There’s a Lady Who’s Sure, All That Glitters is Gold…

It was in March of 1971 that Led Zeppelin released what many now consider the greatest rock-n-roll song of all-time​,​ “Stairway to Heaven​”.​ The song actually became the most requested song on FM radio stations in the United States during the 1970s, despite never having been commercially released as a single. Many historians say the Beatles may have owned the 1960s, but Led Zeppelin clearly owned the 1970​s​. In fact they are now considered one of the best-selling music artists in the history of audio recording​. Various sources estimate the group’s record sales are in excess of 200 to 300 million units worldwide. It was back in 1966 that a session guitarist named Jimmy Page joined the blues-influenced rock band called the Yardbirds to replace their bassist. Page was incredibly talented and soon switched from bass to lead guitar, creating a dual lead guitar line-up with Jeff Beck. Following Beck’s departure in October 1966, the Yardbirds, tired from constant touring and recording, began to wind down. It was rumored at that point Page wanted to form a supergroup with him and Beck on guitars, and the Who’s Keith Moon and John Entwistle on drums and bass. Vocalists Steve Winwood and Steve Marriott were also considered for the project. The group was never formed, and Page went out on his own to assemble a band. His first choice for the lead singer was Terry Reid, but Reid declined the offer and suggested Robert Plant, a singer for the Band of Joy and Hobbstweedle. Plant eventually accepted the position, and recommended former Band of Joy drummer John Bonham. Bassist and keyboardist Joh Paul Jones agreed to join as the fourth, making what would arguably become one of the greatest rock-n-roll bands of all-time. The four played together for the first time in a room below a record store on Gerrard Street in London. One account of how the new band’s name was chosen held that Moon and Entwistle had suggested that a supergroup with Page and Beck would go down like a “lead balloon”, an idiom for disastrous results. The group dropped the ‘a’ in lead at the suggestion of their manager, Peter Grant, so that those unfamiliar with the term would not pronounce it “leed”. The word “balloon” was replaced by “zeppelin”, a word which, according to music journalist Keith Shadwick, brought “the perfect combination of heavy and light, combustibility and grace” to Page’s mind. Their debut album, Led Zeppelin, was released in the U.S. during the winter of 1969. They released their fourth and most famous album in 1971. In response to the treatment they had received from critics, particularly after Led Zeppelin III, the band decided to release the fourth album with no title, though it is variously referred to as Led Zeppelin IV, due to the four symbols appearing on the record label. In addition to lacking a title, the original cover featured no band name, as the group wished to be anonymous and to avoid easy pigeonholing by the press. With nearly 40 million copies sold, Led Zeppelin IV is now one of the best-selling albums in history, and its massive popularity cemented Led Zeppelin’s status as superstars in the 1970s. The track “Stairway to Heaven”, which is celebrating its 46 year anniversary this month​,​ is the biggest reason for the albums popularity. I should note the album also featured a few of the band’s other ​best ​known hits, including “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll” and “Going to California”. It was actually on this day in 1975 that Led Zeppelin played the first of two sold-out nights at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada. Tickets cost $7.50. The set list included: ‘Rock And Roll’, ‘Whole Lotta Love’, ‘Black Dog’, ‘Heartbreaker’ and of course the most famous ‘Stairway To Heaven’. Click HERE to listen.

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What’s Your Auction Bidding Strategy?

My wife and I love attending auctions. In fact the kids make fun of us now, telling us we are getting old, because date night often consist of going to a local Kansas City auction on a Wednesday or Thursday night. Interestingly we’ve always liked attending auctions, just during some of the leaner years we clearly couldn’t bid as often or as high on an item of interest. Now a days we primarily attend art, antique, automobile or charity auctions. Occasionally we will hit a farm auction if the ground is of real interest and within proximity of our home base. It seems to both Michelle and I that auctions are starting to once again get more popular, as attendance seems to be on the rise. I ran across an article the other day that that made me think about my bidding style. “Are you a “stealth” bidder, who bids with a wink, a nod or a surreptitious wave? Or do you bid aggressively, hoping to scare off the competition? What’s your online bidding style? Are you a sniper or a squatter? Do you bid online using the same style of bidding that you use at a live auction? When you offer your own online auctions, can you tell where your price will end up by the type of bidders you are attracting? Like most everything else in our search for the truth, academia has thoroughly researched these topics and we’re going to have a look at some of their results. (Source: Antique Trader)

  • Auction Sniping – It’s the auction equivalent of military sniping. It’s the S.W.A.T. team of auction bidding. When the winning bid in your auction comes from “out of nowhere,” you have been sniped. Bidders never know when a sniper lurks in the background until, in the final few seconds of an auction, the sniper’s bid appears. Most snipers will use a stealth type style of bidding. Often times you are not even certain where the bid is coming from. Other bidders are rattled up and simply can’t respond fast enough to top the sniped bid. Providing that the sniped bid is the highest, it wins the auction suddenly and aggressively. If are bidding on a extremely rare or unique item that will not be available at other auctions or sales and multiple bidders ar entrusted, then snipe the auction. Set up the snipe with your maximum bid written down and then leave it alone. You’ll either win it or you won’t.

  • Auction Squatters – These are the opposite of auction snipers: They enter an auction early and take up residence until the bidding ends. Squatters bid early and often. They respond to competing aggressively, they let the crowd know immediately they want the item. Most squatters will use a loud and attention getting signal to bid. Studies make a strong case in favor of squatting, and claim that the strategy produces a “competition effect,” which can help drive others away. Unfortunately in if an item is extremely rare or highly unique the edge shifts to “snipping”. Bottom-line, if item seems less than unique and can be found at other auctions or sales, the edge seems to go to the squatter type style. If you decide to squat, be aggressive about it. Don’t bid the minimum amount; doing so just invites competition. Instead, bid a significant percentage of what you are ultimately willing to pay. Bid bigger early so it doesn’t allow others to get in the game and become personal, sort of like bluffing or raising the pot early in a poker game so as not to let others draw out and win the hand.

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One Of America’s Largest Coal Plants Closing Decades Ahead Of Schedule

Arizona is home to the Navajo Generating Station, the largest coal power plant in the Western U.S.. The plant also has the not-so-flattering distinction of being the seventh largest source of climate pollution in the country, emitting over 14 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Three years ago, the plant owners struck a deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to close the plant by 2044. However, the shutdown now looks like it will happen decades ahead of schedule. The owners of the coal-fired plant — which provides much of the power to the pumps of the Central Arizona Project, the canal that has enabled the explosive growth of Phoenix and Tucson — voted a couple of weeks back to close when its lease ends in December 2019. It has nothing to do with environmental regulations though, but rather economics. The plant is old and has been undercut by low prices for natural gas that fuel other plants. In fact, customers of the plant are actually paying more for their electricity than they would otherwise. The Central Arizona Project, one of the main purchasers of NGS power, reported in a recent presentation that they could have saved $38.5 million in 2016 by purchasing power at standard market rates instead of the coal plant. The unfavorable economics of coal are not limited to just NGS though – it’s an issue facing the entire industry and has nothing to do with the Clean Power Plan. The country’s coal fleet is shrinking mostly due to the fact that the plants are old – the ​Navajo​ ​G​enerating ​S​tation was built in 1972. The average retirement age of coal plants in 2015 was 58 years old, which indicates that much of the country’s coal fleet is facing its demise in the relatively near future. According to an analysis of SNL Energy data, 46 coal units have received regulatory approval to retire over the next 12 years. Few new coal plants are in the works to replace those that are being shut down, too. The EIA only lists three proposed electric-sector coal plants scheduled to open by 2021. This could all prove to be a big problem for President Trump and his promise to bring about a “coal renaissance.” Despite his more coal-friendly policy, utilities so far seem to be sticking to their plans to retire their aging coal units and transition to more efficient plants, most of which will utilize either natural gas or renewable energy sources like solar and wind. David Schissel, director of resource planning analysis at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, says the market forces working against coal are not going away. “What the owners of Navajo have been saying about the economics of their plant is reflective of what’s happening to the entire industry.” (Sources: CoExist, LA Times, SNL)

A Little “Elvis” History

Elvis Presley is of course infamous for his music and movies that turned him into one of America’s biggest pop culture icons. Dubbed the “King of Rock ’n Roll”, Presley’s career was briefly interrupted in 1958 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He received the notice at Christmas time, which did not necessarily come as a shock. He’d been eligible for the draft for five years at that point. Military conscription was part of the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 1951. Originally Congress passed the measure to supply the manpower needed to fight the Korean War, but it remained in effect after the war ended in 1953 due to U.S. concerns about its Cold War enemies. Under the act, all men between the ages of 18 and 26 were required to register. The minimum age for induction was 18 ½. For those drafted, the length of service was set at 24 months. Presley’s name was added to the eligibility registry on January 19, 1953. In the meantime, he graduated from high school, got his start with Sun Records and RCA, released numerous number one records, made his first movie and became a sensation on network television. He was one of the most popular entertainers in America when he was summoned to Kennedy Veterans Hospital in Memphis for a pre-induction physical on January 4, 1957. These examinations were critical in determining a young man’s physical and mental fitness for military service. Presley’s results classified him as 1-A, ready for immediate call-up. News soon leaked to the press and a nationwide debate ensued as to whether Elvis should be granted special treatment. Some argued that he be made part of the Special Services and spend his military stint traveling around entertaining troops. That plan was panned by critics as unfair special treatment. It turned out that the Special Services weren’t interested in Presley joining them anyway, unless it would help in their recruiting efforts. The military’s research showed that Presley’s basic appeal was to young girls, however, which the Army said was “outside our interest.” Presley’s official draft notice turned that Christmas into a very bittersweet event. This was the first holiday season he and his family were spending at Graceland, the mansion Presley had purchased just nine months before. He purchased Graceland on March 19, 1957 for $102,500. That’s pretty remarkable considering that Graceland is one of the most famous houses in the world and the second most visited house in all America, behind only the White House. At the time, it was a pretty isolated estate located miles outside the main urban area of Memphis. Its remoteness was welcome, as by that time, the Presley home in Memphis proper was drawing huge crowds of fans and journalists, which Elvis and his family found intrusive, and the neighbors found to be a nuisance. Officially, Graceland was where Elvis, his parents Vernon and Gladys, and his grandmother Minnie Mae lived, but unofficially, it was also the home/hotel/clubhouse for the entire “Memphis Mafia”—the ever-changing cast of childhood and newfound friends who surrounded Elvis. Obviously, the draft news put a damper on everyone’s holiday spirits and particularly Elvis’ feelings of pride and accomplishment. At the height of his popularity and with Hollywood contracts for eight more movies, Elvis naturally felt all of it might be lost when the army took him away for two years. Nevertheless, Presley reported for his induction on March 24, 1958, a day dubbed “black Monday” for his fans by the press. RCA producer Steve Sholes and Freddy Bienstock of Hill and Range had carefully prepared for his two-year hiatus. Armed with a substantial amount of unreleased material, they kept up a regular stream of successful releases. Presley returned to civilian life on March 2, 1960, and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant on March 5. Between his induction and discharge, Presley had ten top-40 hits. RCA also generated four albums compiling old material during this period, most successfully Elvis’ Golden Records (1958), which hit number three on the LP chart. (Source: ElvisHistory, Wikipedia, Graceland.com)

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Clint Harp’s Big Gamble On Himself Paid Off Handsomely!

Clint Harp has been a staple on HGTV’s hit show “Fixer Upper” since the beginning. His part in the show has turned him into a celebrity and even lead to a deal for his very own television series. His seeming ‘luck’ at having his wildest dreams come true all stemmed from a huge leap of faith in himself. Just six years ago, Harp was in medical sales, but his real passion was building furniture. In the beginning of 2011, his desire to pursue that passion led to him quitting his six-figure job in Houston and dive in feet first. As he explains, “The only way it was going to happen is if I completely went for it.” He had two kids at the time and his wife, Kelly Harp, was a stay-at-home mom. He recalls conversations the two had where they were discussing things like bankruptcy and trying to figure out how to stretch their savings. The summer of that same year, the family moved to a small apartment in Waco so Kelly could pursue her graduate degree. Clint continued with his efforts to launch his furniture business, which was tough in an apartment. The Harps also added a third child, which added to the financial pangs they were really starting to feel. One night over dinner, friends mentioned Chip Gaines, a builder from Waco who owned Magnolia Homes. As Harp was was looking to start picking up work building furniture, he thought ​of ​a connection Gaines might know where he could rent a woodworking shop. He gave Gaines a call in December, but never heard back. A few months later, the family pulled into a gas station following an afternoon at the park. Harp recalls that he was unsure if they could even afford to fill up the tank and thinking to himself, “What did I do?” It was then that he saw a Magnolia Homes truck pull in. He approached the driver and asked if he knew owner Chip Gaines. Turns out, the driver was Gaines, and when Harp explained what he wanted to do, Gaines invited him to hang out that afternoon. The two drove around discussing Harp’s idea, and a few nights later the Harps went to the Gaines’ house for dinner. There, the Harps met Chip Gaines’ wife, Joanna, who was selling some home-decor pieces out of her home and looking to add more, including furniture. Harp ended up renting shop space on the cheap from Habitat for Humanity, a charity he’s been involved with for many years. Finally, he had someone to build furniture for, and he was feeling positive about the future of his enterprise. The good fortune was just beginning though. Within a few months, the Gaines​es​​ were approached by High Noon Entertainment about developing a television show. Harp says the whole thing seemed insane. “I met Chip at a gas station in February or March of 2012 and by October or November, we’re filming a pilot for HGTV,” he says. His regular gig as Joanna Gaines’s go-to furniture maker on the show has allowed him and Kelly to open up their own store, buy the shop building and commercial-grade tools and even add some employees. What’s more, the couple’s own series, “Wood Work,” aired on the DIY Network earlier this month. Clint typically uses recycled and reclaimed wood from old structures, fallen trees, and scrap piles to build his pieces. “There is the beauty of this idea, of something being left for dead and brought back to life,” Clint told the Austin American-Statesman. “I felt that way about myself. For me, I’m kind of reclaimed as well.” (Sources: Austin American-Statesman, Country Living)

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