Focus on Pittsburgh: Without Roethlisberger, are Steelers a threat to 49ers?

first_imgAs blasphemous as it may sound for a team that hasn’t been close to .500 in five years, over-confidence could be one of the 49ers’ biggest adversaries heading into Sunday’s game against the Steelers.The 0-2 Steelers make their first visit to Levi’s with six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gone or the season, with top play-maker Juju Smith-Schuster yet to score a touchdown, and with a defensive unit that sometimes looks like the antithesis of the “Steel Curtain” from yesteryear.N …last_img read more

Dairy farm economics not adding up

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It has happened to every farmer.The production numbers are plugged into the calculator, and double-checked, but they just do not seem to be adding up quite right on the short side of profitability.These days many dairy producers are drinking a couple of extra glasses of milk to calm their nerves and enjoying an additional scoop of ice cream to take their minds off of the unpleasant budget realities on the farm.Lou Brown of New Bremen has been crunching the numbers on his dairy farm and does not like the numbers he is seeing.“We’re at $13 milk right now on our 275-cow herd with a 70-pound average. That is 19,250 pounds of milk a day. That is 192.50 hundredweights at $13 that comes to $2,502.50 a day in the value of the milk. At $7 a day per cow with 275 cows, that comes to $1,925 a day for my feed bill. That leaves me with $577 to pay all of the other expenses. If I had one hired person full time I would need 40 more cows to justify that one person,” Brown said. “My price goal to average over five years is $20 a hundredweight. Two years ago it was $26, but feed costs were higher then. The milk price actually went down to $9 in 2009, which has been the low in the last eight years.”At $10 per hundredweight it is $57,750 a month in income. At $15 milk, it is $86,625 in monthly income and at $20 it is $115,500 a month in income.“That milk price makes a huge difference in gross revenue for us,” Brown said. “You’re constantly on a price roller coaster.”The farm (like many others) has implemented numerous long-term strategies to handle the inevitable economic tough times inherent in production agriculture. Brownhaven Farm is all family labor. The Brown family has been on the land since 1959 when Lou’s parents bought it. It is now run by Lou, his brother, and Lou’s son.“We started with two cows and by the 70s we were up to 80 cows,” he said. “Today we have grown to 280 cows  — all Holstein. Our wives and children help as well.”The vast majority of milk from Brownhaven Farm goes to nearby Dannon and is marketed through DFA.“I don’t really see a premium but I am only three or four miles away and it doesn’t make sense to truck it anywhere else,” Brown said.Dannon is a very valuable local market, but has been requiring increasingly stringent requirements in recent years based on various consumer and industry demands, each adding costs along the way. In addition, Brown’s 250-acre farm is in both the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed and in the Lake Erie watershed, the two most regulated watersheds in the state. This regulation also brings with it extra costs and challenges in the form of manure management and cover crops.“We raise half our hay and all of our corn silage,” Brown said. “All of our corn silage ground gets cover crop on it. I grow no soybeans, just corn and hay. The best ground stays in corn. I use an oats and radish mix which winter kills. My cost for just the oat seed is $1,500 on 150 acres.“I get government funding for cost share on the cover crops, but I have to match all of their guidelines to qualify. They have a cost share program. You could do it on your own but you will have $3,500 to $4,000 to put cover crops on 150 acres. And some cover crops are twice that cost. If I didn’t have cost share, it would be much harder to make the decision to do that. Maybe I would only do half the farm verses the whole farm. What is the value of the organic matter I’m getting, the erosion I am stopping and the runoff I am preventing? It does definitely help the corn yield too. Cover crops may be worth $4,000 a year, very easily, but they are also an extra cost.”The liquid manure lagoon storage for the farm is adequate to hold enough to apply in the spring before planting.“The majority of the time we apply lagoon manure before we plant corn. We either use a Miller disk or field cultivator before and after manure application. We knife it in and go over it again and then plant corn,” Brown said. “They want us to work the ground before we apply the lagoon manure to disturb the soil so it doesn’t have a direct route to the tile. The only other fertility I add is liquid 28% — 10 gallons at planting and 40 gallons an acre sidedress.”The Browns get the rest of their cattle feed needs met through neighboring farms to help control costs.“All of the corn for grain is bought from neighbors and we grind it here on the farm. We have our own bean extruder as well. All the wheat straw for bedding is grown by neighbors too — for the last 10 years we have been buying from neighbors. It makes more sense to buy from the neighbors then to go and pay $10,000 or $12,000 an acre for more ground,” Brown said. “We use our own equipment and labor to harvest the neighbor’s crops. We harvest earlage, silage and grain for grinding. We do everything on the hay. Usually first cutting is chopped for haylage and the rest is in big squares. We try for five cuttings.“This last weekend we chopped 92 acres of rye which gave us 600 tons of extra feed valued at $15,000. We had a neighbor who decided to put it out as cover and he let us chop it. It gave him an extra cash crop and we provided all the labor.”These and other practices help keep costs down when milk prices drop. Major purchases are made carefully during good times.“We don’t change a lot when milk prices are low, but we keep close tabs on expenses. We try to put off buying more expensive $5,000 to $10,000 investments or higher. We fix more things instead of investing in new,” Brown said. “You have to set your priorities every day and look at your goals. You might make mistakes, but you hope that doesn’t happen. For a dairy farm, a mistake could be as simple as what if milk from a treated cow went into the bulk tank that day. That is a costly mistake. You have to be careful to avoid those when times are tight.“If you need to expand or improve, do it in small amounts. Don’t try to do it all in one year. Hopefully the smart managers saved back $2 a hundredweight when it was over $20 for now when things are low.”And, at least for the immediate future, milk prices look to stay low.“Historically it is a seven to eight year cycle but it is anybody’s guess with the global market the way it is today. Changes in China or Russia impact our farm,” Brown said. “Mother Nature will either have to throw in a drought or we’ll have to wait for the school year to start so the volume of fluid milk will go up again.”A big production bump in Europe has helped build up a large global milk supply, according to John Newton, the Senior Director of Economic Research for the National Milk Producers Federation.“It will take time for us to work through the global inventory and one way to do that is through lower prices to the consumer. In the European Union they just removed the quota system and we’ve seen milk production in Europe increase significantly in the last year into the global market place. In the U.S., we export 12% to 15% of our milk production every year and we are exposed to what is happening internationally,” Newton said. “Farm prices are set based on wholesale commodity prices. When wholesale prices of cheese, or butter, or milk powders decrease, so too does the farm gate milk price. In this case, we have seen powder prices decline quite a bit, close to a dollar a pound. We have seen a dramatic decline in milk price from the highs in 2014.”As milk producers feel the pinch of low prices, milk processors enjoy strong profits.“Processors make money on the down side because their input costs are declining, but when input prices increase, they cannot turn around and raise their retail prices dramatically. There is an ebb and flow. End users need consistency. Pizza chains don’t change the price of their pizza on the menu every week as cheese prices change. They try to have a fixed price menu item,” Newton said. “Farm gate prices come down and soon after the retail price will follow. There is some price transmission, but currently the farmer’s share of the retail dollar is lower than it was in recent years. We would expect to see that with lower input costs, it will drive processors to have lower prices at the consumer level. When prices decline, retailers can offer more promotional specials. You could see two for one cheeseburgers, for example, and you would sell twice as much cheese when the prices for cheese are low. Those things in turn will help the farmer’s price.”last_img read more

5 Instagram Faux Pas You Can Easily Avoid

first_imgThe Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Instagram is popular, and sharing photos with its community is—let’s face it—a lot of fun. But it can also be a little tricky, it turns out, at least if you want to avoid looking like a hipster wannabe who’s just applied your first filter.So share away, but first make sure you’re not committing any of the following Insta-fractions. It’s not the end of the world if you find you’ve got some bad habits to correct. But don’t linger; some of these mistakes can cost you big on the follower front.1. Blurry Photos And VideosThis is a no-brainer. Unless your Instagram trademark is some seriously skillful photo-impressionism, try to post shots that are in focus, not taken in a dark alley or filtered through the beer goggles you were wearing last night.And while you’re at it, don’t overdo the selective focus option (the little droplet symbol). Considering that it’s a purely visual social network, we Instagrammers aren’t crazy about stuff we can’t see. If your photo or vid isn’t in focus, how are we supposed to appreciate that meticulously crafted, oh-so-clever caption? A search for #selfie yields over 47,541,924 results.2. Selfie Fever!To clarify my stance officially: I am not anti-selfie. Selfies have a time and a place—and that time and place very rarely align. If you’re prone to autobiographical imagery, at least do us a favor and make an endearing self-deprecating caption. Posting pictures of yourself without a nod to the phenomenon known as the selfie is awkward for everyone. Pull off a tongue-in-cheek selfie with a playful hashtag that at least admits that yes, you just posted a photo of yourself and you’re going to own it. For brands, keep photos of actual humans on your Instagram feed relevant and interesting. Tie them in closely to your brand’s mission and don’t overpost. We don’t want to meet your team just for the sake of meeting your team—tell us something cool while you’re at it. 3. Untimely PostingPut the “insta” in Instagram. The social network is an amazing portal into real-time moments around the web, so track as close to real time with your posts as you can. If you’ve got something good to share, why wait?Sure, sometimes you’ll be beyond the reaches of LTE or want to avoid a social interruption of unforgivable magnitude, but post as you go when you can. If your photo is good enough to share later, be sure to tag it as a #latergram. Avoid posting a slew of #latergrams all in a row, after an event, for example. We’ll all just feel like we missed out. And besides, Instagram is only fun so long as we play by its most basic rules.My brain hurts.4. All HDR, All The TimeLike the selfie, the HDR (high dynamic range) setting is tolerable in small doses. Instagram is about giving the world an in-the-moment glimpse into your world—and odds are your world isn’t as trippy as a Dr. Seuss book. Often, the amped-up contrast and crazy colors provided by HDR only obscure an otherwise compelling lens into your life.If you’re going to use HDR (the little sun icon in the app) or the more vibrant, contrasty filters like Lo-Fi and X-Pro II, do so with a light touch. When used well, the technique can bring out missing detail in a shot with a dark foreground or background. With a heavy hand, it can blow your photos out into a non-consensual psychedelic experience for your followers. 5. Screencaps And MemesDo everyone a favor and  don’t stock your Instagram account with whatever’s just gone viral on Reddit. The social media universe offers plenty of repositories for viral flotsam and memes du jour. And get off my lawn, while you’re at it! No really—get off my lawn and go hang out on Tumblr.Guilty of a few of the cardinal sins of Instagram cobbled together here? Don’t feel bad. We all commit a social media misstep here and there, present company included. Think of it this way: A social network is only as strong as its content. Playing by the unspoken rules (with exceptions for experimentation, of course) keeps Instagram’s content fun—and it saves your finger from more time spent scrolling for what’s relevant.  taylor hatmaker Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…center_img Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Tags:#Instagram#photography#social media Related Posts last_img read more

Screenwriter Patricia Resnick on Altman, Mad Men, and Working 9 to 5

first_imgPatricia Resnick has worked on an impressive array of projects throughout her career. Here’s what she has to say about the craft and the industry.Patricia Resnick had more than a cup of ambition when she started writing films with Robert Altman, working with Dolly Parton on 9 to 5, and tackling the mad landscape of television.  We sat down with Resnick for a candid discussion about storytelling, her creative and personal journeys, and dancing with the First Lady. Yes, dancing with the First Lady.  We’ll get to that.Image courtesy of Patrica Resnick.PremiumBeat: You’ve had an amazing career so far, which is no small feat for a woman starting out in the late ’70s. You’ve worked with Robert Altman on three films: 3 Women, A Wedding, and Quintet. How did that relationship develop, and what was the creative process like for you?Patricia Resnick: Atman had a number of strong women around him. For example, Scott Bushnell (a woman). She was very important to him. Nashville had a female screenwriter — Joan Tewkesbury. I never saw him have an issue with gender.I met him when I was in college at USC as a cinema major, which meant I was in my car a lot. When I was driving through the streets whenever I saw something that was filming, I would stop and park and ask what it was. I was from Miami Beach, and we didn’t have productions there, so it was all so fascinating.One day, it was an Altman film, and I happened to be writing a paper on him for film class. So I waited for him to come out of his office and introduced myself and asked him if I could interview him. He said yes, and when I had finished my paper, I dropped it off. He read it, loved it, and wanted me to work for him.Image via Buffalo Bill and the Indians (United Artists).The problem was he didn’t have the money to pay me. I was able to get a 90-day grant to be the assistant to the publicist for Buffalo Bill and the Indians. I tried to make myself indispensable. I knew I had 90 days to make myself essential before the grant money was over. It worked. He kept me on, and I ended up writing a treatment for him for 3 Women.He didn’t see me as a writer at first. During the first two years I worked with him, I did other projects. I wrote a spec script and ended up writing two skits for Lily Tomlin’s Broadway show, Appearing Nitely. Altman came to see it and finally said, “The kid can write.” Then I wrote on A Wedding for him. I was 24.image via The Player (Warner Bros).PB:  You also played yourself in The Player. How did that happen?PR: That was way later, in 1992! He was doing the opening shot, and his idea was to make it all people who had worked with him. He put Buck Henry, Alan Rudolph, Joan Tewkebury, and me together and told Joan and me “I want you to do your own pitch.”  She didn’t want to do it, so I put together a silly version of something I had vaguely in my mind already. We shot it all in half a day.I had a bit of nostalgia recently with that scene. The studio where we are shooting the Netflix series Tales of the City is the same place where we shot The Player. I kept feeling something was familiar and then recently re-watched The Player with friends, and it all came back.Image via 9 to 5 (Twentieth Century Fox).PB: It’s so hard not to geek out getting into your next project after the Altman credits: 9 to 5. In 1980 when you wrote that screenplay, it was a pretty radical comedy. Did you have any notion that it would be such an important film for women and still be relevant enough today to be remade?PR: I knew opening day. Not at the premiere, but opening day in theaters. I remember seeing the line for it and then turning the corner and seeing that the line went all the way down the block. Then hearing the audience laughing and responding. It was thrilling.We are opening the stage play musical on the West End in London on January 28. When the play premiered on Broadway in 2009, we took a pretty hard hit from critics — mostly male critics. The feeling at the time was that the message of the play was dated because the male journalists were certain the sexism problem had been solved. Considering the current climate . . .PB: Yes. And of course you have your secret weapon again: Dolly Parton. I’m amazed that after all these years, she continues to give such love to 9 to 5! Any thoughts why?PR: It was her first movie role ever. It really put her on the map in terms of being an actress. I also think the three women did and do like each other, and it was a happy time. We all saw the film go from a comedy that did well in the theater to something more iconic.In terms of the musical stage version, I don’t know if writing a musical had been a dream of hers, but Dolly always loves new challenges, and she loves to create, and she loves to write songs.Whenever she is in town and doing a show, I try to go, and as soon as the first chords of 9 to 5 begin, the crowd goes nuts. It’s really amazing to witness.Image via Mad Men (Lionsgate Television).PB:  Recently, you’ve concentrated more on TV. You were a consulting producer on Mad Men and have written TV movies as well as episodes for other series. Why did you make the move? Are we doing the most interesting work on television these days?PR: Basically, yeah. In the mid-’90s, feature work was drying up for me. Because the kind of movies that I wrote weren’t really being made any more. Comic book movies were happening, and it’s not what I write.I had young kids, and I didn’t want to staff with TV because that would have been a lot of hours away from them, so I wrote TV movies and the animated show, Olivia. I worked on plays and pilots. When the kids were in high school and off at college, at that point, it was the second golden age of television. I thought I could go staff because eleventh graders don’t want to see you much anyway.I was such a huge fan of Mad Men, and it was so great to get my first staff job on that show. It was an incredible room of smart people dedicated to doing their best work.Image via Mad Men (Lionsgate Television).PB: First job in film with Robert Altman. First job on staff with Matt Weiner and Mad Men. Not too shabby. What’s the writer’s room like for a character-driven show like Mad Men?PR: It’s actually more plot-driven than you would think. I came in for the last season of Mad Men. When you are in the seventh season of anything, characters are set, and the main question becomes what experience do we want to leave everyone? Matt came in and talked to us about emotionally the feeling that he wanted and about a book he had read over the summer, Siddhartha (by Herman Hesse.) It doesn’t have any correlation to our plot, but the story deals with the spiritual journey of self-discovery, which is very much Don’s path.Tales of the City set. (Image courtesy of Patricia Resnick.)PB: Do you have a consistent way of working when you start a screenplay or teleplay? Do you write a treatment or outline, do character bios before you write, or is it a more freeform process?PR: Ideas. As a general rule, something will pop into my head, but mostly I’m not that lucky. I will have to make time to think about what’s going on in the world or in my life and see if that is fertile ground to bring it to life. To have the germ of the idea for something that is pitchable is the hardest part. Developing it is the hardest part — and having to abandon some things.  Sometimes it’s a good idea, but I’m not the best writer for it. A spy thriller, for example, I might not pursue. I spend a lot of time in cars, so I ponder while driving.Every year what you need to sell something is more and more in depth. In the ’80s I once sold a very brief pitch. Gave him two lines and sold it on the phone. That doesn’t happen anymore. So now, they want things unbelievably worked out, and as far as TV, they really want all the characters, the first season, where you plan to end up. Visual aids. Look books — to people actually doing trailers for things that have not been shot. Big boards and Power Points — you really have to have things nailed down and worked out.I will get random ideas. Oh this is a good character or scene. I’ll just make notes on my phone (because I’m usually out when they come to me) and then when I feel ready, I sit down and put it together into something coherent.Once I have it, I’ll go to my agents and say “I’m kinda working on this idea,” and either they will respond or not. If it seems viable, then we start the process of trying to put the pieces together. First thing is to get a producer, and often you work with them on the pitch, and by the time you pitch to a studio and studio to network, it all evolves. It’s a very long process and often a lot of work for no money. Most don’t get sold and most don’t get made.PB: What’s the most thrilling part for you — writing, filming, or watching?PR: Writing remains a hard thing to do, and when you’re having a good day and you are really in the zone, that is a great feeling, and that is the only moment that is completely pure — no one’s touched it, changed it. It’s purely yours.In terms of watching it filmed, totally depends. In features, unless you are writer/director, most directors do not want you around. It’s weird — you are visitor, but it was yours.In TV, often the creator is the show runner. So even as a TV staff writer, you’re wanted on set. Some writers like being on set; some loathe it. As far as realized. Depends on how I feel about it. It often isn’t how you think it will be. I’ve had awful creative experiences that produced good results and [for] others loved the process and the film did not do well.Image courtesy Patricia Resnick.PB:  You’ve been very open in the past regarding your personal life. You are very out, you gave up drinking, raised two children on your own. How have the challenges in your personal life affected your art — for good or bad?PR: I think I was really lucky because I stopped drinking at 32. I didn’t have a really low bottom, and I could see what was coming, and I was ambitious. I could never write drunk. So I would write sober during the day and drink at night. It was getting in the way of life and happiness. And I didn’t really start drinking until my mid-twenties. So it was a short seven-year period. I am so grateful social media didn’t exist then. It would have absolutely ruined my career.My sexuality? I think my sexuality influenced my art as it gave me somewhat of an outsider perspective. A lot of wonderful artistic creations stem from a feeling like I don’t fit in.  Most people feel like they didn’t fit in for many reasons, and that informed my thought process and how I thought about the world and how I saw the world.In terms of being a female creative, I wasn’t raised to think any opportunity was beyond me, but knowing how incredibly sexist this business is, it probably kept things from me. But if you don’t get a job, you don’t know why. Is it because I am a woman or am I too old? You just don’t know.Raising kids affected my career because I was a single parent, and I didn’t want to take a job that was going to keep me gone. I wanted to direct, and it was hard with my lifestyle. I had the chance to direct and write a short for Showtime, and I just couldn’t leave my kids. I wanted to be able to take them to school and do all that stuff, and I for sure passed on some great opportunities in my peakish years. I made some decisions of what I would do based on them. I don’t regret but it, but sometimes I look at my bank account . . . but it was the right decision. It also gave me new material. Now that they are in their twenties, it keeps me in touch with youth in a way that my friends that don’t have kids are quite unaware of. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been staffing. The vast majority of the writers I work with are in their thirties, so I have a lot of close friends that are young, and I love learning new things and new worlds from them.PB:  Finally, I have to ask about Nancy Reagan. You asked her to dance at a wedding. She said yes. How did that happen? And please tell us there is a story in the works about your moxie!PR: I was at a big Hollywood wedding. It was July of 1986. After that happened, I thought I shouldn’t drink out of the house and then later, I got sober in April of ’86.  It was Lucy Fisher and Doug Wick’s wedding. They own a very successful production company: Red Wagon. Doug’s father worked for Reagan, so he invited Nancy.I was sitting at a table with Sue Mengers, (very significant talent agent), and Nancy Reagan was dancing with the groom. Sue said “I’ll pay five hundred dollars to anyone who cuts in on the First Lady,” and it sounded good to me. That was a lot of money.  So I just went in and cut in, and she said yes.Chances are, it won’t go into a script, but I am toying with the idea of some version of a memoir, and the dancing with Nancy story? That would be the crown jewel.Cover image via Mad Men.Looking for more industry interviews? Check these out.Interview: Composer Federico Jusid Makes Some Noise in HollywoodInterview: Tips for Crowdfunding Over $100,000 for Your Documentary ProjectsAustin Film Festival Interview: Insights for Turning Your Script into a 90-Second Pitch5 Reasons Why You Should Shoot Your Own Digital Web SeriesInterview: Tracy Andreen on the Romance of Writing for Hallmarklast_img read more