More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

More Blame From Crooked Hilary?

It never ceased to amaze me throughout Barack Obama's eight years in office his narcissistic ways. And yet, Hilary Clinton appears to suffer a similar syndrome which is made ever more evident with what is being reported to be the contents of her new book coming out in mid-September which is to bring forth her version of why she thinks she lost the election. The thing I marvel at is how much everything about the book seems to suggest that the devastating loss in the 2016 election was due to everyone else around her and had nothing to do with her. 

In the aftermath we have heard it all. It was uneducated deplorables. It was Bernie soaking up too much of what should have been her air in the room. It was James Comey. It was her team. It was bad advice from even Barack Obama which she said made her feel like she was in a straitjacket. It was the Russians.

Everyone but Hilary Clinton herself was the root cause of her epic failed presidential run.

It seems to me that people will still buy the book. Not because it is going to be informative or enlightening in any way, because we know all too well that is not going to be the case. People are going to buy the book for the same reason they might tune into Jerry Springer. You simply want to know what she is going to say even if you go into the whole thing with a clear head knowing it will be nothing but passing the buck and probably all-out lies to boot.

Some have suggested that Hilary's daughter may even be getting pegged for a possible future democratic run for president. Look, the one thing that is clear to me here is that a large part of the reason Hilary Clinton did not win has everything to do with who Hilary Clinton is. Yes, she is crooked as President Trump stated over and over again during his campaign. She's as crooked as they come. She was arrogant as was demonstrated time and time again from accounts from secret service agents when she was First Lady, to her time in office as Secretary of State using private servers and potentially compromising national security—because she felt she was above the law. The fact is that the Clinton's are done politically. So her daughter was stand no discernible chance at any time in the future for the highest office in the land.

The book is not one I will buy. I simply have no desire to read a bunch of worn out whining and complaining, deflection, woe-is-me, and whatever other bullshit she wants to spin with it. She's a piece of work. The people saw it. Voters responded. Trump won. Enough said.

As I said before, what is sad to me is that she doesn't get it. But luckily, apparently neither does the entire democrat party. That will help us in the mid-terms and help Trump to win handily again when he comes up for reelection.

Pete's Place Plug: 09/06/2017

Okay, so this blog is mostly about politics and money and business. But it is primarily supposed to be a simple hodgepodge of all of those things, and the occasional random thought. And that's exactly where this sort of post fits in.

The truth is I started vaping after quitting smoking a few months back, and being new to that whole community and everything about vaping, it has been something of a fun thing to troll the Internet and find out as much as I can about what it is, and get some intel on whatever I can regarding all things vape.

Surprisingly, while ordinarily you might think that this whole subject matter would be dry as hell, there is a lot of what I have found to be quite entertaining commentary and video on the whole world of vaping.

One guy in particular who I have taken a liking to, very much enjoying his whit and humor, and because he is actually quite informative as well to boot, that would be Pete's Place. Or for you You Tuber's out there, Vaping At Pete's Place. If you type that into the search field I am sure you will find him.

He does some live stuff weekly which so far are a bit wonky, but as I told him when I used that word in the comments, in no way am I suggesting the word wonky in a pejorative way. It's just to say that they are a bit clunky, but still nonetheless interesting to watch.

At least I find that to be the case.

So to that end because I like his vaping commentary as much as I do, from time to time I thought it might be fun and a nice thing to do to plug a video of his. He's definitely worth watching and I think there is a lot that can be learned from him from his own vaping experiences. His channel is loaded with tons of interesting tidbits, reviews, commentary and the like.

In this particular video he is reviewing some e-juice flavors that were sent to him for exactly that purpose. To do a review. As I am beginning to contribute a few of my own videos to the vaping community maybe I will be lucky enough to eventually have a few free juices sent my way for reviewing.

Win win, right? Get paid a little for the videos and get free juice?

In any event, and without further ado, here's Pete's little contribution to the vaping world. Looks like he put this one out on the 5th.



Thursday, July 20, 2017

Chipotle: Point of No Return

Let's face it. Bad things happen. When it comes to companies, sometimes they have the ability to clear their name, and sometimes it just ain't happenin'. I am reminded of Sizzler back in the day which all but collapsed after an e. coli outbreak in a restaurant. And there was Jack in the Box which had to change its name for a while to Monterey Jacks because of a similar incident. Sizzler really never recovered. Jack in the Box however, is still operating today and eventually did lose the Monterey Jack moniker.

BP suffered blows after a major oil rig disaster. United has had its fair share of incidents. Volkswagon got itself into some trouble, and back some time ago Toyota lost some faith of its customers due to its acceleration problem.

All of them have, or will recover.

Chipotle, however, I do not believe will not have this opportunity. For the first thing, Chipotle sold itself on fresh, organic and quality which was really its brand. It is exactly what was supposed to separate its brand of quick serve from the rest of the guys. When your brand is healthy and fresh, and people get sick, not once, but twice...

That is not going to leave customers feeling too great about entering your store anytime soon. When is the last time someone got sick after eating a grease laden burger at McDonald's? Although, while Taco Bell will not make you sick, it certainly could be advertised as a quick serve laxative to be sure.

But that is an entirely different thing.

You have two incidents whereas customers have gotten sick eating at Chipotle restaurants. You have admissions from the CEO after the first string of incidents that the company was lax in its quality standards and monitoring, and was going to revamp its business by retraining employees on quality standards and good manufacturing and sanitation practices.

But now that seems to be for naught because people got sick again. And now you have reports of rodents dropping from the ceilings which in and of itself will cause more than one potential Chipotle customer to squirm.

What exactly made me sick? Could it be rodents urinating and defecating into my food? What exactly is going on behind the scenes at my Chipotle restuarant? What are the employees missing?

Truth is, being a former pest control technician, rodents and other insects like roaches are actually commonplace in food establishments. But, that's what the pest control specialists are there for. To educate staff and to control the population of pests in the establishment.

More often than not, when pest control technicians had difficulty controlling rodent and insect populations in restaurants, it was primarily due to a lack of willingness on the part of management and other staff to do their due dilligence when it came to good manufacturing practices, and especially when it came to sanitation practices.

So if rodents are falling out of the ceilings or even running rampant in the store, something is seriously wrong with everything going on in the back while your food is being prepared, and God knows what is exactly going into your burrito.

For me there is only one outcome here. The company will be filing for bankruptcy sometime in the near future. The trouble is this is two and three incidents, and customers will be weary about entering their stores anytime soon.

The stock is dropping. Customer traffic will fall dramatically. The coupled effect of this will be a downward spiral too quick and too steep for the company to be able to effectively manage.

Will Chipotle be a name that gets tossed into the garbage can? In this particular instance I think so. I think Chipotle is dead as a company.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Ruler Foods: Two Complaints

Don't get me wrong at the outset of this commentary. I am a huge fan of the Kroger brand of grocery stores known as Ruler's. For one thing they have stellar prices. And when I say stellar, I mean (if you have been following me) their prices far surpass, in many instances, my threshold prices on myriad regular items I generally buy.

For example, here are some current prices as of this writing that I think are out of this world:
  • 1 dozen eggs, 28 cents
  • 5 pound roll of 73/27 ground beef, $9.95 (or $1.99 per pound)
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts $1.88 per pound
  • Whole chicken, 95 cents per pound
  • Green peppers, 49 cents each
  • Cream soups, 49 cents each
  • Taco seasoning packets, 39 cents each
  • 16 ounce salad dressing, $1.29
  • 3 pound bag of yellow onions, $1.49
  • Box of two envelopes of onion soup mix, 69 cents
  • 1 pound of ham lunch meat, $2.99
  • 1 1/2 pound brick of cheese, $4.89
In addition, so far as I can tell, Ruler Foods has the best price in town on 75 feet of Reynold's Freezer Paper. A must for anyone like me who buys meats in bulk and freezes it in manageable portions. They also have the best price in town on gelatin which is a good thing since my wife does like her Jell-O. A simple 15 ounce can of pork and beans runs only 49 cents, and they are as good as some of the Bush's Best variety I like. My wife and I also generally will buy coffee creamer there, as well as cottage cheese, sour cream, margarine, soda, and laundry detergent as their prices stack up better against everyone else I shop.

Ruler Foods operates similar to the way that Aldi does. You pay a refundable 25 cents for your cart, and you bring your own bags or use boxes that the store may provide from it's stocking efforts to take out your groceries.

Here is my first complaint, and a bit of an observation.

I used to shop Aldi frequently before Ruler Foods came into town where I live. Honestly, Ruler Foods beats Aldi's prices, and that's why I rarely shop Aldi anymore. But whenever I plopped a quarter into my cart at Aldi, I always got it back when I returned my cart. Every single time. This process went without a hitch every single time, and there was never a time I did not easily retrieve my quarter.

Not so with Ruler Foods.

The Ruler Foood store in my area has been around for roughly two years, and their carts are already showing massive signs of wear when it comes to their "quarter" mechanisms. In the last 6 months I have gotten my quarter back roughly 75% of the time. Now, while that's not terrible, that means in another six months I may get my quarter back 50% of the time, and eventually, 25% of the time, and if the trend continues, may never see my quarter returned at all.

Ruler Foods needs to maintain their carts. It's only a quarter. But it's my quarter, and if Aldi can keep my quarters coming back so can Ruler Foods. It's a minor thing, but if you add a quarter to my bottom line, I do consider the offset. While it may not impact the cost of my food by that much, it is still a factor for me.

And I am a stickler for saving my money. All of it. Every single red cent of it.

My second complaint? For roughly three months Ruler Foods has had two advertised prices for a 30-pack of Busch Beer. $17.49 and $14.97. In that time $14.97 was the correct price and was honored. Today when I went to the store the cooler price was advertised as $17.49 and HUGE display in the middle of the store with stacks of 30 packs of Busch Beer and Busch Light advertised $14.97. But when I got to the register I was charged the $17.49 price.

You cannot and should not, for three consecutive months, not have the ability to know what your correct price is and make sure that you are advertising to the customer what the correct price is. What they have done, in my opinion, is condition the customer to trust the big middle aisle display as the correct price, and since many customers customarily do not check their receipts, they can sell beer at a great price that is not a great price once checkout is complete.

Between your carts and confusing pricing displays Ruler Foods, I suggest you get it together, because if I have to scan my receipts (and do anyway) and continue to find discrepancies, the likelihood that I continue to shop your store becomes less and less. If I cannot trust you, what is the point of trying to save money?

The Ruler Food store I shop is located at 1703 N. Belt West, Belleville, Illinois 62226.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Can United Airlines Get Any Worse?

As the old saying goes, when it rains, it pours. And for plagued United Airlines it seems the rain may never stop. In some ways United may be experiencing something similar to what Carnival Cruise Lines did not so long ago, and to be sure its reputation will be tarnished for some time to come. Moreover, as the punches keep on coming, this whole string of incidents from beaten down passengers, to dead rabbits and scorpion bites—United Airlines may be an airline company that crashes without a single plane in the air when all is said and done.

You'll remember quite a few years back when PanAm was driven out of business after a series of deadly crashes that made it the butt of more than a few jokes, and left passengers weary to fly the ill-fated airline for fear they might not make it to their destination alive.

It's not just that passengers are bailing on United in droves. The investors are too, and for good reason on both counts.

Perhaps it is nothing that United Airlines is specifically doing wrong that has caused this string of bad press for them. They could well be simply a victim of circumstance. The Dr. David Dao incident just happened to thrust them smack dab into the spotlight. Of course, I do think there are some serious tears in the fabric of their entire operation, and this has led to much of their woes of late. But really, looking at the bigger picture, it might well be that the entire airline industry faces similar problems. We're just not as acutely aware of them since right now United is deeply embedded in bad press to take some of the heat and pressure off of the other airlines.

As one would expect, some of United's competitors are already taking advantage of United's missteps and misfortunes. For example, Southwest Airlines recently announced it would end the age-old practice of overbooking flights. As things tend to go in business, it's sort of a game of copycat if the idea sits well with customers, and it would  not be surprising to see other airlines quickly scrambling to follow suit. All of the airlines are already doing anything they can, of course, to scoop up any foot traffic they can grab from passengers abandoning United.

At this point it seems apparent that apologies from United's CEO, Oscar Munoz, are most definitely going to fall on deaf ears. What that means to me is that the only next step for Oscar Munoz to take is to step down from his top post and leave the clean up of this whole mess to someone else.

Does it mean someone else can fix it? Maybe. Maybe not. Toyota seemed well poised for a rather precarious situation after their Camry's accelerator problem left terrified drivers essentially in the back seat of their own cars while they were helplessly driven into walls, barriers, and other cars on the road. The stock did take a tumble, and certainly Toyota said very openly they made some mistakes, and the stock did recover, and so did the reputation of Camry cars. Carnival has been able to clean up its image a bit as well over time, and the cruise line is actually doing quite well again.

If there is any certainty for United Airlines, it is that it cannot afford an ounce of additional bad press. In fact, one more story of something happening on a United Airlines plane may serve as the final coffin nail.

The whole Twitter, Wendy's, Wilkerson "debacle" is not that story by the way.

At the very least what United Airlines needs is a major overhaul of its business. They need to either fire Munoz, or he needs to step down. That is step one. In addition, a new CEO needs to assure passengers that major changes will be made to the way they book flights, the way they get staff moved around, the way they handle cargo (especially live animals), and what they intend to do to sweep planes better—to keep scorpions from appearing out of the sleeves of sleeping passengers as happened on one recent flight, and passengers actually being stung which happened on yet another flight.

It still may not be enough to quell the looming disaster that is becoming their company. Unlike other businesses, airlines customers are quite a bit more perturbed than they are in other industries. The entire experience of flying has become such an abysmal and irritating experience, by the time passengers are sat in their seats, they are poised like hungry lions waiting for just the right moment and opportunity to strike. In fact, on a recent Southwest flight two passengers took to literal blows after who knows what transpired before the incident.

What that means is that customers are going to be far less forgiving when it comes to United as a whole. Flyers are fed up. And telling United where to go despite any efforts United may try to make to set things straight may be a very strong message to the airlines left standing...

You better get things right and treat flyers like customers, or we will ground your planes next.

Even if United Airlines makes it through the fall-out, their opportunity to have a second chance will require an awful careful approach to every single interaction it has with their customers. Because if they don't, they won't get a third chance.