The First Amendment. Tiger. Perseverance. Billy Jack. One Night In Miami.

Assemble Peacefully. Affection or Affected? Let’s Put A Helicopter on Mars. A True Badass. Thought-Provoking.

More than one person asked me why I had no ‘take’ on the events that took place on January 6 in Washington, D.C. and the United States Capitol Building. My first response and what will always be my response is that I long ago divorced myself away from the world of politics. I neither discuss or write about anything political. Politics is energy-draining to me and often spurs negative vibrations – whether with friends or family or with co-workers.

After further review and a bit of contemplation, and to address ‘why I did not comment on the events of January 6’, here is my take on all situations that involve protests and protestors:

  • The Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment clearly states “…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” I support the Constitution.
  • There is a great divide in America and it is not just systemic bigotry, bias, and hate. There is a definite divide amongst people representing their political parties – bipartisanship that has been ignited by the presidential election.
  • Refer again to the first bullet point. I believe that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the 1st Amendment are the backbone and thread of the United States. I don’t care about political parties, the “red” and the “blue”. What I do care about is that we are the American people. The right of people to peaceably assemble and to air their grievances is a basic right of all Americans, regardless of race, creed, or religion.
  • Without political reference, the breach the U.S. Capitol Building resulting in damage and taking property is in no way a peaceful assembly. I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but how and why did the security apparatus fail to protect the U.S. Capitol building?
  • There is now information from law enforcement agencies that groups are preparing to protest at most or all State capitols on Inauguration Day, January 20. Again, in following the First Amendment, the people have the right to peacefully assemble and air their grievances. Threats to fellow people, trespassing on Federal property, and causing any damage was never close to the realm of thinking from the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution.
  • I disagree with any protest or assembly that does not follow the First Amendment. That is my take. What is yours?
Inflamed Trump supporters stormed the Senate side of the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, after the president’s rally.
Decide for yourself if this activity is covered by the First Amendment.

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I like people who are competitive. At one point in time – that actually lasted many years, there was no greater competitor on earth than Tiger Woods. I won’t go into his specific golfing prowess, but there was no doubt that on the golf course he was a force to be reckoned with…and his fierce competitive nature provided him with a path to dominating the PGA tour.

I make no excuses for Tiger’s personal conduct in the massively publicized issues that evolved during his marriage to Elin Nordegren. Shameful, immature, and unbalanced are words that describe his actions and behavior. We were all puzzled by his fall from grace and public relations nightmare. If you can make the time, I suggest that you watch HBO’s Tiger, a two-part documentary offering a revealing look at his rise, fall, and epic comeback. I watched part one last week, and at a minimum this documentary may answer a few questions that all of us have regarding Tiger’s DNA. Part two is now available – for me a must watch.

This was just the beginning of Tiger’s infatuation with the game of golf.

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Mark your calendars for the afternoon of February 18, 2021. I could go into my diatribe about NASA’s Perseverance Mars mission, but other than parachuting a landing module from the launched rocket – that contains the Mars Rover and a helicopter onto the surface of Mars, I have no ability to comprehend how these scientists and engineers are making this happen. What I do understand from this video is very cool:

The Mars Rover parachutes down to Mars on February 18, 2021.

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A retro look at one of my favorite fight scenes from the past. I described a very upset individual as “going Billy Jack” to a friend of mine. She had no idea of what I was talking about. There have been many badass lead actors including Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Denzel Washington and Daniel Craig, but there was only one Billy Jack:

“I’m going to take my right foot and wop you……..” . Tom Laughlin played the character Billy Jack.

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I was raised in Miami, Florida. As sports fans along with my father being an AAU boxer, my family followed the career of Muhammad Ali. Early on and for many reasons, I was aware of racism, racial divide, and activists including the infamous Malcolm X. My Miami roots and Ali obviously spiked my interest in the movie One Night in Miami, no different than any other movie that takes in the dynamics of my hometown and sports. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise but did not follow what I assumed would be the storyline of four black men, in 1964, getting together to ‘celebrate’ Cassius Clay (a.k.a. Muhammad Ali) beating Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight championship.

I will not comment on the storyline as I suggest you take two hours to watch what I feel is a very good film, full of memorable performances and thought-provoking speeches and arguments. The storyline, direction, cinematography, and acting was outstanding, and Kingsley Ben-Adir, playing Malcolm X, will surely be nominated for an Oscar. A 1964 view of four unique celebrities who provide us with their individual viewpoints. Directed by Regina King, One Night in Miami is excellent.

One Night in Miami Movie Review
One Night in Miami with Aldis Hodge, Kingley Ben-Adir, Leslie Odom, Jr. and Eli Goree.

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

The Lost Calendar. Tommy Boy. Gone Alligator.

Most of last year seemed to be a blur. Dealing with all the dynamics and ramifications of the pandemic distracted many of us from the usual milestones of the calendar year. Starting last March, the significance of annual events and holidays took to the backburner as we dealt with Covid-19 and sheltering in place. Though it will take some time for most of us to be vaccinated, it is time to look forward to the next few months:

  • Later today – three more NFL playoff games.
  • Tomorrow night, January 11 – the college football championship game between Ohio State and Alabama at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.
  • January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It is the year’s first Federal holiday and among other events, the Atlanta Hawks play their annual MLK Day game at 2:30pm at State Farm Arena.
  • January 20 – Inauguration Day. The celebration of a new or incumbent President of the United States happens once every four years. It occurs in the year after presidential elections have been held. Who knows how this inauguration will unfold?
  • January 25 – Atlanta United reports to training camp. Significant as they begin the 2021 campaign with a new manager and the rehiring of Paul McDonough, who was an instrumental part of the organization in the run up to the 2018 MLS championship. The League’s start date is still not determined.
  • February 1 – the first day of Black History month. Think Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • February 2 – Groundhog Day. I am not embarrassed to tell you I have no idea what this is all about – other than remembering a mundane movie starring Bill Murray.
  • February 7 – Super Bowl LV (Richie, that is 55). The game takes place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
  • February 14 – Valentine’s Day. Roses, chocolate, lots of smiles and hopefully no broken hearts.
  • February 15 – President’s Day, originally honoring Washington’s birthday, is the second Federal holiday of the year.
  • March 14. One of the best Sunday’s of the year as daylight savings time returns.
  • March 17. St. Patrick’s Day. Covid-19 shut down most festivities celebrating one of Ireland’s patron saints (and obviously morphed into celebrating Irish-American culture). We look forward to the days where rivers once again turn green and Chicago, New York, and Savannah all go a bit crazy with their parades. Also, let’s not forget the return of the St. Patrick’s Day party JP puts together – hopefully to return in 2022.
  • March 28 – Passover begins. If you have not been to a Passover dinner (Seder), go! The storytelling of the emancipation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Charlton Heston in the The Ten Commandments) is engaging and includes the consumption of wine at certain points throughout the dinner. Wine consumption is variable depending on the participants.
  • April 2-4 – Good Friday and Easter weekend. We could all use an Easter egg hunt and all the festivities surrounding Easter weekend.
  • April 5-11 – The Masters in Augusta, Georgia. This time around we do get to see the azaleas in full bloom.
  • April 13 – Ramadan. It is a month of fasting, prayer, giving and self-evaluation observed by Muslims around the world.
  • April 15 – Tax Day. Enough said.
  • April 22 – Earth Day. The day was born out of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California and carried forward today by the Earth Day Network. Earth day was created to help bring awareness and support for environmental protection around the world. 

I am sure I missed some holidays/events. The bottom line is that these four months may feel similar to 2020 – but at least we have the vaccine on the horizon. Hopefully, after the end of April, we will all know when we can finally get that vaccine into our arms.

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I feel fortunate that I was raised in a family that followed sports. Though I focused on soccer from a playing perspective (Bret/Bob, no comment please), my passion for competitive sports started early on, influenced by my parents and my brother. In previous posts I discussed Don Shula, who led the Miami Dolphins to an undefeated season and two Super Bowl wins, but I was always amazed by a baseball manager who brought us passion, competitiveness, and the will to win. He managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for 20 seasons from 1976-1996. Over this time, he amassed 1,599 career wins, which ranks 20th all-time. In addition to his two World Series titles, he was also named the National League (NL) Manager of the Year twice in his career, first in 1983 and again in 1988. He also managed the National League in four All-Star Games following each of his NL pennant wins. I loved watching Tommy Lasorda manage his teams. I enjoyed and was amazed at his antics when arguing with the umpiring crew. Tommy Lasorda passed away Friday and in my mind he was one of the greatest. RIP Tommy Lasorda.

This video is rated XXX for language. Do not let your children listen. I post this because you get to hear his unbelievable passion and exasperation with the media. This was a famous interview with Lasorda after being accused of ordering one of his pitchers to throw at a batter. Can you imagine, in this day and time, a coach or manager saying this in front of the media? There was only one Tommy Lasorda.

RIP Tommy Lasorda.

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And finally….I leave you on this second Sunday of 2021 with a photo you can use when someone asks how to describe 2020:

Similar to year 2020…..this makes all the sense in the world.

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

2020 – A Year To Forget

There Was Some Good.

The first post of 2021 should in essence be go-forward content and not reflect back on a year that was one to forget. Though we can never forget the friends and families affected by Covid-19, we can actually look back to some positive or enlightening things that came out of 2020.

Vaccines – What sometimes took up to ten years for approval took less than a year. Now, it is up to General Gustavo Perna to drive the supply chain and administration of the vaccines – and now get it into people’s arms.

Financial markets – For the year, the Dow Jones rose 7.2% and the S&P 500 index 16.3%. The Nasdaq surged 43.6%, its best annual gain since 2009.

Family – The ‘stay at home’ order actually forced families to work and school in their household, an unusual dynamic that hopefully resulted in a functional family unit. Yes, I said hopefully.

J-Lo and Shakira performing at the Super Bowl – “I only watch the game, not the halftime”. Yea, right.

16 Best Tweets About J.Lo and Shakira's Super Bowl Performance
Shakira and J-Lo at the Super Bowl.

Electric vehicles -Part of the reason for declining oil demand in 2020 last year was the success of electric vehicles. Globally, 10 percent of all cars sold in 2020 were EVs — a 28 percent increase over 2019. Sales are predicted to go up again by 50 percent in 2021.

Ford Mustang Mach-E - Wikipedia
Ford’s all electric SUV….the Mustang Mach-E.

Working from home – Revolutionized due to the pandemic, millions of workers around the world proved that with the right technology and fortitude, working remote can work.

Women making ‘it’s a woman’ past tense – Sarah Fuller, the young lady who played for Vanderbilt’s women’s soccer team, suiting up and not only playing for Vanderbilt’s football team, but kicking off and converting an extra point no different than any male kicker. Becky Hammon, a long-time assistant for the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA, stepping into the head coaching role last week after head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected. Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody, who on November 14, 2008, became the first woman in United States military history to achieve the rank of four-star general. Alert to all: women actually perform, standout and lead.

Sarah Fuller of Vanderbilt is first woman to score in Power Five game
Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller converting one of the two extra points she converted against the University of Tennessee.

Space – Privatized space exploration is no longer a puzzle, with NASA contracting with SpaceX, Blue Origin, Space Perspective, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and others for many missions…and the ultimate goal of reaching Mars.

A cocktail or two – Enjoying alcoholic beverages to pass the time and to cope with the pandemic seemed to be top of mind for many people. According to Nielsen’s market data, total alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants have surged roughly 24% during the pandemic. They found sales of spirits with higher alcohol content rose even faster, more than 27% increase in 2020 over 2019 . Here’s as toast to 2021.

Live televised sports – An amazing effort during a pandemic by all the leagues, administrators, coaches, players, and television networks. These live games helped take our minds off of lockdowns and illness and provided us one of the greatest golf shots of all time.

A practice round ‘skip shot’ at the 2020 Masters.

We are all so done with 2020. The first part of 2021 may look no different but the vaccines will help get us a bit more normalized. May the year 2021 bring some positive vibes to everyone.

Photo by Mills 50 Mainstreet District in Armstrong Lock & Security Products. Image may contain: text that says 'Locks Armstrong & SAFES LOCKSMITH Since 1929 SLAMMING THE DOOR ON 2020 LOCKING IT UP AND THROWING AWAY THE KEY'.
Never stated better...

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

Brighter Days. Quiet Down. Gabi. Live From Slane Castle.

Dates Looking Forward. Muted. “He Would Kick His Granny”. Goodbye 2020.

My disdain for darkness at 5:30pm continues. For years we “go dark” when daylight savings time is extinguished and we head into the dark days of winter. I don’t start my daylight savings time countdown until the new year but here are some dates to enlighten all of us:

  • Late December – the days gradually start getting longer
  • January 3rd – the first 5:30pm sunset
  • February 28th – the first 6:00pm sunset
  • March 14th – daylight savings time returns

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For 2021 I am definitely hoping that ‘2020’ words like “YOU ARE ON MUTE” are stated less frequently. Though, with respect, there were many Zoom meetings that happened in 2020 where I was hoping most of the participants were temporarily muted. There is not one word that describes 2020. Sucked comes to mind as the year in some ways dragged on and in some ways was a bit of a blur. The words and phrases that do reflect the year: Wuhan. The city of Lombardi. The NBA’s sudden stop. Flattening the curve. Hand sanitizer. Face coverings. Social distancing. Toilet paper. Carol Baskin tigers. Zoom. The MLS’ Orlando tournament. Injecting Clorox. Twitter rage. Bipartisan warfare. SpaceX. Murder hornets. Police on edge. Protests and violence. Andrew Cuomo. TikToc. The California fires. The election. Fraud. Financial markets. The vaccines and Operation Warp Speed. The unbelievable dedication and sacrifice of first responders and health care workers. It has been a year.

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Atlanta United, after a dismal season in a more dismal year, selected their new manager last week. Gabriel (Gabi) Heinze is from Argentina and played for both country and some of the biggest clubs in the world. Let’s hope that he brings the energy and fury to an Atlanta side that could use a dose of fire and emotion. Sir Alex Ferguson, Heinze’s manager at Manchester United, had this to say about Atlanta’s new manager: “ruthless, he would kick his granny. But an absolute winner.” Just my take, but if I was in the Atlanta United player pool, I might want to show up for the January 25 start of training camp very fit and ready to compete.

Training starts January 25….hopefully Heinze’s emotion and drive to win becomes a thread of Atlanta United.

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Go ahead and say whatever you need to say. “Goodbye and good riddance”. “Go Away”. “Take a hike”. “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out”. Yes, I could state a more terse way to tell 2020 goodbye but there may be youngsters taking a look at today’s post. It has BEEN A YEAR. Mystery, puzzlement, illness, sickness, despair and unfortunately death. So many people and businesses put into an unthinkable situation with severe protocols put in place to combat what seems like, to this day, a never-ending battle to confront and defeat an invisible airborne enemy.

On the bright side, due to the pandemic, my daughter and son-in-law escaped Brooklyn, New York and stayed in the Orlando area for many months. The benefit: I spent more time with my daughter in that six-month period than anytime from the day I took her to college in Washington, D.C. For fifteen years I only was able to see her a few times a year, so the six months, under the circumstances, was wonderful.

Thursday night is New Year’s Eve. We should all, with respect and relevance, celebrate that this year of 2020 is over. Do it, but please be safe. Whether you like Bono and U2, this performance of New Years Day, as we head into 2021, seems appropriate. This live version was performed almost 20 years ago at Slane Castle near Dublin, Ireland.

U2 performing New Year’s Day at Slane Castle near Dublin.

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This is post number 203. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to look at Just My Take. Whether good or bad, I always like your comments and appreciate your ‘take’. g

Adios, be safe, pay it forward, and may 2021 be a much more safe and positive time for all of us. Happy New Year!

Let’s Not Go There. Just Twelve. NORAD On Alert. We Are Only Human After All.

Locked Down. Not Asking For Much. Tracking Santa. We Can Only Do What We Can Do.

Everyone’s point of view is just that. As I stay a long way from anything politics, my take on the pandemic has just been to follow the data and science. I realize that some of us do not want to wear a face-covering or socially distance, as the post below reminds us that we are only human. My concern is the protocols put in place by Great Britain are severe and disheartening, especially considering XMAS is in five days. As many of us say “Do You” but don’t bitch and complain should we resort to these measures: If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must follow the rules below from Sunday 20 December. This means that you cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household. These rules will not be relaxed for Christmas. Do any of us want to deal with that type of mandate? In two words: Hell No.

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Ten Things I Hope For In The New Year

  • The vaccine’s efficacy to hold true.
  • For all of us to stop using politics and religion as ‘leverage’.
  • A happy and healthy granddaughter.
  • A tremendous amount of laughter – anywhere, anytime.
  • Strength and perseverance for all health care workers.
  • Music that makes us listen, smile and dance.
  • A military that is proud to protect the United States of America.
  • A stock market that continues to gain momentum.
  • A visit to the North Georgia mountains.
  • Peace, health and happiness for all.

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The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a United States and Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning for North America. Aerospace warning includes the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands. Since the tragic events of 9/11, NORAD has elevated their technology and ability to detect threats to the United States and Canada. Bunkered within Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, Colorado, the NORAD facility lies 2,000 feet under the mountain and can be sealed off by two giant blast doors made of concrete and steel, each 3½ feet thick and weighing 23 tons. General Glen VanHerck is the Commander of NORAD, and has recently stated in no uncertain way that one of the most important services and missions NORAD provides will continue this week, with COVID-19 protocols in place. The mission: since 1955, NORAD has tracked Santa on December 24, using “all available personnel and technology” to ensure that children around the world have a chance to see where Santa is in real time. In a press conference held last week, a question posed to General VanHerck challenged this week’s mission as a non-essential use of funds and personnel considering the issues with the pandemic. After a long stare down, General VanHerck told the journalist that he was “out of line and to stand down or be escorted out of the press conference.” There were no more questions for General VanHerck.

Children around the world will use NORAD’s Santa Tracker. Awesome.

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We are only human after all. A simple statement? A cliché? As this year closes out the natural reaction is to reflect on the uncertainty, the tragedy, and the grief that 2020 brought on all of us. We hear about ‘Covid fatigue’, fights in restaurants with people not wanting to wear face covers, businesses of all types in despair, and the tragic loss of family and friends. With all of that said, we move into year-end and 2021 with a good bit of hope and a good chance of some light at the end of the tunnel. It is not time to stop taking precaution but it is time to adapt to social distancing and face covers as best we can. Though we may not experience the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccines until mid-year 2021, all of us just need to remember that we are only human. British singer and song writer Rory Charles Graham, better known as Rag’n’Bone Man, never said it better:

We Are Only Human by Rag’N’Bone

Adios, pay it forward, stay safe, and Merry XMAS.

Local Spend. Maxine’s On Shine. Weather On the Ones. Launch It. Pancake Yum.

Non-Chain Support. An Eclectic Dining Experience. Temperature Perfect. Captain’s log, StarShip 12.10.2020. A Super Cool Cookbook.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The FDA and CDC approving the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use will hopefully, in a few months time, start to bring us to a better level of normalcy and the ability to socialize with a bit less stress. When you do decide to venture out with your family and friends, I implore you to spend wisely. I am not talking the amount of spend but simply where you decide to spend your money. Why am I so adamant? Take for example the restaurant devastation due to Covid-19: according to an October 2020 report from the National Restaurant Association, nearly 1 in 6 restaurants (representing nearly 100,000 restaurants) are closed either permanently or long-term; nearly 3 million people tied to this hospitality sector are still out of work.

With all due respect to anyone who owns or is employed by a ‘chain’ restaurant or store, I think it is very important to support the ‘local’. Whether it be the family-owned clothing store or restaurant, it is incredibly important that our spend be very focused to help get these small and local businesses and their employees reengaged. I for one feel like there is tremendous pent-up demand with people wanting to socialize and shop, and I am hoping that the majority of our spend stays with the small business entities. A good example is Amalfi, located in Roswell, Georgia. In my opinion, Chef Anna is the best Italian chef in Atlanta. The food, along with the always entertaining proprietor and staff, make Amalfi a must go-to in Atlanta.

Amalfi Ristorante
Amalfi in Roswell, Georgia. The proprietor, Salvatore with his two nephews, Francesco and Angelo.

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Regarding keeping it local, it is great to see how some (not enough) restaurants have not only survived the pandemic, but due to being smart, lucky, and creative have been able to transform and pivot their restaurants. One good example is the Orlando restaurant Maxine’s on Shine, where owners Maxine and Curt Earhart went into quick action to both protect their employees and customers and actually expand their capacity. These two are eclectic, a bit bohemian, and loved by their patrons. When you are in Orlando, and want a bit of a change-of-pace dining experience, I highly recommend Maxine’s. The video below shows off what they did with Maxine’s on Shine:

https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2020/08/10/restaurant-owners-take-socially-distanced-dining-to-a-new-level-in-orlando-florida

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Back in the summer, I mentioned way too often the uncomfortable (yes, I wrote Sub-Sahara Africa hot) weather in Central Florida with temperatures in the mid-90’s and the humidity above 80%. I often forget that Florida offers, between the months of November through April, incredibly great weather. The daily lows in the 50’s or 60’s and the highs in the mid-70’s are amazing and welcome after the long period of massive warmth. The ‘winter’ skies yield a sunrise with color and depth that is fantastic. Maybe the coast of Maine is a good place to go between May and October?

The magical sunrise of the Florida winter.

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I enjoy everything about the space program. My depth of understanding space flight is very limited, so could someone please chime in and explain to me how this is possible (realizing that I still don’t comprehend how an airplane takes off). This was the SpaceX ‘Starship’ launch, with its ability to hover, and vertical landing. It did explode on landing but don’t miss out on the reality of what this video shows:

“Meet George Jetson, his wife Jane……”.

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I have known Matthew Martin for over twenty years. As an associate he was the lead creative on a project we worked on for the Sears Tower in Chicago. Named ChicagoWorks, the $20M project included a $3.9M design fee. Matthew’s background yielded an incredible Sears Tower experiential experience that the owner, TrizecHahn, fell in love with. We were able to fulfill the design deliverables – but as Matthew was at the San Francisco International Airport, ready to board the flight to Chicago to present the final design and proposal, his flight along with millions of others was cancelled due to the tragic events of 9/11.

Almost twenty years later, Matthew and I reconnected as he also lives with his family in Orlando, Florida. His background and experience include stints at Disney and Universal in senior creative roles. His latest endeavor is a fantastic book, Every Dad Can Be THE PANCAKE KING, a super cool cookbook for dads and dudes. Here is an excerpt: A decade in the making, “Every Dad Can Be The Pancake King” is finally here! The pancake cookbook for dads and dudes that is part Mystery Science Theatre 2000, part Diners Drive-ins and Dives, part Best Damn Sports Show, part travelling architect’s sketchbook, and all Fun Father. This book helps dads connect with their kids, discover new things, and learn about cool places to go, all the while being a healthy, frugal, delicious, easy-for-guys recipe book on the art of making pancakes. An amazing gift to give your dads and dudes on Christmas. For those who have the guts to choose, I submit that every dad can be the pancake king. To see details go to www.thepancakekingdom.com .

Matthew showed me the book last Wednesday – incredibly different, educational and fun. In my opinion, a great holiday gift for all dads and dudes.

PCK - 8.5x11 Text-F7-.jpg
The cover of “Every Dad Can Be THE PANCAKE KING, by Matthew Martin.

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

Tethered At 100,000 Feet. Need A Vacation? The Work Week. Leo The Lion.

Up, Up And Away. Bat Sh-t Crazy. Increase Productivity By Going To Four Days? The Roar Of A Lion.

A post from the past mentioned this interesting idea which has now come to fruition. The company, Space Perspective, has officially joined the privatization of space exploration, enjoying an infusion of capital from NASA and other investors. Below you can see the massive balloon and the tether suspending the small capsule that handles a pilot and up to eight passengers. The six-hour roundtrip includes two hours hovering at 100,000 feet with the promise of incredible views of earth. Similar to a hotel or restaurant opening, I think I will wait awhile for the ‘break-in’ period before I book my flight. I volunteer S², who can bring the food; JP, who can bring the wine; CA, who can bring the smile; GW, who can bring the navigation (and beer): and LM, who can just bring it! These five would be a great test flight group. 🙂

This balloon-type space exploration vehicle will hover at 100,000 feet.

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THE HEADLINE OF 2020 from the Wuhan Convention & Visitors Bureau: “Let’s Meet in Wuhan”. Can you just imagine the conversation? “Honey, I’ve been thinking. After this long and tough year, we need a vacation. Once we get the vaccine, let’s to to Wuhan!” Good luck to the Wuhan tourism board with their new campaign to woo visitors to their city.

Let’s go to Wuhan!!

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My European friends and business associates always were bewildered by the amount of hours Americans worked and our lack of vacation time. I think things have changed a bit in some parts of Europe, where in years past many of my associates always took most of the month of August as ‘holiday’. With the ever-changing economic landscape along with the pandemic, many governments including Spain and New Zealand are considering a four-day work week with shorter work days. Their reasoning and thought process is to boost productivity and employment. I for one always considered a four-day work week problematic for many business sectors, but if anyone can pull it off it would be the Spaniards. Speaking of cutting back service, and knowing that the U.S. Postal Service is in deep financial trouble, would anyone object to your home mail service being cut back to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? I could care less if I don’t receive my mail on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. You?

8 charts about the USPS | Pew Research Center
Would a privatized postal service put up with this financial performance?

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We could all use some pointed and direct inspiration. These are some of my favorite military quotes:

  • “When I was a child, my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter, and wound up as Picasso.” -Pablo Picasso
  • “May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t” – General George S. Patton
  • “Go f**k yourself.” – General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, after being asked to be a German ambassador by Hitler.
  • Dec. 23, 1944 – “Battle of the Bulge” – An entire U.S. armored division was retreating from the Germans in the Ardennes forest when a sergeant in a tank destroyer spotted an American digging a foxhole. The GI, PFC Martin, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, looked up and asked, “Are you looking for a safe place?” “Yeah” answered the tanker. “Well, buddy,” he drawled, “just pull your vehicle behind me…I’m the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going.”
  • While interviewing an anonymous US Special Forces soldier on his sniper skills, a Reuters News agent asked the soldier what he felt when shooting members of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The soldier shrugged and replied, “Recoil.”
  • “If there is a god, he’ll have to beg for my forgiveness” – Written on the walls of a concentration camp by an anonymous victim of the Nazis.  
  • “If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you” – Genghis Khan
  • “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.” – Douglas MacArthur

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We have all seen the opening credits with MGM movie content, with the massive roar from the lion. They probably use SGI or some other magical software now but many years ago, little to my imagination, MGM actually brought a lion into one of their sound studios. Call me crazy but how did these two guys draw the wrong straw to 1) make the lion roar and 2) not get mauled?

Meet MGM’s Leo the Lion, who weighed in at 400+ pounds.

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I leave with a statement from my father, who only enjoyed my editorialization to a point: “Son, when you have made your point, STOP TALKING”.

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

Normalcy Optimism. Strong Relationships. Thanks.

What are you thankful for?

NOTE:  I want to thank a guest writer, G.W., for offering up his "Take" for this week's post. Very much appreciated.  

It would be hard to author MY take the Sunday after Thanksgiving without noting some.  I’m going to start with the strangest one.  I’m thankful for having had a mild case of the Covid virus because I was able to board a plane and fly to a different State.  I went to visit my 82-year-old Mom, my sisters and some extended family last week seemingly without much risk of infecting anyone.  I hadn’t seen them in almost a year.

I am thankful for Covid shutting down my local pubs for a little while because I gained an appreciation for and like of the taste of bourbon.  Not that I needed any further drinking habits or excuses for imbibing, but hey, that stuff is pretty good.  I hope you all got some new “thanks” during this Covid time.

Do relationships lead to happiness?  Or at least thankfulness?

Looking at that graph, I see relationships playing a major role in at least the following items:  #1 Family, #3 Friends, #4 Memories, #6 Fun experiences.  I’m sure if I wanted to be creative, I could put forth some arguments about relationships contributing to Stability, Opportunities, Achievements and Wealth.  Most of those things are hard to do by yourself.  Health and Personal freedom might be the only two that would be more of a stretch to tie to a relationship cause-effect.

I think I might link most of my thanks in life to the relationships that I have.  Family, friends, mentors, colleagues, teammates, customers.  My daughter got me started on the bourbon.  Those relationships bring me different perspectives, innovation, experience, enjoyment, history, partnerships.  The strength of those relationships is the differentiator between people who are close to me and a mere acquaintance.  The foundation of that strength was established through face-to-face interaction.

I feel bad for people whose primary relationship building is founded on digital interaction.  Sarcasm, body language, voice intonation, those little moments, sharing the physical environment are things you simply don’t experience in the digital world.  They miss out on so much.

How is a concert, sporting event, smile, shoulder shrug, scream, observation or sarcastic remark experienced with all the same potential impact on relationships in the digital world?  How do you share your thoughts on that particularly attractive person you see walking to get your hot dog at the soccer game in a digital world?  What do you learn about your friend based on their comments about the same view of a sunset or crazy behavior of your significant other?  Those experiences are difference makers that allow you to really understand someone.

Return to normalcy?

I am very optimistic that things will eventually return to normal travel, use of the hospitality industry and face-to-face interaction.  Maybe it will only be 95% the same, but I definitely don’t think it will be the dramatic change (<50%) some seem to predict for the manner in which people, businesses and family interact.

I don’t think I am an outlier in terms of being a social animal.  I believe humans are social animals and need that facetime.  Look at the failure rates of students in remote learning environments.  Sooner or later, the scientists, psychiatrists and counselors are going to say, “we need to get back to normal face-to-face interaction.” 

I believe the business world, if it remains capitalistic and competitive, will also drive a return to normal travel, office occupancy and face-to-face meetings.  The reason: strength of relationships creating a better product, sales environment or winning way.  Businesses all must innovate and close business to stay sustainable.  I have noticed a significant difference between the relationships I have developed in the last 8 months.  They are different, typically less developed, than the ones that were initiated only 12 months ago with an initial face-to-face meeting. 

Those relationships involve colleagues, customers and business partners.  I can’t even say that I have developed a new relationship with a non-business-oriented person since the world went almost 100% digital.  While we must deal with the world as it exists, I am convinced it is only some matter of time before we will return to normal.

Adios, be safe, it’s just MY take, pay it forward and have a Funday Sunday!!

Diego.

Unprecedented. Uncanny. Unbelievable.

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL of you.  Fortunately most of us had the opportunity to watch Diego Maradona play.  Many of us remember him for his ‘hand of God’ goal against England, but what I remember is the other goal, where he gathered the ball in his own half…..and you know the rest.

ESPN quickly put together this piece on him – if you have not seen this yet, it is very well done.  https://www.espn.com/watch/player?id=04a5feca-6aa0-4fb6-bb7f-757a8f4a1cbf

I have watched Diego’s warm up before the ’89 UEFA Semi many times…..and with his passing, I can’t think of a more appropriate send off.  Three days of mourning in Argentina and up to 1.5 million people expected to gather for his memorial.  Diego….was Diego.   

RIP Diego Maradona.

Adios. Enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend.

Retraction. Giving Thanks. Communication.

Moderna Advantage? It Has Been A Year – Let’s Be Thankful. Speak Your Words.

In last week’s post I mentioned the challenges with both vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna requiring deep-freeze refrigeration. Upon further review, I was was incorrect as the Moderna vaccine does not need to be kept at Antarctic-like temperatures. This is actually very good news for General Perna and Operation Warp Speed. My bad with the incorrect information.

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2020 – a year of challenges, uncertainty, heartbreak and despair. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it might be time to keep the glass half-full. I am thankful for many things and here is a list in no particular order.

  • For the first responders and healthcare workers – they are fearless and amazing.
  • For the season the Braves had, short as it was.
  • For the freedom to vote.
  • For the diminished campaign ads.
  • For my daughter and son-in-law.
  • For the technology such as Zoom that drives us crazy but allows us to spend time together.
  • For my baking skills (yes, I said it), though one of my friends has been quite critical that I can do better. Meh.
  • For the owners, staff, players, conferences, leagues, and media who during this very difficult time have pulled off live and televised sports.
  • For my friends who bring camaraderie, laughs and sometimes a good bottle of wine.
  • For the ocean and the mountains, both bringing a bit of serenity to this year of infamy.
  • For leaders like General Gustavo Perna, who has the weight of this country on his shoulders.
  • For the weather in Central Florida now being amazing.
  • For all of you, who read my blog, (this being #197), offer up suggestions, and comment whether you agree or disagree. Remember, it is “Just My Take”.

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Many posts ago, we had these young hip-hop artists, who are twins, reacting to hearing Phil Collins for the first time. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought we would all enjoy their reaction to listening to Bob Marley for the first time. Some of their comments are hilarious. “Is he from Jamaica?” These kids are great and I really do like how open they are to trying out artists and their music that they have no clue about. This is Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’:

These hip-hop artists obviously had no clue about Bob Marley.

Life lesson. Landon Donovan is probably the most decorated player ever to play with the United States Men’s National Team. He was a creative force in attack, arguably the greatest player ever to pull on a U.S. jersey, and a pivotal figure in the rise of the American game, both at home and on the global stage. Whether you follow soccer or not, his goal in the 2010 World Cup to advance the U.S. into the round of sixteen sent Americans watching at home and in bars into a wild frenzy. It is also recognized as one of the greatest broadcast calls ever, this one in Spanish by Andres Cantor:

Andres Cantor’s famous call of Landon Donovan’s 91st minute goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup.

Landon Donovan’s career has taken him to San Diego, where he just completed his first year as the manager of their professional team. Among many challenges including Covid-19, he states what we all know is obvious but often difficult to make happen: communication. As we deal with the issues relating to the pandemic and approach the holiday season, his message below definitely will resonate with most of us. His response to a question about his biggest hurdle with managing a professional soccer club for the first time:

I think that the biggest learning for me this year was that when I actually communicate, and I’m in the moment of communicating, I’m a very good communicator. What I didn’t do well this year was I wasn’t proactively communicative enough. I needed to take the initiative to talk to a player about something or speak to the staff about something. And that was the feedback I also got from our staff. So I needed to do a better job of just going and having conversations even when I didn’t think there was an issue there, being more aware and then going in and talking through it. And so that for me is probably the number one learning lesson”.

I think we could all agree that we can all do a better job with communicating.

Adios, be safe, pay it forward, and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!