they stand for? From the perspective of the west, the Tin Curtain, for all its ominous Cold War 2.0 overtones, is merely a starter before the main course: hardcore confrontation across Asia-Pacific – renamed “Indo-Pacific” – a carbon copy of the Ukraine racket designed to contain China’s BRI and GDI. As a countercoup, it’s enlightening to observe how the Chinese foreign ministry now highlights in detail the contrast between BRICS – and BRICS+ – and the imperial AUKUS/Quad/IPEF combo. BRICS stand for de facto multilateralism; focus on global development; cooperation for economic recovery; and improving global governance. The US-concocted racket on the other hand, stands for Cold War mentality; exploiting developing countries; ganging up to contain China; and an America-first policy that enshrines the monopolistic “rules-based international order.” It would be misguided to expect those G7 luminaries gathered in Bavaria to understand the absurdity of imposing a price cap on Russian oil and gas exports, for instance. Were that to really happen, Moscow will have no problems fully cutting energy supply to the G7. And if other nations are excluded, the price of the oil and gas they import would drastically increase. BRICS paving the way forward So no wonder the future is ominous. In a stunning interview to Belarus state TV, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov summarized how “the west fears honest competition.” Hence, the apex of cancel culture, and “suppression of everything that contradicts in some way the neoliberal vision and arrangement of the world.” Lavrov also summarized the roadmap ahead, for the benefit of the whole Global South: “We don’t need a new G8. We already have structures…primarily in Eurasia. The EAEU is actively promoting integration processes with the PRC, aligning China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian integration plans. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are taking a close look at these plans. A number of them are signing free trade zone agreements with the EAEU. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is also part of these processes… There is one more structure beyond the geographic borders of Eurasia.” “It is BRICS. This association is relying less and less on the Western style of doing business, and on Western rules for international currency, financial and trade institutions. They prefer more equitable methods that do not make any processes depend on the dominant role of the dollar or some other currency. The G20 fully represents BRICS and five more countries that share the positions of BRICS, while the G7 and its supporters are on the other side of the barricades.” ... “This is a serious balance. The G20 may deteriorate if the West uses it for fanning up confrontation. The structures I mentioned (SCO, BRICS, ASEAN, EAEU and CIS) rely on consensus, mutual respect and a balance of interests, rather than a demand to accept unipolar world realities.” Tin Curtain? More like Torn Curtain. Tyler Durden Wed, 06/29/2022 - 00:05.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 29th, 2022

"A Dire Warning For Democrats": Over 1 Million Voters Switch To GOP Over The Last Year

'A Dire Warning For Democrats': Over 1 Million Voters Switch To GOP Over The Last Year The Republican Party has been picking up support over the past year, as more than 1 million voters across 43 states switched to the GOP, according to voter registration data analyzed by the Associated Press. More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump. -AP Democrats, meanwhile, picked up just 630,000 new voters in the analysis of 1.7 million voters who had switched affiliations over the last 12 months. The data, which was provided by political data firm L2, used a combination of state voter records and statistical modeling. "While party switching is not uncommon, the data shows a definite reversal from the period while Trump was in office, when Democrats enjoyed a slight edge in the number of party switchers nationwide," reads the report. The data points to a red wave brewing ahead of this fall's midterms, according to Axios. The most damaging aspect of this shift to Democrats? The suburbs. According to the report, 'well-educated swing voters who turned against Trump's Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back." Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; and Des Moines, Iowa. -AP More notables about the report via Axios: The party switches were evident across the board — in red states and blue states, cities and small towns and suburban areas, AP found. Of the nearly 1.7 million voters who changed parties in states with available data over the last year, some two-thirds went to the GOP. "Biden and Democrats are woefully out of touch with the American people, and that's why voters are flocking to the Republican Party in droves," RNC chair Ronna McDaniel told the AP. Between the lines: One outlier was in Virginia, where Democrats saw an uptick in registered voters. "It’s more so a rejection of the left than embracing the right," according to 37-year-old Ben Smith of Larimer County, Colorado, who says he reluctantly left the Democratic party over the last year after becoming concerned about his former party's push for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the party's inability to tame crime while focusing on racial justice. AP called it a "dire warning for Democrats" who are already dealing with the macro effects of the economy reflecting in the polls this fall during midterms. What's to blame? According to the report, suburban parents grew 'increasingly frustrated' over the prolonged pandemic-related school closures, while the RNC began hosting voter registration events at gas stations in suburban locations within swing states, such as Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. "Biden and Democrats are woefully out of touch with the American people, and that’s why voters are flocking to the Republican Party in droves," said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel. "American suburbs will trend red for cycles to come" thanks to "Biden’s gas hike, the open border crisis, baby formula shortage and rising crime." Over the last year, nearly every state — even those without high-profile Republican primaries — moved in the same direction as voters by the thousand became Republicans. Only Virginia, which held off-year elections in 2021, saw Democrats notably trending up over the last year. But even there, Democrats were wiped out in last fall’s statewide elections. In Iowa, Democrats used to hold the advantage in party changers by a 2-to-1 margin. That’s flipped over the last year, with Republicans ahead by a similar amount. The same dramatic shift is playing out in Ohio. In Florida, Republicans captured 58 percent of party switchers during those last years of the Trump era. Now, over the last year, they command 70 percent. And in Pennsylvania, the Republicans went from 58 to 63 percent of party changers. -AP To understand more about why disaffected Democrats have left their party (aside from the overwhelming obvious), click here. Tyler Durden Mon, 06/27/2022 - 21:35.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 27th, 2022

The MOST expensive homes for sale in every US state - from a $3 million house in Nebraska to a $225 million megamansion in California

Look through photos of the most expensive homes listed for sale in the US. From acres of farmland to beachfront views, the amenities are endless. Randall RealtorsReal estate is becoming increasingly more expensive - and more difficult - for the average American to comfortably afford. Each of these million-dollar homes offers unique amenities for their hefty price tags. From private islands, to a hunter's paradise, there's something for everyone. It's becoming more difficult to buy a home, and these residences show the cost of luxury. According to online real estate marketplace Point2Homes, these 51 homes are the most expensive in their respective states. The properties range from single-family houses to gated compounds on acres of land.Alabama: 2510 Kirby Bridge Road, Decatur - $12.3 millionParker Real Estate Res.LLCThis gated compound is nearly 200 acres of secluded land with a stocked pond for fishing. The house itself is a custom 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom that offers an abundance of privacy for outdoorsmen.Alaska: 5260 Kachemak Drive, Homer - $9 millionLarner Global GroupWith 17,000 square feet of living space, this Alaskan home offers a spa, indoor pool, and steam room. It includes eight custom suites with unique features in each room and a 270-degree conservatory with a telescope for viewing Alaska's wildlife. Arizona: 20958 N 112th Street, Scottsdale - $28 millionEngel & Voelkers ScottsdaleCalled "The Aerie," this seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom home was just built this year. It's nestled in the McDowell Mountains and boasts sweeping views of the valley below. Arkansas: 115 West Van Buren, Eureka Springs - $7 millionAll Seasons Real EstateThe Queen Anne Mansion Estate was built in 1891 with seven master suites complete with en-suite bathrooms. The 4-acre lot includes a total of 10 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms.California: 33550 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu - $225 millionWestside Estate AgencyWith 16 beds and 22 baths, this property overlooking the Pacific Ocean covers nearly five acres and features nine structures, including a beach cottages, guest houses, and more. It has an underground tunnel connecting the pool to a movie theater, and an elevator to take guests to the beach.At $225 million, it's not only the priciest home for sale in California, but also the most expensive one for sale in the US. Colorado: 1650 McLain Flats Road, Aspen - $55 millionAspen Snowmass Sotheby's International RealtyThis bucolic compound, called the "Merry Go Ranch," includes 21 acres of lawns and pastures, as well as an eight-stall barn and a 13,000-square-foot gym.Connecticut: 450 Brickyard Road, Woodstock - $60 millionRandall RealtorsEver wanted to live in a castle? Here's your chance. This distinctive property features a moat, towers rising 120 feet high, period architectural doors, and stained glass throughout the castle, which overlooks a 30-acre pond.Delaware: 21440 Bald Eagle, Rehoboth Beach - $4.85 millionJohn Rowley with CoastLine RealtyBuilt in 1993, this Delaware home offers over four acres on Rehoboth Bay with four bedrooms and three full bathrooms. If that's not enough, there's a carriage house over the 3-car garage for extra living quarters.Florida: 18 La Gorce Circle, Miami Beach - $170 millionCourtesy of 1 Oak Studios/The Jills Zeder GroupThis massive compound, built in 1936 has never been put on the market until now. It sits on a 125,000-square-foot lot. It's compromised of four gated properties, and comes with its own private park, not to mention views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline. Georgia: 120 Hawkins Lane, Saint Simons Island - $17.8 millionRandy Burgess with Burnett PropertiesFor just under $18 million, Little Hawkins Island is a gated family compound surrounded by greenery and marsh. This private island includes four residential buildings: the main residence, two guest cottages, and the clubhouse for a total of 11,000 square feet.Hawaii: 9 Bay Drive, Lahaina - $59.5 millionCourtesy of Coldwell Banker Island PropertiesThis home's buyer would enjoy clear views of the sunset year-round on these 10 oceanfront acres on Hawea Point. Idaho: 105 Camas Road, Ketchum - $19.75 millionCourtesy of Sue Engelmann with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sun Valley PropertiesThis lodge-style residence sits on nearly 300 acres of Idaho land with views of Bald Mountain. With five bedrooms and six bathrooms, the secluded home is "one of Idaho's most exclusive legacy properties," according to the listing.Illinois: 1932 N. Burling St., Chicago - $45 millionJameson Sotheby's International RealtyThis 25,000-square-foot estate in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood has amenities like a reflecting pool and antique garden pavilion.Indiana: 10285 West Youth Camp Road, Columbus - $30 millionBrock Childs with The Home AestheticVisitors to this rustic home on 415 wooded acres will find a two-story waterfall and trout stream in its entryway, and an 8,700-gallon freshwater aquarium in its great room.Iowa: 16216 and 1615 IA-86, Spirit Lake - $11.9 millionEric Hoien of Hoein RealtyThis residence is more like a lakeside retreat complete with an Irish pub, movie theatre, art studio, and separate loft apartment. There are a total of eight bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, and six fireplaces, and the home is being sold completely furnished.Kansas: 1051 N Blackstone Road, Milton - $6.7 millionAdler Grey Real Estate Media CollectiveThis net-zero energy home comes fully furnished including farming equipment for the 89 acres of land that comes along with the house. According to the listing, the residence is self-sustaining with a solar power system, generators, and propane gas. On this property, there's space dedicated to horses, spring-fed ponds, and a 300-yard shooting range. Inside the nearly 7,000-square-foot main home, there are six bedrooms and seven bathrooms, and a wet bar that's more like a second kitchen.Kentucky: 30 Bass Court, Whitesville - $25 millioneXp RealtyThis western Kentucky compound comes with three homes, a large private lake, and income-producing crop land on-site.Louisiana: 11001 Highland Road, Baton Rouge - $14 millionQuita CutrerLocated in the capital city, Baton Rouge, this over-12-acre property has a Mediterranean flare. Each of the five bedrooms has its own bathroom, and access to one of the various sitting rooms. In this home, there are many places to relax: a breakfast room, coffee bar, media room, and massage room.Outside of the main house, there's a 4,800-square-foot guest house with its own 3-car garage and a fully stocked pond for fishing. For outdoor entertainment, a 1,429-square-foot cabana, saltwater pool, and outdoor kitchen.Maine: 153 Foreside Road, Falmouth - $10.5 millionDavid Jones with F.O. Bailey Real EstateThis oceanfront property underwent a full renovation in 2021 to become a one-of-a-kind estate. There are three separate dwellings for guests, staff, or rentals, and the main residence features at least four bedrooms and seven full bathrooms. Although the water is just steps away outside, there's a deepwater diving pool and whirlpool jacuzzi indoors. Maryland: 1604 Winchester Road, Annapolis - $24.9 millionTTR Sotheby's International RealtyBuilt in 1922, this property overlooking the Severn River in Maryland has changed ownership many times - at one point belonging to the Catholic Church as a friary, from which it gets its current name, Friary on the Severn. Its features include a rooftop garden, 60-foot infinity pool, and six-slip private boat dock.Massachusetts: 41 Jefferson Ave., Nantucket - $39 millionCourtesy of CompassThis Nantucket property was first developed as a private beach club in the 1930s. Today, it has a four-unit main beach house and two stand-alone cottages.Michigan: 1558 Dutton Road, Rochester - $11.5 millionVito Anthony HomesThis 22-acre residence was custom built to showcase European craftsmanship by architect Dominick Tringali. It features seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a home theater, full bar, and two guest homes.Minnesota: 36463 Butternut Point Road, Pequot Lakes - $12 millionLarson Group Real Estate, Keller Williams Realty Professionals.Built on a peninsula on Whitefish Lake, this 3-acre home has 2,000 feet of shoreline, and six log guest houses. In total, there are 19 bedrooms and 22 bathrooms.Mississippi: 205 S Valley Road, Poplarville - $12.25 millionAdam Hester with Tom Smith Land & HomesThis property offers over 2,000 acres dedicated to outdoor activities. The owner can enjoy the whitetail deer enclosure, trophy bass fishing, and duck hunting without leaving home. Cross Creek Farm is custom-built 6,200-square-foot home with six bedrooms and six full bathrooms.Missouri: 2608 & 2606 Arrowhead Estates Road, Village of Four Seasons - $9.99 millionSpencer with EXP Realty, LLCThis family compound is in the heart of Lake Ozark. Inside the gates, there's a 3-story main house, two-bedroom two-bathroom guest house, two pools, a putting green, and a tennis court. The main house is complete with 130 solar panels.Montana: 405 Delrey Road, Whitefish - $40 millionGlacier Sotheby's International RealtySpring-fed mountain ponds and streams dot the 35 acres on which this lakefront log home sits in Montana.Nebraska: 17426 Island Circle, Bennington, Douglas County - $3.75 millionMichael Maley with BHHS Ambassador Real EstateThis 4-bedroom 6-bathroom home was built in 2016 on over an acre of land with 250 of open water frontage.Nevada: 1730 Hwy 50, Glenbrook - $100 million1730 Us Highway 50, Glenbrook, NVGoogle/US Geological SurveyThe Wall Street Journal and Robb Report have published photos of this lakefront home, complete with features like a wine room with capacity for 2,500 bottles, a greenhouse, and a whopping 700 evergreen trees on the property.New Hampshire: 144 Springfield Point Road, Wolfeboro - $19.5 millionJamieson Duston Of Duston Leddy Real EstateNamed "Lakeside Manor" for its location along 841 feet of Lake Winnipesaukee's shore, this home has four levels and 37 rooms total. The amenities offered inside include a 900-bottle wine room, 15-seat theater, and a 30-foot natural stone fireplace.New Jersey: 48 Rio Vista Drive, Alpine - $25 millionChristie's International Real Estate Northern New JerseyThis chateau-style manor has its own movie theater, pub, and great room with a 37-foot-high arched cathedral ceiling.At $25 million, it ties with another estate for the title of most expensive home for sale in New Jersey...New Jersey: 275 Indian Trail Drive, Franklin Lakes - $25 millionCourtesy of Christie's International Real Estate Northern New JerseyThis 14,700-square-foot estate comes with indoor and outdoor pools, a wine tasting room, and a basketball court.New Mexico: Zorro Ranch, Stanley - $27.5 millionUS Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New YorkRoughly half an hour from Santa Fe, this ranch has a three-story, four-bedroom main house; a lodge and log cabin; and even a yurt. The sprawling property was formerly owned by the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who purchased it in 1993 and killed himself in jail in 2019. It has been on the market for about a year.New York: 700 Meadow Lane, Southampton - $175 millionBespoke Real EstateThis modern Tudor-style mansion in the Hamptons comes with 11 bedrooms, 12 full and four  half bathrooms, and a private boardwalk to the beach. North Carolina: 1 Auditorium Circle, Wrightsville Beach - $13 millionLandmark Sotheby's International RealtyThis modern home features four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a pool, spa, and a boathouse. According to the listing, its design was inspired by the tropical modernism of mid-century Hawaii.North Dakota: 14388 45th St. NW, Williston - $4.99 millionDarin Milbrath with Dakota Plains Realty, LLCThe River Ranch uniquely features two master suites — one on each level. It's situated on 1,879 acres of land with the possibility of farming available.Ohio: 2779 Som Center Road, Hunting Valley - $6.95 millionTerry Young with Keller Williams Greater MetropolitanThe home itself is over 17,000 square feet of castle-like design. Situated on over five acres, it includes five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a 12-seat theater, and a rooftop outlook to take in the views.Oklahoma: 3105 S Peoria Ave., Tulsa - $15 millionRob Allen with Sage Sotheby's RealtyThis 1925 mansion is in the heart of Tulsa on seven acres of heavily wooded land. The Patterson Estate consists of a main house, a guest house, and a tennis court. Oregon: 27280 NE Old Wolf Creek Road, Prineville - $65 millionCascade Hasson Sotheby's International RealtyThis ranch has a three-bedroom home, multiple cabins, and a six-stall horse barn. It's located in the foothills of central Oregon's Ochoco Mountains and borders 850,000 acres of national forest.Pennsylvania: 500-6 Walnut St., Unit 2500-2600, Philadelphia - $27 millionKurfiss Sotheby’s International RealtyThis 8,400-square-foot penthouse boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and is configured to allow for three large bedrooms, four full baths, and three half baths.Rhode Island: 2 Kidds Way, Westerly - $18.5 millionCourtesy of Lila Delman CompassThis open concept residence has been named Treasure Hill as it's situated at the second highest elevation on the Watch Hill peninsula. It features a heated saltwater pool, in-house fitness area with a sauna, and a wine tasting room.South Carolina: 133 Flyway Drive, Kiawah Island - $20 millionCelia Dunn Sotheby's International RealtyThis seaside estate comes with a private 400-foot driveway and a bridged walkway from the backyard to the beach.South Dakota: 13911 Cobb Road, Hermosa - $6.9 millionCourtesy of Jeff Garrett with Hayden Outdoors Real EstateThe Rafter R Ranch is nearly 500 acres. The 4,125-square-foot home was built in 2000 with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.Tennessee: 1304 Chickering Road, Nashville - $50 millionFridrich & Clark RealtyThe main home on this 59-acre estate has colonnaded porches at its front and back. The property also comes with a separate nine-acre building site.Texas: 12400 Cedar St., Lake Travis - $45 millionAustin Luxury GroupOne of the first things visitors will be greeted by at this waterfront estate/event space, called Villa Del Lago, is a grotto with multiple cascading waterfalls carved into the adjacent canyon hillside. Elsewhere on the property, they'll find a mudroom, private custom boathouse, and fenced pastures.Utah: 533 N Left Fork Hobble Creek Road, Springville - $48 millionCourtesy of Summit Sotheby's International RealtySeveral ponds dot Hobble Creek Ranch, which is well-suited for cattle and horses, and varies in elevation from 5,700 feet to over 9,100 feet.Vermont: 506 North Hill Road, Stowe - $16 millionPall Spera Company Realtors-StoweThis 68-acre estate has a helicopter landing site, a zipline, sunken hot tub, and a total of 11 bedrooms.Virginia: 700 Bulls Neck Road, McLean - $39 millionCourtesy of Townsend Visuals / TTR Sotheby's International RealtyThis estate overlooking the Potomac River has two garages, one of which can fit up to 22 cars, as well as a central lawn area designed to fit a large tent to accommodate more than 200 guests.Washington: 3858 Hunts Point Road, Hunts Point - $85 millionCourtesy of Windermere Real EstateBuilt in 1995, this compound on Lake Washington consists of four structures totaling more than 17,000 square feet of living space.West Virginia: 4428 Irish Heights Drive, Summersville - $19.5 millionColdwell Banker RealtyThe main residence overlooks over 100 acres of forest for an especially secluded experience. The wine cellar holds 3,000 bottles, and the primary suite has private access to an outdoor hot tub.Wisconsin: 9095 Cottage Row Rd, Fish Creek - $11.9 millionDiane Taillon with Arbor Crowne PropertiesThis 7-acre property is made up of a main house, guest house, and boathouse with rooftop entertainment deck. It offers 805 feet of shorefront in Fish Creek. Wyoming: 6160 W Lazy H Road, Wilson - $19.5 millionCompass Real EstateThis residence offers three separate living spaces and 50 acres with access to miles of National Forest. It comes with access to amenities like private fly fishing and trails for hiking and running.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJun 25th, 2022