Rise Up.

Random Thoughts As We Head Into Fall.

The Fall thankfully means both types of football, cooler weather, and unfortunately the slow demise of daylight savings time. In a time that is challenging for all of us, this time of year will provide a better outlook from a number of perspectives. While many are predicting another massive wave of Covid-19, the production and distribution of a vaccine will eventually stem the clear and present danger.

No one could have ever thought that the issues related to Covid-19 would remain in the pandemic stage into mid-September. I hope that someone with way more smarts than me can explain to all of us how the vaccine will be distributed worldwide. A supply chain quandary for sure. Take the time to read the article below – creating the amount of vaccine necessary to inoculate the world’s population is a monumental effort, but the distribution of the vaccine may be more problematic than we can ever imagine. I am staying positive that the Covid-19 vaccine will be fully developed and approved very soon but reading this article prompts many questions. https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/the-supply-chain-to-save-the-world-is-unprepared-for-a-vaccine .

Mr. Arthur Blank, who has provided the funding and governance of his two professional sports teams, deserves better. While many teams are using 2020 as a year to retrench and pivot, being marginal as a team in Atlanta, with its fickle fan base, has never been a positive path forward. Last night, at the stadium Mr. Blank built, his Atlanta United team lost to Inter Miami. Only one win in its last ten games for United and the Atlanta Falcons play at Dallas later today. Let’s hope the Falcons can somehow pull off a win at the stadium Jerry Jones built.

You have to feel for everyone affected by Hurricane Sally. Hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, loss of life, and the loss of homes and businesses. In the middle of a pandemic. The Red Cross does great work – all of us should consider donating a few dollars to help everyone out. Make a difference in the lives of people impacted by Hurricane Sally by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting the word HURRICANES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. http://redcross.org The situation in California with the devastating wildfires is different but certainly dire straits. Thousands of acres of land, forests, and personal property wiped out by what seems like the never-end fires – with thousands of first responders fighting every day to extinguish this disaster of massive proportion. https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2020/red-cross-response-to-western-wildfires.html

In my continuing effort to stop people from invading the space of wild animals, again we witness humans being humans. This western Massachusetts homestead was obviously built in bear country, minimizing the amount of forest black bears need to roam and hunt for food. The owner had the nerve to fall asleep at his backyard pool preventing this black bear from having a private swim. The bear, as polite as the come, lightly taps on the man’s foot hoping to wake him so he will go inside.

“Get out of my lounge chair”

Forget the political stance for one second. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put up a monumental fight against cancer but passed away on Friday at the age of 87. I like people, especially women, who fight for what they think is right, who are tough as nails, and of course have a great deal of sass. Justice Ginsburg was the definition of tough and backed down to no one. Though small in stature, she had a commanding presence and demanded respect. I really like her quotes at the end of this short video. RIP Justice Ginsburg.

Previous posts have mentioned the Fall and the north Georgia mountains. Whether a day trip or a nice long weekend, visit the town of Blue Ridge. Good hiking, a fun town, and plenty of great cabins to enjoy. https://www.atlantatrails.com/hiking-trails/north-georgia-hiking-trails-our-top-10-favorite-hikes/

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


Wait, What?

Fitness and nutrition information can be really puzzling. Hundreds of companies, some small and some getting very big, very fast, have latched onto the world of nutrition and fitness with programs, apps, diets, and meal programs. My son-in-law is with Noom, an award-winning weight-loss program designed by psychologists and scientifically proven to create real, sustainable results. Noom is growing fast, with a remarkable app that you can use to manage everything from food intake to daily fitness regimes. There are many more programs and apps, including Weight Watchers reinventing itself to become more relevant to different demographics.

Noom Coach
The Noom app has a tremendous amount of information.

While we have all the information at our fingertips, I am constantly reminded by fitness trainers, doctors, friends, and enemies that all things food are not equal. I heed all warnings about foods I eat, then ultimately get frustrated that everything I am eating is terrible for me, and usually succumb to a meal or three that really are not the best choices…..with a huge smile on my face. I can always rationalize that I have cut back on some things so usually I feel great about my nutrition (not).

I decided to do my own research on a number of things I have been told lately. In no particular order:

Eat more bananas, they are good for you. Reality: Although the sugars are natural, bananas will give a quick sugar boost, resulting in a crash around mid-morning. This will make you feel more tired and more hungry, and the banana will have done more harm than good. Take me for example. Very early in the morning, I was eating ‘healthy’ yogurt with blueberries, nuts, and a banana. What I did not realize is though the yogurt was relatively low in calories and carbohydrates, the sugar content (their are TWO lines of sugar on each container) was way too high. Blended with the very high sugar content in bananas and blueberries, I was eating almost twice the daily allowance of sugar before 8am. NOT good.

Drink more green smoothies, they are good for you. Same as above – you better watch the amount of sugar in the ingredients of that protein smoothie or shake. I guess you just go with spinach, carrots, almond milk, and just a few strawberries. Leave the honey, banana, and chocolate syrup alone.

Protein bars. This one haunts me to no end. I was a huge protein bar consumer, thinking of these as “nutritional” and healthy. Reality: Protein can be a great way to fuel muscle, but most protein bars are hardly health food. Between belly-bloating soy, sodium, artificial colors, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, most protein bars are potential saboteurs to your well-being. Those sugar-free or low-carb protein bars are no better. Research published in the Yale Journal of Medicine links the artificial sweeteners used to flavor many low-sugar foods to an increased risk for weight gain and sugar cravings.

Coconut water. I live in sub-Sahara Africa, also referred to as Orlando, Florida, so keeping hydrated is incredibly important when being outside at anytime of the day. Unless I am in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, a non-alligator lake, or pool, I am constantly trying to down as much fluid as possible. This includes coconut water, which I was told was incredibly good for you and helped with preventing dehydration. Then I find this: A single cup of coconut water packs 15 grams of sugar. While it’s better to sip on coconut water than other sugary drinks, many doctors agree that coconut water should be used in great moderation. So, back to full-time water consumption.

Margarine, not butter. I can hear a friend from Alpharetta, Georgia yelling at me from afar. For many years, I was told to use margarine, not butter. Reality: I won’t go into the finite details, but margarine is no bueno. Recommending trans fat-laden margarine instead of natural butter may be considered some of the worst nutrition advice in history. Parkay this.

Diets. Weight Watchers, Noom, South Beach, low carb, high fiber, Mediterranean, anti-inflammatory, intermittent fasting……talk about mixed messages, the list goes on and on.

I could go on forever. My regular doc, who is disturbingly quiet but a very serious physician, has relatively demanded that all patients follow an anti-inflammatory ‘diet’, purchasing “80% of food in the vegetable/fruit section” of the grocery store. He asked me to research the longevity of Asians as well as the people located in the Mediterranean regions to learn about their food habits and diet.

Per my physician’s suggestion, I searched for Mediterranean diets one night, feel asleep after the second sentence that referred to high fiber, kale, cabbage, squid, nuts, tzatziki sauce and sorbet, and woke up the next morning to a bowl of Captain Crunch and chocolate milk. Stay healthy my friends.

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

Let’s Go With Some Levity.

We Are Going To Keep It On the Lighter Side This Week.

Design, creativity, the arts, and especially music. The majority of my business life has been in the experiential marketing space. You can call it what you want, such as the world of branded or presence marketing, but in essence my existence in the business world has always relied on creativity. On the music side of things, I have explained that my late brother and neighborhood friends were my inspiration for the variety of music I enjoy. As I have mentioned, my brother’s menu of music was pre-hairband rock, but my neighborhood friends always listened to funk, soul, and Top 40. I remember my parents, much to my wonderment, attended the opera a few times as my father was a huge fan of Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. At one time or another I have heard these two perform and though my appreciation for their music is limited, I do recognize that they are amazing. So as I think back, and recognizing the talent of these two tenors, I wish I could have been in attendance to listen to someone I really enjoyed, The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Talking about an amazing performance….I have no idea what type of talent you must have to pull this off:

The Queen of Soul…..in the right place at the right time.

I have pointed out my disdain for people who do not respect wild animals and feel it is their right to get into the animal’s space or surroundings. I have posted about people taking photos too close to wild animals, but this video made my day. Just two brothers from Karachi taking a car ride. Some of the comments on the video below are priceless:

  1. “The day you stop uploading…we know why.”
  2. “Imagine some thief trying to rob their house.”
  3. “Bet they do not have to lock their doors at night.”
  4. “Uber stepping up their security I see.”
When you don’t want dogs anymore 😂

The “17’s” are upset. The “17’s”, the supporters of Atlanta United, have torched social media channels voicing their displeasure with the manager and the players. My say: while frustrating and sometimes a bit difficult to watch, you would have to be short sighted to think that with the roster changes, the move to an interim manager, and Josef Martinez’s season-ending injury, the team could duplicate 2018 and 2019. Does Atlanta miss Parkhurst, Nagbe, Meram, Gressel, Villalba and Pirez? Yes, absolutely but the sale of Pity Martinez and the pending sale of Ezequiel Barco opens up an opportunity for the team to pickup a dynamic and dominate attacking midfielder. It will happen and the results will slowly start to get people smiling again. Last night’s comeback against Orlando – hopefully a good sign for Atlanta United.

Chadwick Boseman passed away after a long fight with colon cancer. Best known for his starring role in Black Panther, his long list of roles in some very good movies is amazing. By chance, I had the fun opportunity to watch him in the biopic Get Up, a very good look at the life of James Brown. Boseman was fantastic and also showed his tremendous talent with leading roles in 42 and Thurgood. RIP Chadwick Boseman.

Chadwick Boseman portraying James Brown.

Best “to the point” headline I have read since the start of Covid-19: I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE.

Labor Day is tomorrow. Celebrated on the first Monday of September, Labor Day is designated to pay tribute to the achievements of American workers. Of all years to recognize Labor Day, it would be the world of the strange 2020. A special tribute to all healthcare workers and first responders. Please everyone, fly your flag.

Flag of the United States of America | Britannica

Adios, pay it forward, be safe and have a great Labor Day weekend.


Step Forward, Rise Up, Always Remember.

I started this blog four years ago – a challenge for me to 1) create a website and 2) write a blog on top of mind things I think….without the inference of politics or religion. This is the 185th post which has a focus of inspiration and remembrance. Whether good, bad, or ugly I really do appreciate everyone’s support and comments.

I always look for inspiration through the business world or sports. This take may be a bit bias due to my Miami roots, but this story about Eddie Alvarez is all about inspiration. A kid growing up in Miami, the son of Cuban immigrants, who as a young boy put on inline skating shows on the sidewalks of Ocean Drive. As he states, a random woman approached his parents and suggested that Eddie use his inline skating abilities on the ice as a speed skater. Much to the chagrin of his older brother, a youth league baseball star who went on to play professional baseball, Eddie pursued speed skating and put baseball on hold. The cliff notes: Eddie, the kid from Miami, went on to win a silver medal in speed skating at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games….and then, at the ripe old age of 30, was called up to the major leagues and made his first start with the Miami Marlins a few weeks ago. A kid from Miami, who turns inline skating into speed skating, and after earning an Olympic medal, rekindles his passion for baseball to the extent that he makes the major leagues. Don’t tell me you “can’t do it”. Note: the full segment about Eddie Alvarez can be seen on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Eddie Alvarez – from Olympic medalist to major league baseball player.

I have heard many motivational speakers. Some were renowned for their spit and fire, some followed the path of speaking in “business tongue” to the point of ad nauseam. Don’t get me wrong, ALL OF US need motivation. All of us need to be inspired. For me, this 3-minute video says more to me than the majority of speakers I have heard combined. Remember, it is just my take.

A lot said in three minutes………

Do not fret Tom, Ben, Doug, Brendan, Mark, Mario, Dave, Guy, Aaron and all the rest of my golf buddies. In our minds, we are all excellent golfers who strike the ball well and are excellent around the green. We have perfect swings, tremendous poise, and manage the course so very well. We rarely lose our tempers, are so cordial to each other, and never get easily distracted. So don’t let the video below influence your decision to just give up the most frustrating sport on earth. Don’t.

There is no telling what the heck I was doing at four years old.

Leslie and I knew each other for a long time. Though mutual friends and the tennis club were our only common threads, we always got along well, shared great stories and had many laughs. I did not laugh when she showed up thirty minutes late for a Saturday morning mixed doubles match, on a hot June morning, without water, a towel, or her tennis racket, but that is who Leslie was and she was proud of it. Fun-loving, genuine, and so sweet we admiringly called her ‘sweet tea’. Sadly, Covid-19 took her life after a six-week battle. She was something else in many great ways. RIP Leslie Bryant.

Leslie’s smile said it all.

The cause and effect of Covid-19 really hits home when you lose a family member or friend. Leslie put up a tough fight and battled to beat this virus – which makes the quote below more than relevant:

“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” Sir Anthony Hopkins

Adios, pay if forward, be safe and always remember.

The Future of Sports Journalism?

We discover every day how the onslaught of Covid-19 has created the new “not normal”. Almost all business entities and professions have had to alter the way they provide goods and services. Last week a guest was nice enough to offer up his perspective on issues with the pandemic and college football. This week I am thankful that Doug stepped up to provide an insightful perspective with his profession and how the pandemic has changed the way he works. While I we be back with my random takes next week, I do think it is important to understand the challenges we all face until a vaccine is in play.

Hi, my name is Doug Roberson. I’ve known Gary for a long time. He and my dad played soccer together in Atlanta. Little did either of us know then, but 30-plus years later he would graciously host me a few times at his wonderful condo in downtown Orlando when I was in town for business.

I am a sports journalist. I cover Atlanta United. I’ve traveled everywhere from Costa Rica to Vancouver to Montreal. Because of COVID-19, I’m not sure if I’ll ever travel again. It’s not because of the risk of catching the virus. It’s because of the sea-change that COVID-19 has brought to my segment of news gathering and reporting.

Instead of face-to-face interviews before or after training sessions and games, we talk by Zoom. Instead of watching games in person, I watch them from our living room in Carrollton, Ga. on our 70-inch TV. It’s a very odd experience. I have always been proud of the paper’s ethical and financial decision to have boots on the ground when we cover teams. It’s expensive but hopefully the coverage merits the expenditure. Before COVID-19, I was one of perhaps no more than five Major League Soccer reporters in the entire country who traveled and covered games home and away. I joke I’ve watched more games live than any other Atlanta United employee. When you are at venues live, you typically are able to provide better coverage. You can see things that the TV cameras aren’t focusing on. You can ask a player something as they are leaving or standing around that won’t be possible through a single-lens medium. I don’t know if we will get that chance any more.

Some professional teams and colleges value media coverage. Some used to, grew frustrated and don’t. Some never have and never will. I can easily see owners of professional teams or college athletic directors taking a look at their stadiums and asking themselves, “Why do we need that press box when everything can be done by Zoom? Let’s turn that valuable space into suites and make some money.” If I were an owner or athletic director, I know I would consider the possibility of at least shrinking the size of my press areas. If I were a sports editor or publisher, particularly at a smaller paper, I know I would at least consider asking if Zoom is the future.

I hope that a vaccine is soon developed and that we can all return to what our lives were six months ago. I do miss the travel. I miss exploring. I miss meeting new people in press boxes. I miss trying new food at different restaurants and seeing cathedrals. The driving back and forth to the training center and airport…I don’t miss that but would give anything to do it again.

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

Top Of Mind For Mid-August.

Another Labor Movement? Let Us Never Forget. Real Music. Transparency with VAR. Departing The City. A Day In The Park.

I am a huge fan of college football. Saturday afternoon and night games, especially involving the SEC, ACC, and Big 10 schools, have for a long time been an important part of weekends between September and December. The following take on the college football season was written by a subject matter expert, a friend who was the CEO of a major college alumni association and has held executive positions in the sports and entertainment spaces. His take sheds a bright (or dim) light on reality:

Is the issue with playing College Football the Virus? Liability? Labor?
As we have all seen over the last few weeks, college football has continued to march towards a spring season or no season. Some say this is political, others believe it is due to the lack of adequate testing for players and coaches but really this is a classic labor issue. Management (college presidents, conferences & athletic directors) and Labor (players) have an issue. 
Like all good labor issues in our countr
y’s history, there comes a point in time where Labor feels like they have the leverage and that time is now. Covid and the desire to feel normalcy through college football are the leverage. Management continues to say  “Not so fast….let’s slow down and figure this out” while Labor is #wewanttoplay pushing for a season and a platform to unionize. 
This is an uncomfortable truth in business of college athletics where athletic departments make tens of millions of dollars on a football program, head coaches make millions, offensive coordinators make millions and strength coaches make millions all while student athletes earn a degree. Higher educations warped capitalism is prime for a labor movement. 
Let’s hope I am wrong….because if I am right there will not be any college football in 2020.

In light of Beirut’s massive ‘man-made’ explosion discussed in last week’s post, I bring you back to the reality of 1954 in post-war Japan. The director of the first Godzilla movie tells the world: “As long as nuclear weapons or nuclear power exists, Godzilla will never not be relevant. Godzilla reminds us that we have the terrible power to create our own monsters and contribute to our own destruction.” In previous posts I have written about my admiration for Godzilla – and will never broach the subject of politics with this massive creature. Godzilla, as I have now learned, was created by the Japanese after the devastation incurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the hands of atomic bombs dropped by the United States in August of 1945. Godzilla’s first movie shows a scarred monster, angry to the core from the effects of radiation, wreaking havoc and genuinely not happy. Godzilla remains my favorite, even more than the beloved King Kong, due to His (or Her) passion to do the right thing. Don’t even go with the King Kong comparison; there is no comparison. My point: whether it is radiation or the combination of fire and ammonia nitrate, the pure devastation due to negligence at the hands of fellow humans must not be forgotten. Could negligence similar to the Beirut explosion happen in other parts of the word? Absolutely. Note: the United States made the decision to attack Japan with atomic bombs in response to the devastating attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. Let’s never forget the dates of December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001, along with August 4, 2020.

A general view shows the damage at the site of Tuesday’s blast in Beirut’s port area, Lebanon, Aug. 5, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Devastation in Beirut, Lebanon from the ignition of 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate that exploded on August 4, 2020.

On the lighter side, a video I watched last week reminded me of an Uber ride with a young driver who thought his music playlist was in his words “ratchet”, which in rap or hip-hop slang refers to off-the-hook or crazy (yes, I had to Google ratchet). This young man was polished, polite, and very smart. I asked him about old R&B, funk, and soul music, which I was a huge follower of in my earlier years unless I was in my room with my brother, who played the Woodstock album as loud as possible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The kid said his dad played some of that music but he never bothered to listen. Knowing we had plenty of time to my destination, and noticing he was using Spotify in his car, I asked him to play the Brothers Johnson song “Stomp”. His reaction was classic and to my horror he began dancing while driving. He proceeded to ask me many questions about The Brothers Johnson and their music. A funny experience and at the same time satisfying that I had introduced this great kid to music that I am not sure will ever be replicated.

The song ‘Stomp’ by the Brothers Johnson

Below is the video that reminded me of that infamous Uber ride. These young men host a YouTube channel where they listen, for the first time, to various artists and their top songs. Watch the reaction from these very talented and successful young men, who obviously had no idea of Phil Collins and his ability to sing while playing drums.

Kudos to Major League Soccer and their broadcast partners for pulling off a successful restart tournament at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex outside of Orlando, Florida. One of my takeaways was the bold step the league took with providing viewers with live video and sound when the referee was consulting with the video assistant referee (VAR) on a crucial call. Will this innovation spill over to other sports? It should.

We find ourselves in the middle of August. There remains the disparities of information coming from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and government authorities. Grade schools, colleges and universities continue to struggle with opening their campuses and keeping their students, faculty and staff safe. Some businesses remain closed, and many have closed their doors for good. Both businesses and families have left large metropolitan areas (for example New York City and Los Angeles) and are relocating to small towns across the United States. The areas of the Hudson Valley, north of New York City and Ojai, California have seen unprecedented growth – people getting away from large metropolitan areas. The reality and good news is obvious: real estate investors will jump on the opportunity to lease or buy office buildings in these large cities as values decrease. There will eventually be a swift migration back into cities once a vaccine is available to control Covid-19 and other pathogens. Testing will become less problematic, especially considering the Food & Drug Administration just approved a quick saliva test that will yield a positive or negative result in a matter of minutes (the National Basketball Association who is using these types of tests daily with their players and staff in their restart of the season). Yes, we have developed ‘virus fatigue’ but after way too many months there is some good news coming. Hang in there, live your life, but be cautious and safe.

As I posted a few weeks ago, I remain amazed with people thinking that wild animals will not be wild. Another person was attacked last week by a bison when they figured it was okay to get right next to a calf to take pictures. The outcome for this woman – she remains in critical condition in a South Dakota hospital. Why people figure that it is normal to get into a wild animal’s space is beyond my wildest thoughts. Then again, I can be proven wrong. Just another day at the park with a fun picnic and a large black bear. Really?

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

Beirut – What Could Have Been.

It Is Not So Simple.

The country of Lebanon and the city of Beirut. From many aspects the former and current Beirut has been an enigma, with it’s myriad of socio-economic and geopolitical strengths and weakness. Before their civil war that lasted almost fifteen years and in theory ended in 1989, Beirut had a thriving economy bolstered by natural gas reserves, banking, tourism, and fashion. From colony to couture, no other Middle Eastern city had proved itself to be a hub of art and fashion quite like Beirut. The fusion of East and West, of tradition and modernity, earned the Lebanese capital the nickname: The Paris of the Middle East. The name Paris resonates within the city of Beirut not just for its cultural vibe, but also for the remnants of its status as a French colony during the Second World War. The cultural revolution remained strong until the start of their civil war, a war that changed Lebanon forever.

I asked a close friend of mine, who was born and raised in Beirut, to provide his feelings about his country and what it could have been. In light of last week’s massive explosion at the port of Beirut, the city and its country will have a very tough time recovering. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Beirut, especially my friend’s family. This has not been edited:

Imagine ….. Beirut. Paris of the Middle East and the Cote D’Azure of the Orient. This is what Beirut used to be called in its golden days.

Imagine if the war never happened, how would Beirut be?

Would we still call her “Paris”? Would we still have the old shopping district or ‘Souks’? Would the St. Georges hotel, with its amazing bar, the stumping ground of every spy agency in the world, still be there? Would the American University of Beirut have remained the Mecca of the Arab elite? Would the Beirut Sea Boulevard or “Corniche” have remained unspoiled? Would the Lebanese banking sector have remained the growth engine of the Middle East? Would the Lebanese press have remained the only free press of the Middle East? Would the Lebanese Medical sector and Hospitals have remained the envy of the Middle East? Would Pigeon Rock have remained the big prize of every dare devil diver in the Middle East? Would we possibly have another Lebanese Miss Universe? 

I left Beirut in 1990, just when the war was ending. I left it in ruins, I left it bleeding with no hope. For many years I imagined that one day I will go back, pretend that war never happened, that Beirut was never destroyed, that the Lebanese people are still living in peace, most of them deserve that.

Beirut was destroyed again this week.

A view of Pigeon Rock from Sea Boulevard
The Sea Boulevard
The American University in Beirut
The famous St. Georges Hotel in the old days. Pre-war.
Lebanon’s Georgina Rizk – Miss Universe 1971

Thank you to my friend for your heart-felt perspective on your hometown. I could follow this with my usual banter and takes, but that would be inappropriate after reading about the city of Beirut and the country of Lebanon.

I will wish all of you a safe and healthy week. Adios.

3-2-1 LIFT OFF. Sharks. Virtual fans. Mother Nature.

I was lucky enough to recruit a guest-writer for today’s post. Thank you and appreciate your take!!

Today is National Friendship Day, so I’m accepting a friendly challenge to hijack the blog.  It happens to also be National Coloring Book Day, so in the spirit of staying inside the lines, I’ll try to honor them as well (no politics and no religion).  **Deep breath** Here goes…

What’s happening in soccer? Not a clue. You’re welcome. 😉

Mars 2020/Perseverance: At a price tag of $2 billion, Perseverance’s estimated time of arrival on Mars is February 2021.  And I thought Atlanta commute times were brutal.  On Thursday, Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover successfully left land, on its way to Mars, in a ferocious blaze of fire and fury.  Absolutely awesome to watch, even on TV (#bucketlist to see in person). 

Mars is dry and very cold.  As a matter of fact, almost all water on Mars actually exists in the form of ice.  Ironically though, Perseverance is going to land on a lake; a lake believed to have been created 3.5 billion years ago.  So, could Mars at one time have sustained life?  We shall see.  Looking for “biosignatures” will tell us more, so the mission will hopefully collect rocks and soil to help tell that story.  Also cool is that we will hopefully be able to hear what Mars sounds like.  Maybe coolest of all is MOXIE; an experimental device that will ideally convert Mars’ carbon dioxide into oxygen, thus paving the way for human exploration!  Beam me up, 2020 kinda sucks.

NASA’s helicopter that will hover over Mars’ surface.

Fins, Fins Everywhere: It’s beach and shark season.  But remember, shark attacks are rare and almost never deadly.  1 in 11.5M; your odds of getting attacked by a shark, and that is 11.5M beach-go’ers.  Odds are significantly higher of being killed by one.  In general, sharks do not eat people; they prefer marine life.  So if you find yourself in an uncomfortable spot with a shark, just don’t panic.  In all seriousness, you’ll appear to be defenseless and injured – therefore an easy source of food for them.  We kill more sharks than they do us.  I’m not #TeamShark, but just saying, it’s OK to go back into the water.  But not past your ankles. 

So Good You'll Scream: Shark Week Starts Sunday, July 28! - YouTube
Discovery Channel’s Shark Week starts August 9th.

Virtual fans:  I just don’t know about these.  Why?  And why just the heads?  And why no face masks on these heads?  I digress.  I do miss sports though.  And while I love tennis, I rarely ever watch women’s tennis; especially women’s doubles – snooze fest.  A few weekends ago, I found myself watching women’s tennis.  Doubles.  With people I have never even heard of.  ALL. DAY. LONG.  I really do miss sports.

The NBA restart has actual fans who are being projected as if they’re in virtual seats that are “court-side.”

Mother Nature is very curious.  Few know the answer to this.  What famous North American landmark is consistently moving backwards?  Wait for it….  The answer is Niagara Falls, the 2nd largest waterfall in the world.  Thanks to rock erosion from the rapidly flowing water (3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second), it moves backwards about 3 feet annually.  But don’t cancel future plans just yet.  It will be around for at least 23,000 more years.  Whew!

The power of Niagara Falls

Happy trails!

Going Sports.

The ABA. Monster Of A Man. Diminishing Returns. 162 & 9 Does Not Make Sense. The Great Peter Green.

I have made an attempt to not focus on sports – websites are already saturated with sports information and blogs from many great journalists. With that said, I am going sports this week and my take on things that are top-of-mind.

As the National Basketball Association (NBA) gets ready to resume their season in the “bubble” at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, I reflected back to basketball and how much I enjoyed the sport. As much as soccer has been a part of my life from many different aspects, professional basketball has always been of high interest. Raised in Miami, there was not a local NBA team to follow in those days, so as a kid I became a NY Knicks fan. Fortunately, the American Basketball Association (ABA) started up and put a franchise in Miami. My father took my brother and I to many games, some of them played in a former aircraft hanger that was named Dinner Key Auditorium. The Miami team was only around for a few years and if I remember correctly they were not very good. With that said, I watched Donnie Freeman and Mack Calvin, two guards for the Miami Floridians, handle the ball and basically run the team on the court. What I did not realize at the time was that visiting teams playing in ABA included, in my opinion, a few of the greatest stars ever to play the game. Julius Erving (Dr. J), Connie Hawkins, Spencer Haywood, Moses Malone, and George Gervin all eventually moved to the NBA and went on to have incredible careers. I still hear people talk about how bad the ABA was but what they don’t remember is the number of superstars who came out of that league and helped make the NBA what it is today. I am hoping that the NBA has a great restart in the “bubble”, similar to the success that Major League Soccer is enjoying with their restart. Great memories.

Go the the 1:20 mark – Dr. J dunking from the foul line in the ABA slam dunk contest

Speaking of professional basketball and reflecting back to the earlier days of the NBA, I often compare the great players in the league now to years past. Of course Lebron James and Michael Jordan represent the amazing physicality of many NBA players, but my all-time favorite was Wilt Chamberlain. Some sports fans know that Wilt once scored 100 points in a game, but his lifetime statistics, including overall minutes played, are remarkable. I enjoyed watching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wes Unseld, Bill Russell, and Shaquille O’Neal play the center position, but as a kid I was amazed at Wilt’s ability to completely dominate a game. He has been called the strongest player ever to run the court, and it has been documented that he once bench-pressed 500 pounds. Here are a few items of note surrounding the career of Wilt Chamberlain and his NBA records that my never be broken:

  1. Points scored in one game 100
  2. Points per game in a season 50.4
  3. Career 60-point games 32
  4. Rebounds in a game 55
  5. Career rebounds per game 22.9
  6. Career minutes per game 45.8

With all due respect to the greatest of NBA players, pound-for-pound I will take Wilt Chamberlain as my GOAT (with all due respect to MJ and Lebron).

Wilt Chamberlain – the most dominant center ever to play basketball – IMO

I am not happy about it but I am not surprised at Atlanta United’s rough start to the already strange year of 2020. Three straight losses in the Major League Soccer restart tournament, along with the loss to Club America in the CONCACAF Champions League, have the team’s fan base (called the “17’s”) in an uproar. To be clear, I am disappointed with the results, the inability to score goals, and what seems to be a lack of tactical awareness and on-field leadership. Websites and social media called for the manager, Frank de Boer, to be fired and I agreed. Yes, I wish de Boer had come to Atlanta United with a few more years of managerial experience, and maybe a bit more personality from the sideline, but like all of us, his makeup comes from his DNA and upbringing. On Friday, Atlanta United ended their contract with Frank de Boer and most likely will use an interim manager to get through the rest of this season – if indeed the season continues. To all the “17’s” – would you want to be accountable for performance with a team that in one year lost Michael Parkhurst, Tito Villalba, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Darlington Nagbe, Justin Meram, Julian Gressel and Josef Martinez? The on-field leadership from Parkhurst and LGP; the high-energy performance standard set by Gressel and Tito; and the tremendous midfield ingenuity from Nagbe are difficult to replace and it is obvious that there is a gap to fill with these players now gone. Then there is Josef Martinez, who contributes most of the goal-scoring for United, going down with a knee injury. All I am really saying is that managing Atlanta United with the loss of these players is very tough, but at the professional level, the manager is paid to utilize his players to get results. Atlanta United’s ethos and brand promise has diminished and de Boer did not help with his communication, lack of tactical flexibility, and his general demeanor. Kudos to Atlanta United’s front office who made a tough decision but the right one. The good news: it is early on in the season, Jurgen Damm joins the team next week, and there are hints that the league will continue with regular season games on August 22nd.

Speaking of performance, Atlanta United’s rival Orlando City Soccer Club has done some magic with their coaching staff, front office, and player pool. It is very interesting to see and compare the season-over-season dynamics with Orlando City and Atlanta United. Orlando City has been invigorated and their fan base is loving it. While Atlanta United crashed out of the MLS restart tournament with three straight losses, Orlando City’s win last night puts them in the quarterfinals. A Harvard business case study on how to pivot performance.

Orlando City’s stadium is a short walk from downtown Orlando

Major League Baseball – good luck with your restart. Cutting down the number of games for this season is a blessing – now if you can only cut down the number of innings from nine to seven. Yes, I realize reducing the number of games and innings cuts into ad and sponsor revenue but let’s be real about the fortitude of a 162 game season in 2021 and beyond.

Outside of the world of sports, we lost one of the best blues guitarists of all time. He co-founded Fleetwood Mac and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. RIP Peter Green.

Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac fame

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a nice Sunday.

I’ll Take A Go At It.

Virus Mitigation.

I have discussed what I call the ‘virus fatigue syndrome’ from reading and learning information that is inconsistent from epidemiologists, virus czars, the World Health Organization and The Centers for Disease Control. It really irks me that in mid-July we are still not sure of the real cause of this coronavirus (Covid-19), the exact transmission faculties, whether antibodies developed after contracting the virus remain substantial, and whether or not you can contract the virus more than once. I know people 10x more intelligent than I am (which, by the way, is not difficult) are working hard on the cause and effect, but it is apparent that there is no short endgame in sight with Covid-19. Therefore, it is time for me to put up or shut up so I will start with four top-of-mind issues. My recommendations have nothing to do with politics, bipartisan wannabees, or anything to do with socio-economics.

  1. Everyone must immediately wear a face cover anytime they are not in their place of residence. Don’t make it a rule, or a suggestion, make it a state law. I don’t give a damn about politics, about a November election, what you look like with a face cover, the fact that you may have to adjust it more than you want to, that the face cover messes up your makeup (yes, wear a lot of makeup during a pandemic), and how it affects your self esteem. If you have self esteem issues wearing a face cover, read Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Yes, read the the damn book – it basically spells out the importance of food and shelter. What the hell do you need more than that during a pandemic? If you are ticketed by police officers for not wearing a face cover outside of your residence, you are fined $500.00 which will immediately be donated to causes helping first responders and the healthcare workers trying to keep all of us alive. If you are caught not wearing your face cover a second time, it is another $500.00 fine and you lose your driver’s license for a period of six months. That way, you can stay home, sulk, and NOT HAVE TO WEAR YOUR FACE COVERING. The face covering is no different that any other clothing article. Get over yourselves and your so-called rights and wear a face covering. Look at the science and the data – you don’t have to be smart to figure out the correlation. Again, my recommendation has zero to do with race, creed, religion, or political alignment. This is about the welfare of our country, our businesses, and our families.
  2. No public gatherings, for any reason, until January of 2021. No pool parties, no clubbing, no street tweaking, nothing that puts more than ten people in any one area. Restaurant owners, I support you but until year-end, your interior space allotment is 50% of capacity. That means 50% of your maximum capacity at any one time. Figure out and learn how to drive ‘more turns’ in your restaurant, so instead of one turn, you market hard to drive customers to your restaurant early and later and possibly create demand for a second turn. So instead of one turn of 100 customers, you create 2 turns of 50 customers and you try to stay ahead of your revenue plan. Bars will now have 50% capacity and no more than two bar stools together at ANY time. No standing at a bar with a drink. You sit at one of the two seats that are together or go somewhere else. Sporting venues: attendance is cut to 40% of capacity and no more than four seats together. 40% of an 18,000 seat arena or a 70,000 seat stadium is better than zero. The same 40% of capacity goes for maximum capacity at theaters, trade show venues, and concert halls….40% at any one time.
  3. Schools will go to a four-day ‘hybrid’ week. Students will be split in half with 50% attending on Monday and Wednesday and the other half attending on Tuesday and Thursday. Virtual lessons and homework will be completed by students on the two days they do not attend school. Students, teachers and staff will now receive a three-day weekend allowing time for recovery, planning, and spending time with their families. Face coverings for all are mandatory and forty-five minutes of the school day is dedicated to a low level of recreation. Lunch rooms will have box lunches if students do not bring their lunch. No cafeteria lines, no picking and choosing of food. Parents: again refer to Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs. Mitigate the risk and keep our children safe and educated.
  4. Get off your home office desk chair or your couch and donate blood. It is simple, it is quick, and blood banks around the country are in desperate need for blood. I donated for the third time in the last three months on Wednesday of last week. I made my appointment online, arrived at 11:25am, and left the OneBlood facility at 12:30pm. Unless you are not feeling well or have another healthcare issue that prevents you from donating, get online and make your appointment. The donation organizations appreciate your donation and some of them provide you with antibody, cholesterol, and blood pressure results. Just get it done – it’s simple.

I realize that my recommendations are easier said than done but the famous cliche “doing the same thing over and over again without a result is insanity” has never been so relevant. I am not asking for martial law and I certainly understand the plight of the small business owner or people who have lost their jobs due to businesses having to basically stop doing business. I am asking for all of us to get serious, very serious, with stopping the spread of Covid-19. We cannot due March and April again. We cannot shut down this country again. We just can’t. That is my ‘go at it’….what’s yours?

Adios, be safe, pay it forward, and have a nice Sunday.