And now for something completely different … Yamhill County History

Early photo of Willamina Brick Plant.
h/tOregon Historical Society.

Some rare information about a family which also provides a window into Oregon rural history. The family of Aaron Cohen lived and worked in Willamina for several years. Aaron Cohen was a treasured member of the Willamina community and the Willamina Brick Plant where he worked for many years.
Helen S. Cohen taught at Willamina High School. The two boys attended school in Willamina and are equally fondly remembered, particularly by Charlene Brown, who established the Willamina Historical Society and has written several books about local history. Aaron and Helen’s sons played with her own children after school.
I met Helen Cohen at a dinner at Congr. Ahavath Achim in the 1980s, before the family made aliyah. Later, I met a Willamina woman who knew the Cohen’s son, Sidney, when the family lived there. She said Mrs. Cohen used to come over to visit her mother often and whe remembered them well and fondly.
The Willamina Historical Museum has published a book by local historian and founder of the museum, Charlene Brown, titled “Brickburg, The story of The Willamina, Oregon Brick Plant.” She has one paragraph on Aaron Cohen, the Ceramic Engineer, who “joined the crew in 1948.”
Brown goes on, “Cohen devised the formulas to meet the specifications of sometimes hard-to-please architects, bricks of every shade of red, blue, yellow and buff. Any requirement of color, size and texture could be met.” It is clear in the book how important the brick plant was to the economic life of Willamina.
At the Museum, there is also a large, framed article from The Oregonian, dated March 14, 1975, (p. C7) by Janet Goetze about the imminent demise of the brick plant. There is more detail about Mr. Cohen there – apparently he worked at the brick plant for at least 25 years.
In that year, 1975, according “Brickburg,” Gerald Edwards, son of the owner, and Aaron Cohen, were given a special award from the members of the American Institute of Architects, “for meritorious craftsmanship and service to the architectural profession and the community.” The brick plant was bought by Willamina Lumber Company and entirely removed in 1976.
Family members recalled weekly trips to Portland for Shabbat. Their father would point out buildings in and on the way to Portland, noting “That’s built with Willamina Brick!”

The Oregon Encyclopedia writes:
“The first economic boom [in Willamina} occurred in 1907, when O.K. Edwards established the Pacific Face Brick Company. The brick plant brought the railroad to town, and for over sixty years the unusual clay from Willamina was used to construct buildings up and down the West Coast.”

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Wisconsin whimsy – Aug. 9 Independence Day

Paul Nehlen is running a fantastic race. Best wishes! Here’s his little campaign tchotchke!

Yes you can Dump Ryan!

Yes you can Dump Ryan!

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Was the Brexit vote a good thing for the UK and the world?

Winning produces happiness!

Answer: Yes. It was a good thing!

In our last post, we said we’d discuss this question. World money managers have already realized that the Brexit vote may actually be GOOD for them, for Great Britain, for the EU (more countries apparently wanting out NOW), and for the world.

They are looking at the result from the economic, trade, commerce and political points of view. Now, IFO will explain this from the equally, if not more, important emotional and sociological and physiological points of view.

Emotional: everyone she talked to and watched on the Internet wept with joy at the result. By “everyone” we mean real human beings. Bureaucrats, pundits, politicians and that ilk for the most part were totally hysterical and wept with sorrow and panic. In any event, it is good to give your emotions free rein every once in a while.

Sociological: this is the main reason leaving the European Union may be so good for the British Isles and the rest of the world. The vote restored to the people, overnight, a sense of purpose and belonging, a sudden pride in their own nation and neighborhood, hope for a more prosperous future. This is the kind of optimism that makes economic growth possible.

Physiological: Hope and optimism promote good health. Many studies have shown that, for example: “There is evidence that optimistic people present a higher quality of life compared to those with low levels of optimism or even pessimists.”

This optimism and good mood throughout the UK is likely to result in a decrease in expenses for the NHS – the national health system. Of course, there will be a slight uptick in London NHS counseling expenses as the World Citizen Snowflakes deal with the trauma of Brexit. But we hope that even they will grow up and become productive, happy citizens.

And what better way to bolster confidence than to see financial markets returning to previous levels, and leaders of countries all over the world clamoring for new trade deals with Great Britain!

We’ll skip the economic and political discussion of the effects of the vote and the dread possibility that the EU will completely break up, leaving German banks with oodles of bad loans to bankrupt and corrupt countries. Other commentators are far more well-informed than your obedient servant, IFO.

What have we learned from this earth-shaking event? 1. Trust your gut. 2. Stand for freedom and independence whenever you have the opportunity. 3. Believe in your own.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about globalism and progressivism – the good intentions and hopes bred of ideas both crazy and sound. It was the crazy ideas that are their downfall, but even the sound ideas went off the rails into the weeds.

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Brexit vote and the market – what to do?

We rarely apologize, but in this case it is necessary. We knew immediately, the minute we heard about the British pound crashing and stock markets all over the world crashing just because the British voted decisively to leave the European Union, this this was a rare buy opportunity.

Yet, we didn’t rush to our computer to make the post that you will be reading in just a moment. Why? Cowardice, pure and simple. Let this be a lesson to you all – trust your educated, well-honed instincts.

The day after the Brexit vote, IFO, after watching and celebrating all night (woohoo!!!) reviewed her portfolio holdings and cash position and bought some stock. But she didn’t post about her conclusions. What if she had been wrong? Would have looked like an idiot.

She didn’t have enough cash to make a big buy. And she might not have even if she had had the cash. IFO is a conservative investor. However, here is what she did. See what you think.

  1. She decided to buy. She knew she didn’t have much time – a day or two at most before the sophisiticated, but panicky, “professionals” came to their senses and got back into the market. During the first two days following the shocking and surprising vote to Leave, world markets lost what some calculated as Trillion Dollars in value.
  2. She reviewed only stocks she already held. IFO has spent YEARS giving advice and tips on how to select companies to buy stock in: dividend yield, number of  years the company has paid dividends, quality of CEO, etc. There was no time to vet another company.
  3. She reviewed her cash position, did some quick Yahoo comparisons between companies she already held – big winners vs. not so big ones, looked at her portfolio to see who was down by the biggest percentage, picked a stock to buy.
  4. She divided the price into her cash position to see how many shares she could get. Then, she placed a trade. Done. That was a Friday. DOW down 600+.

We were pleased to see that our overall pre-purchase portfolio, while it did go down A LOT, did not fall as far, percentage-wise as the DOW. She calls this “beating the DOW!” and views it as a cause for celebration.

On Monday, the market was down again, but only by about half as much as on Friday. Oops! Correction starting already. Darn! But she did have enough cash to make one more purchase from her already-vetted companies, so made another trade.

On Tuesday, the market started back up. It’s up again so far today. World money managers have realized that the Brexit vote may actually be GOOD for them, for Great Britain, for the EU (more countries apparently wanting out NOW), and for the world.

What do we learn from this? Don’t listen to anyone or thing except your own gut. Whether it involves investing, or any other big decision you need to make.

Also, don’t second-guess yourself. You have your reasons, and if they turn out to be off the mark – too bad. You did the best you could with the information you had.

We’ll discuss why the Brexit vote is such a positive sign for world economies in our next post.

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Happy National Margarita Day!

These are just the beginning.

This is a real holiday! IFO has never had tequila, but this is tempting.

So, yes, if you feel like celebrating National Margarita Day, or just Washington’s Birthday, which we lost to PC several years ago, but it still GW’s birthday today, so party on!

However, this is a serious blog, with serious financial information. The company reminding us of this holiday is named Pura Vida Spirits Company.

It is pure Texas – with operations based in Mexico and Texas. One of the founders is a former ZZ Top player! The newsletter linked above is named “Andale” Spanish for “get moving!” Pronounced: AHN dahlay.

My classmates in Las Cruces New Mexico, just 40 miles north of El Paso, Texas, used to yell, “Andale” when our lookouts saw the school principal and fourth grade teacher coming down the hall back to our classroom. Oh, that brings back memories.

But back to the present. Keep an eye on Pura Vida, the founders have big plans. They are expanding beyond their basic tequila to other distilled drinks. But before we go there, let’s applaud their website’s copywriters. For example, their aged tequila, Añejo,…

This extra aging process allows our Añejo to darken and mature resulting in a tequila that is extremely smooth, complex, and delightful.

A lot like you.

Are you sold? But wait, there’s more. According to the Houston Business Journal, in an exclusive, subscribers-only story:

Exclusive: Houston tequila co. to launch full line of liquor

A Houston-based tequila company is expanding to a full liquor line in the next three years. It will eventually carry a Mexican whiskey, Dutch gin and Cuban rum.

The managing director and founder is Stewart Skloss, a man of many, many companies. No, company is NOT public, yet. And given how many private companies he is involved in, it may never be, but keep an eye on him and la Pura Vida.

IFO can see one of the big beverage brands scarfing them up as soon as the full line of liquor is online.

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South Carolina Republican Primary election

From Scott Adams’ blog via The Conservative Treehouse.

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Is it time to buy stocks now?

We hope you are all making your lists and checking them twice. What company or companies are you going to buy when the time is “right?”

Are you in love with the CEO? Is the business unique and strong? Does it pay good and rising dividends? How old is the company?

If you want to get into the weeds, how much debt does it have? Is it doing stock buy backs?

Let’s address the last question first: stock buy backs. In spite of near-universal condemnation of the practice, company boards and some investors still act as if that is really a good practice.

Here’s a link devoted entirely to stock buybacks. Good information. Delves into the nuances. Be sure to Google the term “stock buybacks” for some insights.

On balance, IFO does not like this practice. Do your due diligence before you make up your mind. One red flag: buy backs purchased with borrowed money! Other names for borrowed money: debt, leverage.

While waiting (we haven’t traded any stock for weeks), check out some website we have listed in our Blog Roll. Here’s one discussion from Dividend.Com’s Feb. 15 note. Quick summary: it’s not time yet.

For background from one of the best: Donaldson Capital. He says the “correction” is just noise, and backs it up with good analysis. Note to Julie, “If you are reading this, this may be the best start for your son for learning about markets, etc.

Don’t be fooled by the “volatility” — in this case wild swings both up and down. That really IS noise. Also, if you start reading more and more analysts saying “this is a real correction, don’t buy now, more bad news is coming,” etc. that may be the time to consider buying.

Remember: buy low, sell high?

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The problem in Washington DC

What is wrong with the VA?

Just got off the phone after ranting to the poor phone answerer in U.S. Repr. Greg Walden’s office in Wash DC.

I had two complaints: 1. Couldn’t send the email I wrote in response to the representative’s recent email newsletter. 2. The contents of the representative’s email newsletter totally missed the problem he was attempting to address.

You decide. First the offending newsletter (edited for brevity and clarity), then my reply which somehow could not be sent to his office:

“The scandals and mismanagement that have plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are unacceptable. And it is a personal priority of mine to bring back transparency and accountability to the VA.  That’s why I am proud that the U.S. House has passed several pieces of legislation in recent weeks to help our nation’s veterans.

To start, the Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act focuses on cutting red tape for veterans as they look for jobs, education, and medical services. It would strengthen the GI Bill program as well as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, expand successful PTSD programs, and protect veteran-owned small businesses. Importantly, this legislation has support from American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America.

I believe decisions about veterans’ benefits should not be controlled by an agency in Washington, D.C. That’s why I also supported the American Heroes COLA Act, a bill that would expedite the VA’s processing of certain benefit claims and appeals, as well as put in place an automatic cost of living increase for our vets.

In order to turn around its worst performing medical centers, the VA needs to first acknowledge its problems. I believe a third bill that I recently supported, the VA Medical Center Recovery Act, is a step in that direction. The bill puts in place clear definitions and metrics for the VA to measure how their medical centers are serving veterans, and gives the agency the tools to intervene when a medical center is failing.

Under this bill, a “rapid response team” of top managers and medical professionals would be deployed to failed facilities with the sole task of taking over and taking charge. The team would be able to cut through the broken bureaucracy by having direct access to VA Secretary Robert McDonald and his top officials, ensuring that decisions are made quickly and at the highest level. We need to take away the VA’s excuses for failure and force them to be accountable, and this bill will help get us there.

Of course, it is a failure on all counts when we lose a veteran to suicide. You might remember that last year when Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act for American Veterans. This piece of legislation helps expand mental health and suicide prevention programs within the VA.

I’m pleased to let you know about a similar bill recently passed by the U.S. House, the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act. According to a study by the VA, women veterans are nearly six times more likely to commit suicide than non-veteran women.

Best regards, Greg Walden, U.S. Representative, Oregon’s Second District”

My reply:

“Thanks for trying to help, but MORE MONEY and MORE LAWS are how we got here! The bills you mention do nothing to help veterans – they just expand the VA and its hangers-on. They do nothing to fix the VA, they just add more people.

I don’t see a path to improving VA management. Whistleblowers still can be punished, bad VA administrators can still get raises, bonuses and promotions to new places, veterans can still be ignored or forgotten. Does that “rapid response team” consist of VA employees?

More money and more laws is how we got where we are today. Find someone who knows how to run a hospital system, hire that person, give the person CEO authority and a deadline. And stand back.


Well, my dear readers, what do you think?

N.B. For more information, start by googling: Veteran’s Administration.

N.B. II – My dad and uncle used VA services extensively years ago, and neither one complained to me. Plus, a local Marine veteran told me he was quite satisfied with the services he got, though he had heard of problems.

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Economics for child geniuses

Building is fun!

And now for something completely different.

A couple of days ago, a lovely person came on this site. She commented in the “About” section here that she wanted to have some recommendations for books for her son.

He needed to enhance his natural entrepreneurial talents because he had already started to show his genius for business when he was three years old!

Below is my reply, slightly edited,

“You are so fortunate to have such a brilliant son! He seems to be genetically programmed to be a highly successful businessman.
“Please accept my apology for taking so long to answer your comment, but I really had to think about it. First, I don’t know of any books that would be pitched even to young adults, much less the 9-12 yr old market, that would do your son any good. They have a tendency to be preachy and PC. Most are written by liberal arts people who have no clue about how businesses operate.
“A few suggestions: Biographies of businessmen are good and written for the general public, i.e. your son. He’ll ask you about words he may run into that aren’t clear to him, but that will just open up opportunities to discuss the content. Horatio Alger stories are good, I think.
“Let him try “The Cathedral and The Bazaar” by Eric S. Raymond. It is “The most important book about technology today, with implications that go far beyond programming,” according to Guy Kawasaki. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.
“You are right to start with some IFO posts on basic investing – they are geared toward my timid, widows, so I worded them very simply. The stock market is the end result of entrepreneurial activities. All of the great companies started small – many in garages, long before the companies went public. Search my site for “garage!” The founders wanted to “make” and to “do.” Just like your son. Money was the last thing on their minds, except as a means to the end.
“Another idea I had is that you could take him down to a Scottrade or Charles Schwab-type brokerage office. Schwab has fabulous customer service, but has a tendency to want to give advice. Scottrade does NOT give advice. You place an order online and it goes through. If there is an office in your town, you can always call or go in person to chat with the people there.
“Just let your son ask them questions. They will love it. We who love our work are all missionaries! I’m a reporter and you can’t shut me up about the benefits of local newspapers to their communities!
“Also, I recommend that, if possible, that your son  he get a job as soon as he can. All of my kids did, though only my two daughters understood about savings accounts as a tool for giving them (some) control over their lives. Each child has been amazingly different.
“My son loved his paper route for the computer and guitar it got him, plus the cookies and positive reinforcement he got from his customers when he went collecting. My daughters, OTOH, didn’t like collecting – they were so goal-oriented they hardly paid any attention to their present lives.”

Can any readers here recommend books on business for young, talented, hard-working kids?

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Do you hear the people sing?

Laura Ingraham played this song to open her talk show today, following  Donald Trump’s great victory in New Hampshire. I defy you to read and listen without weeping.

I do recommend that all political warriors watch the entire production. you can find several full versions on YouTube. Revolutions have a way of getting out of hand. Remember this.


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