Dazed & Confused.

Some Short Takes – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

I received a good bit of feedback from last week’s post. Most of it was positive, but some were not happy with my take with the virus situation. I don’t watch the news, but I do read early mornings to quickly figure out what is, and what is not going on with this world. I appreciate everyone’s feedback as I am looking for your take on topics I discuss.

As a follow up to last week’s concerns with battling Covid-19:

  • Last week I did mention my confusion with the communication (or lack thereof) coming from the CDC, the W.H.O., and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Since my last post the situation steamrolled, resulting in a Congressional hearing, with one senator and Dr. Fauci battling it out like it was some type of high school debate. Not cool.
  • As I have often mentioned, I try to wear a mask indoors, unless of course I am eating or drinking (which is often). I never understood how it was imperative to wear a mask but then it be okay to take it off when sitting in a restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I support the hospitality industry – so let’s just keep that mask rule in place to ensure we keep restaurants open.
People with face mask drinking at coffee house
Mask on, mask off.
  • Early on in the pandemic, when the mask mandates were first initiated, the CDC was adamant that N95 face masks not be used. A complete pivot last week – with the CDC recommending that N95 and KN95 masks be used. Another confusing directive.
  • Some interesting news regarding Covid-19 last week: Researchers from Oregon State University announced that the hemp extract could help prevent and possibly treat Covid-19. Who would have thought hemp could make people feel better?
  • After promising that all Americans would receive test kits by mid-January, news broke on Friday that Americans will have access to order test kits online…starting January 19. The dilemma: some of the most severely affected by Covid-19 and the variants are the elderly. I am not generalizing, but are there not going to be major challenges for our elderly to navigate the internet and order their test kits? Sometimes I just have to level-set my thoughts, but this initiative is going to be problematic. Americans can go to a new website, covidtests.gov, to order the tests, starting January 19. Tests are expected to ship within seven to 12 days of being ordered.
  • Not surprising but still very disconcerting: “The faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants,” Leonardo Martinez, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University, said.
  • Novak Djokovic – I am a tennis fan and the Australian Open would be much better with you participating. With that said, your bulls–t is getting old.

A few takes from late breaking news:

  • What is Vladimir Putin’s desired outcome with placing 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border? Is he threatening war to prevent NATO from admitting Ukraine to the NATO alliance? Is Russia willing to generate propaganda and false-flag operations to justify a war with the Ukraine? To say the least, Russia is very complicated. I wonder what their government has spent to build up and sustain these 100,000 troops…while their economy is problematic led by a weak GDP?
  • Time is passing us by. It has already been ten years since the Costa Concordia, a passenger ship on a Mediterranean cruise, was steered too close to shore, hit some massive rocks, and partially sank near the Italian island of Giglio. I can’t image the horror – on what was designed to be a very romantic cruise with ports of call we would all enjoy. Note: the ship’s captain was found guilty of manslaughter and is currently serving sixteen years in jail.
The Costa Concordia capsized ten years ago.
  • Bloomberg and CNBC. I could care less about their political alignment. Their content and production is excellent. Bloomberg in the very early morning provides both financial and general news, live, and from around the world. I don’t follow the bond market, commodities, or ETFs, but if you do want to catch up on the financial markets and the world economy, spend fifteen minutes on either network.
  • North Korea is testing hypersonic weapons. Most of us could give a rat’s ass about Kim Jong-un and his bizarre behavior. That is until we understand that a hypersonic weapon can travel at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. North Korea with a missile system that evades missile defense systems. Just what the world needs right now.
  • I am unsure of how I feel about Navient possibly canceling $1.7 billion of private student loans. Sure, I know this will give some relief to many people, but what about all of us who had to pay off some level of student loan debt? Seriously, how should this be reconciled?
  • You have reservations about returning to your downtown high rise due to Covid-19, and the tragic building collapse in North Miami. You finally come to a level of comfort and move back in to that skyscraper. Days later, you find out that the building you have been living in is actually sinking into the ground and tilting as much as two feet north and west. Yes, this is reality at San Francisco’s luxurious Millennium Tower. At fifty-eight stories, it stands 645 feet and has sunk 18 inches into the ground. Let’s just go with a loud “No.”
  • It is a comedy. It contains some incredibly funny lines. The writing and acting are tremendous. It deals with lessons learned. It even has a bit of romance. To keep the show with a level of authenticity, most of the production was done outside of London. Broadcast by Apple+, Ted Lasso, starring Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham, is incredibly entertaining. Ted Lasso is an American football coach who is hired to coach an English soccer club – and this video speaks volumes:
Jason Sudeikis is Ted Lasso.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!


Amazon. Sidney +. Two Years Of A Very Difficult Battle. Not Green Acres. FreeFall.

  • There is a good bit of criticism surrounding Amazon. Employee welfare, driving the independent retailers out of business, and the negative vibes of a category killer. I can’t criticize Amazon as I order from their site, watch content using their Amazon Fire Stick, and listen to their music offerings. I like operational efficiency and very much dislike wasting time and effort. Here is the reality of Amazon and operational efficiency: 45 minutes. That’s how much time passes between the moment you click “Place your order” and the moment your package gets loaded on the truck. That includes processing, locating, packing, scanning, and labelling your package before it hits the road. Amazon now receives 10 million orders per day (115 orders per second), and 1 out of every 153 American workers is an Amazon employee. Criticize for all the right and wrong reasons, but what Amazon has created is amazing.

  • Along with Sean Connery and Yul Brynner, Sidney Poitier was my mom’s favorite actor. I remember her telling me that he was the epitome of style, grace, and intelligence – which she obviously pointed out due to my lack of those three attributes. Sidney Poitier also was brave, taking on and dealing with the attitude of many in Hollywood, and would go on to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1963. Later in life, in 2009, Mr. Portier would earn the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Betty White, John Madden, Dan Reeves, and now Sidney Poitier to start off 2022. RIP. The 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was a breakthrough for Hollywood. The movie, starring Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier, may be the best romantic-comedy ever. This is one of many classic scenes. Katherine Hepburn’s stone-stare look, Spencer Tracy’s delivery, and Sidney Poitier’s stoic presence is the best:
Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner – one of Sidney Poitier’s best.

  • We have now been dealing with Covid-19 and it’s variants for two years. There is no way that any of us could predict the last twenty-four months, in many ways disturbing, disruptive, and in so many cases, very sad. Allow me to give you some recent developments with the viruses and a point of view that is a bit alarming:
  • As of last Thursday, 5,481,215 people worldwide have died from Covid-19.
  • The Omicron variant’s contraction rate is massive – and has caused school systems, including Chicago, to postpone the start of school post-holidays.
  • Last Wednesday, the American Medical Association publicly criticized the CDC for their continued misinformation and variable guidance. This is two years, with the CDC, the W.H.O., and other infectious disease specialists struggling to provide consistent and consolidated guidance.
  • The vaccination has now been available for one year and the lines keep getting longer. The same goes for testing. In the Orlando, Florida area, the wait times at testing sites average four hours. After two years, that is unacceptable.
  • Many businesses, including American Express and Blackrock, have told their employees to stay home. Their planned office openings for the end of this month have been put on hold indefinitely. Restaurants, airlines, and hospitals are again having issues with staffing.
  • Florida had a record 76,887 new infections on Friday; 1 out of 3 COVID-19 tests is positive as the number of patients in Florida hospitals with the virus passed 8,700, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

I am in no position to criticize anyone. I know that many healthcare professionals, scientists, and worldwide entities are trying very hard to combat these viruses. I guess I keep wondering what variants will follow Omicron? Then again, what if the pandemic involved a derivative of filovirus? Filoviruses are for now confined to regions of central, eastern, and western Africa. They are among the most dangerous human pathogens known, causing highly fatal hemorrhagic fevers – death in 60 to 90 percent of victims. This is not meant to be a negative take on our two-year battle with Covid-19. I am just trying to point out that if we are having difficulty with these types of coronaviruses, all bets are off if the different strains of filovirus ever become a worldwide pandemic. Just so all of us are on the same page: Filovirus = Ebola.

  • Though I know very little about the topic, farming and agriculture have always interested me. Maybe my interest stems from my dad taking my brother and I to strawberry farms in the Homestead, Florida area – or the fact that the college campus I lived on had a very vibrant agriculture curriculum (Note: Berry College boasts not only the largest contiguous college campus in the U.S. but the largest one in the world). Automation and the offset of labor costs are important dynamics in most manufacturing sectors, and those dynamics have reached the farming world as well. I won’t touch labor reform, but the fact remains that immigrant farm workers make up an estimated 73% of agriculture workers in the United States today. So with the obvious labor challenges to farmers and ranchers throughout the United States, some very smart people have now provided a path to automation in the farming sector. With the ultimate goal of a better yield and product from farm to table, Iron Ox Robotics has created a very interesting way to plant, grow, and harvest produce:
Technology and farming at its finest from Iron Ox Robotics.

I still smile when I remember a friend on mine, while we were driving south from San Jose to Paso Robles on Highway 101. She had never been to the area and really never correlated the state of California with agriculture. You just can’t imagine the number of farmlands in the state, with 80,000 farms and ranches. The state produces a third of the U.S.A.’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts. The amount of labor to support these 80,000 farms and ranches is immense, and the John Deere Company has entered the technology world to help farmers across the world. At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), John Deere introduced an autonomous tractor. Before you roll your eyes, realize that this is the first step with automating the farming world. Think about how this tilling/planting technology will evolve with seeding, growing, harvesting, and packing – and how companies like Iron Ox and John Deere are trying hard to ensure that our grocery stores and farmers’ markets maintain their inventories. This is a very well-done video from John Deere:

John Deere’s autonomous tractor.

  • In the never-ending pursuit to embellish Orlando’s visitor experience, the tourist corridor of International Drive has added a new ‘attraction.’ I am all good with someone explaining to me the joy received from being elevated to a height of 400′ feet, being tilted forward 30°, and free-falling at speeds of up to 80 MPH. I think they should pay us to deal with this experience. Go ahead, chime in, as I just don’t get it.
Thanks, but no thanks.

Adios, pay if forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

Dave Barry.

A Review Of The Year 2021.

  • I am on a break from JustMyTake but after reading this piece, I thought it would be a good idea to share as a year-end wrap up.

Dave Barry, a syndicated columnist who cut his teeth at the Miami Herald, posted this creative review of 2021. I think most of you will enjoy his perspective – cheeky at best and very funny. Remember, I don’t touch religion or politics and this is not my take. Thanks to Dave Barry for this good read.


Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and all the best for a happy and healthy 2022!

The Brand.

Brand Recognition. Brand Promise. Brand Awareness. Brand Positioning. Brand Equity. Brand Fail.

By definition, a brand is a mix of tangible and intangible attributes, symbolized in a trademark, that can be managed to create value for organizations and customers. Marketers around the world, from consumer electronics to nano components to automobiles, help support their company or organization’s growth using their brand(s) as a marketing platform. That platform helps deliver a branding strategy that for the most part is prominent across the business spectrum:

  • Focus on getting chosen – your product, your price, your packaging, your customer service.
  • Stake your claim – be very clear about your brand promise.
  • Choose your ideal customer carefully – be aware that not every customer values or appreciates your product or service and the way it’s delivered.
  • Discover what’s important and make sure your organization delivers – understand what your ideal customers want and need, and stay away from creating product or service attributes that your customers do not care about.
  • Make it easy to buy/acquire/participate – remove any and all barriers for your customers to purchase your products and services.

Those strategies or initiatives sound like the basic marketing block and tackling. The reality is that over my career I continually have found companies and organizations struggling to stay focused on these basic strategies, leading to failure to deliver on their quarterly and annual financial forecasts and plans.

  • This week’s take stems from the issue that surfaced in the first episode of the Sex and The City reboot. Long story short, the Mr. Big (Chris Noth) character was killed off in the first episode after riding a Peloton bike. The next day, Peloton’s stock dropped dramatically – but more importantly, Peloton answered on their brand promise. It resurrected Mr. Big with a TV spot featuring none other than Noth and Peloton instructor Jessica King. The dramatic advertisement, released Sunday and narrated by actor Ryan Reynolds, quickly blew up online, amassing more than 45,000 likes on Twitter and spurring a slew of headlines. Peloton’s marketers capitalized on what initially was a public relations nightmare and with a smart TV spot and social media campaign, delivered their brand promise. Note: their stock reclaimed all initial losses after two days. Note: last Thursday, the ad spot was taken down from Twitter and YouTube due to allegations of sexual assault by Chris Noth.
  • A Detroit Auto Show experience. The show always starts off with the main exhibitors conducting a press conference, most of the time a high-end lights, sound, and video production. The year was 2009 and Dodge Ram decided to take their press conference outside (in January), to deliver a “one-of-a- kind” press event to promote their new truck. Note: Even twelve years ago, the Ford F150 was dominating the truck category.

Absolutely freezing outside, I was joined by 1,000 spectators who witnessed, in a word, fail. A cattle drive along the street in front of Cobo Hall did not resonate with any of the spectators, who sat awestruck as the cattle, including steers, broke through the barriers as Dodge Ram’s VP tried to speak over the laughing crowd. In an epic turn of events, to top off this baseless press event, Ford had bought out the digital signage on the Cobo Arena, visible to the entire crowd, and ran ad spots promoting the Ford F150 as the #1 truck in America. I can’t image the number of Dodge Ram staff and agencies who lost their jobs after this epic fail. Move the cursor to the 5:00 minute mark and you will see what is simply called a cluster —-.

Dodge Ram’s epic press event.
  • Marketers throw around the word “optics”. “The optics look do not look good” is frequently stated in response to issues and concerns with a person or entity or brand. How about this for ‘bad optics?’ Last Saturday, with the death and destruction caused by the devastating tornadoes across the U.S., an Amazon warehouse in Illinois was destroyed resulting in the deaths of six workers. Instead of Jeff Bezos taking one of his many private jets to Illinois, he was shown celebrating the launch and landing of his rocket in Texas. That is bad optics. A lesson learned.
The Amazon warehouse destroyed by a massive tornado.
  • Speaking of a lesson learned, here is an example of a smart marketer who was very focused on his brand. I had the opportunity to design and build an outdoor pavilion exhibition stand for Patrick Ewing’s 33 brand. His shoes, back then and now, continue to sell in many European markets, so the ISPO conference in Munich was a perfect marketing play for the promotion of his brand. Patrick Ewing could not have been more appreciative of the work that we put into the pavilion, and was of course very proud of his exhibition stand. I had other clients at ISPO, including the sports sock company Thor-Lo, and asked Patrick to walk with me over to Thor-Lo’s stand in another building. He was more than happy to go with me and greet the Thor-Lo people, who were so excited that Patrick had come over to say hello. The big takeaway: when Thor-Lo asked Patrick to take photos with their group, the first thing he did was to turn and view the surroundings behind him. Why? He wanted to make sure that no competing brands would be seen in the photos – for all the obvious reasons. Brand was essential to Patrick – another big lesson learned for me.
The “33” from Patrick Ewing.

There are many examples of great brand strategy. No matter the product or service, the goal of brand strategy is to shape the perceptions of a brand’s audience so that ultimately we can influence them. A brand strategy sets the plan for shaping those perceptions through different forms of expression…both visual and verbal. In summary, the definition of brand strategy: “A plan for the systematic development of a brand in order to meet business objectives.” -Marty Neumeier, Brand Gap

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and Happy Holidays to all.

A Campaign Run. My Takes.

A Take On Making A Run For City Council. Lebanon, Elon, And The Ukraine.

Many of my guest writers have offered up their take on various topics including the Middle East, the bond market, the use of energy, sports journalism, the corporate events industry and many others. This week, our guest writer covers a subject that I stay away from: politics. My friend and associate J.H., with no political background or experience, made a run at a city council seat in the north Atlanta area. Here is his take on making that run for office:

In Life There Is Either a Sideline or a Field of Play

Two years ago, I chose to leave a twenty-five-year career as Chief Revenue Officer for three Fortune 500 companies. My primary role was leading national sales and customer support teams in the telecom and supply chain industries. During the first 12-18 months I polished up on my golf game, began a consistent workout regimen and adapted to the Coronavirus life style. However, all along this journey, something was missing. It became apparent to me that I was missing a PURPOSE. Finding PURPOSE for me is not easy. In fact, it is a struggle. As a result, I decided to simply step off the sidelines and search for a number of potential opportunities…What is the worst that could possibly happen?

One night at a city summer concert, I left the sidelines and stepped onto the field of play. Although having no prior relationship with our city mayor, I took the opportunity to walk up and introduce myself to him. Since he was a two-term mayor running for re-election, I offered my time/talent and treasure. As a result, I soon found myself actively participating as a member of the mayor’s campaign re-election team.

My relationship with the mayor developed rapidly, where upon he asked if I would consider running as a city council member. Not fully realizing what it would take to defeat a two-term incumbent council member running for re-election, I allowed myself 24 hours to contemplate and simply said…Yes.

That night I woke up at 2AM realizing the ramifications of my decision. I had no political experience, a limited social network, no marketing resources, limited social media presence and by the way, it would take at least $20K in funds to run a campaign of any relevance. The uncomfortable realization of stepping off the sideline and onto the field of play hit me like a ton a bricks! I was forced to get out of my comfort zone, use my God-given abilities, and quickly put a game plan together.

Since running a campaign was foreign to me, the need to find a campaign manager was essential. I needed a campaign manager willing to coach me in the field of play. After conducting three interviews…I found the coach!
Time was of the essence; we developed a game plan:

  1. Created a website, email, Facebook, and Instagram accounts.
  2. Developed campaign messaging:
    a. Keep us safe
    b. Preserve our neighborhoods
    c. Hold the line on taxes
    d. Planning our traffic wisely
  3. Ordering 250-yard signs with distinct colors and branding
  4. 3000 campaign brochures
  5. Text messaging
  6. Two campaign mailers to likely voters
  7. Newspaper ads and interviews
  8. Recruited 7 active volunteers for phone calling and neighborhood door knocking
  9. Garnered resident voting lists with names, addresses and phone numbers
  10. Solicited donations and self-funded campaign expenses.
    My opponent utilized his existing network and social media presence to simply ask his supporters: “Who is willing to place a campaign sign in their yard?” He did not have the need to conduct an active ground game. I on the other hand, I had no choice but to hit the streets. My strategy was to take my campaign messaging to the residents to create awareness and support. Each day, my wife would collect street names and likely voters to call on. Each day we would call on ~75 residences. My wife would drive up to a house, I would get out, usually walk a long driveway to knock on a door and voice my 30-second campaign pitch and messaging on why they should vote for me. Oh yes…I was selling. This pattern went on for weeks. In the end, together we had knocked on over 1800 doors, placed 200-yard signs and collected resident concerns. Some days the temperature was stifling. Those days were quickly overcome by meeting and having discussion with so many good people. It was not about right or left politics, it was about local, state and sometimes national issues. I found it amazing by meeting a resident for the first time and transitioning my pitch into meaningful conversations. I just wish our state and national politicians would conduct themselves accordingly.

I will never forget one memorable conversation with a local resident. It was one of those high humidity, stifling afternoons. I walked up to a large single story ranch home. An elderly woman with white cropped hair and piercing beautiful blue eyes answered the door. I estimated she was between 71-74 years old. As I completed my campaign pitch, perspiration rolled across my face. The lovely woman realized my discomfort as asked if I would like a cold drink. I thanked her, but pointed to my wife and indicated there is water in our car. She asked “How long have you been married”. I proudly responded, “forty years.” She responded, “Oh that is nothing, my husband and I have been married for 68 years.” She leaned toward me and with those piercing beautiful blue eyes and said, “Do you know the secret of our marriage?The secret is, I have never uttered the word divorce…BUT……I thought the word MURDER many times.” I nearly fell over with laughter.

FOURTH QUARTER (2 Minute Warning)
My campaign did get in the red zone on election night. But unfortunately, we did not cross the goal line. Of course, I was disappointed with the election result. But I have no regrets leaving the sidelines and stepping onto the field of play. It was an enjoyable, purpose-filled experience that I will never forget. The campaign represented a single game. As we all know life is a season of many games. As a result, I have continued the pursuit of purpose with the Wounded Warriors volunteerism, a healthcare startup company, and political action organizations.

Is now the time for you to get in the game? Come on in…the water is warm!

My Takes For The Week

  • Are space flights with the likes of Blue Origin and SpaceX becoming a ho-hum event? I hope not as yesterday’s NS-19 flight and landing was fantastic. What these private space exploration entities are doing is remarkable.
  • Speaking of space, here is the headline of the week: Devastating solar storm spotted in nearby star system could be a warning sign for life on Earth. No, this was not reported by the New York Post or the Drudge Report.
  • What exactly is a ‘diplomatic boycott’ of the Beijing Olympics will it overshadow the actual athletic competition?
  • T-minus thirteen days to Christmas and 19 days to start a New Year. 2021 was challenging but way better than 2020. Let us all hope that 2022 is great.
  • Why have entities or countries not stepped up to assist Lebanon with their very serious economic crisis? Is the World Bank and International Monetary Fund not in place to assist nations in despair?
  • Elon Musk says he may quit his everyday job. Yawn.
  • Is there a new definition of democracy someone forgot to tell me about?
  • What is the betting line on Russian troops crossing into the Ukraine?
  • There is a good bit of discussion surrounding a four-day work week. Will companies in the United States adapt to this movement?
  • Prayers to all who were devastated by Friday night’s tornadoes and storms. So sad. There has to be a better solution to early warning systems for tornadoes.
  • I leave today’s post with something to contemplate. With all due respect:

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Sunday Funday!

Our Dollars. Top Of Mind Thoughts.

$10 Billion Of Our Money. Top Of Mind.

  • I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. We came out of the holiday weekend with the unfortunate news that another variant of coronavirus had reared its ugly head. This strain, named Omicron by the W.H.O., is another variant of concern, similar to the Delta strain of Covid-19.

As always, I will not mince words, but I will be cautious with my opinions of the vaccines and the pharmaceutical companies employed to battle coronaviruses. I have both Moderna shots, as well as the booster. It was my personal decision, which was simply based on the science and data published to date. While I do feel good about receiving the three shots, I am a bit concerned about the reaction generated by the discovery of the Omicron variant. My concern is not with the worldwide healthcare organizations or the governments that oversee these entities. My concern is with the pharmaceutical companies participating in the development and production of coronavirus vaccines. No more than twenty-four hours after the Omicron variant was publicized, the Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, declared that they had started working on a vaccine to combat this new coronavirus strain. While on the surface his statement was well-received, his comments and viral public relations campaign did not sit well with me. My first reaction is how could Moderna, after no more than forty-eight hours, have discovered and studied the Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells? Bancel went on to state that the existing vaccines, including the booster, would probably not be effective with battling Omicron. I just found it very odd that the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company would provide the world with these statements so soon after the discovery of this new variant.

While I want to believe that Bancel and Moderna were way ahead of the curve with the discovery and identification of the Omicron strain, my quick research of Moderna’s year-to-date and quarterly earnings cause me concern. The U.S. government has paid Moderna over $10B to produce and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine. That is $10B of taxpayer dollars to one of a few companies involved with the creation of coronavirus vaccines. Was Bancel expressing his concern about the new variant, or positioning Moderna to reap additional and massive top line revenue by creating and distributing a new round of vaccines? A legitimate healthcare executive being forthright or another money grab? You may think my take is a bit harsh and shallow, which is fair enough, but explain to me what the go-forward is with paying these pharmaceutical companies billions of dollars should five more coronavirus variants come our way?

Some Things I Think As We Approach Year-End:

  • NASA and the Japanese space agency’s plan to slam a rocket into an asteroid is underway. Designated as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, this is a test of ‘planetary defense’ against near-Earth objects. I guess it is better to practice altering the orbit of an asteroid than waiting around for a real-life “Deep Impact” movie scenario to play out?
  • The Easy Company was the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. HBO produced a documentary about Easy Company, called Band of Brothers, which provided us with the exploits of this parachute and rifle battalion. The last surviving officer of Easy Company passed away last week at the age 99. Ed Shames was the first member of the 101st to enter the Dachau concentration camp, a day after is liberation. When Germany surrendered, Ed Shames and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, with a label indicating that they were for “the Fuhrer’s use only.” Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah. RIP Edward D. Shames.
  • What is the mindset of the rogue groups of people breaking into stores and taking merchandise at will? Where does this self-serving, criminal activity stem from? I have a very definitive way to end this behavior once and for all – but will spare all of you the details. Well, here is a hint: it is the Italian breed of the mastiff, and humans are no match for this animal.
Cane Corso Italian Mastiff Guard Dog Breed Info, Images, Videos, FAQs
The Cane Corso breed. Go ahead, break into a Nordstrom department store.
  • I can’t wait for the docu-drama about the Cuomo brothers: Andrew, the former governor of New York, and his brother Chris, who hosted CNN’s #1 prime time show. Their father, the late Mario Cuomo, was not without controversy while the governor of New York between 1983-1994.
  • There is no greater college football spectacle than the SEC championship game. Yesterday was a perfect example.
  • Speaking of competitive sports, Tiger is back at it. This weekend, he hosted his annual charity golf tournament, the Hero World Challenge. This tournament, held in the Bahamas, is in its 20th year and has raised over $32M to date with the proceeds benefiting youth focused charities. For those of us who were wondering if Tiger would ever be able to play golf again, take a look at this short video from Thursday’s first round:
Tiger raises big money for kids at his annual Hero World Challenge.
  • With 2022 just over three weeks away, what can we expect with our economy, healthcare, and military? How well will the financial markets continue to perform? How will the Delta and Omicron variants, as well as future strains, effect hospitals and other healthcare facilities? Will relative détente continue with China, North Korea, Russia, and the Middle East?
  • I had not watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm for many years. I caught an episode last week, only to be reminded of how Larry David’s acting is so bizarre and uncomfortable. Is he really acting or is he the greater generation of Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, and Al Bundy? The stuff that comes out of his mouth is multi-dimensional…funny, alarming, rude, and vulgar…all wrapped up into one. Though this video clip is only three minutes, it just about wraps up what Larry David is all about. As my daughter frequently tells or texts me: OMG.
Larry David at his finest.

Adios, pay if forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!!


A Heartfelt Response. Not Your Everyday Astrophysicist. A 17-Year-Old Boy. Tea.

  • Two weeks ago, my take on our Generals from yesteryear generated many responses. In light of some people’s comments, I asked a former U.S. Marine to provide his take on our military leadership, and more importantly his overall thoughts of where we are with the deployment of our men and women. He was originally deployed in 2004, and subsequently served in Iraq. His roles and responsibilities included entry control point operations, where he would inspect cars searching for explosives, weapons, and contraband. I have been careful with my edits in order for all of us to clearly understand his perspective. Thank you to this week’s contributor. Your heartfelt thoughts, and your service to the United States, are greatly appreciated.

OK… So, the issue we are seeing with today’s generals are the same issues we see with a lot of enlisted. Since only 1% of the population serves into today’s all-volunteer force, they are clearly the exception. But in today’s military, some service members mistake exception with exceptional.

In a post 9/11 world, service members were lifted up by the press and by the public (obviously better than what the Vietnam vets got). But now, with social media, people are getting high on their own supply. So, officers become political figures FAR earlier than before. And since it’s an all-volunteer force, the political fallout is FAR less than the later stages of Vietnam where EVERYONE got called up. Now, enlisted can say whatever they want until it goes viral. But by then, they are low-grade celebrities. Officers say whatever they want but are politically protected. So, it’s a toxic mix. Ike (Eisenhower) had to deal with tens of thousands of deaths in a week. Now, three thousand deaths are considered a blunder.

The public also plays a role in this… Service isn’t the same. There isn’t a collective price to pay anymore. If you were an able male in the 1940’s and didn’t go, people judged you. In Vietnam, when CACO (Casualty Assistance Calls Officer) showed up with death notices, they would hit multiple houses on the same street. During the surge in Iraq, the only people who carried the weight were the families of those who deployed… Everyone else went to the mall. So, after a decade plus of war, most of America moved on.

Which meant people overseas felt overlooked, or worse, looked down on. So now we have a real toxic combination. When we had a collective price to pay, the officers understood the burden. A lack of social media meant they couldn’t just say whatever they wanted when they wanted. Even if they felt the same as officers today.
Can you imagine Patton with Twitter? Or Westmoreland after My Lai?
I’m sure we’d be seeing a lot of the same as we’re seeing today.

So short story long, we as a society have allowed too much war for too long and allowed the creation of a warrior caste. Fathers went to war, and in some cases, their sons finished it. Some vets feel superior to the civilian caste. They feel unheard, neglected, and they are ANGRY. This is what I hear directly from a lot of the guys I served with. Gary, I don’t know what is going to fix this. We need a LONG period without conflict to settle things down. We need to invest in the V.A. MANY times over. We need to allow more vets to get care outside of the V.A. to reduce pressure on the system. A lot of anger, a lot of hurt, and a lot of grief. All of that death, and for what?
We gained NOTHING.

The gate I guarded where I picked body parts out of a barbed wire fence? Where I was rocket attacked? Where I dug through cars looking for bombs? Iraqis run it. ISIS is 10 miles away from there. My friend who was in Afghanistan? Lost friends, translators, and his translator was left behind. A generation is realizing that our service didn’t benefit people here. No one here is more or less free. We didn’t liberate concentration camps. We didn’t end Fascism. We didn’t stop the Red Army from crossing the 38th parallel. All we had was each other and the love of our friends and family. Many vets feel used. Many more feel forgotten. I know this may not be what you expected, but the answer is very complex, and SO many things feed into it.

My body is broken. Two torn quads, calcium deposits in my knees, losing my hearing, MANY concussions, and enough bad memories to last a lifetime. I made a choice; I signed the contract. I’m glad I went, because if I’m not there, it’s an 18-year-old getting body parts out of a fence. I did what I had to do. But I’m tired of war. I’m tired of hearing from 25-year-olds who had 6 deployments. And more than anything, I am tired of vets who feel that their opinion is more valuable than a civilian. Because that’s who we serve. We serve the people. Not major corporations, not political parties. We have forgotten that.

  • I had the opportunity (privilege is a better description) of attending a lecture by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. I was obviously concerned that his content would be way over my head, but pleasantly surprised that he has the ability to present very complicated topics in a clear and concise manner. My original concern stemmed from watching the amazing series “Cosmos” – with deGrasse Tyson both hosting and narrating. An amazing series with tremendous writing and spectacular motion graphics, but a good bit of the content did not register with me.

Last Wednesday night, at the beautiful Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in downtown Orlando, deGrasse Tyson dumbed-down a great discussion about the perennial mismatch between expectations of why the United States has fallen behind with our space program due to the geopolitical, cultural, and economic realities that limit it. His method of presentation is actually very simple, using his laptop and the theater’s large screen. He gave examples that were both eye-opening and humorous, and received a standing ovation after speaking for over two hours.

deGrasse Tyson spent a good bit of time discussing the U.S. space program, and why, in his opinion, we have failed to progressively enhance space exploration. His comments surrounded our competition in the so-called ‘space race’, with his strong feelings that the United States only benchmarks our programs against other countries. He suggested that the use of space vehicles for military or defense purposes was one way to stimulate the spend for the space program, and then reinforced his thoughts by showing the audience this video, which silenced the sold-out theater:

India has this defense capability in place.

The Prime Minister of India lamenting the fact that his country is now a space power amongst the U.S., Russia, and China, with the ability to destroy targets orbiting the earth. No wonder the United States established the U.S. Space Force, the space service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, the world’s first and currently only independent space force.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Neil deGrasse Tyson lecture, just do it. You will not be disappointed.

  • Politics are energy-draining, self-serving and without a doubt partisan. Kyle Rittenhouse was 17-years-old when he made the decision to participate in a night of civil protest (unrest) in Kenosha, Wisconsin. On Friday, Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges in an incident where he killed two and injured one. Due process was served, and the twelve-person jury made their decision – for whatever their reasons under the circumstances. With all that said, let’s not lose sight of the fact that it was okay for a 17-year-old to place himself in this situation carrying a AR-15. People and their politics divided on the issues surrounding this case, with the real issue being a 17-year-old running down a street with a AR-15. Has the world just gone mad?

  • I’ll end with one of my favorite Ted Lasso quotes. To all my British friends and associates, no harm meant:

Adios, pay if forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

The Rise And Fall. Five Things.

A Stalwart Of Corporate America Is Forced To Pivot. My Top Of Mind Thoughts.

Founded in 1892, General Electric Company (GE) is a multinational conglomerate that at one time was involved in aviation, power, renewable energy, digital industry, weapons manufacturing, locomotives, and venture capital and finance. GE divested from several areas, and last week announced that the conglomerate was going to be split into three completely separate companies. The three companies will be focused on aviation, healthcare, and energy. The first spinoff of the healthcare division is planned for 2023 and to be followed by the spinoff of the energy division in 2024. In light of this corporate giant deciding to break up, I turned to a friend of mine who spent many years at GE, serving various roles and responsibilities. Thank you, Chris, for taking the time to give all of us your insight about GE.

Given the latest announcement regarding the break-up of GE, I feel a cathartic need to:

  • Provide an ‘insiders’ perspective on GE.
  • What went wrong and why?
  • What the latest announcement might mean to shareholders and employees.
A 1984 GE Management Training Team.

I joined GE on a management training program in 1984, three years after Jack Welch took helm as CEO. At the time, revenues were about $28B. I have stayed in touch with several of my management training class members (I am the young man seated on the right). I stayed with the company for 28 years, some peers left earlier, and one is still there. In the early 2000’s GE was the most valuable company in the world and when I left, revenues had reached almost $147B. What went wrong?

Jack was a great leader. We both hated how hard he drove us and loved the professional and financial rewards he provided. For some of us, it was worth it. He did make one awful decision – promoting Jeff Immelt to CEO. That’s hard for me to say – I worked for Jeff and liked him a lot. But we were taught to be candid, and, in obvious hindsight, Jeff was just the wrong guy to lead GE into the twenty-first century.

Jeff and the Board made many bad investments. Repeatedly, they overpaid for acquisitions and over-levered the company with debt. At the same time, the company lost its focus on costs. The solution was to sell off assets to pay down the debt and meet other obligations. The company needed a leader who was not wedded to its past or paradigms. Investors lost confidence in Jeff and for the first time in the company’s 130+ year history, they turned to an outsider.

Over the last 5 years, GE stock lost 2% of its value each year while the S&P increased 9% on average. The latest announcement by CEO Larry Culp to separate the remaining pieces was a final admission that the company could not achieve necessary returns and was likely not self-sustaining. This move will create some near-term value for current shareholders of GE. If you are one, based on prior divestitures, I expect you will be issued shares in the two new companies as each are spun off (a healthcare company and an energy company – both to be named). Your newly formed company positions will be offset with a re-valued ~ $20B GE (aircraft engine business) at a lower share price.

The above is only my perspective. Others may see if differently. Regardless, in the end, I remain so very grateful to have worked for and learned so much at GE.

Five Things I Think I Think:

  • Kyle Rittenhouse is one mature 18-year-old, or one of the best actors ever.
  • There needs to be a standardized protocol dictating Covid tests and/or vaccinations to enter different venues and facilities. Obviously, this is not an issue for those who are vaccinated.
  • Former NFL coach Jon Gruden’s contract was $10M a year for ten years. He resigned last month after revelations that he had made racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments. He now decides to sue the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell. Another baseless lawsuit.
  • I am trying to be more cognizant and respectful of the environmental challenges some will face in the future. Automobile companies are betting big on their fleets of electric cars. In fact, various economists predict that U.S. all-electric sales to be 25% to 30% of new vehicles in 2030 and 45% to 50% by 2035. How will this onslaught of electric cars affect the world’s power grids? Maybe my friend T.A. can help us understand how power generation and supply entities are planning on dealing with this issue?
  • Mental health finally is finding its way into the regular and normal thread of healthcare. It is about time that all of us respect the fact that people struggle with a myriad of health issues, and they are not necessarily physical. The pandemic, in my opinion, literally fueled the fire of mental health awareness. The welfare of our friends and family’s mental health is not to be taken lightly.

Speaking of mental health, I leave you with some inspiring words from the one and only Michael Scott, from the television hit, The Office:

Well said, Michael Scott!

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!


Not Necessarily Answers.

  • What does Professor Yuval Noah Harari know that we do not? You only need to watch the first three minutes of this 60 Minutes segment. Harari has strong words and feelings that the artificial intelligence craze, fueled by public and private entities’ race to garnering data, will eventually lead to a greater inequality of the human species. He feels that the ability to edit genetic codes and brain interfaces will ultimately lead to non-organic entities…creating biological inequality fueled by money, which will end up being the determining factor to engineering and creating a new being. A new being that relies on intelligence without conscience. Uncomfortable to think about to say the least.
Artificial Intelligence and data harvesting = intelligence without conscience.

As an example, listen to the late General Norman Schwarzkopf explain Rule 14. If a newly-created species is relying on intelligence only, and not their conscience, Schwarzkopf’s Rule 14 goes down the drain:

Rule 14. “Do what’s right.”
  • Do you know what Veterans Day commemorates? The Federal Holiday is celebrated this Thursday, February 11. The holiday honors all who have served in the United States Armed Forces – and is a reminder of the sacrifice made by women and men to protect the United States. Of all days, stand up, give up your seat, shake a veteran’s hand, and above all else thank them for their service. This holiday is not about politics, it is about honor and sacrifice. The very least we can all do is thank our veterans for their service.
  • If Neil can’t explain the dilemma of daylight savings time….no one can. For years I have not been shy with my disdain with daylight savings time ending. Sure, I understand that young children going to school in the morning darkness is troublesome, but who really enjoys darkness before 6PM? I do not and as Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson tells us, he is not a fan of the time changing at all. I know all of you set your clocks back an hour :).
The dilemma of daylight savings time continues…

Where have our powerful and outspoken military leaders gone? Don’t misunderstand what I am asking. I have the utmost respect for our current military leaders, but who has the ultra-personas of Pershing, Patton, MacArthur, Schwarzkopf, and Mattis? Another famous general passed on last week, a leader who overcame many barriers. General Colin Powell was the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. When he walked into a briefing room, similar to the Generals mentioned above, his tremendous presence and ability to clearly communicate had everyone’s attention. RIP, General Colin Powell.

General James “Mad Dog” Mattis was known for his candor and directness with his troops, the enemy and the media. His passion and disdain for the enemy was never addressed better than with one of his many eyebrow-raising quotes: “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

  • Is there a more narcissistic, megalomaniac in professional sports than Aaron Rodgers? That question has nothing to do with politics. That question is why would he put himself, his family, and his teammates in a tough situation with the Green Bay Packers and the League? Many people do not like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but Goodell will earn his pay with mitigating the fallout of Rodgers’ misleading statement regarding his vaccination. To each their own, but misleading your coaching staff and teammates is not acceptable.
  • Where have ABBA been? It has been forty years since this Swedish band broke up, but they are back with original tracks…and they sound similar to their famous hits from yesteryear. There was something always interesting about listening to their music. Here is one from their new Voyage release:
After forty years, ABBA has released their new album, Voyage.

How many diet, meal, and nutrition plans can there really be? I find it amazing how flooded this space continues to be with new ventures popping up every day. There are many different types of plans, with Noom and others leading the way, but how someone determines which plan to take on is beyond me. Then, just when we really dig into Atkins, Keto, and high-protein solutions, the reality of nutrition becomes quite apparent:

Nutrition at its finest.

Adios, pay it forward, stay safe, and have a Funday Sunday!

Woke This.

I Have Some Ideas.

Anyone who has read a few of my posts over the last five years understands that I have a zero-tolerance policy with anything to do with discrimination and racism. Zero-tolerance comes from my upbringing, where I lived, worked, and played with people from many different countries, from different races, and with varied religious beliefs. Sure, I understand that people across the United States feel impelled to voice their opinions to ensure that injustice and prejudice are called out and exposed. With all of that said, I now have a zero -tolerance to “woke.” I am over the use of the word “woke”, do not want the word used to generalize the feelings of people, and now have disdain for the very definition of “woke”: A term originating in the United States that originally meant to be alert to racial prejudice and discrimination.

  • For many years, journalists and protestors alike have had a misguided impression of the Atlanta Braves being just that, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves’ organization has made a tremendous effort to ensure that American Indians around the United States feel honored by the nickname “Braves” and appreciate that the fans chopping and chanting during the ‘tomahawk chop’ are actually honoring the American Indian. The article below, from a Sports Illustrated journalist, is completely off base and actually a poor piece of journalism. Shame on you Sports Illustrated. A thank you to my long-time friend Mario for sending me this crap piece of journalism. https://www.si.com/mlb/2021/10/28/atlanta-braves-tomahawk-chop-daily-cover
  • Speaking of “woke” we again turn our undivided attention to baseball. The use of the term ‘bullpen’ was first coined by a sports journalist back in 1877, one hundred and forty-four years ago. In simple terms, baseball’s bullpen area is a cordoned off area where pitchers warm up before they are called into the game. The bullpen is part of baseball, no different than the dugout or on-deck circle. Now, in the year 2021, with all of the world’s issues and concerns, PETA has decided to step to the plate. They have gone viral with their concerns that the term bullpen, THE AREA OF THE FIELD WHERE PITCHERS WARM UP, ‘devalues talented players and mocks the misery of sensitive animals.’ PETA has recommended that the term ‘bullpen’ be changed to the term ‘arm barn.’ Say what? I have an idea: PETA, please stay in your lane and spend your time on worthy causes protecting our animals.
  • A friend of mine knows I like history, so she recommended that I watch “Through The Decades,” a daily show hosted by Bill Kurtis that documents events that happened on that date in history. I have watched it a few times – and it is so well done that I now wonder why this show, which has been on-air for five years, is not part of some network’s prime time lineup. I have an idea: How about our school systems across America making “Through The Decades” a part of their daily curriculum?
  • Speaking of education and television, is there a better documentary series than the PBS show ‘Frontline?’ The series digs down deep into top-of-mind topics, with a high level of content and production. Last week I caught the ‘Frontline’ episode detailing the missteps taken by Boeing with their 737 Max – an airplane that employed a sophisticated software system. Due to cost and the rush to get this plane into the skies, the use of the software system was never made part of the training curriculum for pilots of airlines who purchased the 737 Max from Boeing. I have an idea: How about the FAA ensuring that this blatant oversight never happen again? Below is the trailer – you can watch this stunning episode and others on YouTube.
Frontline produced this documentary detailing the real issues with the 737 Max.
  • Facebook has gone from an incredible technology platform to a source of unguided persuasion and unreliable information. They changed their name to “Meta”, which by definition is a prefix — a word put before another — means after or beyond, to operate at a higher level, or change. I have an idea: How about everyone “operate at a higher level” and stop taking Meta (Facebook) as a literal presentation and representation of our daily lives?
  • I had an unusual confrontation with Alec Baldwin back in 2007, just days after a voicemail recording went viral with him telling his 11-year-old daughter that she was a ‘rude, thoughtless, little pig.’ It is a long story, but he was behind me at the LaGuardia Airport security check and may have caught me giving him ‘my look’, which stemmed from the fact that I was also a single parent of a daughter. He followed me to get a coffee, and with many seats available in the common seating area, he decided to sit down next to me. Anyone who knows me can imagine what I said to him – but respectfully listened to him rant and rave about his ex-wife, Kim Basinger. Thankfully, after twenty minutes of a heated discussion, Baldwin got completely distracted when a very attractive mom and her daughter decided to sit across from us…and you know the rest of that story. Sure, I am no fan of Alec Baldwin, but NO ONE should suffer the consequences of what happened on the ‘Rust’ movie set, including Alec Baldwin. I have an idea: A strict mandate from SAG and IATSE that no live ammunition, at any time, for any reason, should ever be allowed on a set again.

  • Tomorrow is November 1. Twenty-five days to Thanksgiving. Seven weeks until Christmas. Eight weeks until 2022. It has been another different kind of year and hopefully 2022 will be full of success, health, and happiness. I have an idea: How about everyone just stop with hiding behind “woke” and getting on with our lives in a safe and meaningful way? It’s just an idea.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and Have a Funday Sunday.