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Why Are Searches For "Trailer Park Near Me" Erupting? 

Why Are Searches For 'Trailer Park Near Me' Erupting?  The eruption in Google searches for "RV lot near me" has hit a five-year high. The reason for the surge remains unclear but could be attributed to the worsening housing affordability crisis ushered in by the failure of 'Bidenomics.' Earlier this year, we noticed in several RV Industry Association's industry reports (read here) that new monthly shipments for "Park Model RVs," otherwise known as trailers, were outpacing last year's levels. None of this comes as a surprise, as the worst housing affordability crisis in a generation has killed the 'American Dream' for many folks.  The most vocal folks complaining about the era of unaffordability of everything have been Gen-Zers on the Chinese social media platform TikTok. These youngsters are experiencing voter regret after a president who could be their great-great-great grandfather pushed failed policies that have been nothing more than a financial disaster for them.  Millennials crying about life, rent, groceries. "and all we do, we record a video and post it on social media. Then we close up the app and go about our day." Do you have sympathy for their situation? Or do you want to tell them, "try voting differently next time." I sort of… pic.twitter.com/KEZ3rjxdxw — Wall Street Silver (@WallStreetSilv) October 12, 2023 They're also mad about owning nothing:  "The thing about being in Gen Z is that, generally, we quite literally own nothing," PJ Yancey told Bussiness Insider. He said, "We're not homeowners; we don't own a ranch, a vacation home, any kind of property at all. If we're living on our own, it's in someone else's house or apartment." So, the kid went out into the desert in California and bought a $200 plot of land.  @peejstead I love my dirt #offroad #crazy ♬ 3 Stars - Jair Archive The lesson youngsters need to learn is the government and central bank are responsible for your financial woes. And the search data plus mobile home industry data only confirms that Gen-Zer's standard of living has quickly deteriorated. Welcome to third-world style living.  Tyler Durden Fri, 12/01/2023 - 19:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 1st, 2023

I"ve traveled to all 50 US states. Here are 8 of the most unique places I"ve visited.

I've traveled to all 50 states and most US national parks. Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most unique places I've visited. After traveling to all 50 US states and nearly every national park, I've come across some truly unique locations.Emily HartI've traveled solo to all 50 states and nearly every US national park.Throughout my travels, I've come across many unique natural and man-made locations.A few of the unique places I've been include Yellowstone National Park and Biosphere 2 in Arizona.After traveling solo to all 50 states and nearly every US national park, it's rare that I find a place that still surprises me or feels genuinely unique. But when I do find a place that leaves me awestruck, I never forget it.These unique places are unlike anywhere else, either naturally or due to human influence.Although uniqueness is somewhat subjective, here are eight places I've found to be unforgettable and one of a kind.Yellowstone National Park is filled with unique natural wonders.Yellowstone's Grand Prismatic Spring is something travelers must see to believe.Emily HartIn my eyes, the first official US National Park is still one of the most unique places in the country.Yellowstone National Park, located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is known for being home to over 10,000 hydrothermal features.Visiting the park truly feels like stepping onto another planet.From the iconic Old Faithful geyser erupting roughly 20 times a day to colorful hot springs like Grand Prismatic and mud pots bubbling with otherworldly energy — it's a place travelers must see to believe.Arizona's Biosphere 2 is a unique man-made destination.Biosphere 2 is a three-acre research facility in Oracle, Arizona.Jason Finn/ShutterstockOracle, Arizona, isn't necessarily a unique destination in itself, but the manufactured structure that exists there is.Biosphere 2 is a three-acre closed-ecological system initially designed to study human life in an autonomous environment.Complete with a tropical rainforest, ocean, wetlands, grassland, and fog desert, Biosphere 2 is like a miniature version of Earth under a giant glass dome.The facility initially made headlines in the '90s with its two missions that saw crews living inside Biosphere 2 to study human survivability in a closed environment.Now focused on research, visitors can tour the facility and explore the biomes in an experience unlike any other.Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park is home to unique rock formations.Bryce Canyon National Park has the highest concentration of hoodoos in the world.Emily HartAlthough Utah has five major national parks, one stands out to me as the most distinct: Bryce Canyon National Park.This park is renowned for its hoodoos, which are tall, thin, rock formations sculpted by wind and water erosion over millions of years.But what makes Bryce Canyon genuinely unique is that it has the highest concentration of hoodoos in the world, creating a mesmerizing landscape unlike anywhere else I've visited.Assateague Island is home to gorgeous feral horses.A herd of feral horses roam freely on Assateague Island.Emily HartLocated along the Maryland and Virginia coasts, Assateague Island may seem like an average barrier island at first glance. However, there's something that makes it entirely unique — a herd of feral horses who roam freely over the island's dunes.According to legend, these beautiful horses are descended from Spanish horses who were shipwrecked centuries ago.Whether true or not, the horses are a breathtaking addition to the pristine, undeveloped ecosystem on Assateague Island.Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming is both beautiful and sacred.Devil's Tower is also known as Bear Lodge.Emily HartIt's astonishing to see Wyoming's Devils Tower (also known as Bear Lodge) come into view abruptly from the surrounding plains.As the first National Monument in the country, the tower is a mesmerizing spectacle that's also sacred to many Native American tribes.Measuring 867 feet from base to summit, Devils Tower feels both entirely out of place and perfectly situated in the stunning Black Hills of Wyoming.Chimayo, New Mexico, is home to a vibrant pilgrimage site.El Santuario de Chimayo is a National Historic Landmark in New Mexico.Emily HartAs a frequent visitor to Northern New Mexico, I could likely make the case that much of the state is unique compared to other US destinations. However, one place that stands out in particular is Chimayo, New Mexico.One of my favorite places to visit in the city is El Santuario de Chimayo. This Catholic church is a National Historic Landmark and a vibrant pilgrimage site that attracts about 300,000 visitors annually.At over 200 years old, it's unlike any place I've seen in the US. During Holy Week, pilgrims will walk for miles to reach the church and the dirt underneath, which is believed to be healing.The grounds are open for anyone to visit, with shops clustered around with art and artifacts.Joshua Tree National Park in California offers a unique combination of plants and wildlife.Hiking, bird watching, and stargazing are popular activities at Joshua Tree National Park.Emily HartAlthough Joshua trees can be found in other parts of the Mojave Desert, California's Joshua Tree National Park offers a truly unique combination of memorable succulents and rock formations.The park is the definition of otherwordly, offering a variety of plants and wildlife that make Joshua Tree one of a kind.Visitors can hike, bird watch, climb, or stargaze at this gem in the California desert.Visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado feels like stepping into another world.The Sangre de Cristo Mountains surround the towering dunes.Emily HartGreat Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado is home to North America's tallest sand dunes. Still, that alone isn't what makes this such a unique part of the country.The contrast between the towering dunes and the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains surrounding them turns an otherwise beautiful natural wonder into a complete otherworldly gem.Visitors can hike or sled on the dunes for an outdoor adventure like no other.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytFeb 16th, 2024

I"m a delivery driver and I get better tips from apartments than gated communities

A delivery driver in northwest Arkansas says she and other drivers try to avoid certain communities because of how little they tip. A delivery driver in Arkansas says she's noticed that customers in higher-income neighborhoods tend to tip less than those in lower-income apartments.Jonathan Ernst/ReutersA Walmart Spark driver in Rogers, Arkansas, has noticed a pattern when it comes to customer tipping.Deliveries to higher-income neighborhoods tend to leave smaller tips than lower-income areas, she told BI.She said tipping culture says a lot about how society values service workers' time.This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a driver in Rogers, Arkansas, who delivers primarily with Walmart Spark. She requested anonymity to avoid professional repercussions. Business Insider has verified her employment and identity. The story has been edited for length and clarity.I've been driving for Spark for about six months. I got laid off from my regular job in November, so I'm doing this until I get a new corporate gig. It has become my full-time, very stressful job until I can get hired somewhere new, but it's pretty slim pickings right now.I've worked in food service. I've waited tables, tended bar, and barbacked. I've worked for wedding-planning services and other service gigs for supplemental income to my corporate salary.Here in northwest Arkansas, I see a lot of income inequality, and one thing I've noticed while driving is a disparity in how different communities tip.Earlier this month, I delivered a heavy, multiple-trips-to-the-door load to a gated community that's 17 minutes from the store, and they tipped me $1.50.The next day, I brought a COVID test, a sub sandwich, two cartons of orange juice, and some hand sanitizer to an apartment complex, and I got tipped $10. Later that day, another customer at a nearby apartment tipped more than $12 on an $80 grocery order.I understand part of how rich people stay rich is that they don't give their money away, but when they use this service for convenience and tip poorly, it tells me that they don't see me as a person.They don't consider the humanity of the person who is driving to deliver their orders.They are of course 100% within their rights to make that order and tip as they see fit, but it just increases the dissatisfaction and hatred toward the upper class from working-class people.To be a member of the working poor — and to see that the rich really don't see you or your time as valuable — is very disheartening when you live in a place where there's a McMansion 15 to 20 yards away from a trailer park.There are two main supercenters in my area: Walmart store No. 5260, which is south of town on Pleasant Crossing Boulevard, and Walmart store No. 1, which is located in the middle of Rogers.Pleasant Crossing is near the rich part of town, while the Rogers store is located in the heart of old downtown Rogers, closer to the nursing homes and apartment complexes. It's not the worst part of town, but it's also not exactly the best.Even so, I'll try anything I can to stick to the store downtown, because I know I'm going to end up with better tips.It's the same thing when you talk to other types of delivery workers in the area. Whether they deliver pizzas or drive for DoorDash, they'll tell you the same thing: We'd rather stay close to the hood and near the bars, because we know we're going to get better tips.These experiences leave me disappointed, but not surprised.I grew up here, and I've experienced living at many economic levels in northwest Arkansas.Whether I was living with my parents when I was younger, working at a great-paying corporate gig, or being a single parent, I've had my share of financial ups and downs.There is a major disconnect in this country between how we value time based on our present position in society, and how we value other people's time based on their position.I'm not going to say those people living in the gated community don't deserve to be in that gated community. Whether it's by virtue of birth or hard work, they're there.But to forget what it's like to not live in that gated community — to forget or not even understand because you've had access to wealth for multiple generations — to not know what it's like to rely on tip income to survive and to protect and provide for your family is just disheartening to see.There needs to be a conversation about how people who are in positions of economic power view and value those who aren't — and how they rely on our labor.If you think I should be paid a fair wage and shouldn't rely on tips, don't use services that require me to not have a fair wage and to rely on tips.The only time I use DoorDash or Spark is when I can afford a reasonable tip. I know the drivers get paid a certain amount from the store, and whenever I tip, I assume I'm the only order they'll have for that hour.So I try to make sure they're making at least $15 an hour because they're letting me stay home and not put on hard pants.I think my time and their time are worth that $15, and that's why I think the tipping culture is different between those who have a lot and those who are just getting by.As somebody who has been a waitress, if you don't have money to tip, you don't have money to go out to eat.If you can't tip me to serve you a meal, you should probably pick up your order or go to a drive-thru.When asked for comment on this story, a Walmart spokesperson referred Business Insider to a prior statement on tipping."We understand tipping is an important part of the driver experience and are proud that most customers leave tips," the spokesperson said, adding that drivers retain 100% of customer tips. "We're continuously exploring new features and enhancements to give drivers the best possible experience."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 28th, 2024

They"re getting ready for the downfall of America. Just don"t call them preppers.

Inside an off-grid community of families in the Utah desert preparing for the collapse of America Residents of Riverbed Ranch are building their own small town from scratch. The goal? Survive if America collapses.Hokyoung Kim for BIAfter an hour of driving down winding dirt roads without cell reception, I caught up with the plume of dust billowing behind Jesse Fisher's pickup. We were headed for the same destination, the only one for miles in any direction: Riverbed Ranch, a burgeoning off-grid community in the high desert of western Utah.Riverbed isn't a commune or a typical farming community; it's a land cooperative made up of 135 shareholders with a single goal: living independently of modern mass-scale systems of production. "True wealth is how long you can survive without money," Fisher, one of the community's earliest members, said. He and Philip Gleason, the founder, agreed to show me around the property last July.In summer 2019, Fisher and 15 other households broke ground on the 1,245-acre property, beginning the long process of bringing their dream of a self-sustaining community to life. "During the pandemic, I had neighbors who were losing their homes due to unemployment," Fisher said. "I thought: 'This is really silly that we keep having this problem. Why don't we solve it?'" While this line of thinking was idealistic — the latest economic downturn actually slowed Riverbed's growth — today some 40 families live there full time.The stereotypical doomsday prepper — the paranoid fearmonger stocking bullets and canned goods in a bunker — is a fringe figure, but a growing number of Americans have gained interest in learning survival skills and preparing for disaster. Last April, the financial-services firm Finder found that the number of Americans who said they'd recently spent money on emergency preparedness jumped from 20% in 2020 to 29% in 2023. They spent an average of $150 on items such as nonperishable food, medical supplies, and cases of water. Today you can't turn on a streaming platform without catching recommendations for popular survivalist reality shows such as "Alone" or "Naked and Afraid," and on social media, homesteading and disaster-prepping influencers have amassed millions of followers across various platforms.Disaster preparedness is on the rise, in large part, because disasters are as well: from the supply-chain shortages caused by COVID-19 lockdowns to the climate crisis, from wars in Ukraine and Gaza to tech-driven loneliness, from runaway disinformation to intractable political polarization. More people are asking: Am I better off being hyperdependent on the global industrial economy? Would it be safer to grow my own food, store my own water, and not depend on complex systems I don't understand?The folks at Riverbed Ranch have answered these questions decisively, embracing a radical turn toward self-reliance and small-scale sustainability. But as I spoke with them, I couldn't help but think of all the people that their vision would leave behind.I met Gleason, the 73-year-old founder of Riverbed, at the community center — a sparsely furnished single-story building with a large, open space and a vintage "Star Trek" pinball machine tucked in the corner. He spoke in a soft, gravelly voice at odds with his firm handshake and tugboat stature. I noticed he was wearing an Apple Watch.The idea for Riverbed Ranch, he told me, began after a harrowing experience decades ago: He was a young father to three young daughters living in a rural trailer park near a worksite in Idaho when, during a harsh winter, the power went out in the middle of the night. "Our drinking water was frozen, the temperature was dropping rapidly, and we had no way to feed our babies," Gleason said. He suddenly realized the extent of his family's dependence on complex social, economic, and technological forces that he could not meaningfully control. "That experience rewired my brain," he said.Philip Gleason in front of his garden. He founded Riverbed Ranch after losing power during a winter storm. Jesse FisherFrom there, Gleason developed a yearslong obsession with how to become less dependent. He studied permaculture, stockpiled canned goods, and researched off-grid communities around the world. "I was feeling pretty good about what I had accomplished, and then I heard a little voice," he told me. "'What are you going to do if the problem lasts two weeks longer than the resources you have stockpiled?'" Riverbed Ranch became his answer. He and the initial group of shareholders split the cost of the property and began building.Gleason took me for a ride around the ranch in his pickup, pointing out landmarks, construction projects, and empty land with long-term aspirations. Each of Riverbed's shareholders gets a 2.5-acre plot that they agree to furnish with a modern septic system, a solar array for power, and infrastructure to grow food. As we drove past countless vegetable patches and at least one house made of hay bales, Gleason explained that residents ran an agricultural co-op where everyone could share the food they grew. The goal is to be able to grow enough food for everyone in town to live on in the event that outside resources become unavailable, but in practice, most residents still rely on external income to fund building projects as well as buy food and supplies from regular stores.If disaster strikes, the ranch is relatively well prepared: It has a medical clinic, a volunteer fire station, gas and diesel tanks, and a town store. Gleason also pointed out an impromptu gravel-mixing plant that one resident launched as a joint venture with the co-op. There's even a church belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints run by volunteers on-site (roughly 70% of the residents are members of the church, but that's more reflective of Utah's demographics than a religious agenda). There's no cell reception, but Elon Musk's Starlink blankets the area, allowing many residents to support themselves by working remotely. Until the apocalypse hits, most people still need to earn a living.Riverbed Ranch is deep in the Utah desert, untouched by physical utility grids. Andru BlonquistGleason likes doing things his own way, but in the interest of long-term stability, he has sought to maintain positive relationships with local county officials. Riverbed Ranch is 60 miles from the nearest post office and completely untouched by physical utility grids (residents are served by groundwater and private solar systems), but legal entities are appropriately registered, building codes are enforced, and tax dodgers are not welcome.Joining the community is not as simple as purchasing a plot of land — residents are interviewed and vetted by elected board members for their level of commitment to the endeavor, relevant skills, and reliability. "The main thing that we look for are people who have integrity," Gleason said. "One of the most important things is that when somebody says they're going to do something, they believe they're going to do it." Once approved, shareholders spend $35,000 to receive water rights, a plot, and access to communal facilities. They also earn the right to vote on certain issues and elect representatives who oversee things such as road management and conflict resolution."It's pretty cool to see what's happening out here when things are not going south," Gleason said, "or at least — not as fast as I think they will be in the future."It seems logical to call Riverbed a "prepper community." Gleason's wife, Colleen, said of Riverbed residents in a 2021 TV interview: "Most of them tend to be prepper types." But many residents I spoke with bristled at the term. Prepping, or "survivalism," often brings to mind nefarious compounds or right-wing fanaticism. Most residents saw the community as something markedly different from the stereotypical gunslinging doomsday preppers."There are some who are more focused on storing bullets than anything, and that shows their worldview that power makes right," Fisher said. "We don't embrace that at all."From my impressions of the dozen or so residents I met, Fisher's statement rang true. Most of the shareholders I talked to struck me as committed, apolitical hobbyists who wanted to forge a deeper relationship with the systems of production that their lives depended on.Riverbed residents building a barn. "The main thing that we look for are people who have integrity," Gleason said.Jesse Fisher"This group has a little bit of everybody," Priscilla Hart, a shareholder who was in the process of moving from Ogden, Utah, to Riverbed with her husband, told me. "There are people who just want to retire out there. There are people that are preppers. I think that there are people that are conspiracy theorists. But I think there's a really wide range of people who just want to be able to take care of themselves. We want our foundation strong enough to be able to manage if there's trouble."Hart's lot contained only a storage shed and a well at the time, but construction was getting started on a house and septic system. "We have a strong interest in getting our hands in the dirt and all the things that go along with self-sufficiency," Hart told me. In Ogden, the couple had chickens and a garden, but they had wanted to commit to the lifestyle more deeply. The only hiccup had been the question of making money. Even in a community that aims to be self-sufficient, most residents can't escape the need to maintain finances and earn a living. Hart and her husband were both employed in the medical field doing hands-on work, which is difficult to translate into a remote job. But Hart told me they planned to develop a business that could be run from home."We just really liked the concept of the community, the remote location, and the off-grid homesteading package," Hart said. "When you homestead, you can be really isolated. Even just living out in the country, you don't necessarily have a lot of close neighbors and people to draw off of unless you've been there for a long time."Many residents echoed her sentiment: They moved to Riverbed because they wanted to live close to other people who were similarly eager to be less dependent on broader political, economic, and social structures. Hart pointed to a vague sense of looming social instability as a major factor. "The more you can learn to take care of yourself and not rely on government, the better," she said.Sarah Vezzani moved to the ranch with her husband in November 2020. A trained chemical engineer, she had become skeptical of the products created by modern chemical production — things such as pesticides and microplastics — and wanted to live away from what she saw as the increasingly toxic environment of cities and agricultural areas. "It's nice that science can come in and show why some things are working," she said in an interview with Fox News, "but in many ways, it messes up what's already there.""I want to be real," Vezzani said. "I want to live with purpose and intention, and I really thrive with being connected to the earth."Lance Pope and his daughter assemble the leach field pipes for a septic system.Jesse FisherOne person I met was visiting the community to decide whether it was worth the move. Brittany had been invested in off-grid, self-reliant living for years on her family's permaculture farm in Nebraska with her husband and daughter."I discovered the 'Survival' podcast probably about 13 years ago, and it made me aware of the nefarious nature of our government," Brittany said, referring to a survivalist podcast that intersperses permaculture advice with lessons on casting lead bullets. She had reservations about whether Riverbed would be a feasible option — it would mean downsizing, and her family needed ample grazing land for their cattle. Still, she was hopeful it had what she was searching for: "that community vibe — but still not under the government's thumb." She added: "If you don't have enough people, it tends to fall apart."Perhaps more than any other disaster in America, Riverbed hopes to address the crisis of trust. In 2023, only 16% of respondents to a Pew Research survey said they trusted the government to do what's right, a historical low. And 79% said that Americans had "too little" or "far too little" confidence in one another, while 64% agreed with the statement: "Americans' level of trust in each other has been shrinking."For all the distrust of government and other abstract power structures, trust is a core tenet of what Gleason aimed to foster and what residents said they were looking for at Riverbed. Gleason told me he hoped that by restructuring society around a smaller network of relationships, Riverbed would become a comfortable place for families to raise children in a safe environment with strong ties to the land. Already, 52 children belong to shareholder families — not all of them live on-site permanently, but two were born there.Gleason envisions Riverbed Ranch as a safe environment for families: "This is about the kids."Jesse Fisher"This is about kids," Gleason said. "Our belief is that if you can teach people how to teach people how to fish, you can feed a nation."In these unstable and uncertain times, it's easy to understand why some people want to disconnect from what isn't working and start from scratch. But even a project such as Riverbed Ranch, as it exists today, ultimately remains dependent on the global systems that residents are turning their backs on. Solar panels, vehicles, satellite internet — even the know-how to grow food in a sustainable fashion — are all sourced from modern technologies and industrial supply chains, the results of decades of societal advancement at a civilizational scale. It's not like you can simply walk into the desert and pummel dirt into solar panels.When I visited Riverbed Ranch, Gleason — with a loan from another shareholder — had just closed a deal on a 1,298-acre plot of land in northern Arizona, where he hoped to build a second community of up to 200 households. In the long run, he wants to expand to five communities across the Rockies. His determination is inspiring, but beneath the quaint veneer of chicken coops and hoop houses, I felt a faintly pessimistic aura at Riverbed Ranch — not a pessimism of the will but a lack of faith in society at large."Civilizations rise and fall," Fisher said while showing me around his 864-square-foot lofted house. The interior had just been completed, and Fisher was living there only part time, spending the rest of his time in Santaquin, Utah. "The American idea that we're going to go on forever is naive at best. Societies transition from one type to another, and the transition is very uncomfortable. There are people who say that we're on the cusp of a major transition in America, and it just makes sense that if you're producing your own food, water, power — you're probably going to make it through."A solar-powered sprinkler cycled across his lot, watering the lone apple tree. Today, he told me, nine more trees surround it.The Simpson Mountains loom over Riverbed Ranch. "The American idea that we're going to go on forever is naive at best," Fisher told me.Jesse FisherIt's absurd to believe that someone could sustain themselves on a life preserver in the middle of an ocean, and the people at Riverbed understand this — it's why they have banded together. Maybe that's the most people can do amid today's tumultuous uncertainty: take care of themselves. But I found it hard to ignore that a place such as Riverbed could exist only if its residents were willing to write off the possibility of larger, more transformative social change.To channel the same level of energy that made Riverbed Ranch a possibility into local politics or community-organizing efforts might not scratch the same existential itch, but anyone who imagines a coming doomsday is faced with a choice: to prepare for it or to play a small part in working to stave it off.Evan Malmgren is a writer who covers power and infrastructure and is currently working on a book about American off-gridders.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 18th, 2024

I visited Mark Cuban"s Texas ghost town, and "Mustang" was more barren and mysterious than I ever imagined

The Dallas billionaire spent $2 million on Mustang, a Texas town with no houses or people. I went to figure out what the heck happened. A street sign pointing toward Mustang and its neighboring town, Angus.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderBillionaire Mark Cuban bought the ghost town of Mustang, Texas, in 2021 for about $2 million.Cuban has never even been there and has "zero plans for it," he told me in an email.I drove to visit Mustang, population zero. I found no buildings, but an intriguing history.I recently learned that Mark Cuban, the billionaire and former owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, bought an entire "ghost town'" called Mustang for about $2 million in 2021.Mustang is about an hour away from the part of Dallas where I live. But until now, I had never come across it — and it appears that almost nobody in my circles had either. The Census reports that Mustang's population is zero, so maybe that makes sense. Typically, I would file away this newfound knowledge in the recesses of my mind — an unusual story I could later impress my friends with over coffee or dinner.However, my curiosity refused to wane.Numerous questions crowded my thoughts: Why would someone be interested in buying a town with no people? Is it genuinely abandoned? What might be worth saving there?I even reached out to Cuban by email to get some answers. He had little to say about it."I bought it to help out a basketball buddy who was dying of cancer, he needed it for his family," Cuban, who Forbes said has a $6.2 billion net worth, told me. "I have zero plans for it, I haven't ever been there."I did some reading. Cuban bought Mustang from principal owner Marty Price, a Dallas attorney and devoted Mavericks season ticket holder, according to NBC News, who spoke with Mike Turner, a real-estate agent who brokered the deal. The New York Times reported the reason: Price, who died in August 2021, apparently didn't want to leave his wife and children a hard-to-maintain ghost town. I wanted to know more, but Turner didn't call me back.In moments like these, a saying often comes to mind, "The cure for ignorance is curiosity."So I went to Mustang. Yes, I hopped into my car, opened up Google Maps, and drove from my downtown Dallas apartment to a remote town that wasn't even on my radar until last week.Here's what I found.Mustang is approximately an hour's drive south of Dallas, a major city packed with buildings. Even its suburbs are quite dense. But Mustang is surrounded by roads with no buildings.A back road in Angus, the town that neighbors Mustang.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderIn rural Texas, you often see large open pastures with cows and horses. When I got close to Mustang, I wasn't surprised to see cattle ranches lining the roads.Cows feed on some of the undeveloped land near Mustang.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderAs I exited Interstate 45 and neared Mustang, I was excited to see a highway sign pointing toward the town. I must be close, I thought.Highway sign for Mustang and Angus. Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderThe excitement turned to confusion as I drove around for 30 minutes. I couldn't pinpoint where Mustang started and the adjacent town, Angus, began. (Angus has 458 people, while Mustang has 0, according to the most recent Census.)Google Maps screenshot of Mustang and Angus.Google MapsSource: US Census BureauI tried driving down the few roads Google Maps has marked. They were unpaved, and I saw knocked-down signs and warnings to stay away. I saw a few houses, but no people. This sign felt like a metaphor for my quest.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderFeeling frustrated, I asked a man working on the side of the road for directions to Mustang. He also had no idea but recommended checking out Stuckey’s, a longtime gas station and convenience store in Angus. But even the store’s clerk hadn’t heard of Mustang.Stuckey's gas station in Angus.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderI next approached the cashier at a grocery store in Angus, who was aware of Mustang. Victory! But all she could tell me was that it was deserted, with its most notable features being a now-demolished strip club and a fire station.The grocery store in Angus where I asked for directions.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderAt this point, I was feeling desperate. I decided to show up at Angus' city hall unannounced. Government officials would have answers, right? Angus' fire station and city hall are in the same building.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderAt the city hall, I met Trina Kelley, a secretary who did not share her age but said she has lived in Angus since she was 9 years old. (She also refused to let me take her picture.)The sign in front of Angus' city hall.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderKelley — who seemed elated to have someone to talk to — gave me the lowdown on both Angus and Mustang. She also showed me this map of the greater Angus area. A map of Angus and Mustang.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderMustang is the area labeled Mustang Courts, about 75 acres right in the middle of Angus, Kelley said.A close-up of a map of Angus and Mustang.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderKelley explained that Mustang was originally a part of Angus but was de-annexed in July 1973 because Mustang locals wanted the freedom to sell liquor, which Angus didn't allow at the time.An old sign for the city of Mustang. This photo is from 2006.LM Otero/Associated PressIn 2006, the Associated Press described Mustang as "carved from a pasture in 1973 to sell alcohol so a beer run was no longer a 60-mile drive to Dallas." The town was "broke, withering and down to about 50 residents," the AP reported at the time.A few days after the de-annexation, the two cities became independent entities, Kelley said. A photo of Aubrey Smith, the mayor of Angus during Mustang's de-annexation.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderThe 2006 Associated Press story described Mustang as having "two dusty streets, a strip club, a boarded-up country western bar, one trash bin and a dilapidated trailer park where the entire population lives." It also had a shed for Mustang's volunteer fire department, according to the Dallas Morning News. Pretty much everything has since been razed, according to news reports. I couldn't find the strip club, Wispers Cabaret, which the Independent reported "closed after a 2008 murder in which a clubgoer was beaten to death that made headlines across the state."According to Kelley, Mustang has remained desolate for many years, never truly sustaining a substantial number of residents or buildings.Mustang has been on the market multiple times in its history. This for-sale sign is from 2006.LM Otero/Associated PressBefore Cuban bought Mustang, it had been on and off the market since 2017.There is now nothing there, Kelley said, adding that Cuban recently agreed to let Angus keep its new fire truck on Mustang land. Mark Cuban is a longtime host of "Shark Tank."Christopher Willard/Getty ImagesArmed with Kelley's information and a new perspective on the map, I hit the road again to try to see Mustang for myself. First, I passed — for the fourth time — Angus’ water tower. Highway signs. Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderOn the drive to Mustang, I saw several "keep out" signs. What better way to signify you’re in the South?A "keep out" sign on a property in Angus.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderI thought my tires were going to burst driving down the unpaved country roads, but I made it. Behold: The sprawling patch of land that is Mustang.I finally found Mustang — and it was totally empty.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderA few Angus homes surround the Mustang land, including this quaint house listed for sale for $220,000. A home for sale in Angus/Mustang.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderSource: ZillowThe area's homes are mostly ranch-style or manfactured, with agricultural equipment in sheds outside and American and/or Texas flags flying out front.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderBefore heading home, I decided to check out a winery nearby. I didn't know this part of Texas was known for growing grapes. A sign pointing to the Angelita winery.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderI parked on the side of the road to check out some horses. One in particular gazed at me, almost as if she could sense I wasn't from around here.Horses on a ranch near the winery.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderI reached the winery, but unfortunately, it was closed. Just my luck. I still enjoyed its classic farmhouse-style architecture. The entrance to Angelita Winery.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderI briefly stepped out of my car to admire the vineyard, but upon noticing a sizable dog, I promptly hopped back in. Glancing in my rearview mirror, I could see the animal chasing my car. Angelita Winery.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderWhile returning to Dallas, I thought about what I had seen and learned about Mustang.A highway sign for Dallas.Alcynna Lloyd/Business InsiderWhile I didn’t discover anything extraordinary, what I found was a quirky little city almost forgotten to time if not for the efforts of a billionaire.A street sign from one of Mustang's few roads is already dilapidated in this 2006 photo. The sign was not there when I visited in January 2024.LM Otero/Associated PressIt reminded me that there is hidden history like this all over Texas. Sometimes, you just have to work a little harder to find it.A firefighter from Mustang's now-disbanded fire department in a 2006 photo.LM Otero/Associated PressRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 13th, 2024

A millennial couple who moved from Baltimore to Florida explain why they bought a $65,000 mobile home as their starter house

Decades of local and state regulations have limited or barred manufactured housing from communities across the country in need of affordable homes. Jess Carpenter with her husband, Christian, and baby, Heath, outside their mobile home in Sarasota, Florida.Courtesy of Jess CarpenterMobile homes — a type of manufactured house — are a more affordable option for many. Jess Carpenter and her family are living in and renovating their mobile home in Sarasota, Florida.Housing advocates want to get rid of many regulations that bar manufactured homes from communities. Jess Carpenter and her husband had never considered living in a mobile home when they moved to Florida from Baltimore, Maryland in April 2022. But after spending most of a year in a $3,000-per-month rental apartment in Sarasota while struggling to find an affordable house to buy in the area, they reconsidered their quest for traditional homeownership.They had a friend who loved her mobile home community in Sarasota, and soon Jess and her husband, Christian, sprung for the cheapest trailer in the park. They put 15% down on the $65,000 1983 one-bedroom home and have lived in it with their 14-month-old son ever since.The couple had a tricky time getting a loan, though. In many states, mobile homes are categorized like cars or boats and don't qualify for home mortgages. So the Carpenters had to take out a personal loan, which typically has higher interest rates than traditional mortgages. They pay about $600 per month for their loan and rent the land their home sits on for about $1,000 a month. The place is small — 400 square feet indoors with a similarly-sized screened-in porch — but it's allowing them to save and invest in their vintage furniture business.Photos before and during renovations in the Carpenters' mobile home kitchenJess Carpenter"I would say it's not an ideal situation — I never thought that I would buy a mobile home," Jess said. "I never wanted to, it was never the plan."But the couple have also turned their new home into a creative project, and are in the process of transforming it into a 1970s-style beach house full of thrifted pieces. Jess has built a brand online as an influencer, and regularly posts on Instagram and TikTok about the renovation, and she says it's rewarding to disrupt "the stigma against mobile homes.""It's just been a more fun, creative experience that has also saved us money that I can share online and maybe inspire other people to do the same and not be weird about buying a mobile home," she said.Inside the Carpenters' renovated living room.Jess CarpenterMost of the Sarasota mobile home park's residents are snowbirds — largely retired out-of-staters who winter in the Sunshine State. But the park offers a slew of amenities for residents, including a pool, restaurants, a mini-golf course, and regular programming like parades and bingo nights. There are nice beaches nearby, and the weather's pretty great. Jess compared their experience to living on a resort or a cruise ship.In an especially Floridian twist, the park used to be a popular vacation spot for members of the Ringling Brothers circus, which was based nearby. The 1960s-era park used to have two pet elephants, which, Jess says, are rumored to be buried somewhere on the grounds.These days, though, the community is increasingly home to millennials and young families. Longtime residents tell Carpenter the younger residents and rising trailer values are an entirely new phenomenon."They had never seen people with children move in, they've never seen even young couples," Jess said. "And it's the first time that they've ever experienced that the houses have gone up."Bringing back manufactured housingThe Carpenters are just one of millions of families struggling to afford a home who turn to mobile or manufactured homes as a cheaper alternative. Mobile homes used to be a much more common affordable housing option, but decades of government policies — including restrictive zoning laws and building codes — have strangled the growth of manufactured housing.A housing shortage, driven in part by the rising cost of construction, is in large part to blame for the affordability crisis. Many housing advocates and policymakers are pushing to loosen federal, state, and local regulations restricting manufactured housing, which is generally much cheaper to construct than traditional site-built homes."Starter homes, at least in the Levittown style site-built model, have been eroding for a long time and continuing to move up-market, reflecting that really since the 1950s, residential home construction productivity hasn't kept pace with the rest of the economy," said Andrew Justus, a housing policy analyst at the Niskanen Center, a nonpartisan think tank.Things might be changing. Last year, the Biden administration proposed loosening the Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations on manufactured housing to increase the supply, including by legalizing up to three units per manufactured structure. But cities and states would need to liberalize their own regulations to pave the way for more of these homes.Jess said her family hopes to live in their mobile home for two to three years while saving for a larger house. Ultimately, they hope to rent out the trailer — homes in the park go for between $3,000 to $4,000 per month during the winter — and use it as extra living space for visiting family and friends or photoshoots for their business.And they're banking on the home appreciating in value. The Carpenters' friend recently sold her home in the park, which she bought in 2021 for about $20,000, for about $80,000, Carpenter said, adding that the average price for one of the park's 800-square-foot homes is now about $150,000.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJan 10th, 2024

A software engineer built a tiny home for his mom and now he has a full-blown business selling DIY plans

Dan Louche set up Tiny Home Builders, which sells step-by-step plans for people who want to build a dwelling but lack the knowledge or experience. Dan Louche set up Tiny Home Builders in 2009.Tiny Home Builders Dan Louche set up Tiny Home Builders in 2009 after he built a tiny house for his mom.  It offers a range of plans, with prices starting at about $200 for a 20-foot "Simple Living" plan. Customers can build their own tiny homes for as little as $10,000 in materials. In 2009, Dan Louche's mom told him her health was deteriorating due to mold growing in her home following damage caused by a storm. He knew something had to be done, but couldn't afford to buy her a new home in Florida. While searching for an answer, the 47-year-old saw a PBS show about a woman who had built her own tiny home."I saw that and thought it would be an awesome solution," Louche told Insider. His mom wrote a blog about the construction and fit-out of her home.He said that despite growing up in a family of contractors and having a background in engineering, he didn't have the expertise to build one himself."So I started researching and just really diving into it," Louche said. "Then I went out, bought a trailer and I started building that first house. It was never intended to be a business – it was really just trying to solve my mom's problem."Through his experience he started to pick up skills, and he eventually decided he wanted to help others build their own tiny houses, so in 2010 he founded Tiny Home Builders.Interest in building tiny homes appears to have steadily increase since 2020, according to Google Trends data for the search term "tiny home plans." So former engineer Louche may have made a smart business decision in selling plans to prospective builders. "I thought maybe there's someone else who might have the same experience or a need to build their own," Dan Louche said.Tiny Home BuildersWhen Louche and his wife went to visit his mom at her tiny home, she was surprised by how livable it was and how it met all her needs. That was when he knew he could help others build their own, he said.He has a blog where he documented his mistakes and tips for people who also didn't have much construction experience.Tiny Home Builders"We started to provide resources for people to help them build their own house," he said. "Initially we started selling some of those to try and make up some of the money we spent on my mom's house, but it ended up growing bigger and now it's a company."  Tiny Home Builders offers a range of plans in different sizes.Tiny Home BuildersThere are five plans on offer: Tiny Living, The Element, Tiny Studio, Tiny Retirement, and Simple Living. Each comes in a range of sizes.For people just starting out, the company also offers a design and construction guide that summarizes the process of building a tiny house."That gives you an introduction to the process," Louche said. "It doesn't give you the floor plan of a house, but it gives you some of the knowledge that you would need to go off and do it." The plans offer instructions on how to build the homes and a cost estimate.Tiny Home BuildersThere's also a comprehensive material list with approximate prices for materials. They can range from $10,000 to $25,000, according to the company's website.Tiny Home Builders also offers two-day intensive workshop sessions to show people how to build the homes if they are ready to build their own house but don't have the knowledge.One of the most popular plans is for the "Tiny Living" design.Tiny Home BuildersOne of the most popular designs is the "Tiny Living" plan that costs $347. It has a big family living area, bathroom, kitchen, and a sleeping area and is offered in six sizes from 12 feet to 32 feet."I recommend the smallest house be 16 feet long because it can have a full bathroom, a full bedroom, kitchen, and couch. That's all a single person really needs," Louche said. "The smaller the house, the cheaper it's going to be to build." Customers can email the company for support during the construction process.Tiny Home BuildersThe company says it gets about 60 emails a day from people asking questions about the construction process."If we get a question two or three times we're putting together resources to help everybody else," Louche said. "We try to help everybody that we can because we want everybody to be successful and have a good experience." If two people are building a tiny home full-time, it can take as little as two months to finish.Tiny Home BuildersThe longest it's ever taken Louche to build a tiny home is a year, which was when he first started and while he was also juggling full-time job, he said.It's mostly young people who buy the plans, Louche said.Tiny Home BuildersThe main customer base is people who don't have kids, or people just starting a family, Louche said. There aren't many families living in tiny houses due their size, he added. With a tiny house, you can have a home for the price of a car.Tiny Home BuildersThe cost is a big plus, but the challenge for people building tiny homes has been finding places to park them. Louche said some places such as California are passing laws to encourage ADUs, or Accessory Dwelling Units. "It means they can be parked in anybody's backyard. When we first started there was a lot of resistance to adoption, but we're seeing that as time goes on, that resistance is dying down," he said. Tiny Home Builders also has an online marketplace to buy and sell tiny houses.Tiny Home BuildersPeople can sell their used tiny homes or ones they have built using the plans on their site via the marketplace.  "It's an extremely rewarding experience to help people build their own house. We want to make sure that we help people go through that process," Louche said.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 21st, 2023

THEN AND NOW: Taylor Swift"s star-studded "squad" of friends

Taylor Swift's "squad" was a hot topic in her "1989" era, but with so many celebrity friends, it can be hard to keep track of where they all are now. Taylor Swift with some of her friends and members of her "squad."Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Taylor Swift has a lot of famous friendships who have been referred to as members of her "squad."  Selena Gomez, Martha Hunt, Abigail Anderson Lucier, and Gigi Hadid are some of the original members. Swift has also befriended actresses Blake Lively, Hailee Steinfeld, Emma Stone, and Lena Dunham.  Karlie Kloss was once considered Swift's best friend.Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty ImagesKarlie Kloss was once famously considered to be Swift's best friend. At the time they met, Kloss was a new model on the scene, and she and Swift solidified their new friendship with a well-documented road trip to Big Sur.Kloss confirmed that she and Swift are still close in 2019, but some fans aren't convinced.Karlie Kloss is the host of "Project Runway."ANDREW KELLY/ReutersOver the years, the tabloids liked to speculate that the two had a falling out, but in a 2019 interview with Time magazine, Kloss confirmed she is still friends with Swift.But the model was spotted in photos on social media vacationing and hanging out with Scooter Braun amid Swift's feud with the music manager, which led fans to speculate another rift. Fans have also recently theorized that Swift's song "It's Time to Go" is about the model. In addition to modeling, Kloss now stars as the host of Bravo's "Project Runway" and runs the free camp "Kode with Klossy" to help young girls learn how to code.  In March 2021, Kloss welcomed her first child with her husband Joshua Kushner.  The model was spotted in the stands on the last night of Swift's Eras Tour in LA. Notably, she was not sitting in the VIP tent where celebrities often watch Swift's concerts. Swift and Cara Delevingne seemingly met at the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.Taylor Swift and Cara Delevingne hung out in New York City.Alo Ceballos/GC ImagesCara Delevingne and Swift seemed to link up after the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which Swift performed at and Delevingne modeled in. Soon after, the two were spotted hanging out in New York City.Delevingne was one of Swift's friends who appeared in the "Bad Blood" music video.Delevingne has spent a lot of time acting, and she and Swift are still social-media friends.Cara Delevingne at the premiere of "Carnival Row."Mario Anzuoni/ReutersSince meeting Swift, Delevingne has mostly transitioned from modeling to acting, playing Enchantress in "Suicide Squad" (2016) and starring in "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" (2017). Recently, she was on the TV series "Carnival Row" and appeared in Halsey's "Nightmare" music video.The two friends have not been spotted together in a few years — and, in 2017, fans pointed out that the model wasn't name-checked on Swift's "squad shirt" in the "Look What You Made Me Do" music video.But in 2019, Delevingne made it clear the pair are still friends by posting on Instagram to congratulate Swift on the release of her latest album, "Lover."Delevingne was featured on the June 2020 issue of Variety, and Swift sent an email to the publication for the cover story, writing, "Cara is extreme, eccentric, hilarious, loving and deeply loyal."Swift also sent her a promotional cardigan for her "Folklore" album, which she wore with Kaia Gerber for an Instagram Story.Delevingne supported Swift at the opening night of her Eras Tour in Arizona. The friends were also spotted hanging out before Jack Antonoff and Margaret Qualley's wedding in August. Todrick Hall met Taylor Swift after she saw his YouTube cover of her "1989" album.Todrick Hall performed in the "Look What You Made Me Do" video.Bruce Glikas/Getty ImagesTodrick Hall got his start on YouTube doing mash-ups and covers of iconic songs and musicals.He created an epic Swift-inspired mashup in 2015, and the "Red" singer loved it so much she invited him backstage to her 1989 tour and they became real-life friends.He also appeared in the "Look What You Made Me Do" music video in 2017.Hall rose to mainstream fame quickly, and he and Swift are still close collaborators.Todrick Hall and Taylor Swift accepting an award at the 2019 VMAs.Matt Sayles/Invision/APHall is widely known for his visual albums and his roles as guest judge and choreographer on "RuPaul's Drag Race."He also starred on Broadway as Lola in "Kinky Boots" in 2017, and Swift saw him perform.Plus Hall and Swift are still close collaborators.He appeared in and was an executive producer of the "You Need to Calm Down" music video, which won for video of the year at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards.In a June 2020 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Hall praised Swift for using her platform to promote activism amid the Black Lives Matter movement.When Swift announced the drop of her new album "Folklore" (stylized as "folklore"), Hall posted to Instagram to say he would "be listening on repeat. AAAAAHHHHHHHH."After Swift announced her ninth studio album, "Evermore" (stylized as "evermore"), Hall once again showed his support for his friend with a series of tweets. In 2021, he posted photos wearing his "Red (Taylor's Version)" merch on Instagram. Hall was also supportive of Swift's latest albums, like "Midnights" and "1989 (Taylor's Version)," on Instagram. Martha Hunt likely met Swift at a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.Martha Hunt and Taylor Swift at the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.Michael Stewart/FilmMagic/Getty ImagesSwift likely met model Martha Hunt at the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. After that event, the two were often seen hanging out around Swift's New York apartment.Hunt is still modeling and supporting her friend, Swift.Martha Hunt helped Taylor Swift celebrate her 30th birthday.Joel C Ryan/Invision/APHunt is still a Victoria's Secret Angel and continues to be one of Swift's closest friends.Hunt attended Swift's Pennsylvania Reputation tour stop in July 2018 where she took a trip to Swift's childhood home. Shortly after, she was spotted hanging out in New York with Swift during one of the singer's rare paparazzi snaps of 2018.In 2019, Hunt shared a touching post for Swift's 30th birthday and helped her celebrate a few days later.When "Taylor Swift City of Lover Concert" was released online in 2020, Hunt replied to a tweet about it calling it, "just heavenly."Swift gifted Hunt with a cardigan from her "Folklore" merch, and Hunt posted a few pictures on Instagram of herself wearing it with the caption "peter losing wendy" — a line from "Cardigan."Hunt celebrated Swift's win at the 2021 Grammys by posting a screenshot of the singer's acceptance speech on her Instagram Story.Selena Gomez and Swift go way back.Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift at the premiere of "Another Cinderella Story."John Shearer/WireImageSelena Gomez and Swift met way back in 2005 and Gomez told KIIS FM UK that they met because they were both dating Jonas brothers at the time."She was the girl with the big curly hair and the bracelets and the cowboy boots, and I was definitely up-and-coming. We just clicked," Gomez said.Gomez and Swift are now one of Hollywood's power-couple friendships.Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift are still friends.Kevin Winter/Getty Images for dcpGomez furthered her own music career and even performed "Hands to Myself" with Swift during a May 2018 Reputation tour stop.While on stage, Gomez gave a tribute to her longtime pal in front of Swift's fans."The reason why she's one of my best friends is because this person has never, ever judged me for a decision I've made. She's always met me where I've been," Gomez said onstage during the show. "She encouraged me when I had nothing to be encouraged about. And I don't know if I would be as strong as I am if I didn't have you and your family."Swift and Gomez are still close friends, and often show encouragement for each other online.When Swift released "Lover" and Gomez released "Lose You to Love Me" from her album "Rare," both of them promoted the other's songs on their Instagram stories. In August 2020, Gomez said that she's "always dreamt of doing a song with Taylor."That same month, she launched her new HBO Max cooking show, and Swift made a surprise video-call appearance on one of the episodes. She introduced Swift to celebrity chef Roy Choi as her "best friend."Since the release of "Evermore," fans have started to theorize that the song "Dorothea" is about Gomez. When Swift dropped her rerecording of "Love Story" in the lead up to the release of "Fearless (Taylor's Version)," Gomez posted to her Instagram Story, writing, "So proud of you, as always, Tay ... LISTEN to THIS album"In November 2021, Swift posted a TikTok of her and Gomez hanging out backstage during "Saturday Night Live."During a June interview on USA Today's "Entertain This" series, Gomez said "Taylor really loved" season two of her Hulu show, "Only Murder in the Building."In July 2022, the friends also got together to celebrate Gomez's 30th birthday. And Gomez went to a Texas show of Swift's Eras Tour. The friends celebrated the Fourth of July together this year a few days before Swift released "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)."Gomez also attended an LA show of Swift's Eras Tour, and the friends have been spotted hanging out in LA and NYC recently. Blake Lively met Swift around 2015 but laid low when it came to the "squad" pics.Blake Lively and Taylor Swift went to an Australian amusement park together in 2015.Instagram/Blake LivelyIt's unclear when Blake Lively and Swift first met, though they were spotted hanging out at a theme park in Australia together in 2015.Lively and her husband Ryan Reynolds also attended Swift's iconic "Taymerica" Fourth of July party in 2016. Lively' has become one of Swift's closest friends.Blake Lively at the premiere for "The Rhythm Section."Greg Allen/Invision/APSome of the "Gossip Girl" star's most recent movie roles include "The Rhythm Section" (2020) and "A Simple Favor" (2018).Lively has also had three daughters with Reynolds since she and Swift became friends. The two still seem to be close. Lively's daughter James' voice is heard on Swift's 2017 song "Gorgeous," she and Reynolds appeared in photos from Swift's 2019 New Year's Eve party, and at the end of 2019, the couple was part of the crowd that helped Swift celebrate her 30th birthday.During the 2021 Grammys, Swift thanked Lively, Reynolds, and their three kids in her speech after she won album of the year for "Folklore."On Halloween 2021, fans think Swift — donned in a squirrel costume she posted on Instagram earlier in the day — joined Lively and Reynolds for trick-or-treating in NYC. Lively also made her directorial debut in the music video for the "Red (Taylor's Version)" vault track "I Bet You Think About Me."More recently, Lively and Swift were photographed hanging out together in New York City with groups of friends. Lively also attended a Philadelphia show on the Eras Tour, and Swift even gave the actor's daughters a shoutout during the concert. Lorde and Swift bonded over music.Lorde and Taylor Swift became fast friends.Larry Busacca/GettyAfter Lorde burst onto the scene with her breakout single "Royals," Swift sent her flowers. Eventually, the two singers met up (at Shake Shack) and formed a friendship.In fact, Swift told PopCrush that Lorde was one of the first people to hear "1989" before it was released because Swift said the young singer gives awesome advice.Lorde also performed as one of Swift's guest stars during her Washington, DC 1989 tour performance.Lorde's career took off as she battled reports about her friendship with Swift being over.Lorde performed at one of the 1989 tour concerts.Dia Dipasupil/Getty ImagesIn 2017, after a publication mistakenly reported that she and Swift were on the outs, Lorde tweeted: "I want to say one more time that Taylor has been there for me in all my dark and light moments these past five years. All of them."Since then, however, Swift and Lorde haven't been seen together much. Lorde, for her part, has had a sensational career and followed up her debut album with 2017's "Melodrama" and 2021's "Solar Power."Hailee Steinfeld was also an early member of Swift's "squad."Hailee Steinfeld and Taylor Swift worked on the "Bad Blood" music video together.Amanda Edwards/WireImageThe actress/singer appeared in a ton of Swift's Instagram posts in the pre-2015 "squad era," was in the "Bad Blood" video, and even walked onstage during one of the famous "squad" appearances from the 1989 tour.At the time, Steinfeld was best known for her role in the "Pitch Perfect" series and her 2015 album "HAIZ."It's unclear if Swift and Steinfeld are still close, but Steinfeld's career is on the rise.Hailee Steinfeld stars as Emily Dickinson on "Dickinson."Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty ImagesSteinfeld told Seventeen magazine in 2016 that she didn't spend as much time with Swift as people might have assumed, but that she does consider her a friend.Today, Steinfeld's music career has taken a back seat to her successful acting career with recent credits such as "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" (2019), "Between Two Ferns: The Movie" (2019), and "Charlie's Angels" (2019).She also starred on the Apple TV+ series "Dickinson."Swift invited Ellie Goulding to perform with her during the 1989 tour.Taylor Swift and Ellie Goulding at the Brit Awards after-party.David M. Benett/Getty Images for Soho House & BacardiThe "Lights" singer was a fixture in Swift's "squad" during the 1989 tour, appeared in the "Bad Blood" video, and even reportedly first introduced Swift to musician Calvin Harris.Swift and Harris dated throughout 2015 and 2016.It's unclear if the two are still friends, but Goulding has been in the studio working on her album.Ellie Goulding is working on her fifth studio album.SIMON DAWSON/ReutersIt's unclear if Swift and Goulding are still friends, as the two haven't publicly interacted in years. For her part, Goulding told Billboard in December 2018 that she has been in the studio for the last two years working on a new album and enjoying her engagement to Caspar Jopling.She and Jopling have since gotten married, and her latest studio album, "Brightest Blue" was released in July 2020.Lily Aldridge seemed to meet Swift at a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.Taylor Swift and Lily Aldridge at the 2013 Victoria Secret's Fashion Show.Kevin Kane/FilmMagicSwift and model Lily Aldridge appeared to have met at the 2013 Victoria's Secret show. The model also appeared in Swift's star-studded "Bad Blood" music video in 2015. Aldridge is now modeling while also raising her two children.Lily Aldridge has two children.Eric Gaillard/ReutersThe longtime Victoria's Secret Angel is still working on modeling campaigns while still raising her two children with her husband Caleb Followill. In 2018, she posted a throwback photo and called Swift her "bestest buddy" in her Instagram story for Swift's birthday. The two haven't had many public interactions since then.In 2021, Aldridge posted a video of Swift's Grammy performance to her Instagram Story with the caption, "Love you." When Swift rereleased "Red (Taylor's Version)," she took to her Instagram Stories to show off her album merch in support of her friend. Aldridge attended one of the Nashville shows on the Eras Tour.Camila Cabello met Swift in 2014 at an award show.Taylor Swift and Camila Cabello at the iHeart Radio Music Awards.Kevin Mazur/Getty ImagesCamila Cabello told Teen Vogue that she first met Swift the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards where she worked up the courage to say hello to her and tell her how big of a fan she was.The two hit it off quickly as friends, and, in March of 2015, Swift even threw Cabello an epic 18th-birthday party attended by fellow "squad" members Gomez, Steinfeld, Lorde, and HAIM.Later that month, they were photographed together at the iHeart Radio Music Awards. Cabello and Swift are still close friends, and Cabello even opened for the Reputation tour.Camila Cabello and Taylor Swift performed at the American Music Awards in 2019.MARIO ANZUONI/ReutersCabello opened for Swift on her Reputation tour in 2018. In 2019, Cabello and Halsey performed with Swift during her medley at the American Music Awards, the same show where Swift freaked out over Cabello's "Señorita" performance with Shawn Mendes.Later that year, Cabello attended Swift's Christmas-themed birthday party. Swift also supported Cabello when she released her album "Romance" by posting about it on her Instagram story. The singer also posted photos with some gifted "Red (Taylor's Version)" merch. Cabello attended one of Swift's New Jersey shows on her Eras Tour. Emma Stone and Swift met over a decade ago.Taylor Swift and Emma Stone at the "Easy A" premiere.Mario Anzuoni/ReutersEmma Stone and Swift reportedly met at the Young Hollywood Awards in 2008 and became fast friends. At the time, Stone had already been in the hit comedy "Superbad" (2007) and was quickly on her way to the A-list.Stone even brought Swift as her date to the 2010 premiere of her movie "Easy A."Stone is one of Swift's most low-key friends, but she did show up for the Reputation tour.Emma Stone will play the icon Disney villain in "Cruella."PHIL MCCARTEN/ReutersAlthough Stone doesn't have Instagram and actually didn't appear in many of the Swift "squad" photos from the 2015-2016 era, she appears to still be acquainted with the singer and even attended the Reputation tour in New Jersey in July 2018.In terms of her career, Stone was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar in 2019 for "The Favorite." Her other recent credits include the Netflix mini-series "Manic," "Zombieland: Doubletap," and "Cruella."The actor was recently spotted at Swift's Eras Tour in Arizona. Fans have speculated that Swift's new "Speak Now (Taylor's Version)" vault track "When Emma Falls in Love" is about Stone. Abigail Anderson Berard has been friends with Swift since high school.Abigail Anderson Berard and Taylor Swift at the Grammys in 2015.Kevin Mazur/WireImageAbigail Anderson Berard is Swift's hometown friend. The two met in high school, and Swift's song "Fifteen" is even inspired by Berard. Swift brought Berard as her date to the Grammys in 2015. Berard and Swift are still close friends.Abigail Anderson Berard and Taylor Swift celebrated the singer's 30th birthday.abigail_lauren/InstagramIn 2017, Swift was a bridesmaid at Berard's first wedding. Berard has also attended most of Swift's events including "Taymerica" in 2018 and the singer's Christmas-themed 30th birthday party in 2019. After the surprise release of "Folklore" in July 2020, Swift gifted Berard the cardigan from the album's merch, and Berard posted a picture of herself wearing it on Instagram.The caption read, "Taylor. Swift. What an absolute wonder you are. Your lyrical ability to move us is seismic. Much like this beautiful gifted cardigan, this album is a dream. I've never been more appreciative of your art. This one did something to me."Berard attended the second Nashville show on the Eras Tour, and Swift dedicated "Fifteen" to her friend during the surprise-song set. The longtime friend even showed up on the Spotify canvas for "New Romantics" on Swift's "1989 (Taylor's Version)."Ruby Rose and Swift met and became friends around 2015.Ruby Rose and Taylor Swift at the 2016 GLAAD Media Awards.Jason Kempin/Getty Images for GLAADThough she had been acting and DJing in Australia for many years, Ruby Rose got her big break in the US when she joined the cast of "Orange Is the New Black" for a nine-episode arch in 2015.Rose appeared to befriend Swift sometime after the "Bad Blood" video made its debut, and the actress made an appearance during Swift's 1989 tour stop in New Orleans in 2015.Rose also wrote a long post on her Instagram to congratulate Swift on the tour.  In 2016, Swift presented Rose with an award at the 2016 GLAAD Media Awards. The two are still supportive of each other on social media.Ruby Rose used to be on The CW's "Batwoman."Phillip Faraone/WireImageRose posted to her Instagram for Swift's birthday in 2017 and 2018, and made an Instagram story for her in 2019. When Rose was originally cast as Batwoman on The CW's show based on the DC Comics, Swift took to Instagram to support her on her next endeavor.In May 2020, Rose announced that she was leaving the series after the first season. Javicia Leslie took her place portraying Batwoman. Jaime King and Swift met at a Golden Globes party in 2014.Jaime King, Taylor Swift, and Hailee Steinfeld at a Golden Globes after-party.Jeff Vespa/Getty ImagesJaime King was starring on The CW's "Hart of Dixie" when she met Swift at a 2014 Golden Globes party.In 2015, King's husband Kyle Newman directed Swift's 2015 music video for "Style."They became such fast friends that Swift was named godmother to King's son Leo Thames in 2016. King and Swift are still close, though they're known for sharing quieter nights.Jaime King at the "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" premiere.Jordan Strauss/Invision/APOn December 8, 2018, King shared a throwback photo of Swift dancing at that 2014 Golden Globes party where they met. King seemingly attends fewer of the big events than other members of the squad, but the two have been known to have quiet nights together, just like this post from a few days before Swift's 30th birthday depicts. Ed Sheeran and Swift seemingly became close when he opened for her tour in 2013.Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift at Madison Square Garden in 2013.Anna Webber/Getty ImagesEd Sheeran and Swift performed together at the Z100 Jingle Ball in 2012 after Sheeran was featured on a song from her album "Red" that released that same year. Swift also had Sheeran open for her Red tour, solidifying his place in the "squad." Sheeran's career has continued to blossom.Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift have collaborated a few times.Matt Jelonek/WireImageAfter the Red tour, Sheeran's career continued to bloom. His album "Divide" was the global best-selling album of 2017, and the album's tour broke the record for the highest-grossing tour in music history.Sheeran collaborated with Swift again on her "Reputation" album, which was released in 2017.Sheeran is currently on a hiatus from music and social media, but he and Swift still seem to be friendly. In February 2020, an eyewitness source told E! News that Sheeran and his wife, Cherry Seaborn, were spotted at dinner with Swift and her boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. They were reportedly celebrating Alwyn's 29th birthday in a high-end London restaurant.Sheeran returned on his original "Red" duet, "Everything Has Changed," for "Red (Taylor's Version)," and he also collaborated with her on the vault track "Run."In a 2021 Instagram post, he shared with fans that "Run" was actually the first song he and Swift wrote together.When Swift released "Midnights," Sheeran took to his Instagram Stories to tell his fans "So great! @taylorswift loving the whole album, everyone check it out."The friends have also been spotted hanging out in NYC.Claire Winter Kislinger is another original pre-squad friend.Claire Winter Kislinger and Taylor Swift are longtime friends.Instagram/claire_winterClaire Winter Kislinger, a jewelry designer, has been friends with Swift for years. Swift reportedly used to hide messages in her album liner notes, and for the song "22" on "Red," Swift hid the names Ashley, Dianna, Claire, and Selena — likely as an ode to her friends Ashley Avignone, Dianna Agron, Claire Kislinger, and Selena Gomez, her original "squad."Kislinger attended the American Music Awards with Swift in October 2018.Claire Winter Kislinger and Taylor Swift getting ready for the AMAs in 2018.Instagram/claire_winterWhile nine months pregnant, Kislinger attended the American Music Awards in October 2018 as Swift's date. Swift gave her a shout-out during one of her speeches and on Instagram.Kislinger now jokingly refers to Swift as "Aunty Tay," and in 2019, she wished Swift a happy birthday on Instagram.During the 2021 Grammys, Swift sported jewelry made by Kislinger's mom, Cathy Waterman, and the supportive friend posted a series of photos on her Instagram Story celebrating Swift's performance and win.  In October 2021, Kislinger shared with her Instagram followers that she helped create the ring that Swift is wearing in the "Red (Taylor's Version)" cover photo. Swift met Dianna Agron while the actress was still starring on "Glee."Taylor Swift and Dianna Agron at the AMAs in 2014.Jeff Kravitz/AMA2014/FilmMagicDianna Agron was starring on "Glee" when she met and befriended Swift sometime in 2011.Agron was also a member of the supposed "22" liner-notes shout-outs, and Swift even helped throw her pal a circus-themed 26th birthday party.Agron is married and still acting, but it's unclear if she and Swift are friends.Dianna Agron married Winston Marshall from Mumford & Sons.Evan Agostini/Invision/APAgron married Winston Marshall from the band Mumford & Sons in 2016 and has continued to act in independent features.She also directed a series of shorts — including a video for Tory Burch in 2015 — and spends a lot of time doing charity work with the UN regarding the global refugee crisis.She and Swift haven't been seen together on or offline in a few years, so it's unclear if they're still friends.In May, Rolling Stone asked Agron about the reports that she dated Swift in 2012. Her response was, "That is so interesting. I mean, there have been many stories about my dating life that are so wildly untrue. That's funny."Ashley Avignone is a stylist who met Swift in the pre-"squad" era.Taylor Swift, Emma Stone, and Ashley Avignone at an Oscars after-party in 2011.Kevin Mazur/VF11/WireImageAshley Avignone is a noted fashion stylist who counts Emma Stone as a client, which might have been how she met Swift.She is another friend whose name was supposedly mentioned in the secret "Red" notes. Avignone is still friends with Swift.Cazzie David, Taylor Swift, and Ashley Avignone at Swift's 30th birthday party.taylorswift/InstagramAvignone attended several Reputation tour stops in 2018, including one where she posted a picture with Swift to Instagram and jokingly captioning it "Squa...JK."She's still working as a stylist and has added campaigns with Diane von Furstenberg and Saks Fifth Avenue to her resume.In 2018, Avignone hung out with Swift at the singer's childhood home, and the next year she attended Swift's 30th birthday party. She hyped up Swift on her Instagram Stories after the "Red (Taylor's Version)" release, writing that the song "22" "still hits."Avignone joined in on Swift's Fourth of July festivities this year and she attended a Nashville show of the Eras Tour. Gigi Hadid reportedly met Swift through mutual friend Karlie Kloss.Taylor Swift and Gigi Hadid performing at the 1989 tour.Larry Busacca/LP5/Getty Images for TASGigi Hadid reportedly met Swift in 2014 at a pre-Oscar bash with mutual pal Karlie Kloss.A year later, Hadid appeared in Swift's "Bad Blood" music video, and in May 2015, Hadid joined Swift on stage as a special guest for one of her 1989 tour stops. Hadid has regularly spoken highly of Swift to the press, and the model told Elle Canada that the "squad" was a source of female empowerment.Hadid is now one of the highest-paid supermodels, and still one of Swift's close friends.Gigi Hadid is a famous supermodel.Taylor Hill/Getty ImagesForbes put Hadid on the annual "highest-paid supermodel" list in 2018.She's still close with Swift and called her a "blessing and an inspiration to me and so many" in an Instagram story on Swift's 29th birthday. That same year she attended Swift's New Year's Eve party.She was also present for Swift's jolly 30th birthday celebration at the end of 2019. In 2020, Hadid had her first child with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, musician Zayn Malik. After her baby girl was born, Hadid shared that "auntie" Swift sent her a handmade blanket.Recently, Swift made an appearance at the launch party for Hadid's new cashmere brand, Guest In Residence. Swift then wore a piece from the brand in a TikTok video for her "Midnights Mayhem With Me" series, and Hadid shouted it out in an Instagram Story. Hadid has been photographed hanging out with Swift and other friends in New York City, and she attended Eras Tour shows in both Nashville and Santa Clara. Swift "met" the band HAIM on Twitter and eventually started vacationing with them.Alana Haim and Taylor Swift at the Grammys in 2015.Christopher Polk/WireImageHAIM is a band comprised of three sisters: Este Haim, Danielle Haim, and Alana Haim. Swift and HAIM's relationship began online after both of them tweeted about their love for one another's music.Swift hung out with the band at a Golden Globes party in January of 2015, and later that month they all took a trip to Hawaii together. Swift then invited the band to open for her 1989 tour later that year.HAIM is still making music, and they recently collaborated with Swift.HAIM performing live.Jack Plunkett/Invision/APThe band dropped their second studio album "Something to Tell You" in 2017 and embarked on their Sister Sister Sister Tour in 2018.In July 2018, Este Haim hung out with Swift in her childhood home in Reading, Pennsylvania, and checked out the Reputation tour that night.The band recently collaborated with Swift on her album "Evermore." They were featured on the track "No Body, No Crime.""Our dream of singing on a country folk song with the one and only queen of storytelling, miss Taylor Swift is our second Hanukkah present to you," the group wrote in an Instagram post.In February 2021, Swift posted a photo on Instagram of her and the Haim sisters hanging out in footie pajamas and eating pizza. Then on a Tuesday in May, Swift posted a photo of them hanging out with the caption, "We meet up every Tuesday night for dinner and a glass of wine" — a lyric from "No Body, No Crime."The band showed their support for "Red (Taylor's Version)" on Instagram Stories in November 2021.In July 2022, Swift surprised fans by coming on stage with Haim at the band's London concert. They performed a mash-up of Haim's "Gasoline" and Swift's "Love Story" in matching leather pants. When Swift released a teaser trailer for her "Midnights" music videos, the Haim sisters were credited at the end. The sister group joined as an opening act for a leg of Swift's Eras Tour, and they were also photographed hanging out with Swift on her days off. They joined Swift and Gomez to celebrate the Fourth of July this year.Swift and Lena Dunham's friendship began on Twitter.Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham at the Grammys in 2013.Kevin Mazur/WireImageIn 2012, breakout actress and writer Lena Dunham praised Swift's music on Twitter saying she would have written papers about the singer in college had the "Red" album existed then.Swift responded and said she loved Dunham's HBO show "Girls," and then Dunham supposedly sent her a DM saying she was excited to become friends.In 2013, the two met in person at the Grammys, and in 2015 Dunham was a part of the "Bad Blood" music video.Dunham is still friends with Swift she's still making content for HBO.Lena Dunham at the "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" premiere.SIMON DAWSON/ReutersDunham attended Swift's Reputation tour in 2018 and told The Cut in November of that year that even she was surprised that she was still friends with the superstar.Dunham also showed her support for Swift in 2018 after the singer broke her political silence by publicly endorsing two Democrat candidates in Tennessee.In 2019, she praised Swift on Instagram for her "ME!" music video and posted a heartfelt message for Swift's 30th birthday later that year.In September 2021, Swift was one of Dunham's bridesmaids at her wedding to Luis Felber, according to Vogue. Dunham also supported her friend's "Midnights" album via an Instagram Story.Part of the post read, "It's an honor and a pleasure to watch you best yourself again and again – which is hard to do when you're the best. Fan, friend, it's all the same. Now back to repeat listens."Dunham attended the second Philadelphia Eras Tour show on her birthday, and Swift announced during the surprise-song set that the actor requested "Forever and Always."This story was originally published in January 2019, and most recently updated on December 13, 2023. Read More:13 surprising things you didn't know about Taylor SwiftAll of Taylor Swift's albums, ranked from least to most iconic16 famous songs that were reportedly inspired by celebrities11 pairs of musicians you didn't realize were friendsRead the original article on Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 13th, 2023

A new era for the market means a new way to think about investing

After a nice run for investors, the next 10 years look to be an uphill battle. Here's why it'll be so hard to generate big returns. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during afternoon trading on November 03, 2023.Michael M. Santiago / Getty This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter. You can sign up for Insider's daily newsletter here. Hello! If you happen to own a huge restaurant chain, take Red Lobster's $20 Ultimate Endless Shrimp promotion as a cautionary tale: The company's profits tanked due to an overwhelming appetite for the deal.In today's big story, we're looking at where experts advise people to park their cash over the next decade.What's on deck: Markets: Economist Neil Dutta makes the case for a soft landing for the US economy, and what that means for 2024.Tech: The "power outfits" of up-and-coming investors.Business: Some people are "doom spending," while others are "doom saving" amid economic uncertainty.But first, what's the long-term play here?If this was forwarded to you, sign up here.The big storyBang for your buckLiam Eisenberg for Business InsiderThere's plenty of chatter about how to invest next year. But what about how to invest for the next 10 years?The market volatility in the wake of the pandemic gave people visions of getting rich overnight, but true investing is a long-term play. With that in mind, Business Insider's James Faris and Will Edwards spoke to nine professional investors, strategists, and financial planners about the best way to invest and manage personal finances for the next decade. Their piece has plenty of tips for anyone wondering where to put their money, from the actual investments to the vehicles to use.Let's get the bad news out of the way first: A near-zero interest rate environment won't be returning. Yes, rates will eventually come down. But it won't happen overnight, and they won't drop to pre-pandemic levels. (It's worth remembering a rate cut doesn't guarantee a market boon, as we've previously covered.) As a result, a new market regime means new investing strategies will be necessary, James and Will write.Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesOne of the big takeaways from the story was how hard it seems the next 10 years will be for investors.Setting aside recency bias, it's been relatively easy to generate good returns in the market over the past 10 years. Sure, there have been bumps in the road. But if you bet on most of the big-name tech stocks — or took a chance on some innovative newcomers — you're probably sitting pretty.But elevated rates mean cash won't come cheap for those innovative companies looking to take chances. It also means the bar for returns is that much higher. (More on that here.)As James and Will outline, that could mean looking to mid-cap stocks with room to grow. Or even going abroad, where stocks aren't as pricey. Whatever you decide, patience will be the name of the game for investors going forward. And to be fair, that's not much different than how things have always been.Your Monday headline catchupA quick recap of the top news from over the weekend:Elon Musk says his kids' safety is at risk unless a Texas judge restricts access to his custody battle with GrimesMeet Allison Greenfield, the law clerk driving Trump bonkers at his fraud trialWe now have more details on what the heck happened at OpenAIMillennials have become their own worst enemy in the housing market3 things in marketsThe US economy is about to make a soft landing — a situation in which inflation cools without causing a recession or sudden spike in unemployment.Arantza Pena Popo/Insider2024 is shaping up to be a great year for the economy — and the stock market. After three years of pain, America is finally seeing the job market holding up and inflation cooling. So, if this year was about the hard work of stabilizing the economy, then next year is about enjoying the fruits of that labor. Speaking of 2024... JPMorgan's top market strategist issued his 2024 stock forecast. It's the most bearish projection on Wall Street so far, seeing the S&P 500 ending next year at 4,200 — representing a potential downside of 8% from current levels.Crypto stocks have notched triple-digit rallies this year. AI names may have commanded the market's attention lately, but another corner of the market is seeing impressive gains: stocks tied to digital assets. Coinbase, MicroStrategy, Riot Platforms, and Marathon Digital shares are up more than 250% in 2023. Meanwhile, bitcoin has climbed about 130% year-to-date.3 things in techGetty Images; Alyssa Powell/BIChatGPT is good news for employees who suck at their jobs. AI might just be the great equalizer. Studies show that it's not helping everyone get better at their jobs. Instead, it's mostly turbocharging workers who are bad at their jobs — narrowing the gap between high and low performers. VC "power outfits." Business Insider's 2023 rising stars of VC shared the clothing items that help them look and feel the best at work. Their style is a bit less traditional and includes pieces like Chelsea boots, jeans, and high-top sneakers.Leaked meeting transcript: AWS VP says senior engineer departures are "making us better." Some employees were concerned about the exodus. But Prasad Kalyanaraman told employees last month that attrition helps the company be more focused.3 things in businessTesla's Cybertruck has finally begun deliveries in the US.TeslaWhy Elon Musk's Cybertruck won't be coming to Europe anytime soon. The first reason is pretty simple: the Cybertruck is too heavy. To drive a vehicle heavier than 3.5 tons in the EU, you may need a truck driver's license. Plus, Tesla faces a bevy of production challenges.A Gen Xer making $344,000 secretly worked three jobs. Then two of them laid him off. The 48-year-old said this scenario is exactly why he was overemployed. He said balancing three jobs was transformational for his finances (but also led to burnout).Doom saving vs. doom spending. In the face of economic uncertainty, some Americans are "doom spending" to help cope with the stress. Meanwhile, others are "doom saving," which could ultimately cause headaches for some businesses.In other newsWe got a look at the menu for CosMc's, McDonald's new spinoff.At VMware, "change" and "uncertainty" loom after its $69 billion acquisition by Broadcom, which left customers on edge.I made a GPT, a custom version of OpenAI's ChatGPT, and it only took me 15 minutes. Here's how.Three questions to ask yourself if your partner's career success is making you jealous.I shopped at Banana Republic and J. Crew to see how their transformation is going. One was much more fun to shop.How to get back into an exercise routine: six tricks from a former fitness coach.What's happening todayThe Oxford Dictionary announced its Word of the Year. The contenders included beige flag, de-influencing, heat dome, parasocial, prompt, rizz, situationship, and Swiftie. Check out the winner. Happy birthday, Jay-Z! Tyra Banks, Blake Snell, and Thomas Carlyle were also born on this day.Earnings today: Gitlab and other companies.For your bookmarksTrailer vs. motel"I stayed in a 250-square-foot trailer on a gorgeous property for $80. I'd choose it over a motel every time." It was surrounded by gorgeous scenery and was also beautifully decorated inside.The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, senior editor and anchor, in New York City. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 4th, 2023

I moved from the US to Germany 11 years ago. A lot of things have surprised me about living here with my kids.

I moved from the US to gave birth to all three of my kids here. Raising kids in Germany has been surprising in some ways. Raising kids in Germany has had a few surprises. golero/Getty ImagesI'm from the United States but I've lived in Germany for over a decade and had my three kids here.In Germany, kids are given a lot of independence and they go outside all year.Giving birth was nearly cost-free and my necessary tests and checkups were covered by insurance.I'm originally from the United States, but I've lived in Germany for over 11 years.Moving to Germany was not necessarily an extreme culture shock, but many things have surprised me — especially when it comes to raising my three kids, who have all been born here. My 3 pregnancies and births were nearly cost-freeThanks to a universal multi-payer healthcare system, Germany is an excellent country to be pregnant and have a baby in.Other than a few optional tests, everything in my pregnancy was covered by insurance, including a 3D/4D ultrasound in my second trimester and all of my checkups and hospital stays.I had a private room at the hospital after I gave birth to my older two children, but that was the only thing I paid out of pocket for in terms of birth — my insurance covered everything else for all three of my kids.It's been possible for us to live car-free in our German city, even with kidsOur city has comprehensive bike lanes and drivers are attuned to watch out for cyclists.Elva Etienne/Getty ImagesAs a family who tries our best to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum, I love that we can live car-free in our German city. It saves us money, keeps us in shape, and is much better for the environment. Plus, no sitting in traffic or looking for parking spots.German cities typically have great bicycle infrastructure and the country's public-transportation system is very comprehensive, safe, and (usually!) reliable. We get around primarily via bike, using a trailer and extra seats to transport our younger kids. The bike trailer also doubles as a stroller, so it's very convenient for lengthier outings. Cargo bikes, which have large baskets or carts, are particularly popular among German families with young kids. Some German cities even offer a financial rebate for purchasing one. In Germany, kids are independent at a young age Germany has been a culture shock for me when it comes to kids' levels of independence. In the US, letting your elementary schooler walk a few blocks to the grocery store alone could lead to a Child Protective Services call. In Germany, that's super common and accepted.German kids regularly walk, bike, or take public transit to school or to visit friends at very young ages. I've seen parents have their 7-year-old kids walk to school alone. I think a lot of it has to do with the general safety and low crime rates in my part of Germany combined with the ease of getting around with out a car. Preschool isn't super academic focused — and kids learn about taking care of their teeth Many kids brush their teeth in German preschools. Westend61/Getty ImagesGerman kids get a year of preschool before they start elementary school, but it's pretty low-key with some basic reading, writing, and math. I've noticed that the emphasis on preschool in Germany is creative play and exploration. Kids are encouraged to use their imagination.And, in German preschools, kids are taught about dental hygiene. Most daycares and preschools have toothbrushes and the kids brush their teeth every day. Some of these institutions also have dentists visit to talk to the kids about taking care of their teeth.Kids are outside year-round, no matter the weatherThe general German mindset is that there's no bad weather, just bad clothes — and that applies to kids. I've learned a lot about rain pants, snow pants, and merino-wool layers. Daycares and preschools throughout the country take kids out regularly in the winter, even when there's some rain or snow.I think it's great for my kids' health and development to be outside year-round. It's also helped them develop an early love of nature.My kids will happily splash in muddy puddles, sled at a park, or hike for hours in the mountains without complaining — it's what they're used to. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 2nd, 2023

Renters "almost instantaneously" claimed these 200-square-foot duplex tiny homes on wheels near Tampa for $1,300 a month — see inside the units

Escape Homes says this is the first fully electric tiny-home duplex in the US. At a total of 42 feet-long, each unit can sleep four people. Escape Homes has built what it says is the first fully electric duplex tiny home in the US.Escape Homes' Escape Tampa BayEscape Homes has fit two tiny homes into one 42-foot-long duplex on wheels.Both of the approximately 200-square-foot units are being rented at $1,295 a month.Escape Homes' CEO said all of the rentals in this tiny-home community near Tampa were claimed within 36 hours of listing.The two cheapest rentals in Escape Homes' popular tiny-home community near Tampa, Florida are only $1,295 a month. But there are two major catches: They're both only about 200 square feet. And depending on how you look at it, these renters have to share their house with someone else.A little over a year ago, Wisconsin-based Escape Homes — better known for its tiny home-on-wheels manufacturing arm — began deploying its units to Thonotosassa, Florida to create the Escape Tampa Bay community. Now over 30 houses later, all but one of these mostly sub-400 square-foot properties have been claimed.The latest Palm Court extension has six rentable units.Escape Homes' Escape Tampa BayThe options in the neighborhood's latest extension can't be purchased. Instead, the units in Palm Court are only available to rent, including what Escape Homes says is the first fully electric duplex tiny home in the US.The duplex has amenities like a washing machine, small stovetop, and under-bed storage.Escape Homes' Escape Tampa BayNo other property in the tiny home community resembles the new "eBoho Duplex." From far away, it looks like a typical 42-foot-long trailer-based home. However, upon closer inspection, the long platform actually holds two self-contained dwellings with separate interiors and entrances.Inside the reversed but identical homes, there's one room that grounds the queen bed, couch, closet, and kitchen. Past another door, the bathrooms have a compact sink next to a full-size shower.Each unit has two rooms: a bathroom and a conjoined living, bedroom, and kitchen space.Escape Homes' Escape Tampa BayAt this small square footage, space-saving hacks are necessary: They also have flip-up tables, elongated shelving, and a washer and dryer in the kitchen. And like the other homes in Escape Tampa Bay, the two tenants each have their own deck and access to the community's pool, small park, extra storage, and office."This is how you create a 21st-century neighborhood," Escape's CEO said.The duplex apartments come with a two-panel flip table.Escape Homes' Escape Tampa BayRent for half of the duplex is $1,295 a month while the most expensive apartment in Palm Court is $1,800 a month for 390 square feet. To compare, the median rent in Tampa is $2,200 a month, according to data from Zillow. At prices this low, all six units were claimed "almost instantaneously" — either before being listed or within 36 hours after, Escape Homes' CEO said.Escape Homes CEO says its next community could be filled with more of these duplexes.Escape Homes' Escape Tampa Bay"Because the reaction to them was so positive," Dobrowolski says this won't be the last tiny-home duplex we'll see. The company also owns the plot of land across the street from this neighborhood. In the future, that property will likely be built out with more of these two-in-one homes.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 5th, 2023

Snap-on Incorporated (NYSE:SNA) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Snap-on Incorporated (NYSE:SNA) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript October 19, 2023 Snap-on Incorporated beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $4.51, expectations were $4.43. Operator: Good morning, and welcome to the Snap-on Incorporated 2023 Third Quarter Conference Call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions]. Please note today’s event is being recorded. I would […] Snap-on Incorporated (NYSE:SNA) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript October 19, 2023 Snap-on Incorporated beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $4.51, expectations were $4.43. Operator: Good morning, and welcome to the Snap-on Incorporated 2023 Third Quarter Conference Call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions]. Please note today’s event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Sara Verbsky, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, ma’am. Sara Verbsky: Thank you, operator, and good morning, everyone. We appreciate you joining us today as we review Snap-on’s third quarter results, which are detailed in our press release issued earlier this morning. We have on the call Nick Pinchuk, Snap-on’s Chief Executive Officer; and Aldo Pagliari, Snap-on’s Chief Financial Officer. Nick will kick off our call this morning with his perspective on our performance. Aldo will then provide a more detailed review of our financial results. After Nick provides some closing thoughts, we’ll take your questions. As usual, we’ve provided slides to supplement our discussion. These slides can be accessed under the Downloads tab in the webcast viewer, as well as on our website snapon.com, under the Investors section. A toolbox filled with an array of different tools, representing the professional products of the company. Editorial photo for a financial news article. 8k. –ar 16:9 These slides will be archived on our website along with the transcript of today’s call. Any statements made during this call relative to management’s expectations, estimates, or beliefs or that otherwise discuss management’s or the company’s outlook, plans or projections are forward-looking statements, and actual results may differ materially from those made in such statements. Additional information and the factors that could cause our results to differ materially from those in our forward-looking statements are contained in our SEC filings. Finally, this presentation includes non-GAAP measures of financial performance, which are not meant to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for their GAAP counterparts. Additional information regarding these measures is included in our earnings release issued today, which can be found on our website. With that said, I’d now like to turn the call over to Nick Pinchuk. Nick? Nicholas Pinchuk: Thanks, Sara. Good morning, everybody. As usual, I’ll start by covering the highlights of the quarter, and then I’ll provide an update on our general environment and the trends we see. Aldo will then give you a detailed review of the financials. Speaking about the last three months, I can say without question or qualification, we are once again encouraged fortified by the progress along our runways both growth and improvement. We encountered headwinds and we engaged challenges in a number of geographies still we capitalized on our opportunities, wielding our advantage and overcame the potential for disruption. The franchising network remain resilient generating positive gains through a broad and sharp rise in critical industries expanding what is now a consistent upward trajectory enabled by the confluence of our robust market of growing product lines and an effective expansion of capacity in that business. And that progress was pretty evident in our numbers. They speak for themselves. Reported sales were $1,159 million, up 5.2% from last year, a 4.7% organic rise and $4.4 million in favorable foreign currency effects with growth in every segments. This represents our 13th quarter, well, above pre-pandemic levels. OpCo income, OI before financial services were up 9.7%, reaching $245.2 million, OpCo operating margin rose 90 basis points to 21.2% with higher sales volumes, the benefits of great new products and the ongoing efficiencies of a rapid continuous improvement or RS&I more than offsetting up 50 basis points, a bad news from unfavorable foreign currency effects, 21.2% and 90 basis points. Nice. The operating income for our financial services operation grew $69.4 million from the $66.4 million last year, a 4.5% improvement and the result – and that result combined with the OpCo performance to raise our consolidated operating margins to 25.1%, a 70 basis point rise from 2022. And EPS, EPS was $4.51. reflecting a 37 or 8.9% increase above last year. Strong. Well those are the numbers. Once again strong signifying our corporation’s continuing advance. You see, we again believe that Snap-on is stronger now than at any time in our history and the results they say it so. Now let’s review the markets. In vehicle repairs, key metrics continue to be favorable. The average age of vehicles on the road continuing to rise and in turn the number of techs in the garages, in the garage is growing high to high mid-single-digits maintaining consistently positive trends period-over-period, period-over-period. That’s clearly upward. Technician wages are robust and continuing to climb. So the market is favorable and the metrics back it up. But more than the quantitative evidence, you get the feeling of optimism potential when you speak with technicians. Recently, I had a chance to visit with our customers’ franchises and mechanics in New York. And I’m here to tell you the enthusiasm they displayed in the industry and the confidence they expressed in their future was something else. It was contagious. Even in this time of turbulence, the message was clear. They see opportunity and they’re looking for more, more innovative solutions, that will increase productivity and take advantage of that potential. And their confidence on the way forward is palpable. And we believe they see Snap-on products, brands and people as the best way to ensure that positive future. Vehicle repair is a strong market. We see this confirmed throughout the franchisee network in North America and in our international operations. It’s one of the reasons we’ve expanded capacity. We believe our franchisees and our technicians have never been more prosperous. It all makes sense. The car park is increasingly requires more repairs or greater complexity and our customers, the techs are major participants in that reality. They need – and they need new tools to follow the opportunity. Snap-on is positioned to take full advantage of that possibility. Another important sector for us is the vehicle repair shop owners or managers. These are people who stand right next to the techs, but they buy at different cadences. This is where repairs systems and information group or S&I operates every day with advantage. The vehicle park is changing. The shops have to keep with the upswing model-by-model, new challenges, new challenges that they have to navigate. Electronics to support more features. Automotive systems that enhance driver safety. New body materials to increase durability and reduce weight. Network of sensors to anticipate traffic and road conditions. No power trains. Enhanced internal combustion engines. EVs and plug-in hybrids and the conserved energy and on and on and on. Each of these, each of these trends creates opportunity for garages and they know it. But they also know it requires new more sophisticated equipment. The opportunity – that opportunity we see shines right through political uncertainty or economic turbulence. We see, though that underneath every day when we call on the garages new software to guide repairs or manage the shop. Essential programs to accommodate either sequences of new vehicles, calibration protocols and advanced systems for sensor rays, advanced under car equipment to accommodate the precision – that the precision that supports efficient driving. And we see the shop owners and managers are eager to take advantage of those trends Snap-on has the hardware and software to enable that pursuit bringing to shops and the results in our C&I are confirming the strength of that market and our strong position in it. Finally, let’s discuss the critical industries. This is where we extend outside the garage solving tasks that that really matter. This is where commercial industrial or C&I lives. And where much more international activity happens. This is the arena of critical applications, space declarations, wind power maintenance, subsea mining, smelting that exceeds 2300 degrees Fahrenheit, the mobilization of first responders. All critical environments where the penalty for rearview was high and the need for repeatability and reliability often requires custom tools engineered for a single purpose. In other words, tasks that require a Snap-on solution. Just like in previous quarters, the market is booming. Momentum in multiple sectors like the military, general industry, aerospace, heavy-duty and aviation. Of course, do just see variations from geography-to-geography, this is an international business. Areas impacted by external factors that create disruptions in Europe, with the uncertainty associated with the Ukraine war in Asia where the remnants of the pandemic are still pretty apparent; there’s turbulence in China and the weakening of currencies these days are impacting particular countries. But overall, the critical industries are robust offering us significant potential for taking advantage and making significant gains. And in the quarter, we did just that. So our markets are resilient and are on a positive trajectory and we believe that our runways for growth will present clear and abundant opportunities as we move forward enhancing the franchise network, expanding where repair shop owners and managers extending to those critical industries. And building and emerging markets. Rising – rising and going forward by leveraging our broadening product line, wielding our strengthening brand, and deploying the increasing understanding of the work that is the hallmark of the Snap-on team. That’s the markets. Now, let’s turn to the segments. In the C&I group, third, quarter sales reached $266.4 million, up $9.6 million, which includes $1.6 million in unfavorable currency effects and an organic sales growth of 3.2% above last year. From an earnings perspective, C&I’s operating income was $58.1 million, up 11.1% double-digits including $2.9 million of unfavorable foreign currency. And the operating margin was 15.9%, an increase of 120 basis points overcoming 70 basis points of negative currency. We did have some variation across the group – across the group business units with substantial gains in industrial vision offsetting declines in Asia operations. But as usual, the C&I rise showed the power of our Snap-on value creation, particularly on customer connection, innovation authoring great new products, solutions that make critical tasks easier, like our new CT9038 power tool. We talked about this. We talked about this to a last quarter saying the franchisees were waiting for its launch. Well it was worth the wait. It’s a special to0l. A three eight inch drive, 18 volt impact unit that, that, that offers compact housing measuring only five inches long. That’s why we call it the stubby. The unique silhouette is made possible by engineering the overall housing mechanism to stabilize the electric motor rather than the standard approach of adding a whole independent structure to support the drive components. It’s an innovation that reduces overall body dimensions allowing users to navigate really tight spaces and believe me, that’s an attractive advantage for engine and suspension work on newer vehicles. And it does that while still delivering 520 foot pounds of bolt break away torque, power capable of busting with even the most stubborn of seized and seized fasteners. It’s what you would expect from Snap-on. It’s an ergonomically balanced – it’s ergonomically balanced, greatly reducing user fatigue. It’s equipped with a super bright LED light to clearly illuminate the workplace. It also offers three torque settings and forward and reverse and includes a variable speed trigger enabling techs to apply just that necessary force avoiding the fastener damage that you know, often can happen in tight spaces. The September launch was a big way oversubscribed. Clear testimony to the appreciation of the stubby’s compact power and it’s still showing great momentum. The orders remain very strong. It was worth wait. C&I product is encouraging. But there’s another story in the group. Our industrial division, extending the Snap-on brands to the critical industries. We’ve said in the past that the opportunity was there. Always needed was more capabilities to deliver. Well it played out just that way. We did add capacity for kidding and it drove results. Expansion came to the fall of the last year. And this past period was the third straight quarter of clear double-digit growth in the critical industries. And that was what’s strong margins. Gangbusters, gangbusters margins, gangbusters growth. It overcame the C&I challenge in Eastern Europe and Asia. And we believe we have much more room to run in the critical – in the critical industry’s arena. So we’re adding more capability in that business right now to take full advantage. Let’s C&I substantial challenges overcome by strong products and expanded capacity to drive upward in the critical industries and there’s more to come. Now on to the tools group. Sales line was up organically 3.7% over last year, reaching $515.4 million in the quarter. That’s finished with great in a quarter, that finished with great momentum. And the Group’s operating income continue to move strongly upward to $113.4, million, and 11% increase, double-digit increase over 2022 levels. Another in a series of those double-digit increases for the tools group and the operating margin was – it was 22% up 140 basis points from last year and that rise and – that considerable rise was achieved overcoming 50 basis points of unfavorable currencies, – a great quarter for the profitability and growth. Now, the third quarter is when we hold our annual Snap-on franchisee conference what call is the SFC. This year the event was a net show with 9,000 people attending, franchisees, guests and of course, Snap-on team all participating in the, in a weekend of special – in a great weekend. It was a weekend of special training. Hands-on encounters with our massive product line and for some fun – for some fun, special Snap-on celebrations, they’re really good. The attendees had the opportunity to spend time ordering directly from the tool exit expo floor. And I am happy to say orders were up again this year, which is and that exposed spanned a space of over three football fields where our entire portfolio of products was on display, but it had a wide array of demonstrations and that was specially designed to showcase the Snap-on performance advantage. The conference also provided a number training sessions, helping franchisees expand their business. Seminars and special breakouts, highlighting our product features and unique advantages in critical categories like power tools and diagnostics and we topped off that multi-day event. This is, these are the celebrations with a – of coach buses transporting the teams to downtown Nashville for unique Snap-on’s evening. Boom, shakalaka was the word of the day with another memorable SFC and sightful, education, great, new products, and a special fellowship, a special fellowship that reinforces our unique bond with our franchisees. From my perspective, our van drivers at Nashville spoke enthusiastically about their current businesses and radiated firm confidence in their future with Snap-on. And if you were there, you would have seen it too. During the tool expo, franchisees were able to spend time interacting with some of the new innovative products derived from our customer connections inside game, directly in the workplace handles were big at the SFC and in the quarter and the demand was driven by special new products like our 12 millimeter 6.6. meter Duramax glow plug socket. This product was inspired by a franchisee observing the technicians removing blocking components one-by-one from a diesel vehicle, fender of special intake lines in steering shifts. These items create access barriers increasing the difficulty of executing the very basic repair of just changing diesel glow plugs, a routine test that that was made difficult because of our crowded engine compartment design with minimal regard for servicing. We listened to the franchisee feedback, went to work designed – and new socket longer than the standard to reach the glow plugs from a distance. And with a flex mechanism that guide around the blockers, making – making it unnecessary to remove them. Technicians immediately recognize the considerable time savings that – it made the new sockets very popular. It’s another customer connection that transforms a laborious process, making more easier, freeing time and increasing tech capacity and therefore tech income. Also on display was another Display was another example of customer connection, the new FHC 72MPRR, these product terminations are mouthful. Triples but it’s a we call it a triple function ratchet. Three tools in one. Again, born out of customer connection directly in the worst place. First the ratchet head can be secured parallel to the handle serving as an traditional ratchet. Next, the head can be adjusted to take any one of 16 available positions, 240 degrees around the handle centerline enabling the tool to work while reaching around obstacles. Finally, the unit can be placed in a free spin mode providing the tech with 360 degrees in continuous rotation, greatly reducing work time in low torque situations. Our customers, the technicians again saw the great benefit of that improved productivity and that recognition made the triple function ratchet a million dollar hit product in just the first month of selling. It was another win for customer connection and a driver for the tools group. The tools group proves a third quarter achievement and momentum fueled by customer connection, innovative insight, anchoring great new products. And with the group’s continuous dedication to Snap-on value creation, we believe the hits in the progress will just keep on comments. Turning to RS&I. Sales of $431.8 million in the third quarter were up as reported by 4.2% with an organic improvement of 3.1%, expansions in the undercar equipment and our diagnostics and information portfolio continued to offset the OEM businesses where – which finished down slightly in a traditionally lumpy arena. OI for RS&I was $104.9 million, up 10%, again double-digits from 2022 and the operating margins was 24.3% represent – which represented an improvement of 130 basis points again against 20 basis points of unfavorable foreign currency. We’ve great confidence in our RSI business. Our customers and industries, partners feel the same, and that confidence was demonstrated in the latest public recognitions. Recently Motor Magazine shows our Zeus Plus fast track intelligent diagnostic platform as a top tool in 2023. Our premium handheld unit was recognized for simplifying the repairs, guiding technicians through the troubleshooting procedures avoiding unnecessary steps along the way and improving solution, accuracy, and most importantly, reducing the time to identify the proper fit. The Zeus Plus is the top of the line for vehicle repair and the publications know it recognizing our handhelds for our handheld new prominent bright screen, increasing the ease of use in direct sunlight. It’s faster processor with more onboard memory enabling greater task efficiency, and it’s improved lab scope making component testing much more accurate and when professional tools and equipment knows ask this readers to choose the best new tools as recipients of that publication’s People’s Choice awards the tech selected seven Snap-on products led the Zeus Plus. The Zeus Plus top of the line indeed. Hardware, software, shaped by customer connection, another and a long line of distinctive and decisive RS&I products driving the group upwards and onwards. We’re quite positive about RS&I’s possibilities with repair shop owners and managers as the vehicle industry evolves and the quarter supports that confidence. So those are the highlights of the quarter. Continued strong progress. The 13th straight quarter above pre-pandemic levels. C&I margins up year-over-year volume growth and strong, strong OI margins. The tools group, great products, confident franchisees and strong momentum. RS&I under car repair information activity leading the charge enabling the repair shops in the challenges in today’s vehicles. And the overall corporation sales up 5.2% as reported 4.7% organically. OpCo operating margin 21.2% up 90 basis points, overcoming 50 basis points of currency headwinds and an EPS to $4.51 rising 8.9% versus last year. It was an encouraging quarter. Now I’ll turn the call over to Aldo. Aldo? Aldo Pagliari: Thanks, Nick. Our consolidated operating results are summarized on Slide 6. Net sales of $1,159.3 million of the quarter represented an increase of 5.2% from 2022 levels, reflecting a 4.7% organic sales gain and $4.4 million of favorable foreign currency translation. Organic sales growth was balanced across all three of our operating segments and from a geographic perspective, we experienced year-over-year gains in North and South America, as well as Europe. Asia continue to be attenuated by weakness in China and Japan, the latter hampered by a depreciating Yen. Consolidated growth margin improved 160 basis points to 49.9% from 48.3% last year as gross margins expanded across all of our operating segments. Contributions from increased sales volume with pricing actions, lower material and other costs and benefits to the companies RCI initiatives were partially offset by 50 basis points of unfavorable foreign currency effects. Operating expenses as a percentage of net sales rose 70 basis points to 28.7% from 28% last year, primarily due to increased investment in personnel, and other costs. Operating earnings before financial services of $245.2 million in the quarter compared to $223.5 in 2022. As a percentage of net sales, operating larger before financial services of 21.2% including 50 basis points of unfavorable currency effects, reflects an expansion of 90 basis points over last year. Financial services revenue of $94.9 million in the third quarter of 2023 compared to $87.3 million last year, while operating earnings of $69.4 million compared to $66.4 million in 2022. Consolidated operating earnings of $314.6 million in the quarter, compared to $289.9 million last year. As a percentage of revenues, the operating earnings margin of 25.1% reflects an improvement of 70 basis points from 2022. Our third quarter effective income tax rate of 22.6%, compared to 21.6% last year. Net earnings of $243.1 million dollars or $4.51 per diluted share, including an $0.08 per share impact from unfavorable foreign currency, reflected an increase of $19.2 million and $0.37 per share from 2022 levels, and represented an 8.9% year-over-year improvement in diluted earnings per share. Now let’s turn to our segment results for the quarter. Starting with C&I Group on Slide 7. Sales of $366.4 million dollars increased from $356.8 million last year reflecting $11.2 million or 3.2% organic sales gain which was partially offset by $1.6 million of unfavorable foreign currency translation. Organic growth includes a double-digit gain in sales to customers and critical industries, partially offset by a double-digit decline in the segment to Asia Pacific operations. With respect to critical industries, sales to the military were robust as was activity in the aviation sector. Overall C&I organic sales to external customers were up 7.1% for the quarter. Gross margin improved 210 basis points to 39% in the third quarter from 36.9% in 2022. This was largely due to increased sales volumes in the higher gross margin critical industry sector, pricing actions and benefits from RCI initiatives. These improvements were partially offset by 60 basis points of unfavorable foreign currency effects. Operating expenses as a percentage of sales rose 90 basis points to 23.1% in the quarter, from 22.2% 2022, primarily due to increased sales and higher expense businesses and investments in personnel and other costs. Operating earnings for the C&I segment of $58.1 billion, including $2.9 million of unfavorable foreign currency effects, compared to $52.3 million last year. The operating margin of 15.9%, including 70 basis points of unfavorable currency effects, compared to 14.7% in 2022, reflecting an improvement of 120 basis points. Turning now to Slide 8. Sales in the Snap-on tools group of $515.4 million compared to $496.6 million a year ago, reflecting a 3.7% organic sales gain and $500,000 of favorable foreign currency translation. The organic sales growth reflects a double-digit gain in our international operations and a low-single-digit increase in our US business. Gross margin improved 140 basis points to 46.3% in the quarter from 44.9% last year. This increase is primarily due to higher sales volumes and pricing actions and benefits from RCI initiatives, partially offset by 50 basis points of unfavorable foreign currency effects. Operating expenses as a percentage of sales was unchanged from last year with benefits from higher volumes offset by increased personnel and other costs. Operating earnings for the Snap-on tools group of $113.4 million including $2.7 million of unfavorable foreign currency effects, compared to $102.2 million last year. The operating margin of 22% includes 50 basis points of unfavorable currency, compared to 20.6% in 2022 reflecting an improvement of 140 basis points. Turning to the RS&I group shown on Slide 9. Sales of $431.8 million compared to $414 million in 2022 reflecting a 3.1% organic sales gain and $4.8 million of favorable, foreign currency translation. The organic sales increase includes a high-single-digit gain in sales of undercar equipment and a low-single-digit increase in sales of diagnostic and repair information products to independent shop owners and managers. These gains were partially offset by a low-single-digit decline in activity with OEM dealerships where we often see variability in essential tool programs from period-to-period. Gross margin improved 260 basis points to 45.5% from 42.9% last year, mostly due to lower material and other costs and increase sales volumes and savings from RCI initiatives. Operating expenses as a percentage of sales went up by 130 basis points to 21.2% from 19.9% last year, primary reflecting increased personnel and other costs. Operating earnings for the RS&I group of $104.9 million compared to $95.4 million last year. The operating margin improved 130 basis points to 24.3% from 23% reported last year. Now turning to Slide 10. Revenue from financial services increased $7.6 million to $94.9 million from $87.3 million last year, primarily reflecting the growth of the loan portfolio. Financial services, operating earnings of $69.4 million compared to $66.4 million in 2022. Financial Services expenses were up $4.6 million from 2022 levels, including $4 million of higher provision for credit losses. The year-over-year increase of provisions reflects both the growth of the portfolio, as well as a return to what we believe to be a more normal pre-pandemic rate of provision. Sequentially, the provision for credit losses decreased by about $500,000. For reference, our gross worldwide extended credit or finance receivable portfolio has increased 9.3% year-over-year and we believe that delinquency in portfolio performance trends currently remains stable. In both the third quarters of 2023 and 2022, the respective average yield on finance receivables was 17.7%. In the third quarters of 2023 and 2022 average yields on contract receivables were 8.8% and 8.6% respectively. Total loan originations of $305.2 million in the third quarter represented an increase of $5 million or 1.7% from 2022 levels, including a 4% increase in originations of finance receivables. Moving to Slide 11, our quarter end balance sheet includes approximately $2.4 billion of gross financing receivables with $2.1 billion from our US operation. The 60-day plus delinquency rate of 1.5% for US extended credit is the same as it was in this period last year. On a sequential basis, the rate is up 20 basis points reflecting the seasonal trend we typically experience in the third quarter. As it relates to extended credit or finance receivables, trailing 12-month net losses of $47.9 million represented 2.51% of outstandings at quarter end, which is up slightly from the 2.45% reported at the end of last quarter. Now, turning to Slide 12, cash provided by operating activities of $285.4 million in the quarter represented 115% of net earnings when compared to $129.9 million last year. The improvement as compared to the third quarter of 2022, largely reflects lower year-over-year increases of working investment, as well as higher net earnings. Net cash used by investing activities of $59.7 million included net additions to finance receivables of $35.1 million and capital expenditures of $25.1 million. Net cash used by financing activities of $135.3 million included cash dividends of $85.6 million and the repurchase of 194,000 shares of common stock for $51.8 million under our existing share repurchase programs. As of quarter end, we had remaining availability to repurchase up to an additional $304.5 million of common stock under our existing authorizations. Turning to Slide 13, trade and other accounts receivable increased $15.1 million from 2023 events. Net sales outstanding of 60 days compared to 61 days as of 2022 year end. Inventory decreased $200,000 from 2022 year end. On a trailing 12 month basis, inventory turns to 2.4 compared to 2.5 at year end 2022. Our quarter end cash position of $959.3 million, compared to $757.2 million at year in 2022. Our net debt to capital ratio of 4.8% compared to 9% at year 2022. In addition to cash, we expected cash flow from operations, we entered into a five year $900,000 multi-currency revolving credit facility on September 12, which amends and restates our previous $800 million facility. As at quarter end, there were no amounts outstanding under the credit facility and there were no commercial paper borrowings outstanding. That concludes my remarks on our third quarter performance. But briefly review a few outlook items for the remainder of 2023. We anticipate the capital expenditures will approximate $100 million. In addition we currently anticipate that our full year 2023 effective income tax rate will approximate 23%. I’ll now turn the call back to Nick for his closing thoughts. Nick? Nicholas Pinchuk: Thanks, Aldo. Well, that’s our third quarter. You know, I always say as the third quarter could be somewhat squirrely, not always indicative of trends. That’s because of the SFC and the vacation seasons around the world. But having said that, the last three months haven’t been encouraging. We took on some significant headwinds, the war in the Ukraine, and the uncertainly in China, both politically and economically. We engaged those challenges came through at all with clear progress. New heights across the board. Continuing our – it all, continue our upward trajectory movement, the upward conjecture we’ve been on for some time. We spoken quite a bit about capacity constraints, first in the industrial business and later in the tools group, born of the increasing demand for our solutions. And in this quarter, we clearly see the power of such expansions wielded by capable of experienced team enabled by decisive advantages, and products, and brands and applied in markets that are critical and resilient even amidst the challenges. The industrialization is performing as we said it would. Clear double-digit growth and strong profitability now, demonstrated for three straight quarters as its new capacity has come online. And the tools groups starting to see the very early effects of that capacity propulsion closing out the quarter with great momentum and with significant rises in overall profitability. At RS&I, not capacity bound, but establishing a strong and profitable position in the repair shops with software strength like our Mitchell 1 systems, diagnostic ascendance like our decorated Zeus Core to Intel and by clear answers to challenges of repair complexity up and down the under car equipment line, continuing the steep upward trend in that broad product arena. This was an encouraging quarter. You can see it in the results. C&I sales up 3.2% organically, external sales, particularly robust. Significant gains in critical industry overcoming the uncertainty of Europe and Asia. OI margin of 15.9% up 120 basis points against 70. Again, 70 basis points of unfavorable currency. The tools group sales was up organically 3.7% close to target exiting the quarter with momentum as the expansion start to help and an OI margin of 22%, up 140 basis points. Again overcoming 50 basis points of currency headwinds. In RS&I, sales rising 3.1%, OI rising 10% and the OI margins reaching 24.3%, an uplift of 130 points. And all drove the corporation higher. Sales were up 4.7% organically. Overall OpCo operating margins were 21.2%, a gain of 90 basis points, 90 basis points against 50 basis points a bad currency and all of that drove an EPS of $4.51, up versus every comparison. And we believe that with our decisive and widening advantages in product, the Snap-on value creation process, customer connection and innovation, people keep – will keep rolling out powerful new products day after day. Our advantages in brands Snap-on remains the outward sign of pride and dignity that working men and women take in their profession. Everybody knows it’s true and advantages in people. Our battle tested and capable team people that expect to rise even against difficulties. With those advantages amplified by capacity investments and applied to resilience and critical markets we believe that our enterprise will rise on a clear and continuing positive trajectory through the remainder of the year on into 2024 and well beyond. Now before I turn the call over to the operator, I’ll speak directly to our franchisees and associates. My friends, this was an encouraging quarter. It was hard one against significant turbulence and it was driven by your constant dedication and effort. For the success in our third quarter delivered by your hands, you have my congratulations. For the extraordinary capability you bring to bear every day and every situation, you have my admiration. And for the unwavering confidence you consistently express and clearly demonstrate in the future of our enterprise and our team, you have my thanks. Now I’ll turn the call over to the operator. Operator? See also Top 20 Biggest Car Manufacturers by 2023 Revenue and 11 Best Video Conferencing Stocks to Invest In. Q&A Session Follow Snap-On Inc (NYSE:SNA) Follow Snap-On Inc (NYSE:SNA) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: [Operator Instructions] Today’s first question comes from Brad Jordan at Jeffries. Please go ahead. Patrick Buckley: Hey, good morning guys. This is Patrick Buckley on for Brad. Thanks for taking our questions. Nicholas Pinchuk: Sure. Patrick Buckley: Last quarter, you guys called out the demand exceeding capacity in a few tools product lines. Did you see that mix mismatch balance out this quarter? Or has some of the trends persisted there? Nicholas Pinchuk: Yeah. Well, like, I think I – what I was trying to say in my remark is that it got better through the quarter. We started to get some of the value with the capacity expansions. We’re starting to get the early effects of those things. So you saw some of that start to balance out, but it’s still there. We expected to continue to – but those capacity expansions to continue helping us going forward. But it’s kind of the same thing. When we have these capacity constraints and they were principally in hand tools and in the tools group, there were at hand tools and in and tool storage as the quarter, we see them ease a little bit, but they’re not where we want them to be. They’re going to be, yes. Patrick Buckley: Got it. That’s helpful. Thank you. And then, within your OEM dealership customer base, you guys will –in that RS&I business you called out some weakness and lumpiness. Is overall demand pretty healthy there or what exactly is the driver? Nicholas Pinchuk: Demand is pretty healthy on a relative basis. I mean, the thing is what these businesses what this business referred to is, these are projects, programs authored or commissioned by OEMs principally to deal with the idiosyncrasies of a changing environment or with a new vehicle. Maybe it needs a new trailer hitch adjustment because something wasn’t anticipated or a different tool to take out the wiring harness or maybe to support vehicle charging stations that dealerships once because electric vehicles are coming on or maybe for a special. And what it is, is the OEM ask us to configure the product and then distribute it to its dealerships. And, that’s been going upwards. But it is lumpy, it’s big project, that’s a big project that’s good product. So if you get, x number of men in one quarter and you get x minus one in another quarter is a little bit of pressure on that. In this situation, the, the EQS business was down somewhat. Well, I think low-single-digits or something like that, but it was really last year it has risen tremendously associated with the fuselage of new models that are rolling out into the markets. And so this is down somewhat versus a pretty strong position. So it just reflects kind of some lumpiness along the surface for that business and that’s created some offset to C&I. For RS&I. Patrick Buckley: Got it. That’s helpful. That’s all for us. Thanks guys. Nicholas Pinchuk: Sure. Operator: Thank you. And our next question today comes from Gary Prestopino with Barrington Research. Please go ahead. Gary Prestopino: Hey, good morning everyone. Nicholas Pinchuk: Good morning, Gary. Gary Prestopino: Nick, can you – you said that the orders coming out of the conference were strong. I mean, could you give us some idea of some metrics to surround that? I mean, was it one of … Nicholas Pinchuk: Yeah, sure. They were up mid-single-digits. So, this is a nice we like this kind of thing because it shows we’re going to keep growing in that sort of range we expect to grow. It’s been upward during the pandemic, it have been up more higher at some points. But generally mid-single-digit growth is pretty good for us. We were kind of very encouraged by that idea. You know, you got to remember though Gary, as you know very well, these things are just orange. You know, they are orders. They are not necessarily sales and those orders are spread out over six months or seven months. So it’s hard to correlate them to anything in particular, but having said that, having orders up mid-single-digits is better than a poking an eye with a sharp stick. You know, it’s okay. We kind of like that. Gary Prestopino: Right. Okay. And then, just a question just in terms of, as we go forward as the car park gets older, but you’re starting to get more of a proliferation of older cars with technology where does your emphasis go at that point? Does it more of a shift from hand tools to increased diagnostics? Specialized diagnostics for these cars? Or is that just or maybe you can give us some guidance there? Nicholas Pinchuk: The thing is, is that you would think that would be logical. I would. Yeah, for sure, it bodes greater emphasis on electronics and software and other highly – high tech things like calibrations and things like that, which are the words of the day, then they are now, and then you are going to see a continuing upswing of that investment and the capability and value and revenue and profit generated by that stream. But I’m not so sure that hand tools will be attenuated, because as we look backwards, you know we remember this industry in the 90s where the number of trouble codes, electronic trouble codes on a car were measured in dozens. Now they’re measured in tens of thousands and the demand for handle tools is only going up. So I would, I’m not so sure that hand tools will be lessened. I believe that software and electronics and diagnostics and calibration will be increased. That’s what I would say. Now, by the way, the hand tools are pretty good margin. But it’s hard to predict those, because like I try to explain and explain since I was putting out with the diesel plug, gold plug sockets and the triple flex function in ratchet. Really these are things that are observed after the cars on road and you see the struggles that the technicians are having and you would enable them. And so I would anticipate they will continue to be in demand as we go forward. We haven’t seen any abatement of that demand even as we’ve seen a growth in the electronics and calibration business. Gary Prestopino: Okay. And then, just a question for Aldo, just on the tax rate, Aldo, I think you have kind of said and have the numbers in front of me, but your tax rate for this year would be between 23% and 24% on previous calls. Now you’ve stepped it down to 23%. But to get to that kind of a tax rate for the year, you’re going to have to be somewhere over 24% for Q4. Am I reading that, right? Aldo Pagliari : That will be the neighborhood actually of – I think our rate year-to-date it’s put them all together is around 22.9% or something like that. So we are in the ballpark area. So I think it’ll be in that neighborhood in Q4 We’ve had some favorable outcomes on reducing our state taxes along with some other items. But that’s what benefited Q3. In order to Q3 last year it was even better. So sometimes there’s variation that occurs from time to time. But 23% is about the right number I think we’re going to get to this upcoming full year......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyOct 20th, 2023

A baby boomer who"s been a delivery driver for 4 years says he values the flexibility — but cautions that the work is becoming harder to get

A baby-boomer delivery driver says the work is becoming harder to get and cautions it's not sustainable long term. An Amazon Flex sign.Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesA baby boomer who's been a delivery driver for four years may soon call it quits.He values the flexibility and independence but said the inconsistency had lowered his paycheck.He's seeking a more stable marketing position but cannot stop gig work just yet.After delivering more than 30,000 packages, Scott says he might be nearing the end of the road on his driving gigs.Scott is a baby-boomer delivery driver who worked as a digital marketer full time before the coronavirus pandemic, said after nearly four years of driving for companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and DoorDash. He said that while his current gig at Amazon Flex has been "the best gig out there," he's unsure how much more he has in the tank.Scott, who drives in the Washington, DC, area, requested that Insider publish only his first name, fearing personal and professional repercussions for candidly discussing his experiences driving for Amazon and other companies.The independence and flexibility, as well as the trust his employers have in him, have made him continue striving to be a top driver. But he said the anxiety of making ends meet with inconsistent work and more competition among drivers had been stressful. He says it's become a "trap" — he's reliant on this income to make ends meet, though he can't take time off to restart his marketing career full-time.Gig work is still strong, as many younger Americans are looking to jobs like grocery delivery and digital freelancing. The number of US gig workers is thought to have more than doubled during the pandemic.Many still debate whether these gig jobs can be full-time jobs or are better suited only for supplemental income. Barely anyone can get rich off of just doing delivery driving, Scott said, but it's an option for him while he searches for a more stable office position.Navigating the uncertain world of gig workScott said he was hit hard financially at the start of the pandemic and couldn't immediately secure an office position, so he looked into gig work. On weekends, he worked as a retail data collector at large grocery stores before transitioning into personal shopping. He took up DoorDash and Instacart before delivering for Amazon, all the while still doing some freelance marketing projects."For someone that needs gig work, it's great if you know how to do it," Scott said. "However, it's not sustainable. You can't do it forever because of the wear and tear on your vehicle."Since then, he's driven nearly 40,000 miles with personal vehicles for Amazon Flex, which he's had to maintain with his own money. He's made it a goal to average a gross income of $150 a day, prioritizing reserved offers that guarantee him a few hours of work."The scene is constantly changing with the stress of being able to make sure that you're going to be able to have enough work to do to reach that goal on a weekly or monthly basis," he said.Work is becoming harder to getHe said work had become much tougher because of growing competition. He said more and more drivers are vying for the same few deliveries, and he said it's caused him to lose about 20% of his income compared with six months ago.He used to get four to six instant offers — or deliveries that start right away — a day just by being close to a pickup facility, but now he's only getting one or two a day."Amazon Flex delivery partners sign up for delivery blocks that fit their schedule," Steve Kelly, an Amazon spokesperson, told Insider. "Blocks are dependent on customer demand and may fluctuate week to week. Amazon Flex delivery partners are encouraged to check the Amazon Flex app throughout the day for available blocks and instant offers."Still, Scott said the flexibility had been helpful, especially as he spends time networking and doing side projects in hopes of returning to an office position. He's skeptical he can land in corporate America at his age, but he's networking with business professionals to start to get his foot in the door."I'm just at a point where I cannot afford to drop this income stream to focus 100% on my passion," he said.Finding what worksAfter three years of driving, he's learned the types of delivery tasks that pay well, such as lengthier drives that can pay $40 to $50 an hour with tips if done fast. That's amounted to more than 2,200 customer compliments over the years, according to documents Scott shared with Insider.He said it's not too difficult to make a few thousand dollars a month, though it's gotten tougher."It doesn't seem like they reward drivers that have longevity and have high marks," he said. "They'll recognize you with a little badge of honor, but it's not like you're getting preferential treatment. It's frustrating to see the new drivers out there taking up that work that used to be mine."He said maximizing how much he could make in the 40 hours he puts in many weeks came with meticulous planning. He said grocery deliveries were often the most lucrative, though it takes more work if it's a walk-up apartment.He said he's also managed to increase his tips by, for instance, scanning packages before dropping them off instead of outside a window, or approaching homes quietly and without lights on. It comes down to small details such as where to park or having the package ready to go right after parking."The app keeps track of everything that you do, so I can find that I've become a delivery guru, and that's something that's personally worth it," he said. "I don't know if it means anything to anybody else, but you can look back and say, 'I did that, and I knocked it out of the park.'"Are you a gig worker who has thoughts about how gig work has changed in your experience over the past few years? Reach out to this reporter at nsheidlower@insider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 19th, 2023

Take a look at a new 28-unit tiny home community near Austin where rent for a 2-bedroom is $1,375 a month

The founder of Mustard Seed Community said all 28 of the 822-square-foot homes were claimed within two weeks of their completion in June. These 28 822-square-foot tiny homes are being rented for $1,375 a month. All of the units were claimed within two weeks, Joseph Claypool, the cofounder of the Mustard Seed Community, said.Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityA 28-unit tiny home community is now open near Austin, Texas with a monthly rent of $1,375.Its founder said all of the 822-square-foot homes were claimed within two weeks.Tiny homes are increasingly used as an alternative to traditional housing.A city about 20 minutes north of Austin, Texas opened a new tiny home community in June. But unlike some of the pricey ones that have recently popped up, rent for these 28 units is capped at $1,375 a month.As big tech companies like Apple and Tesla have flooded into the city, so have its high-earning employees. This gentrification has made Austin one of the least affordable cities in the US with the median home price doubling from 2011 to 2021.In an effort to combat this booming housing cost, a local husband and wife decided to build what they say is Round Rock, Texas' first affordable tiny home community. Within two weeks of its completion, all 28 units were claimed.Using tiny homes to shelter people who maybe can’t afford traditional housing is becoming an increasingly popular concept. Brittany Chang/InsiderIn cities like Los Angeles and Seattle, nonprofits have been building prefabricated tiny home villages like the one shown above to use as transitional shelters in lieu of traditional congregate shelters.But Round Rock’s new Mustard Seed Community isn’t meant to be temporary housing — its residents have signed off on 12-month leases. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed Community"I've already had people in the community tell me they never want to move," Joseph Claypool, the cofounder of the Mustard Seed, told Insider.Claypool is the police lieutenant at the Rock Rock Police Department while his wife and cofounder Stephanie is a local teacher. Both have experience in flipping homes. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityWith this mutual connection to the Texas city, building Mustard Seed was the couple's way of "giving back," Claypool said, noting that Round Rock does not have "a lot of affordable housing."To fund this project, Claypool reached out to six major financial institutions. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityAfter being repeatedly rejected, Texas-based Amplify Credit Union finally offered him the loan and logistical help needed to build this community.While Claypool and Amplify Credit Union call these “tiny homes,” the two-story 28 dwellings aren't actually that small. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityThe 822-square-foot accommodations all have two bedrooms and one bathroom. This square footage is over double the size of most of the tiny homes at Escape Homes' community near Tampa, Florida but still significantly smaller than the median US home size, 2,191 square feet.Besides its size, the way these accommodations were built is one of the biggest differentiators between Mustard Seed and other similar communities. Escape Tampa Bay The OaksSome tiny homes — like the one in Escape Homes' neighborhood shown above — are built on frames with wheels and legally considered RVs, simplifying the setup, moving, and permitting process.But the lodging at Mustard Seed is built like traditional housing: on concrete slabs. These 28 822-square-foot tiny homes are being rented for $1,375 a month. All of the units were claimed within two weeks, Joseph Claypool, the cofounder of the Mustard Seed Community, said.Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed Community"The people that run Round Rock were not that fond of putting a trailer park here," Claypool said. "I got the hint that the city wanted something nice and permanent because there's a lot of talk about more of this coming here.Because of this, these residences have the comforts of traditional apartments like full-size water heaters and appliances, and central air conditioning and heating. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityInside, there are living rooms, ceiling fans, and granite countertop-lined kitchens with dishwashers.The laundry facility is located in a separate building.The median rent in Round Rock is $2,100, according to data from Zillow. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityHere, these two-bedroom homes are $1,375 per month. Claypool wants this to be "the most affordable in Round Rock."Despite any stereotypes people may have about affordable housing or tiny homes, this neighborhood looks like the average slice of suburbia.Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityMats that say "welcome" line the front doors, people sit on their decorated porches drinking coffee, and neighbors play cornhole together. Nearby, there's a small park and fire pit too.Before these two acres were developed, the land was home to old barns, a chicken coop, “donkeys running around, and who knows what other critters in the grass.” Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityHe then tapped a contractor to help build these homes.However, he won’t divulge how much it cost to build each unit “because I don’t think the average person would be able to build them for that [low of an] amount.” Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityHe also leases part of the property to Thrive Girls Ranch and Home, a Christian girls boarding school that sits among these apartments. Some of its alumni now live there as well.Despite their petite sizes, some tiny homes aren't cheap. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityLooking back at Escape Homes, those units started at $95,000 while its most expensive was $250,000 and 540 square feet.An over 800-square-foot two-bedroom home with affordable rent is hard to pass up. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunitySo it's no surprise that within two weeks of completing the project, all of the units had been called for, Claypool said.Rene Flores, Amplify’s commercial loan officer on this project, recalls “getting anywhere from five to six phone calls a week” from interested renters. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunitySome of the units were claimed before the community had opened. The rest were taken as fast as Claypool could answer his calls and emails, he recalled.Now, local teachers, nurses, 911 dispatchers, and restaurant service workers call Mustard Seed their home. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed CommunityMost of the residents share their home with another person, whether it be a partner, a single parent with a child, or a college roommate.While these residents are now settled in, this might not be the end of Claypool’s tiny home journey. Joseph Claypool, Mustard Seed Community"My heart's in it. I would like to do more," he said. "I just don't know when and where yet."When he's ready to, Flores says Amplify will be too: "We hope Joseph considers us for his next project. And we would want to be part of early conversations with other Josephs out there who want to do similar projects."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 19th, 2023

25 Most Peaceful Places to Live in the U.S.

In this article, we will be analyzing the factors contributing to a peaceful setting for living, while covering the 25 most peaceful places to live in the US. If you wish to skip our detailed analysis, you can move directly to the 5 Most Peaceful Places to Live in the US. Peaceful Surroundings: A Respite […] In this article, we will be analyzing the factors contributing to a peaceful setting for living, while covering the 25 most peaceful places to live in the US. If you wish to skip our detailed analysis, you can move directly to the 5 Most Peaceful Places to Live in the US. Peaceful Surroundings: A Respite The United States is known for some of the busiest cities in the world. However, it is home to many calm and peaceful places which add to the quality of life for the locals or those who wish to seek a living in these serene places. Several factors enable a place to become livable while being peaceful. Let’s take a look at some of them. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noise-induced hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States. Hence, a primary factor deteriorating the quality of life in America is noise pollution in the form of unwanted sounds disturbing everyday activities. Other than noise being a general inconvenience, it adversely affects human health as well. Stress related illnesses, lack of sleep, and lost productivity are some of the major outcomes of constant noise exposure. In any setting, environmental reserves such as woods, parks, or outdoor spaces offer a sense of relaxation. On June 28, Voice of America reported that people who have better access to nearby green spaces have better cardiovascular health and tend to be 2.5 years biologically younger than those who do not have the same access. Hence, the impact of green surroundings on human life is profound. Greener spaces contribute to psychological restoration by giving access to a place for social interaction and physical activity. Encountering nature also helps reduce mental fatigue. In August, Harvard Medicine reported that many physicians recommend spending time with nature as a way to seek cognitive benefits. Even a small city park or a green patch can help residents focus on nature and reduce stress.  Recreation Stocks Contributing to Quality Life People living in some of the most peaceful settings resort to natural, outdoor activities as a way of relaxation. Companies promoting recreation include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS), SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:SEAS) and Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO). You can also take a look at the biggest outdoor brands and companies. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS) is a leading American retailer of sporting equipment as well as outdoor gear for camping, hiking, and fishing, the most sought-after recreational activities. The company operates its stores in Daytona Beach, Pensacola, Orlando, Manchester, and Fort Collins which are some of the most peaceful places to live in the country. The company continues to expand its footprint across the US. It plans to open 75 to 100 House of Brand stores by 2027. On August 18, the company reported that it has inaugurated 9 new House of Sport stores during the months of July and August. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:SEAS) operates recreational destinations such as water parks and theme parks in the United States. The company’s popular recreation attractions include a water park, both in Tampa and Orlando. On August 22, the company reported that it has introduced a Weather-or-Not Assurance program according to which customers will be allowed to visit the SeaWorld parks within 12 months, in case their visit to the park gets ruined by bad weather. This weather policy has been executed since regions across the country have been exposed to extreme weather conditions such as rain, lightning, heat, wind, and hail. This policy can be availed by the visitors at no additional cost. Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO) facilitates outdoor recreation and leisure travel in the US. The company’s factory-trained dealers span the country, offering their services in Syracuse, San Jose, Boise, Rochester and many other locations. The company has recently expanded its conventional class segment of travel trailers in order to assist those who travel around and wish to experience quality and value, at an affordable price. On August 29, the company reported that its brand, Winnebago, introduced an ‘Access’ named travel trailer which has made outdoor travel more cheap and easy. The travel trailer has a capacity of 8 people. It offers premium features such as a 2-inch accessory receiver hitch, power stabilization jacks, water tank pad heaters, and an aerodynamic front profile. Travelers can even access WiFi while they are on the go. The new travel trailer would be available for sale at dealerships by November, 2023. Now that we have discussed some of the top recreational products and services providers in the US, let’s take a look at the most peaceful places to live in the US.  Our Methodology In order to compile a list of the most peaceful places to live in the US, we sourced the places with the best quality of life in the US from the Niche screener. A peaceful place for living offers a calm and serene environment to its residents. Our hypothesis is that a calm surrounding is free from disruptive sounds of traffic and other kinds of noise. Thus, we selected mean noise level as our primary metric. This metric was acquired from the ArcGIS lights and noise map viewer. This metric has been expressed in A-weighted decibels, a unit of sound measurement (dBA). For our secondary metric, we focused on the ‘serene’ aspect of a place. To represent this, we chose the extent of access to a nearby park as our metric. The data for park access was sourced from the Trust for Public Land’s database. All locations with more than half of the population being able to access an outdoor park space within a walking distance of 10 minutes, is deemed as a place with peaceful surroundings that residents can conveniently access. This metric is also supported by the cognitive benefits of parks as accessible green spaces, as mentioned above. Finally, we ranked the most peaceful places in the US based on their mean noise levels and access to a nearby outdoor space, on a priority basis. 25 Most Peaceful Places to Live in the U.S. 25. Boston Mean Noise Level: 49.28 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 100% Boston is a peaceful place to live in the US since the city provides a good quality of life and access to a nearby park for all its residents. The mean noise level is 49.28 dBA, which is reasonable for a big city. 24. Orlando Mean Noise Level: 46.61 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 67% Another peaceful place for living in the US is Orlando. The city has quiet and peaceful communities as well as abundant green spaces thereby creating a calm and natural living environment. 23. Manchester Mean Noise Level: 45.83 Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 68% Manchester offers easy access to nature as it is located in the Merrimack River Valley. The city offers peaceful walking spaces to its residents. Manchester has a central location and helps access the beach, mountains, or a neighboring big city such as Boston, with ease. 22. Pensacola Mean Noise Level: 44.82 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 85% Pensacola is surrounded by beaches and lush forests which make it a serene city. It is one of the most peaceful places to reside in the US as the city offers both coastal living and hometown surroundings, making it a good place to retire as well. 21. Washington D.C. Mean Noise Level: 44.66 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 99% Washington D.C. is considered to be a city with abundant green spaces and gardens. Residential lanes filled with gardens tend to be refreshing and peaceful. The city is also viewed as a safe space thereby offering liberty and peace of mind to the residents. 20. Albany Mean Noise Level: 44.25 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 78% The mean noise level in Albany is relatively low, recorded at 44.25 dBA. The city is in close proximity to nature as it is positioned close to the Hudson River. Hence, it is a peaceful place with ample opportunities for outdoor activities. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS), SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:SEAS) and Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO) have positioned themselves well in the US recreation industry. 19. Portland Mean Noise Level: 43.4 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 93% Portland, Maine is a peaceful city for living in the United States. Residents can enjoy the natural sites in the city while living a quality life full of local amenities. It is also one of the most recommended places to lead a peaceful life after retirement. 18. Rochester Mean Noise Level: 43.21 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 89% With a low mean noise level and high access to nature, Rochester qualifies for the most peaceful places to live in the US. The city is relatively calm and there is not a lot of traffic. The local community is also welcoming which gives the newcomers the feeling of a home. 17. Trenton Mean Noise Level: 42.76 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 90% Trenton is another calm and peaceful place for living in the United States as it is an ideal small city that offers transportation networks for a smooth flow of traffic in addition to accessible parks and meadows. 16. Boise Mean Noise Level: 42.62 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 70% Boise has a lot to offer to those looking for a peaceful living in the US. The city offers a serene riverwalk, abundant green spaces, and historical attractions which make life relaxing in the city. The city traffic is not rushing as the speed limits are low in the city. 15. San Jose Mean Noise Level: 42.62 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 80% San Jose provides a peaceful living to students settling in the downtown as well as the elders moving to suburban areas. The city has a rich natural environment with easier access to quiet outdoor spaces for relaxation. 14. Worcester Mean Noise Level: 41.63 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 76% Living in Worcester is suitable for those who seek a relaxing environment. The mean noise levels in the city are low and outdoor activities are accessible throughout the year. The city’s green parks make it an attractive destination. 13. Madison Mean Noise Level: 41.6 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 95% Madison is one of the 25 most peaceful places to live in the US since the city is located amidst several lakes and offers scenic views. There are numerous bike trails and city parks where residents can spend time relaxing. Companies driving the recreation and leisure sector in the US include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS), SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:SEAS) and Winnebago Industries, Inc. (NYSE:WGO). 12. Syracuse Mean Noise Level: 41.32 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 76% The most peaceful places to live in the US include Syracuse as well. Parks throughout the city offer events and festivals for the public. There is less air and noise pollution, contributing to the living conditions in this New York-based city. 11. Sarasota Mean Noise Level: 41.04 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 81% Sarasota offers a rather intimate place to live near Florida’s Gulf Coast. The city is safe, has reduced traffic congestion, and is home to many outdoor resorts. This makes the city another peaceful place to live in the US. 10. Hartford Mean Noise Level: 41.01 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 98% Hartford also qualifies as a peaceful destination for living in the US as it allows residents to seek peace in its vineyards, parks, natural neighborhoods, and historical attractions. The mean noise level in the city is 41.01 dBA. 9. Tampa Mean Noise Level: 40.84 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 65% Tampa is another Florida-based city that is a peaceful place to reside in America. It is a combination of an exotic beach life and metropolitan surroundings, making it an attractive destination to live in the US. 8. Reading Mean Noise Level: 40.4 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 99% Reading is a peaceful town in the US which is suitable for living. Although the place is small, it offers the amenities of a big city. The scenic water views and year-round festivals make the city an attractive living option. 7. Daytona Beach Mean Noise Level: 39.71 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 51% Other than being a popular tourist destination, Daytona Beach also offers a peaceful coastal lifestyle for its residents. It has a laid-back vibe which makes it one of the most peaceful places to live in the US. 6. Grand Rapids Mean Noise Level: 39.65 dBA Access to Nearest Outdoor Space: 77% Grand Rapids provides a blend of busy city life and a peaceful quality time along the Michigan Lake. The city is quite walkable and gives access to green and quiet suburbs. Click to continue reading and see 5 Most Peaceful Places to Live in the US. Suggested articles: 25 Most Innovative Companies in the World in 2023 20 Most Affordable Housing Markets in the US in 2023 20 Most Socially Advanced Countries in the World Disclosure: None. 25 Most Peaceful Places to Live in the U.S. is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyOct 12th, 2023

I downsized from my city apartment to a tiny house in the countryside to save money – but my cost of living increased instead

A millennial downsized from her Toronto apartment to a 240-square-foot tiny house in the countryside. She loves being in touch with nature, but it's a lot of work. Stacie DaPonte said tiny house life isn't all "easy breezy" and debt-free, but she loves it. Stacie DaPonteStacie DaPonte, 31, downsized from renting an apartment in Toronto to a tiny home in the country.DaPonte initially wanted to save money but says her costs are higher now.She loves being closer to nature and will have paid off the house in three years. This as-told-to essay is from an interview with Stacie DaPonte, 31, about living in a tiny house outside Toronto. It has been edited for length and clarity.I've always lived small, even when I was renting a 400-square-foot apartment in downtown Toronto for $1,000 a month. I love city life, but when the pandemic hit, I was stuck at home more.COVID-19 shuttered a lot of live music venues and bookstores, so much so that Toronto didn't feel like home anymore. That set me researching what it would take to downsize to a tiny house in the countryside.Why going tiny doesn't always save moneyWhen I first started researching tiny homes, I figured it would be an easy transition for me.I work from home as a digital project manager, so moving wasn't an issue with work.However, most people who downsize are selling the properties they live in. I didn't have that luxury.I'd been putting money into a savings account my entire adult life. I paid about 70% of the cost of the house upfront and took out a line of credit from my bank to pay off the rest. I am contributing to that on a monthly basis. On top of renting the land, my monthly expenses work out higher than my cost of living in the city.The costs of buying an über-tiny homeI could afford a 240-square-foot home, which cost $58,850. But that was just for the shell of a house.I paid a 50% deposit when I signed the contract, 30% toward the build completion, and the final 20% the day before the delivery. I still had to pay for appliances, a hot-water heater, a sink, and furniture, so including those things, the place cost about $78,000.I shopped around a bit before I chose a builder. There were very few tiny-home builders then, and I couldn't afford the transportation costs if it was built in another province.I wanted a local builder so I could deliver the materials and fixtures I'd ordered and check on the progress of the build.I contacted three companies based in Ontario, and two didn't respond.In the end, I didn't have a great experience with the builder, but I managed to get my house built.Where to put a tiny homeI spent nine months trawling the internet and messaging people in Facebook groups to find land to park my tiny home.I lease the land from a privately owned mobile-home park an hour and a half north of Toronto. I found this landowner through a friend of a friend of a friend.Before finding this place, I asked three private landowners if I could set up on their property. When they realized how much work was involved with meeting zoning requirements — such as requesting a minor variance to move a setback from 3 feet to 2 feet — they changed their minds and opted out.There are restrictions on backyard land leasing based on minimum square footage. These vary by country, state, province, county, and city. Some counties I was looking at had building minimums of 1,000 square feet.I don't have friends or family with land, so I was contacting people on the internet. Some I met in person, but I'm a stranger to them, and it's hard to convince a stranger to go through a possibly yearlong permitting process, even if I covered all of the expenses.I invested seven months and paid a consultant to work with municipal planning divisions and site surveyors, but none of those efforts amounted to a win.In the end, I found a private trailer park outside a town called Barrie. It's a great fit for tiny houses because it's zoned for recreational vehicles. There were several there before I moved mine to the site.I see myself living here indefinitely. There's more of a community feel — when someone walks by, they say hi.The benefits of living in a tiny house in the countryMy front yard is a river and I'm surrounded by ducks. I have a container garden where I grow some of my own food, which cuts down significantly on groceries in the summer. When I tried growing things on my city apartment's balcony, the plants never got enough sun.I am much more in tune with nature now. I'm not detached from the cycles of the seasons. In the winter, I have to shovel snow. In the summer, I have fresh produce. If my schedule allows, I hike in the afternoon. I've gotten into birdwatching and I love to notice their migration patterns. Sometimes I just sit outside for an hour with my binoculars.What it costs every monthMy cost of living now is higher than when I was renting.I couldn't buy the tiny house all at once with cash, so I am paying off a line of credit. I pay $300 a month and will have paid it off in three years — considerably shorter than paying off a normal mortgage.I pay $550 a month to lease the land. Water is another $15 to $20 a month. Propane for heat and hot water runs another $35.I relied on public transit when I lived in the city, but now I have a car. Gas, car insurance, and car repairs are additional costs — and I had to learn to drive.The biggest surprises of going tinyOwning a house requires maintenance, no matter the square footage. I'm responsible if the plumbing, hot-water heater, or propane has a problem. The scale of the house doesn't diminish that — it's a lot more work than I thought.It can be hard living and working in the same space. I sleep in the loft where my computer is out of reach. Otherwise, it's too hard to turn my brain off.The size of the house limits movement for sure. I can't sit upright in my lofted bed. When I practice yoga, I can't spread my arms sideways or I hit the stove.Downsizing was easy for meA lot of people struggle with downsizing their belongings, but I've always been very minimal. I don't have a lot of kitchen gadgets. I also keep winter clothes in storage during the summer and vice versa.Being conscientious of my purchases has always been super important to me. I don't buy things frivolously — when I do purchase something, I make sure I need it and that's sustainably sourced.What lies aheadI know that down the road, this lifestyle will save me money. But part of me thinks this setup is more expensive in the short term and perhaps not worth all the effort. I might find a place to lease for less or buy land to live on.Tiny living is a reality I hope more people see and read about. I also don't want to overly romanticize the movement. Not everyone who lives tiny is living debt-free and easy breezy.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 12th, 2023

Barbara Corcoran says she prefers her trailer in LA over her penthouse in New York City

A video of Barbara Corcoran's Pacific Palisades trailer home, filmed by popular TikTok content creator Caleb Simpson, went viral earlier this year. A screengrab from a house tour video depicting the exterior of Barbara Corcoran's trailer homeCaleb Simpson A video of Barbara Corcoran's trailer home in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, went viral on TikTok in July. It was filmed by popular TikToker Caleb Simpson, known for asking strangers to let him tour their homes. Corcoran says she convinced the previous owner to sell the trailer by saying she'll still let her "use it whenever." Barbara Corcoran says she bought an LA trailer home that wasn't for sale by telling the previous owner that she could still "use it whenever."A video of Corcoran's trailer home in the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacific Palisades went viral earlier this year.The clip — filmed by popular TikToker Caleb Simpson, who's known for asking strangers to let him tour their homes — has been viewed over 9.5 million times since it was uploaded in July. @calebwsimpson @Barbara Corcoran ♬ original sound - CALEB SIMPSON "Here's my Taj Mahal. Everything's little," The Corcoran Group founder said to Simpson as she kicked off the home tour.The 75-year-old businesswoman added that she bought the property for $800,000 and spent another $150,000 on renovations, per the clip. "You're in a million-dollar home," Corcoran told Simpson before she proceeded to show him around.Guests enter through the main door into an open-concept living room and kitchen, per the clip. The interiors are bright and airy, and the property has an unblocked view of the Pacific Ocean."Does this tile look familiar to you?" Corcoran asked Simpson as she brought him over to the kitchen. "It's my leftover tile from New York," she added, referring to her New York City penthouse that she also gave Simpson a tour of back in November 2022.Corcoran then admits she likes the two-and-a-half-bedroom trailer more than her penthouse — and that she spent a bomb on her freestanding bathtub, per the clip."I paid more for this than I pay for all my furniture," she said while pointing to the tub, as the duo entered the bathroom. Corcoran then describes to Simpson how she came to buy the property."I saw this trailer park, and I liked this one the best because it has the best view, I thought," Corcoran said. "I knocked on the door and she said, 'No, I'm not selling, but I'll sell in a year.' And I said, 'No, I really want it now.'"In an attempt to convince the previous owner to let go of the trailer, Corcoran ended up making her an offer she couldn't resist."I said, 'But what if you can use it whenever you want for your life?' And she said, 'Yes, that'll be good.' And she sold it to me," Corcoran said.In a separate behind-the-scenes video that was uploaded onto Simpson's YouTube channel, the real-estate mogul revealed that she's pulled that trick more than once to close a deal."And I've gotten a lot of vacation homes with that line," Corcoran told Simpson, adding that she's used it "twice in four years."The TikTok video has since amassed over 3,000 comments, with many users expressing surprise at Corcoran's home."I love that she could EASILY afford a seaside mansion, but opts for a trailer with a view," one TikTok user commented."Most down to earth lady," another TikTok user said.While there were comments lauding Corcoran for her way of life, there were also others expressing shock at the price of her trailer home."love the home, but million dollar beachfront trailer park is something that can only exist in LA," a TikTok user commented. Corcoran did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 10th, 2023

A huge python built its lair in a trailer park and grew 13ft long eating the neighborhood cats

The snake, which was likely a pet, is though to have doubled in size on its cat diet since it has been hunting in the neighborhood. A stock image of a reticulated python. An Oklahoma neighborhood reported half its cats missing after a 13-foot python moved under a nearby mobile home. Mark Kostich/iStock/Getty ImagesA 13-foot snake has been living on a steady diet of cats since moving into a trailer park in Oklahoma. The python, thought to have been a pet, may have doubled in size in just five months. It has a mouth "the size of your foot" and a body "like Mike Tyson's bicep," said local officials.Animal control is hunting down a 13-foot-long python thought to have eaten half of the neighborhood cats since it showed up in an Oklahoma trailer park.The animal appeared in Oklahoma City's Burntwood Mobile Home Park about five months ago, Oklahoma news channel KFOR reported.Since then it's been eating opossums, rats, and cats in its lair under a mobile home, the channel reported.Trevor Bounds, an animal-control expert tasked with finding the snake, said it had a mouth "the size of your foot" and a body "like Mike Tyson's bicep but 13 feet long," per KFOR.The python is believed to have doubled in size on his steady cat diet, according to another Oklahoma City channel, News9.The leading theory is that it was a pet that was either abandoned or escaped, per News9.People in the neighborhood have been warned to stay away."It's kind of scary," said Shandi Mosley, a local Parent, per Fox25."You don't want to think about it getting into your house. But what if it did get into your house? It's a really big snake," Shandi said.Bounds said that the animal has likely become more aggressive after months of fighting its prey."The constricting is what can be the dangerous part," said Bounds per KFOR."You can't have small children or pets going near this thing that's why this should've been tackled a whole lot sooner," he said.He's now rigged the house with trapping equipment and cameras and is confident he'll be able to catch the snake soon, per Fox25.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 3rd, 2023

New Details Emerge After Woman Found Dead In NJ Trucker"s Rig

New Details Emerge After Woman Found Dead In NJ Trucker's Rig By Clarissa Hawes of FreightWaves A new report is offering more details about what led investigators to file murder charges against a New Jersey truck driver after a woman was found dead on the floorboard of his tractor-trailer in Maryland. Matthew Sidney Watley, 46, of Sicklerville, New Jersey, has been charged with first- and second-degree murder after Candice Thompson, 46, also of Sicklerville, reportedly was found dead in the cab of his truck at a Costco Distribution Center in Monrovia, Maryland. The charging documents state that a detective with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office was able to positively identify Thompson with the assistance of the Winslow Township Police Department in Camden County, New Jersey, noting that their office had “a long history of domestic violence between Watley and Thompson.” What happened? According to the charging documents, a truck driver parked at the distribution center told investigators that he heard Watley say, “Help me, help me,” and went over to see if he was OK. After climbing up on the running boards on the driver’s side of the silver Freightliner Cascadia Watley was driving, the witness reportedly saw blood on the center of the dash and Watley lying down between the seats. The driver told investigators that he heard a sound that made him think that Watley was cutting or stabbing himself and that he jumped down and drove to the guard station at Costco to notify security that Watley was possibly “having a medical issue or trauma.” Deputies with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland reportedly used stop sticks, pepper spray and then a Taser to subdue Watley after they were called to conduct a wellness check at his truck around 1:30 a.m. Sept. 24. Charging documents claim deputies attempted to talk to Watley several times but that he refused to answer and was incoherent when speaking. He also refused deputies’ demands to put his vehicle in park and shut the vehicle off and “would rev the engine of the tractor-trailer.”  Watley’s tires slowly began to lose air after he attempted to drive out of the gate and into the Costco parking lot.  Deputies were able to eventually arrest Watley. The charging document states a deputy found Thompson’s body lying face down in the cab of the truck between the driver’s and passenger’s seats and observed “two large gashes that were close together on her back.” More wounds were found later on her back, right hand and face. Thompson’s cause of death has not been released. A claw hammer and two folding-style knives were located next to the driver’s side door of Watley’s truck, according to the report.  Trucking company owner speaks out Parminder Singh, owner of PAA Trucking LLC, of Westville, New Jersey, said Watley had worked for him for nearly six months prior to his arrest. He added that Watley had worked for him previously, about two years ago. “He had an accident and damaged one of my trailers. He had gone on a low bridge and hit it — and I had to fire him,” Singh told FreightWaves. “He kept calling me to come back, to give him back his job.” Singh said he’s unclear why Watley was at the Costco Distribution Center in Monrovia, stating he was supposed to deliver a load of pineapples to Del Monte Fresh Produce in Jessup, Maryland, about 50 miles away.  “I don’t know why he drove to Costco — he was supposed to be in Jessup,” Singh said. “This has really messed me up. It’s been a bad thing for my company.”  Singh said he met with Watley about 12 hours prior to his arrest to collect paperwork and hand him his paycheck and the new paperwork for the Del Monte load, which had to be delivered by 11 p.m. Sept. 23. “It was raining so he [Watley] got out of the truck and walked over to my pickup truck and we talked there,” Singh said.  He said that what stands out from Singh’s conversation with Watley was that the driver asked if he could go home first to take a shower and do laundry before delivering the load of pineapples. Singh said Watley told him he was staying at his mother’s home in Sicklerville. Singh said he tried calling and texting Watley around 11:30 p.m. but he didn’t answer. Singh also said Watley’s GPS tracking system had been turned off or wasn’t working.  Singh said he received a call from the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office about 2:30 a.m. Sept. 24 that Watley had been arrested. Watley’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 24. He is being held without bond after waiving his right to a bond hearing, according to Jacqueline Rottmann, communications specialist for the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office. Tyler Durden Mon, 10/02/2023 - 21:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 2nd, 2023

How Great Is Our Economy If The Bottom 50%"s Share Of The Nation"s Wealth Has Plummeted Since 2009?

How Great Is Our Economy If The Bottom 50%'s Share Of The Nation's Wealth Has Plummeted Since 2009? Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, Something has been going very wrong in the US economy for a very long time, and whatever is going wrong accelerated from 2009 to the present. Longtime readers know I've covered America's soaring wealth and income inequality for many years, and so I read economist Noah Smith's recent post entitled Working-class wealth is improving with keen interest. I respect Noah's work, which is why I follow his Substack posts. Here are some excerpts from his commentary: "One of the truisms many Americans learned during the 2010s that turned out not to be so true is the idea that the wealth of the working class is relentlessly falling behind. The likely reason that people "learned" this "fact" is that it was true up until the financial crisis of 2008, and people didn't recognize it and get mad about until the crash. For that we have to turn to the (Federal Reserve's) FRED website. But when we do, we can see that the bottom 50% of households have seen strong wealth growth in real terms since 2012. Now, 50% of the country's households holding only 2.5% of the wealth is still very dramatic inequality. We should remember that some piece of this is just the life-cycle of wealth -- young people who haven't had time to build wealth and old people who have spent down most of their retirement account will look poor even if they will be comfortable or were comfortable in middle age. But even after accounting for that life-cycle effect, America is going to have very steep wealth inequality. Trends are important, though. And this trend is a positive one. The fact that working-class wealth has been recovering as a share of America's total wealth for a decade, even as every group has increased its wealth, says that something is going right in the U.S. economy. A rising tide is lifting all boats, and it's lifting the boats at the bottom more than the others." Data hound that I am, I decided to explore the FRED database for charts that would confirm his no-doubt sincerely issued claim that "The fact that working-class wealth has been recovering as a share of America's total wealth for a decade, even as every group has increased its wealth, says that something is going right in the U.S. economy." What I found is the exact opposite of his claim: the bottom 50%'s share of total assets and financial assets have fallen sharply since 2009. In the greatest expansion of net worth / assets / wealth in US history, the bottom 50%'s share of this massive expansion of wealth has declined by 25%. Rather than increase as Noah claimed, the working class's share of America's total wealth has plummeted. Let's look at the data, as depicted on the FRED charts. Let's start with the chart Noah referenced, which does indeed show the wealth (net worth) of the bottom 50% rising smartly over the past decade, from a nadir of less than $1 trillion to $3.6 trillion in 2023: For context, let's look at household net worth, which rose an astounding $90 trillion from $56 trillion in 2009 to $146 trillion in 2023. As the chart above shows, the bottom 50% garnered $3 trillion of this $90 trillion in gains, or 3%. This modest percentage is not supportive of Noah's claim that "A rising tide is lifting all boats, and it's lifting the boats at the bottom more than the others." Here we see the 167 million Americans in the bottom 50% own $3.6 trillion, the top 1% --3.3 million Americans--own $45 trillion, a staggering 12.5X the net worth of the bottom 50%. The top 0.1%--330,000 Americans--own $18.5 trillion, an astonishing 5X the net worth of the 167 million Americans in the bottom 50%. Next, let's look at each segment's share of total assets. The bottom 50%'s share of assets plummeted 25% since 2009, from 8% to 6%. The share of the top 1% soared 26% since 2009: The share of the top 0.1% skyrocketed 34% since 2009: These charts show the bottom 50%'s share of America's assets hasn't risen, it's cratered. The rising tide of $90 trillion in additional wealth since 2009 has raised the yachts of the top 1% and the top 0.1% such that the bottom 50% share of assets declined. The bottom 50%'s leaky boat--as measured by their share of assets--actually took on water. Financial assets are important because financial assets generate income and economic security. let's look at each segment's share of the nation's vast financial assets. The bottom 50%'s meager share--167 million American's share of the nation's stupendous financial assets--fell 26% from 3.1% to 2.3%--a sliver so thin that it's essentially signal noise. Meanwhile, the top 1%'s share of financial assets rose 24% since 2009, more than 15X the bottom 50%'s share of financial assets. The top 0.1%'s share of financial assets soared 34%% since 2009, 6.5X the bottom 50%'s share of financial assets. Noah's claim of "A rising tide is lifting all boats, and it's lifting the boats at the bottom more than the others." is akin to being behind 49-0 in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter and cheerleading the team's increase in total yardage gained from 11 yards in the 2nd quarter to 33 yards in the 3rd quarter--a positive trend. Noah claimed the financial metrics of the bottom 50% are a positive trend. If we consider the bottom 50%'s share of total assets and financial assets, this claim is not supported by the FRED data. Noah then extended this claim to an even larger claim that "something is going right in the U.S. economy." The message of the Federal Reserve's data depicted in the charts is the exact opposite: something has been going very wrong in the US economy for a very long time, and whatever is going wrong accelerated from 2009 to the present. Those actually living in the bottom 50% (as opposed to jetting around to conferences) might find Noah's ponderings that the bottom 50%'s impoverishment is a statistical anomaly generated by temporarily impecunious youth climbing their way to wealth, and retirees who spent their wealth and are now comfortably impoverished somewhat risible. The reality is more likely mac and cheese from the dollar store prepared in an overcrowded flat or a trailer park and rapacious credit card interest rates and exploitive late fees. By all means, let's look at the data before making expansive claims. *  *  * My new book is now available at a 10% discount ($8.95 ebook, $18 print): Self-Reliance in the 21st Century. Read the first chapter for free (PDF)  Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.Subscribe to my Substack for free Tyler Durden Mon, 10/02/2023 - 14:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 2nd, 2023

I Rode With An Ice Road Trucker To The Arctic Circle. Here"s What It Was Like

I Rode With An Ice Road Trucker To The Arctic Circle. Here's What It Was Like By Rachel Premack of Freightwaves On July 30, I flew from my home in New York City to Anchorage, Alaska, to hitchhike to the Arctic Ocean. I am not mentally imbalanced. I am a reporter who covers the trucking industry. Let me provide some more context: Back in May, with my colleague John Paul Hampstead, I wrote a story about the controversial growth of drilling in Alaska and its effect on the $800 billion trucking industry. There’s a nasty freight recession slamming U.S. trucking fleets, but Alaska seems to be experiencing the opposite. Alaskan trucking executives told me in May that they’re planning on doubling in size. They want to hire not just Alaska residents, but folks from the Lower 48.  Sourdough Express, which was founded in 1898, is one of those companies looking to lavish pay raises on employees and hire more. Just this month, President Josh Norum gave his linehaul truck drivers a 25% pay bump. “[W]e are building the team for all the work the next 4 years,” he recently told me over text message. These companies particularly want more drivers to haul equipment on the Dalton Highway, which ends in the North Slope oil drilling region. It’s not a job for any ol’ truck driver. I wanted to see the experience for myself — why was it that trucking in Alaska had inspired shows like “Ice Road Truckers?” Why is everyone so fascinated by driving a truck in a really cold place? And is it as dangerous as it looks on television? Alaska’s North Slope Borough. A whopping 11,000 people live here, which is actually more than I would have guessed. (Image: U.S. Bureau of Land Management) Norum advised me to come before the summer was up. So, on July 30, I took the 12-ish hour trip to Anchorage. I was only four hours behind Eastern Time but incredibly thrown off. At 10 p.m. local time, or 2 a.m. Eastern, the skies were bright blue, the sun beating down.  I fell asleep regardless. That next morning, I was off to Sourdough Express’ Anchorage terminal.  My path. I would travel from Anchorage to Fairbanks, stay in a hotel overnight, then go from Fairbanks to Deadhorse. (Google Maps) The Anchorage terminal was more hectic than I would have expected. It reminded me of other truck terminals I’ve been to in New York City — plenty of day cabs and overnight cabs alike. Summer is actually a slower time for Alaskan trucking fleets for Sourdough. Even in the Arctic Circle, the summer is too warm to maintain the region’s famous ice roads.  Local governments create those ice roads every November and December. On that hard, frozen ground, oil company workers build and live in so-called “man camps” where they work wild shifts all winter. Truck drivers service those man camps with everything from Cheetos to drilling equipment to mattresses.  The land is too soft and squishy to support oil rigs and trucks in the summer. Instead, this season is when truckers bring up everything that oil companies will need in the winter. It’s the full-time Alaskan truck drivers who stick around, hauling pipes and steel plates that will be used in a few months. I wouldn’t be experiencing the ice roads during this trip, but if I gathered my gumption perhaps I could come back in the winter.  Then, in the winter, truck drivers from all over the U.S. come up to cash in on the lucrative, dangerous, thrilling job of being an ice road trucker. An executive at Alaska West Express, another local trucking company, told me in May that such truck drivers can make $150,000 to $170,000 a year, in addition to benefits. It’s an amazing compensation compared to the typical tractor-trailer driver, who the federal government says earns a median annual wage of around $48,000. Well, anyways, before I could enjoy the Dalton Highway, I had to get from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Kyle Monnier, a 30-year-old who was born and raised in Alaska, would be my driver for that journey.  I went to the bathroom before we left. I got used to wearing this safety vest. It provides a nice splash of color to any outfit you may be wearing. 8:38 a.m. Stylish! (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) And off we went!  July 31: Anchorage to Fairbanks, 359 miles Monnier and I would be hauling two trailers (typical for Alaska) of building supplies from Anchorage to Fairbanks. These weren’t urgent loads. The first trailer was wood and the one behind was insulation.   12:51 p.m. A full view of the truck while we grabbed lunch. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) The first, unexpected thing I learned about trucking in Alaska is the difference in the state’s hours-of-service (HOS) laws. Federal laws require truck drivers to drive no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period. They also need to take 34 hours off duty if they’ve driven up to 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period. (Here’s more information on HOS regulations if for some bizarre reason you are curious.) HOS regulations can be a snore outside the trucking community, but they’re huge for drivers. They function totally differently in Alaska. I was shocked when I got into Monnier’s cab that he had 15 hours of driving in a 20-hour window. His on-duty time was 80 hours, too. Alaska has extended HOS rules in part because driving here can be so unpredictable. For example, dirt roads means equipment can get unexpectedly beat up. Because Alaska is so sparsely populated, you might be waiting a while for a mechanic if you need help.  Getting out of Anchorage was quick enough, though Monnier said the traffic leaving the big city is pretty bad. Coming from New York, this didn’t look terribly congested to me. 8:55 a.m. A definite plus of driving in Alaska is the lack of traffic and the views. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves)2:09 p.m. We’re near Denali National Park here. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) On days that he works, Monnier drives the six hours from Anchorage to Fairbanks, unloads, and then typically drives the six hours back to Anchorage empty. He usually stops at a gas station for a simple meal. At his usual spot, I got surprisingly good chicken nuggets and a bag of chips. I’ve reported for years about how truck drivers usually have to rely on packaged and processed foods. One thing I didn’t truly understand before riding along with Monnier is just how important energy drinks are for a truck driver. When you’re chugging along the road, you can’t exactly park at an artisan cafe or go through a Starbucks drive-thru. Instead, Monster energy drinks — or in my case, Celsius — become your main source of caffeine. 2:20 p.m. I built up the courage at last to ask Monnier if I could get a picture of him. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) We were on the road for about seven hours, so we naturally talked for a while. Monnier’s wife and son live in the Lower 48, though she’s also from Alaska. Monnier became a truck driver shortly after graduating from high school.  After several hours chatting, Monnier played the music he normally listens to while he’s driving. He was worried I might be offended by rap music, but I am not. His music taste ended up eclectic at minimum — rap to country to electronica to “Barbie Girl.” (He has not watched the movie!) “I have listened to every song on Pandora at least 20 times,” he said. 5:23 p.m. Unhooking and leaving Fairbanks. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) All good things must come to an end, and eventually Monnier and I reached Fairbanks. He unhooked his load and bobtailed back to Anchorage; very little freight comes out of Fairbanks headed downstate. My day was finished, but his was only halfway over. Aug. 1: Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, 495 miles I enjoyed a good night’s sleep at a Best Western Plus. The sun set at 11:02 p.m. Next on deck was the more fearsome part of the journey: Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Highway. Monnier said he had gone a few times and was open to driving on it again. I would be riding with Richard Mustain. Monnier assured me Mustain — or Mustang, as his call sign goes — was a Dalton Highway veteran, who knew just about everything there is to know about the road.  After a good night’s sleep, I arrived before 8 the next morning at Sourdough’s Fairbanks terminal. 7:56 a.m. The trucks are ready to rumble. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) Mustang and I would be hauling pipes for the oil fields in Prudhoe. We would also be joined by a training driver named Mike who had never gone on the Dalton Highway before. Alaskan truck drivers call it “the Dalton.” They also all know it is exactly 414 miles. Construction on the road finished in 1974. It exists only because of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which runs above and below ground alongside the Dalton. During the ride, I would gaze upon the pipeline as a fond friend accompanying us. In retrospect, it is incredibly odd to rely upon a pipeline as a source of mental support. The Dalton does not begin in Fairbanks. First, you have to drive exactly 73.1 miles on another road called the Elliot Highway. I lost phone service shortly into the Elliot, and did not get it again until we reached the end of the trip. At the beginning of the Dalton, you see a series of alarming signs that make clear to anyone not driving an 18-wheeler that maybe you should bugger off: “HEAVY INDUSTRIAL TRAFFIC. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.” I was comfortably in the passenger seat of Mustang’s 2024 Peterbilt and had no guilt about proceeding. Mustang at 10:45 a.m. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) Truck drivers on the Dalton are dealing with steep grades in addition to heavy loads. Sourdough trucks typically haul around 110,000 pounds here – a significant bump from the typical 80,000-pound limit in the Lower 48. Oversized loads escorted by two pick-up trucks are also common here. So, when truck drivers are slowly navigating hills or curves on the road, typical passenger vehicles or motorbikes pose a safety issue. Mustang said he typically drives around 35 mph. It’s not surprising, then, that passenger vehicles might try to skirt around him. The issue of motorcyclists and “four-wheelers” (as truck drivers call us plebeians) quickly became clear.  Mustang remained calm about 6 miles into the Dalton when a pack of motorbikes passed us. Moves on the road that might send a typical driver (not me, of course) into a fit of expletives didn’t get more than a chuckle from Mustang. Whenever the odd car appeared on the horizon, he would get on his CB radio and alert Mike behind us to keep a watch out. 10:36 a.m. Respect heavy industrial traffic! (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) Mustang is a Missouri native, a self-described “farm boy” who quit high school and started a family as a young man. He’s been a truck driver for 30 years. In 2015, a friend of his was telling a group — all truck drivers — about his experience hauling fuel. Mustang was the only one who actually went that winter. He showed up at the Fairbanks airport with a gym bag, completely out of his element. “It was scary to come up here,” Mustang said. “I didn’t know nobody. People I didn’t know picked me up from the airport.” He loved it immediately. He barely took photos on his phone before he moved to Alaska; now, he has about 10,000 of them. Most of them are in the same place, just different seasons. The long grasses change colors — red, pink, beige. That makes the mountains look different week to week. And then there’s the sky. Because of the ice crystals that form in the atmosphere during the long winters, “sun dogs” appear where it looks like there are three suns in the sky. Most fantastic might be the aurora borealis, which can make it look like the sky is swirling, shooting fingers down. “It will make your insides feel funny,” Mustang said. Mustang identifies as a “cheechako,” which is Alaskan slang for someone who just moved here and is amazed by everything. After about 10 years as a cheechako, Mustang says you become a “sourdough” — not a native-born Alaskan, but a hardened resident who isn’t, say, taking pictures of the same mountain every few days.  “They come outside, look around and aren’t amazed by what they see,” Mustang said. “I’m not sure I’ll get to that point.” John, an Anchorage resident I met after the ride-along, mentioned to me that he views himself as Alaskan, not American. Alaska is, of course, a U.S. state, but many residents here refer to the contiguous 48 states the way Canadians might. I heard folks call the Lower 48 the “States,” “America” or simply “the lower.” “Once you start living in Alaska, you lose touch with ‘the lower’ — the last tornado, the last school shooting,” Mustang told me. “It’s like being in a different country when you live here.” 11:34 a.m. Truck drivers on the Dalton typically warn each other when they’re approaching each other. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) The Dalton is mostly a dirt road. Mustang told me it’s normal for a trucker’s windshield to crack during the workday because rocks fling around the vehicle’s tires and hit the windshield. Four-wheelers and motorcyclists aside, the Dalton is truly a trucker’s kingdom. Every few dozen mileposts, there’s a spot with a nickname, likely christened by a truck driver. At milepost 74, there’s the “Roller Coaster,” featuring ups and downs. “Finger Mountain” is at milepost 98, so named because it looks like a middle finger. (I didn’t see the resemblance.) Milepost 126 is “Oh Shit Corner,” where a sharp turn may shock Dalton truckers who don’t have Mustang on the CB radio guiding them. Milepost 132 is “Gobbler’s Knob.” We are in polite company and I will not share the origin of that name. 12:23 p.m. A rare moment of paved highway. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) Some signs on the Dalton pointed out these charming names, but it’s otherwise just passed down from each generation of Dalton truckers. Mustang said he’s part of the third generation of truck drivers on the Dalton. The first came in the 1970s and 1980s — guys who truly roughed it and whom Mustang spoke of with reverence. He said it took three days back then to get to Prudhoe Bay; now it can be done in 14 hours. Next, there was the next generation who trained the likes of Mustang. Mustang embraces the responsibility of training the next generation. He wears a Prudhoe Bay T-shirt most days as a sort of uniform.  Most exciting to me was milepost 115, when we officially crossed into the Arctic Circle. 2:10 p.m. It wasn’t even that cold. (Photo: Rachel Premack/FreightWaves) I learned that the Arctic Circle, which I previously thought meant “it’s really cold,” refers to any location on Earth where the sun is up for 24 hours at least one day a year and down for 24 hours at least one day a year. It cannot be overstated that the Dalton, and the entire state of Alaska, is beautiful. The summer is particularly fantastic. I did not see a dark sky once the entire week I was in Alaska, which is probably why I was easily delighted during my seven days there. The weather was a perfect 60 to 70 degrees. The winter, of course, is less charming. In Anchorage, where nearly half of the state lives, the sun is up for as little as 5 1/2 hours a day. Research on Alaska suggests that depression, alcoholism and even partner abuse increase amid these dark, cold days. “The light and dark messes with your insides, your mind, your body,” Mustang said, and luckily added, “but it doesn’t seem to bother me.” It’s even worse in our final destination of Prudhoe Bay, where thousands work and live in the winter. The sun does not rise — at all — from late November to late January. John, the Alaskan I met later that week, told me he was an oil rig worker when he was a younger man. The big conversation during the winters in the cafeteria was whether or not you saw the sun that day. The truck cabin was getting sunnier as we discussed all this. That’s because the trees were shrinking. We were approaching the tundra. 3:20 p.m. If you think this picture is nice, guess what the real view was like! We were also approaching the last place where a truck driver (or trucking journalist) could get food and use the bathroom until we hit Deadhorse, the main settlement of Prudhoe Bay. It was also frankly one of the first places since we got on the Dalton that functioned as a rest stop. The town is Coldfoot. By the way, you may have been wondering how anyone uses the bathroom when driving in the Arctic wilderness. It’s called pulling over to “kick a tire” (read: peeing next to your truck). Creative ways to use the bathroom while trucking aren’t exclusive to Alaska, but here it can get dangerous. Mustang told me of a recent episode when he kicked a tire and came back around to his truck to find a bear standing there. He charged the bear and it mercifully ran off. I do not need to tell you here that I drank very little water the day I was on the Dalton. Exhausted and hungry, I was happy to get to Coldfoot. It’s allegedly the world’s farthest north truck stop. Mustang warned me not to get anything fried. As previously stated, opportunities for bathrooms are limited. 3:50 p.m. Coldfoot Camp, which claims to be the world’s farthest north truck stop. Google ranks it as a 1-star hotel, but its Google and TripAdvisor reviews overwhelmingly cheery. Here’s the menu. I got a burger and a bowl of their soup of the day. My colleague Justin Martin, aka “Super Trucker,” noted when I showed him a picture of the menu that the prices weren’t as bad as he had guessed.  Mustang went back out to his truck to check up on his and Mike’s equipment. Meanwhile, I was kind of … confused on what to do next. We were going to sit at a communal table specifically for truck drivers, but I felt a bit out of sorts. The jet lag started to kick in and I felt a bit awkward.  3:49 p.m. Trucking in Alaska is what I picture it was like back in the good ol’ days. Most truckstops and gas stations are small, or at least locally owned chains. Because of the oil industry, truck drivers and the industrial economy just loom larger in the public imagination. That seems to allow truck drivers to command more respect from the driving population. Anyways, I sat down and ate my burger. Then I bought some stuff from the gift shop. I started to get a real appreciation then for how long a truck driver’s workday is. We started the work day nearly eight hours ago, but we still had about half the Dalton left to drive. Mustang told me that a particularly active Dalton truck driver can do three trips to Prudhoe a week, which translates to about six 14-hour days and three nights away from home. Mustang sticks to two weekly trips up to Prudhoe.  Our workday was about to get a bit longer. Mustang and Mike, the trainee behind us, needed to get some work done on Mike’s truck. Coldfoot has a machine shop with a mechanic who can fix up minor equipment issues. 4:50 p.m. This is the point in which I am slightly fading away. Ultimately, the issue was fixed. We were back on the road a bit after 5 p.m. It was longer than anyone wanted to be held up. We still had about 5 1/2 hours before we reached Prudhoe. It’s a necessity for Dalton truck drivers to know how to do minor — or major — repairs on their vehicles. The issue on Mike’s equipment was thankfully quick and the guys were able to catch it near a mechanic’s shop, rather than on the side of the highway hours from anyone. These were brand-new Peterbilts, and the road had already given them a bit of a beating. Mustang noted to me that most trucks in Alaska have separate fuel tanks because, say, a caribou might come up and pierce one of them with its antlers. This sounded slightly ridiculous until I saw caribou later on the drive. At 5:52 p.m., I wrote the following in my notes: “I am tired!!!” 6:46 p.m. No more trees. It was time for me to wake up. We were nearing milepost 248: the fearsome Atigun Pass, nearly 4,800 feet above sea level. That’s where the Continental Divide crosses with the Dalton. In the winter, avalanches often shut down the road. Robb Christenson, the director of sales and pricing at Sourdough, warned me about this one back in Anchorage. As we climbed the Atigun, drivers waiting to descend waited for us; this was all coordinated on the CB radio. The altitude meter clicked up and up and up. Mustang said the Atigun is “a piece of cake.” But you need to know how to approach it. In the Lower 48, truck drivers learn that they need to shift into a lower gear when descending a hill. However, in Alaska, Mustang said instead while going downhill you actually need to go into a higher gear. It’s because drivers here are hauling heavier loads. Keeping to a low gear would just push your vehicle down the mountain and you’d risk losing control. It sounds like a quick fix, but Mustang said new drivers from the Lower 48 struggle to make this adjustment. The busted guardrails on either side of the Dalton at this stretch of the drive was a grim reminder that this stretch of highway is unforgiving to mistakes.  Anyways, Mustang indeed went into the 10th gear as we descended the Continental Divide. And here I am, weeks later, telling you the tale. “This is the greatest trucking job in the world,” Mustang told me. “No traffic, no stoplights, just trucking. You see bears and critters and water.” That’s great for Mustang. However, I was not doing so hot. Sitting in a passenger seat for 12 hours (without air ride!) was not ideal. For some reason, my left knee hurt. My stomach held two Celsius energy drinks, a burger, a cream-based soup and very little water. It was becoming very clear to me again why truck drivers struggle with not just food on the road, but their body literally hurting. Combating the boredom, monotony and body aches by eating junk food seemed appropriate to me. Mustang said he once struggled with the same urges. He proudly now snacks on beef jerky and berries instead of candy bars and sips water instead of soda pop.  “It’s really easy to eat the wrong stuff while you’re trucking,” Mustang said. “A lot of depression goes on in trucking, because you’re away from your family. I love what I do but I’m way out of shape. Sitting in here, you don’t get no workout on your muscles.” Mustang tells me we have about 2 1/2 hours left. This is the most glorious news in the world. Now that the elevation (and avalanche risk) has passed us, the pipeline has reemerged. 8:05 p.m. I am still in the truck. Don’t worry, my dear pipeline is on the other side of the road. There aren’t too many people who live out here, as you could pretty well imagine. However, Mustang does drive to them during the wintertime, when ice roads make a slew of other communities accessible by car. Truck drivers bring food and other supplies to towns in the “bush.” These are communities of mostly Alaska Natives who aren’t connected to other settlements with roads. Until recently, people in the bush fished, hunted and foraged for food. But now, as money from drilling projects floods their communities, Alaska Natives are buying more from, say, Walmart and truck drivers are able to drive these goods to the bush towns. When there are no ice roads in warmer months, bush communities rely on planes or boats to deliver these nonperishable goods. Not all of the residents of these bush communities are happy with these developments. On one hand, energy companies have flooded Alaska Native communities with cash and work opportunities. Subsistence living is no longer the norm. However, new issues have plagued these settlements. Alaska Native communities now see outsize rates of diabetes, alcoholism and drug abuse compared to other Alaskans.  Some local leaders say these issues are partially a result of oil development. They’re particularly concerned about ConocoPhillips Alaska’s Willow project, which could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day. President Joe Biden approved the Willow project in March. That’s good news for truck drivers and oil workers but alarming for those who say the project will be a “carbon bomb” that heightens the climate crisis. Locally, some Native Alaskans say increased drilling affects traditional rites like caribou hunting. (And that would, in turn, make them more reliant on nonperishable, processed foods from outside their communities.) Speaking of hunting, we start scanning the horizon for critters. I do spot a few caribou. We haven’t seen any bears, but they’re more scared of people than you’d think. Mustang said buffalo out here will ram your truck “until they die.” There’s another creature called muskox, which is native to the Arctic. Their fur is incredibly soft. Before I realize it, the ride is nearly finished. I am a little sad to leave.  10:10 p.m. This is the tundra! We are at last in the tundra. It’s not what I expected. It’s a beautiful, bright green grass dotted with wildflowers and slashed with light blue streams. Mustang tells me the fields are soaking wet. We still see some hunters nestled in the tall grasses, looking to shoot caribou. It’s unclear to me if they’re locals or came up here to hunt. And, once again, the landscape changes. Now it’s permafrost, which is soil that remains at or below freezing even in the summer. It’s cracked because the permafrost is no longer so permanent. Even in the Arctic Circle, temperatures are rising. Even parts of the road are starting to get hilly because the permafrost is melting and expanding. 10:24 p.m. Permafrost galore. Did I mention this is hour 14 in the truck? And then, against all odds, we make it to Deadhorse. The oil rigs, the squat buildings, the man camps, they all appear like a mirage. 10:31 p.m. I never thought I would be so happy to see an oil rig. I thank Mustang for an unforgettable experience. He admits it’s another workday for him. I fear I was an annoying passenger, or maybe he’s finally sick of Alaska, sick of trucking. But later, he sends me no fewer than nine videos (a mere slice of his 10,000-photo library) of musk oxen, pink grasses, caribou interrupting traffic, Northern Lights and even his truck on a barge heading out to the Arctic Ocean. “All of these videos pretty much explain why I love this job so much,” Mustang writes in his text message. He is a “cheechako” yet.  Thank you to Richard Mustain, Kyle Monnier, Josh Norum and everyone else at Sourdough Express I met for taking the time to show me around Alaska. If you are a truck driver with a story to share, email me at rpremack@freightwaves.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to MODES for more trucking insights. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/07/2023 - 15:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 7th, 2023