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Archive for December, 2010

JACK FROST WINTERS IN TUCSON

SHORT STAY IS FORCASTED….It’s still snowing in Bisbee but the sun is shining in Tucson and I-40 and I-17 re-opened Thursday morning after Wednesday afternoon road closures when the first wave of a winter-weather system swept through the state Wednesday, lashing the Valley with rain, dumping deep snow in the high country and paralyzing Arizona’s major north-south route. Southbound Interstate 17 was re-opened about 10:30 a.m. Thursday after being closed just south of Flagstaff on Wednesday. Interstate 40 from Kingman to Flagstaff and on to Holbrook was reopened Thursday afternoon after being closed for several hours. In addition, Arizona 260, Arizona 87 and 89A have all been closed, and officials are not sure when they might be re-opened.
The second chapter of the winter blast was set to hit Arizona today, as precipitation tapers off and temperatures start to plunge. High temperatures for Thursday are expected to reach 49 degrees, well below our average high of 67 degrees. Friday morning’s low is expected to dip to 29 degrees at the official weather station at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport – cold enough to damage plants and even burst water pipes, according to the National Weather Service. The lows on Friday and Saturday mornings are likely to be the coldest since January 2007.
Snow accumulations of eight to 18 inches above 6,000 feet and two to eight inches between 2,800 and 6,000 feet are predicted. Motorists in Southern Arizona should be prepared for winter weather and deteriorating road conditions. The warning covers the upper Santa Cruz River Valley, the Altar Valley, metro Tucson, the upper San Pedro River Valley and Eastern Cochise County below 5,000 feet
Tonight: Snow showers likely before 11pm. Areas of frost after 2am. Otherwise, partly cloudy, with a low around 20. Breezy, with a west wind 26 to 29 mph decreasing to between 10 and 13 mph. Winds could gust as high as 46 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Friday: A 10 percent chance of snow showers after 11am. Areas of frost before 8am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 24. West wind between 9 and 14 mph.
Tonight: A slight chance of rain and snow showers before 8pm, then a slight chance of snow showers between 8pm and 11pm. Areas of frost after 2am. Otherwise, partly cloudy, with a low around 28. West wind 14 to 17 mph becoming south 6 to 9 mph. Winds could gust as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
Friday: Areas of frost before 8am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 46. Calm wind becoming west between 6 and 9 mph.
New Year’s Day: Mostly sunny, with a high near 51. Light north northwest wind.
The same storm created 100 mph gusts when it blew through California’s High Sierra and overturned semis in Nevada.
TUCSON WEATHER FRIDAY …COLD and PARTLY CLOUDY

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO McCORMICK & DEERING ?

THIS TRACTOR’S HISTORY REFLECTS THE PAST CENTURY’S CORPORATE CULTURES AND HOW MISMANAGEMENT SERVES AS WARNING TODAY FROM OUR PAST

It has been a long time since someone asked, “Whatever happened to McCormick & Deering ?” I happened to notice an abandoned McC&D Tractor in Tumcumcari, NM and I was impressed with its condition and wondered what might have been the history of a piece of equipment which pulled its weight through the 20th Century to end up on this roadside in New Mexico.

Between the mid-1880s and 1902, a vicious battle known as “the Harvester Wars” was waged on America’s grain fields. The farm equipment manufacturer’s capacity to build harvesting machines far exceeded demand, so sales representatives of the two giants, McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. and Deering Harvester Co., along with their smaller rivals, tried every trick possible to sell their binders to reluctant farmers. The struggle became so intense that competing salesmen would not only bribe farmers to buy, but also allegedly sabotaged the competition’s machines and physically attacked people.
As the war dragged on, binder prices fell drastically and selling expenses grew to more than 40 percent of total sales. Something had to be done and, in 1902, a merger among the five largest companies was brokered by the J.P. Morgan banking firm. The McCormick, Deering and Milwaukee Harvester companies, Piano Mfg. Co., and Warder, Bushnell & Glessner (Champion harvesters) merged to become the mighty International Harvester Co. For many years after the merger, IHC sold two parallel lines of equipment, one named McCormick and one named Deering, each slightly different from the other, but wearing the IHC logo. This was deemed necessary since each line had its loyal customers, and there was usually both a McCormick and a Deering dealer in every farm community.
The U.S. government filed an antitrust action against IHC in 1912, and the suit dragged on until a consent decree was signed in 1918. One of the terms of the agreement called for IHC to have only one dealer in each town, meaning that the dual McCormick and Deering lines of equipment could no longer be maintained. Indeed, the expense of designing, building and supporting both lines of equipment had been a serious drag on the company, so in 1923 a new grain binder – one combining the best features of each of the older machines – was introduced and called the McCormick-Deering. All of IHC’s other farm implements soon followed suit, and the famous McCormick-Deering line was born. McCormick-Deering farm implements and Farmall tractors helped IHC become the giant of the industry. Its 1923 U.S. farm equipment sales of $150 million tripled those of second place Deere & Co. “Harvester is, of course, the greatest single agricultural enterprise in the world,” trumpeted Fortune magazine at the time.

However, even a corporate giant such as IHC wasn’t immune to the calamity of the Great Depression. By 1932, its U.S. sales fell 78 percent, and the price of its stock dropped to $10.37 from a 1929 peak of $142 per share. Tens of thousands of Harvester employees were laid off and remained so through most of the lean 1930s. The McCormick family had, starting as early as 1862, crushed several attempts at unionization by their own workers. In the late 1930s, though, the unions started organizing among Harvester’s workforce of 60,000. IHC management fought bitterly, but by 1945, most every worker was a union member. After VJ Day, Harvester started a round of diversification and acquisition that cost the company a fortune and diluted its focus. The old core business of farm equipment and trucks was joined by construction equipment and home refrigeration. Meanwhile, the attitude of IHC’s management was summed up by one longtime dealer: “They thought that whatever they built and painted red was going to sell.” Just three years later Deere green outsold Harvester red for the very first time.
A combination of factors finally killed the International Harvester Co. These included the huge and expensive proliferation of truck models, and the stiff postwar competition in appliances. Also, several of IHC’s new crawler and farm tractor models were rushed into production without being thoroughly tested, and then broke down in the field. Obsolete factories were kept too long in service, and there were chronic and costly labor problems. All of these were reasons, and yet, the reason for all of these was poor management. Getting back to the original question, “Whatever happened to McCormick-Deering?” The name was used on farm implements until some time in 1948 or 1949, when Deering was dropped and McCormick alone was used. During the 1960s, the proud McCormick and Farmall names were replaced by International, the name Harvester’s farm machinery carried until the sale of the farm equipment division to Tenneco Inc. in 1984. It occurs to me you can reread this story and replace McCormick-Deering with Gannett and tractors with newspapers, and their mismanagement parallels the other.
Author Sam Moore has been interested in tractors, trucks and machinery ever since his years as a boy on a farm in western Pennsylvania. He’s been a collector of antique tractors for the past 11 years.

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SOUTHWEST’S RURAL ECONOMY STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE

ANY EXIT OFF I-40 LEADS TO HARD TIMES…NOWHERE is it more telling-just how much America has frayed between the spaces–than between the spaces–TUMCUMCARI New Mexico lies between Amarillo Texas and Santa Rosa, NM or Albuquerque. All stops along the great way or Highway 40, the main EAST – WEST cooridor across AMERICA which offers an interesting cross section of the American Dream and how it has played out into new challenges and the loss of an American Way of Life. This roadside view was maturing in the South West Sun and had begun to melt into the Land of Enchantment, soon the summer glare will take it all. Til then it lies testament to another time, people’s dreams realized and un-realized but always free choices driven by the Great American Spirit to be Free and Succeed.

The town of Tucumcari itself got its start in 1901 as a tent city known first as “Ragtown” and later as “Six Shooter Siding” along the Chicago, Rock Island and Union Pacific Railroad. When the railroad turned the camp into a division point in 1908, the settlement was renamed Tucumcari after the nearby mountain. By 1910, Tucumcari was a major railroad center – complete with roundhouse, depot, and water tower. Not to mention more than 60 thriving businesses. The first businesses to open in 1902 were the Barnes and Rankin furniture store, the A. B. Simpson hardware, A. A. Blankenship’s livery barn, Pioneer Bakery, Arcade Restaurant, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with rooms for $2 a day, the Owl Saloon, Weldon and Young Real Estate and Investments, Jackson and Foxworth Lumber Company, and the Exchange Bank. The birth of Route 66 in 1926 brought new travelers to Tucumcari by the carload. Wagon yards, livery stables, and blacksmith shops were soon replaced with gas stations, motor courts, gifts shops and cafes. Today, Tucumcari’s proximity to I-40 continues to attract travelers from all over the country.

As the town of Tucumcari continues to evolve, it remains committed to saving its rich history while building for economic growth for future generations. Unfortuately, many of the old motels now lie empty and dark, others now chronicle “American Owned” as the tight economy pits small business owners against each other struggling to survive knowing WiFi alone is not enough…

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SOUTHWEST BORDER WARS or MEXICO: THE WAR NEXT DOOR


“PECK CANYON is heavily patrolled and the terrain rugged.”
Few saw that the US-MEXICO BORDER would tear apart families or tribes whose cultures and languages are threatened but the cities that sprang up on both sides were predictable the division created entrepreneurial opportunity which sprung from the law, culture and needs of society. The international border became a way of life, a geological oddity (like the Grand Canyon) right in their own backyard, if their property had backed up to a great viewpoint they would have set up a pay parking lot and required admission.
The fence or border brought traders who provided the needs of the locals, like Sasabe Merchantile sells both parlor and kitchen stoves all wood-burning and priced for a population where electricity and gas are a new world commodity. Until recently, places like the San Miguel Gate, (a strip of no man’s land) became a row of boxes and traders on Saturday mornings who tried to sell goods to folks who needed their products from either sides of the border.
Recently I spoke with a young man who grew up in the Peck Canyon corridor and he believed crossings may be down “but business was being done, and if a load needed to go, it went and arrived intact! Business has been conducted through Peck Canyon since the day when Geronimo used those foothills’s perfect cover as he made tracks for the border. In our last posting, a local deer hunter said, “all border traffic was being funneled into Peck Canyon” much of this because of the high-tech sensing equipment elsewhere and the high profiles of the National Guard and additional manpower to the Border Patrol.
Unique to Peck Canyon, is the mixing of wilderness and residential, its close proximity to dense high
desert terrain and I-19, which is next to the large Border Patrol Checkpoint on I-19. I thought it would be quite easy for drug cartels to own several houses along I-19 where folks could move north from one house to another, for $5000 a head, many things are possible, like tunnels. Locals can think of four or five houses that might fit that description or have, from time to time. Likewise, the bandits who prey on crossers and smugglers alike, they probably live right there and know the terrain like the back of their hand and could be watching TV while border patrol searches.
Maybe, these Border businessmen started out young as mules! Perhaps, in the beginning they carried marijuana on their backs into the US, for $200 a pound, forty pounds equals $8000, 50 pounds or $10000, whatever they could carry quickly. Once in, they drop their load in a remote spot and hotfoot back to Mexico. When they drop their packs a man on a hillside watches and carefully telephones “his crew” who he directs to the load and they bring it further north. For decades, people have stuffed their doors and wheel wells full with pounds of grass and more than 200 pounds might be stuffed into a single ride to travel north without a second look. Driver of a loaded car might make $2000 traveling between Rio Rico and Tucson where the keys are passed to new driver to take the car on into Phoenix. This practice limits anyone person having full knowledge of the network. Lots of stolen or borrowed cars end up abandoned in the desert and they are quickly stripped by yet other border entrepreneurial opportunity. Living on the border separates families and social responsibilities can collide with professional responsibilities may result in a phone call home where an agent tells his wife he is stopping for bread on the way home. That might mean he will not be on a certain mountain and that route will be open for cousin Jaime to bring his load through. Some people living on the line, say “it business!” and others, call it “family”. Anything is possible, here. If a load needs to go, it does so successfully!
Here are some links to recent articles on the Peck Canyon and its every growing violence and how the cartels are pushing back against Mexico and USA …
A Border Patrol swat team member was shot and killed Tuesday night in a gun battle with suspected bandits south of Tucson. Agent Brian A. Terry, 40, was killed when his team exchanged fire with a group of five people about 11 p.m. in a remote area west of Rio Rico, said the FBI. Four of the five suspected bandits were in custody Wednesday morning, including one man who was hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Border Patrol since “have buttoned down the Pena Blanca Lake area” covering all the squeeze points and by placing agents on quads and horseback into the interior they are looking for a fifth member of the group. The shooting occurred in a remote area near Forest Service Road 4197, west of Interstate 19, said Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada. When deputies arrived at Peck Canyon Drive and Circulo Sombrero in Rio Rico, they found Terry dead of gunshot wounds, Estrada said. The remote area where the shooting occurred is an area frequently used by drug traffickers and people-smugglers.”All these canyons in Santa Cruz County are notorious for smuggling humans and drugs,” Estrada said. “Obviously, it is a very dangerous situation for anyone patrolling those remote areas, particularly for Border Patrol. There is always that threat.”Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department was only serving in a support role, Estrada said. The FBI is handling the investigation.”Our thoughts and prayers are with the Terry family for their tragic loss,”
Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was shot and killed Tuesday night in a fire fight with suspected bandits near Rio Rico, south of Tucson.

VIDEO: Mexico the War next Door…

Mexican Crime Reporter Speaks Out