Archive for December 31, 2014

Cowardly Lion Costume And Piano From Casablanca Sold

The original cowardly lion costume worn by Bert Lahr in the 1989 hit movie, Wizard of Oz, was sold for around 3.1 million dollars. While the piano used in the movie Casablanca also sold for around 3.4 million dollars. These two movie memorabilia are considered as iconic pieces. They were sold at Bonham’s auction for Turner Classic Movies.

The two memorabilia sold for more than $3 million with buyer’s premium. Though they neither broke the record, the sale price still exceeded the presale estimates.

James Comisar, museum founder of the Los Angeles TV, owned the Cowardly Lion costume and was auctiond for exactly $3,077,000 with a buyer’s premium worth $477,000. The costume was found by a junk dealer after it has been left in an abandoned MGM building and Comisar bought it. The Cowardly Lion is made up of real lion’s fur and professional museum curators preserved the costume. Though there were several costumes made for the film, it is said that the auctioned one is the most used in the screen.

The Casablanca piano, on the other hand, has been with a Los Angeles collector for a decade. It was auctioned for $3,413,000 and the buyer’s premium is worth $513,000. In the movie Casablanca, the piano was played by Dooley Wilson in Rick’s Cafe Americain. It was built in 1927 and was then used in several productions. The piano was modified; it could be open from the rear so anyone can hide papers.

The record holder for auction’s highest priced movie prop is the Maltese Falcon. It was paid for $4,085,000 at Bonham-Turner Classic Movies auction last year. While the overall record holder for a piece of movie memorabilia is the Aston Martin worth $4.6 million. It was used by James Bond, played by Sean Connery, in the James Bond movie Goldfinger. The piece of TV memorabilia that holds the record is the 1960s TV Batmobile which was sold for $4.6 million.

The Turner Classic Movies and Bonhams have collaborated for this auction for two consecutive years. There were other items sold at the auction including the sword of Aragon from the movie Lord of the Rings ($437,000), a test dress of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz ($245,000) and a costume worn by Rita Hayworth from the movie Gilda ($161,000).

Crisis In Russia Is Greatly Affecting Internationally Known Brands

December 18, 2014 — Russia’s ongoing economic crisis is affecting many western companies and most are already bracing for bigger blows to their earnings. It is predicted that if the oil prices fail to recover, then Russia’s GDP will be reduced to almost 5% in 2015.

If the Russian economy cannot recover, it would mean bad news for a lot of companies who have a considerable exposure to the Russian market.

Ford is a known automobile manufacturer that had experienced a reduction to 40% in sales on the first 11 months of 2014. Not only that, various carmakers are also experiencing a downgrade in sales up to 12%, says the Association of European Businesses. In fact, Ford was forced to let go of about 950 jobs from its Russian joint venture last April.

Volkswagen is also experiencing the same issues as Ford.

Russia had also forced 12 McDonald chains due to sanitary violations but experts believe that this is just a government ploy. Right now, the restaurants have since been reopened.

Total, the energy entity from France, was also forced to shelve their plans for a shale venture exploration with Russia. Even Siemens, who also has considerable exposure to the Russian market, had admitted that their sales are suffering due to the fall of the Russian ruble.

Some companies have even decided to discontinue their services in Russia until things get better. Companies like Apple, Ikea, and GM had already suspended their business in Russia.

Adidas, which is one of the biggest retail sellers in Russia, had admitted that the continuous downfall of the Russian ruble is hurting their business. Adidas has about 1100 stores.

Russia’s financial crisis are giving Western banks headaches, especially the European lenders who are greatly exposed in the country. Russia has an outstanding loan of about $155.9 billion from European banks alone. Banks from France have loaned Russia mostly with $47.8 billion while Italy and the US have loaned the country $27.7 billion and $26.1 billion respectively.

It would be very difficult for Russia to come back from all of this and it would take great effort for them to do so.

Parking Lot Drain Cleaning In Miami & How It Is Done

Every year, cities that are in coastal areas often face the anguish of having to contend with constant flooding in some areas.

Miami is one of the cities that try their best to prevent several damages caused by floods as much as possible. Rain often showers all the way through the year around the entire South Florida area and about 62 inches of rainfall pours over annually.

Rainfall pours the heaviest in June and all throughout October, and this is also the time where the teeming of catch basins take place, storm drain cleaning is heavily needed, flooding in streets, sidewalks and parking lots take place.

There are plenty of ways to be able to avoid severe damages in buildings and the like. One way of doing so is to ensure that the drainage systems are functioning as it should be.

Drainage systems should always be scoured and preserved frequently. Catch basin and professional parking lot drain cleaning are key factors in diminishing extreme damage to several properties (private or public) and lessen the chance of having to spend a lot of money for repairs. Time and excessive amounts of money will be spared if parking lot drain cleaning is done regularly.

  • It is practical to make one’s self acquainted with the kinds of drains and terms related to it. There are other terms for parking lot drain and these are French drain, the catch basin and storm drain cleaning.
  • The French drain is a drain that is full of rocks that sift the bigger remains out of the water and into the pipes. This is constructed at either an exterior or subversive passageway point.
  • The catch basin is built to pump out additional water from a street or parking lot and has rubbles that will not run promptly all the way through the drainage tubes.
  • And lastly, storm drain cleaning is a type of drain that takes off spare ground and rainfall water from parking lots, sidewalks and streets.

Because of the constant flooding that occur on a yearly basis, it is highly recommended to do parking lot draining preferably every two years.

Dollar Bills Materialize Following Positive Trade Statistics

The American dollar remained stable in opposition o majority of its chief contemporaries on Friday as a result of the positive trade statistics in the U.S., at the same time as the Canadian dollar hits close to a low of five years because of anxiety of oil prices declining gradually.

For the first time in the last five years, natural oil slipped $59 per drum and as a result it expanded on Thursday an abrupt regression which provoked shock significance toll incise from the Norwegian central bank.

The materialization scaled up even higher than 119.55 yen, springing back from 117.44, a two-week low. This comes following a report that was strictly monitored illustrated that trade statistics in the U.S. increased at an estimated 0.7% percent in November but has flowed back to 118.92 since then.

The statistics showed new confirmation of fundamental thrust in the economy and drew attention to the deviating viewpoints between the U.S. and other developing countries around the world.

The subsequent contribution of loans of about zero-cost by the European central bank, on the other hand, only garnered lukewarm responses, which underscored delicate assurance on the Euro sector and the manufacturing of ECB bills emerge being all but predictable.

The Euro naturally took a plunge back to $1.2370 coming from a close high of $1.2247 for two weeks. It sold at $1.2410, which drifted quite closely to the 38.2% stage of retracement in its increase to $1.2496 from $1.2247 during former gatherings.

Retailers have stroked product legal tenders stiff, which has pushed both Australian and Canadian dollars to new low downs at once. The Canadian loonie took a nose-dive towards a five-year low down of C$1.1551 per USD CAD=D4 and was at C$1.1523 most recently.

Australia, on the other hand, reached a 4 ½ year furrow of $0.8214 AUD=D4. The deterioration of the Aussie was downed by the person in command of the Reserve Bank of Australia, who claimed that he wants to see the legal tender to draw back to 75 US cents in an interview with a local news outlet.

However, the governor of RBA Glenn Stevens did not indicate that there was a necessity to slash attention tolls, which saw the eventual scaling back of the Aussie to $0.8266.

Russia’s Shrinking Economy

According to a recent article of Yahoo! News, Russia’s economy is shrinking. There are different factors attributing to the country’s failing economy: the decrease in oil prices, Western economic sanctions after its invasion of Ukraine, and the collapse of the country’s local currency resulting from the said sanctions.

Based on the World Bank’s GPD ranking last year 2013, Russia is the world’s eighth largest economic power with 2,096,777 billions of US dollars. Now, Russia’s GPD has shrunk so low because of the economic crisis it’s facing that it has forfeited its title and is estimated to be almost the same as Spain’s economic weight.

Last year, Spain was the 13th country with the biggest economy on the planet with 1,358,263 billions of US dollar. Spain has always been considered as one of the country in Europe with a weak economy and the unemployment ratio of 1:4 is evidence to that.

Here is the list of the World Bank’s GPD last year provided by Yahoo! News. These are in billions of US dollars:

(European Union 17,350,853)

1. United States 16,800,000
2. China 9,240,270
3. Japan 4,901,530
4. Germany 3,634,823
5. France 2,734,949
6. UK 2,521,381
7. Brazil 2,245,673
8. Russia 2,096,777
9. Italy 2,071,307
10 . India 1,876,797
11 . Canada 1,826,769
12. Australia 1,560,597
13 . Spain 1,358,263
14 . S Korea 1,304,554
15 . Mexico 1,260,915

Russia’s GPD value is not clear these days because of the sudden changes in its value of currency, the ruble, therefore the need to compute it every day.

According to Forbes, Russia’s economy is expected to fall into a recession next year. Russia is being punished for its involvement in Ukraine therefore affecting some of its projects namely the South Stream gas pipeline project which was cancelled. Russia may be winning more in the field of real estate but it is costing them other things
especially their standing in the economy.

Russia’s economy is oil-dependent so this may not be permanent. As soon as the price of oil goes back up, Russia will again regain its rank in the GPD ranking.

Sustainable Solutions To Reduce The Impact Of Packaging Materials To The Environment

With the approaching holiday season, it is expected that online shopping will increase and so with the amount of packaging like shipping boxes. According to eMarketer the projected growth in online sales is expected at 20.1% or $1.5 trillion. Aside from the shipping boxes, there is plastic and cellophane wrapping as well as paper wrapping or foam packaging meant as protection for the contents. It is not unusual for all these packaging products to end up in the landfills which according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a staggering 75.2 million tons of total solid waste generated by the United States alone in 2012.

The concern on packaging waste

Companies and entrepreneurs are finding ways to tackle the growing problem of packaging waste. One of the options is waste management through recycling which is making progress with 51.5% or 38.75 million tons composted in 2012. This represents a big increase from the figures of previous years. However, the option of recycling will only work if the consumer is willing to do his part. On the other hand, there are types of packaging materials that cannot be recycled effectively like mixed and hybrid products. Metal which is interwoven with fiber and plastic foam have practically no value in the recycling stream since they are intended only for single use. Packaging that includes tulle, baskets, cellophane bags, wine bags and burlap bags are easily recyclable and are suggested for shipping.

Social media and waste management

Dell is one of the companies that received feedback from social media to reduce its wasteful and excessive packaging using non-recyclable shipping boxes. People care about proper waste management and they are voicing out their criticisms through social media. To address the concerns of consumers, Dell has reduced the sizes of boxes by about 10% and developed bamboo cushioning that can be recycled into paper to replace foam. Bamboo cushioning has eliminated 20 pounds of packaging to save at least $18m on energy, waste, transportation and production costs. By 2020, Dell expects to scale its efforts at sustainable packaging to 100% compared to 60% today. These innovative packaging solutions should be global in scope and not limited to North America and Western Europe since Asia-Pacific is an emerging market for online shopping.

What Happened To Black Friday 2014 Mobile Sales?

Online sales for Black Friday 2014 were an astounding success with a 20.6% increase over the previous year. This overwhelming success for US ecommerce sites was driven by mobile shopping and marketing campaigns. According to Custora E-commerce Pulse that is tracking the performance of 100 US online retail stores, over $40 billion was generated by ecommerce sites and 30.3% happened through mobile phones and devices. Statistics showed an increase of 22.5% over the 2013 Black Friday mobile sales.

Email marketing as the force behind Black Friday mobile sales

Everyone though that social media will be the driving force behind the astounding success of Black Friday mobile sales with all those tweets and social media sharing but it seemed that social media is not yet the platform for sales. Email marketing was the channel that drove sales up by 27.3% in retail with 18.9% originating from free search and 18.5% from paid search. Email marketing is a strategy that puts a message directly to the target audience. It is highly individualized and costs are relatively low. What emails do is to increase the engagement with potential customers by presenting the benefits that they will likely gain.

The battle between iPhones and Android phones

Based on the Custora report, 76.8% of mobile shopping was done through iPhone and Apple devices while only 22.7% happened on Android devices. Apple continues to dominate the American market however, the share of Android phones in the Black Friday sales were up by 15.8%. Notwithstanding the fact, that Apple and Android phones will continue to battle it out for supremacy in the mobile market, what seems more important for ecommerce sites is to optimize their sites for any platform so that they do not lose any opportunity to make a sale. Responsive website design ensures a web browsing capability that looks the same across a wide range of devices from desktop computers to mobile phones.

Internet traffic from mobile phones has showed a significant increase and many mobile users are getting comfortable using their mobile devices to browse through sites. It is foolhardy for any ecommerce site not to shift from a conventional website to a responsive web design through Exact Latitude, SEO Los Angeles.