Celebrate Your Mom. A Rocket’s Red Glare. Swim Strong, Swim Fast. Answers Please.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Yes, many of us live away from our mom, have had a contentious relationship with her, or our mom has passed on. With that said, whether your mom is still with us or not, don’t miss the opportunity to show your respect and appreciation for every mom. Mother’s Day became an official U.S. holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a day of “public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” Not all of us can gather to celebrate Mother’s Day, but at the very least, no matter the situation, call your mom and show your respect and appreciation. Just do it.
I will try to keep this on the light side – but there is nothing ‘light’ about a 21-ton rocket on a collision course with earth. It is apparent that the Chinese miscalculated, with their latest rocket, at 100-feet long and traveling at 17,000 m.p.h., making an uncontrollable re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. There are several possible places where debris that survives re-entry could crash down. Among them are New York, Madrid and Beijing in the Northern Hemisphere and southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand, in the Southern Hemisphere. The re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere is scheduled for anytime between tonight and noon tomorrow. Here is to hoping it crashes in the middle of an ocean. A side note: the Chinese are planning on ten additional rocket launches between now and the middle of 2022. Perfect.
As we head into May and warm coastal temperatures, we all look forward to heading to the beach and enjoying the ocean water. Just a reminder that these waters are in no way governed by us, but by the creatures who have owned the seas for thousands of years. Regarding sharks, there has always been the myth of staying out of the water at dusk, but as you can see in this video, shot with a drone near Malibu, California, the presence of sharks and the time of day have no relevance. Happy surfing!
Any thoughts on Elon Musk hosting tonight’s Saturday Night Live?
Regarding Covid-19 and the vaccines, is herd immunity important to you?
Is it too soon to open stadiums and arenas to 100% capacity?
What sentence does the judge hand down to Derek Chauvin?
Is Jonathan Bauer the hero of 2021 to date? (Google to find out more).
I did not, but did you buy copper futures weeks ago? I hope so.
Will the unemployed return to the workforce once their increased benefits stop?
How did a 6th-grader have access to a handgun?
If you work from an office, are you looking forward to not working from home?
What are you doing for your mom or someone’s mom tomorrow?
Adios, pay it forward, stay safe, and Happy Mother’s Day!
Is anyone wondering how public and private entities are going to handle people who have and have not been vaccinated? I see all types of issues bubbling up.
What caused the very sad and alarming Covid-19 situation in India?
Other than a friend of mine who scrolls the Entertainment News ticker across his laptop screen, is anyone interested in Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriquez?
Ingress and egress. Two words never more important than Thursday night in northern Israel. Shame on the authorities who permitted this “festival.”
Orlando City – last night was a really nice night in a great stadium, and a great game at that. Orlando City scored 30 seconds into the game and never let up.
In my never-ending battle to understand lift, can someone please explain:
SpaceX is creating a crowd. Last Thursday’s launch from Kennedy Space Center marked the company’s 27th Starlink mission, which so far has deployed over 1,500 satellites into space. Strangely enough, Elon Musk is scheduled to host the next Saturday Night Live – no, not kidding.
Speaking of space, NASA’s ARTEMIS-1 mission is scheduled for early November. A huge step was the delivery of the Core Stage 1 booster rocket from the Huntsville, Alabama space exploration facility to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This early November launch will set the stage for the manned Artemis-3 mission, which will land on the moon in 2024.
Speaking of taking a ride, the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal Studios is set to open in early June. Some friends of mine who work at Universal have told me this experience will be “fantastic.” I guess “fantastic” is the operative word. Details:
Top Speed: 70 mph in 2.4 seconds.
360° barrel roll over a lagoon.
100’ first of its kind inverted stall (what the hell is an “inverted stall?”)
155’ top hat with 80° drop.
12 total seconds of airtime (I did not bother to ask what “airtime” really means?).
An Early Season Take – Atlanta United.
After last Tuesday night’s CONCACAF Champions League loss to Philadelphia, I heard from many friends asking for my thoughts, etc. Below is what I posted on Wednesday morning. Note: Atlanta United lost last night to New England and both Jurgen Damm and Ezequiel Barco left the game with hamstring injuries.
From an Atlanta United perspective, 50% of something is better than 0% of nothing. For the first 45 minutes, other than one of two big miscommunications that led to Philadelphia’s first goal, which was completely against the run of play, the Five Stripes looked very good. So good in fact, we did not get too upset with the lack of finishing passes or finishing in that first half. “Not too upset” other than that famous cliché “you get punished for not taking your chances.”
The amount of pressure and speed of play Atlanta exhibited in the first half became a false narrative. Maybe Philadelphia manager Jim Curtain’s tactic was the infamous “rope-a-dope” and a bit of luck as the Union were able to suck up Atlanta’s onslaught in the first 45 – and then purely out-managed Gabriel Heinze in the last 45. Yes, Curtain’s magic was also supported by Atlanta’s inability to serve a quality ball and finish, as well as their panic-stricken effort to get everyone forward in the second half. Was the Union’s counter attack that good or did Atlanta provide a path to numerical advantage?
No Atlanta supporter will be upset at Gabriel Heinze’s high-pressure, attacking style of play. What they might be upset with is what I will refer to as “two-leg maturity.” There is obviously a risk-reward factor to Atlanta’s get-forward mentality, and in a League match, to lose a game 3-0 due to that ethos is just part of a long season. To maintain that mentality in a two-game CCL quarterfinal is both short-sighted and ignorant. I won’t go into detail on possession, number of crosses, number of chances, and shots on goal, but it is a sure bet that Heinze will do so in videotape sessions.
Atlanta finds itself in a precarious short-term situation. A short rest and last night’s visit to Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution, and then the CCL quarterfinal return leg at Philadelphia three days later. Questions to ponder: is Jurgen Damm unlucky or is his speed his only real asset? Is the talented Marcelino Moreno best utilized on the flank? When do we see a match fit Josef Martinez…and if match fit, when will he get to impose his will? Did Gabriel Heinze learn some lessons last night? As I stated to various people leading up to last night’s match, did Curtain, and will subsequent managers, employ tactics to expose the Five Stripes on the counter-attack? Yes, and yes.
Adios, pay if forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
A number of guest writers have thankfully provided their take on topics covering sports journalism, the economics of college athletics, the serious crisis in Lebanon, the meetings and events industry, and various other takes. Today’s guest writer provides insight into the world of bonds, a financial product that has always been a bit of a mystery. As a baseline:
The bond market broadly describes a marketplace where investors buy debt securities that are brought to the market by either governmental entities or publicly-traded corporations.
National governments generally use the proceeds from bonds to finance infrastructural improvements and pay down debts.
Companies issue bonds to raise the capital needed to maintain operations, grow their product lines, or open new locations.
Thanks to JP for his info and take:
Why should you own bonds? What are bonds? I have worked in the bond market for the past 35 years and I always get asked by friends “what are bonds?” are so I figured I may as well share some knowledge here. Thank you, Gary, for the opportunity.
Bonds Defined: As a simple definition, a bond is an IOU issued by a corporation, government, or government- sponsored entity, or municipality. It has a defined maturity and pays an annual rate of interest, typically on a semiannual basis.
What don’t I know about bonds? One clear benefit. Because bonds are IOU’s, they are from a capital perspective above equity (stockholders) in case of a bankruptcy. Huh? Well, if you own Apple stock and Apple bonds….and Apple were to go into bankruptcy and then into a company liquidation…. the first to get paid are the bond holders! That is right! All bank loans and bond holders get paid before the stockholders. So, in a worst-case scenario (bankruptcies/liquidations) …. the stockholders can get wiped out completely, while the bond owners would still get some of or possibly all of the principal they paid returned to them. Do you remember the financial collapse of 2008? If you owned Lehman Brothers stock, it went to zero. If you owned Lehman Brothers bonds, during liquidation they would have still paid out 40 to 50 cents on the dollar…. better than losing it all in the stock!
What is the size of the bond market versus the stock market? Thru 2019, the size of the U.S. stock market was $37.5 trillion, and the bond market $41.2 trillion. Globally, all of the stock markets combined total $95 trillion, and the bond markets $128 trillion.
How do bond prices and yields work? Yields and prices work in opposite directions on bonds. So, when interest rates increase…. bond prices decrease…. but if you hold a bond to maturity…..no matter what interest rates do…..you will be paid back at par (100) absent a default or bankruptcy. This is different than owning a bond fund. In a bond fund, interest rates and what other investors in the fund do can affect a gain or loss for you. Bond funds do not have a final maturity but rather a targeted duration.
Where are current US Treasury Bond Yields?
Why do yields go up? Yields on bonds are the market’s perception of inflation going forward. Rates will rise when the economy strengthens, signaling the federal reserve to begin raising short term rates to curb the unwanted additional inflation.
How do you measure your risk in bonds…? What is my downside? Let us say you bought a 5-year bond…. a AAA rated U.S. Treasury. You buy $10,000 of the U.S. Treasury 0.75% coupon maturing 3/31/26 at par. So, your yield is 0.75%. These will pay you that interest rate semiannually. So, each year that is $75, paid semiannually so $37.50 every 6 months.
Now let us say that interest rates on these bonds go from 0.75% to 1.50%. The market price of the bond goes from par ($100) to $96.40 or a paper loss of 3.6 points. That would be if you wanted to sell the bonds. If rates stay at 1.50% …. you still get paid $100 at maturity or $10,000….so only a loss if you sell them prior to the maturity date.
The longer the maturity (or duration) of a bond, the more the price changes for the same change in rates. So, on a 10-year U.S. Treasury at par ($100) with a 1.625% coupon with the same rate move of .75% to 2.375% in interest rates, the price moves to approximately $94.40 or a paper loss of approximately 5.60 points. Again, you still get paid your $10,000 at maturity if you do not sell them prior to maturity.
What if I want more yield? You can increase the yield you get by either lengthening the maturity of the bond you purchase or go down in credit quality. Since U.S. Treasury bonds are rated AAA, other bonds such as corporate bonds trade at a “spread” or yield on top of what U.S. Treasury’s yield. For example, in the above where 5-year Treasury’s yield 0.75%, a 5-year corporate bond such as Apple which are AA rated trade at a +.35 spread to the 5-year or 1.25% yield 1.10% (U.S. Treasury 0.75% +.35 spread = 1.10%). Or an Apple 10-year bond which trades at a +.40% spread to the 10-year treasury would yield 2.025% (U.S. Treasury 1.625% +.40 spread = 2.025%) The lower the credit rating, the higher the spread and the higher the yield. The more risk you take, the bigger the reward.
What is duration? Duration is the weighted average maturity of the bond’s cash flows. This takes into consideration the interest rate the bond pays you as well as the final maturity. So, a five-year bond with a 3% coupon has a shorter duration than a five-year bond with a 2% coupon.
Why are interest rates and bond yields so low? The short answer is “QE” Quantitative Easing. QE is a form of unconventional monetary policy in which a central bank (like the Federal Reserve) purchases securities (bonds or some countries’ stocks) in the open market in order to increase money supply and encourage lending. This policy expands the central bank’s balance sheet and lowers interest rates. QE is typically used when a central bank has already lowered short rates as far as they can but still wants to drive down interest rates for longer maturities. Currently the Fed’s balance sheet is at $7.7 trillion and is growing at the pace of $120 Billion every month.
How do I invest in bonds? Most online brokerage firms have inventories of bonds to review. These can be U.S. Treasury bonds, Corporate bonds, Government Agency Bonds, or Municipal bonds. You can also purchase U.S. Treasury Bonds directly from the U.S. Government at this website:
I have enough issues navigating Orlando’s Colonial Drive when heading to my local Publix Supermarket. Then, for the second time, I try to understand how SpaceX’s reused Crew Dragon links up with the International Space Station (ISS) 264 miles above the Indian Ocean. Let’s be very clear, I don’t understand how the Crew-2 and the ISS even come close to each other twenty-three hours after liftoff, nonetheless dock while on the same orbital path. Based on JP’s analysis of the bond market, I would expect he could tell us how this is possible? 🙂
No Winner Here.
Guilty on all three counts. The reading of the verdict by the judge was even-keeled and decisive. There really is no winner in the George Floyd/Derek Chauvin case – other than the process of a jury trial. What actually came out of this trial was a 12-person jury, whittled down from a pool of more than 300 potential candidates, made up of one Black woman, two multiracial women, two White men, three Black men, and four White women. Most under 40. This mix of people were charged with deciding one of the highest profile cases in recent memory, and without editorializing, provided the Court with a verdict that reverberated across the country.
As I posted two weeks ago, Derek Chauvin did not have the intention of ending George Floyd’s life. As the unfortunate circumstances unfolded, including Floyd resisting the police officers’ effort to place him in their car, Chauvin’s emotion and machismo led to a terrible act of judgment, one that will put him in prison for many years. The justice system was the only ‘winner’ here – a jury trial that provided the proper due diligence with a very difficult case. Difficult in many ways, including the Judge’s decision not to sequester the jury and two alternates.
Caitlyn On The Run.
California – one of my favorite states to visit, from Carlsbad to the Central Coast, and of course the Pacific Coast Highway leading you through the twists and turns leading up to the amazing town of Carmel. I had to yield way to my visits to the west coast due to the pandemic, but it is now probably time to visit California, that if a sovereign nation, would rank as the world’s fifth largest economy. It is also a state whose front-runner for governor is Caitlyn Jenner. The last time I saw Jenner as a front-runner was when he was in the throws of winning the 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medal. California: an amazing state to say the least. Run Caitlyn, Run!
Paying It Forward.
Now for some news that makes you smile. Speaking of paying it forward, an LSU fraternity did a great thing for their former fraternity house cook. A kind gesture to say the least that sheds a bit of light on a week of news to forget.
Adios, pay it forward, stay safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
UFO. The World Of Golf. Rocket Man. Challenge Me. Random Thoughts.
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am reasonable and of sound mind (many might disagree). Then I read these statements, released last Monday, from the Pentagon: “As we have said before, to maintain operations security and to avoid disclosing information that may be useful to potential adversaries, DOD does not discuss publicly the details of either the observations or the examinations of reported incursions into our training ranges or designated airspace, including those incursions initially designated as UAP.” UAP is the acronym for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. Am I the only one wondering what the hell the Pentagon is trying to explain?
Golf at one time was a sport of dignity, rules and attire. Years ago, many golf courses around the world demanded long pants, collared shirts and a level of respect for fellow players and the golf course. Over time, for many reasons, the number of golfers in the United States declined leading to as many as 200 golf courses failing each year. At many golf courses and clubs there a different revenue streams, but no matter, the key metric is the number of rounds played each day, month, and year. The number of golfers on a course lead to different levels of spend at the course including the green fees, pro shop purchases, and restaurant/bar tabs.
Just when the golf business seemed to be a thought from the past, the Covid-19 pandemic has yielded an increased interest in golf, mostly due to the ability to get outside and enjoy camaraderie in a relatively safe way. This circumstance has been great for the golf business with many people venturing out to play who have never before been on a golf course. The “dumbing down” of the sport has only been a good thing to a point, and without editorializing, here is a case in point:
It looks like NASA has given Space X yet another “GO” for a manned launch of their Crew Dragon spacecraft this Thursday morning. The three-man, one woman crew will rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). This crew of four will replace the crew of the first operational Crew Dragon spacecraft who will return to Earth on April 28. Unbelievably, this has become an every month occurrence – out of the realm of thinking even ten years ago. The privatization of space has been a tremendous boost to the world’s space programs and many people’s wallets. It was reported last week that Space X is now at a valuation of about $74 billion.
I really like to challenge myself to learn or experience something new every year. I should have taken 2020, and the fallout of the pandemic, to learn something new, and since I really do like music, my challenge should have been to take a stab at learning how to play the guitar. I did not take the time to do so, and so far, almost five months into 2021, I have not yet set a new challenge. This video has nothing to do with pretty blondes, Sharon Stone in the movie Basic Instinct, or my passion for the band Deep Purple. I am just very envious at how effortlessly Emily Hastings cranks out Smoke On The Water – an inspiration for me to get off my ass and set a personal challenge for the balance of 2021.
Random Things I Think I Think:
Closing arguments start tomorrow with the George Floyd/Derek Chauvin case. It is going to be interesting how the defense attorney establishes reasonable doubt, etc.
Matt Gaetz – Even cutting the allegations in half, and in half again. A bit sickening.
JLo & ARod – thanks for setting the record straight as all of us had to know that you officially broke up. Get over yourself.
I respect that it is an individual decision not to be vaccinated. Just be respectful that private entities and businesses will make their individual decisions as well.
I am a firm believer of the U.S. Constitution including the 2nd Amendment. With that said, more tragedy, in San Antonio and Indianapolis, dictates some type of action must place. Forty-five mass shootings in the last 30 days – is it time for the 2nd Amendment to be amended just a bit?
The game, played between Orlando City and Atlanta United at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium, ended in a no-goal draw. The real win was Orlando City’s management and staff, who I am sure worked very hard to pull of this 50% capacity match on a hot and humid day. It really did feel good to be back in a stadium with approximately 12,000 very supportive fans. Kudos to Orlando City as attending a live sporting event felt very good.
To all vaccine manufactures: please figure out how vaccine booster shots can be paired with the annual flu shot. Thank you.
The Atlanta Hawks are very good…and when they get everyone healthy they will make a great run into the playoffs.
The Castro’s have been ruling Cuba since 1959. Raul Castro, who replaced his brother, Fidel, is “stepping down”. Raul, maybe you should just follow your brother to Hell? Sorry, that was political but what these brothers did to this awesome island country is criminal.
Speaking of my fav, Godzilla: If a few Tyrannosaurus rex (T.rex), the school bus-sized meat-eating dinosaurs that stalked our landscape seems impressive, how about 2.5 billion of them? Say what?
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
Driver Needed. Honor. 118 Years Later. Enjoy Rikers. Electrified. I Drew The Wrong Straw. The Lions and Five Stripes – A Battle of Epic Proportions.
Can anyone please explain how Tiger Woods’ agent and business support team allows him to drive himself to commitments, appointments, or anywhere, especially in locations he may not be familiar with? The L.A. sheriff’s office has kept his awful auto crash under the radar but they did disclose the vehicle reached speeds above 80 mph, in a 45 mph zone. Tiger: no mas. Use some of that wealth and hire a 24/7 driver.
Speaking of golf, we head into today’s final round of the 2021 Masters. The tournament always opens with golf’s greatest teeing off on the 1st hole. A tradition like none other as they say, and this year, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were joined by honorary chairman Lee Elder, the first black golfer to compete at The Masters. Yes, the 80 year-old Nicklaus and the 85 year-old Player hit their tee shots straight down the middle. Of course they did.
NASA engineers will try and attempt the first flight on Mars today and it could change space exploration forever. As a recap, NASA’s Perseverance rover, which launched in July 2020 and arrived on Mars February 18, carried the Ingenuity helicopter folded up in its belly. After the rover landed, it dropped Ingenuity onto the ground so the helicopter/drone could ready itself for its first flight.
As a matter of perspective, Ingenuity will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. The first powered flight on Earth took place Dec. 17, 1903, on the dunes of Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Orville and Wilbur Wright covered 120 feet in 12 seconds during the first flight. Those two brothers would be mighty proud 118 years later.
An undercover Asian officer from the New York Police Department (NYPD) has arrested a woman for hurling anti-Asian remarks at salon employees in Manhattan. The woman was caught harassing Asian employees at a Chinatown nail salon by threatening them and blaming them for the Covid-19 pandemic. I have read that Rikers Island’s infamous penitentiary is cozy this time of year. In fact, former Rikers Island inmates have called the facility “hell on earth,” cockroach-infested, and filthy. In 2019, there were 70 violent incidents for every 1,000 people in jail. I can’t think of a better place for this moron to spend the next five to ten years.
In previous posts I have mentioned my interest in autonomous and electric vehicles. While I immediately think about the recharging and range issues it seems that major automobile manufactures are way ahead of the curve on how to overcome said issues. In fact, General Motors (GM) will offer thirty types of electric vehicles by 2025 – with 40% of the company’s U.S. models battery-powered electric vehicles. GM has partnered with EVgo, who in the next five years will add 2,700 fast charging stations, all powered by renewable energy. There is no doubt GM as well as most of the world’s major automobile manufacturers are betting heavily on the electric vehicle market, with GM announcing that their new Hummer will be all electric.
On the other side of the electric vehicle spectrum, there are numerous manufactures that are are unveiling tiny electric cars that will carry just one or two people and in many cases, go relatively short distances on a single charge. I assume their market research has provided for the potential demand, but there would definitely need to be a discernible rhyme and reason with negotiating the crazy traffic and highways associated with most major cities.
K-9’s. These unsung heroes of law enforcement are invaluable with hunting down suspects as well as the search for drugs and weapons. The training these dogs go through has to be intense and never-ending, and must include training exercises reenacting actual tense situations. The real question: who draws the short straw to act as the perpetrator? Take a look.
I am very much looking forward to Saturday at 3pm. The start of the Major League Soccer season includes what should be a great game between Orlando City and Atlanta United. Exploria Stadium is the venue, a beautiful downtown Orlando stadium walking distance from many outdoor restaurants and bars. Though Orlando City’s new in-state rival is down in the Miami area, there is no love lost between the Lions and the Five Stripes. It started many years ago when Atlanta United’s front office, in order to help generate a rivalry, placed outdoor advertising easily seen from I-4 in Orlando, and the rivalry expanded with comments made by both teams and their supporters. Orlando City, coming off a great 2020 season, will be a force to be reckoned with as they have reloaded their player pool, while Atlanta United has brought in a new manager, a few new impact players, and is hoping Josef Martinez has recovered from knee surgery. Saturday afternoon at Exploria Stadium will be a fun game to watch.
Adios, pay it forward, stay safe and have a Funday Sunday!
An Overachiever. Godzilla Cuts Kong Some Slack. Stepping Over The Line. Sports Central. Crazy For You.
I guess we have every right to bitch and complain with all the issues we have to deal with these days. Whether personal, financial or work-related, the pandemic has given us a level of frustration and unfortunately in too many cases, despair. Then you learn about the greatest athlete no one knows, who is featured on the latest Real Sports program from HBO. Born with severe birth defects after her birth mother was exposed to radioactive fallout from the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, 31-year old Oksana Masters was missing a kidney and part of her stomach at birth, had extra toes, no thumbs, and her legs were extremely deformed. Placed in an orphanage in Ukraine, she tells her story of being passed over by prospective parents for years. Fast forward and Oksana’s fortunes changed overnight as she was finally adopted by a college professor who had seen her story of complete despair. Those deformed legs were eventually amputated and after being fitted with prosthetics, Oksana, at the request of her mom, took up rowing and the rest is history. Her achievements include Paralympic medals in both summer and winter competitions including the biathlon, cross-country skiing, rowing and cycling. She is both an amazing athlete and inspiration to all of us. Watch this two-minute video – a real life dose of reality.
A few people questioned my sanity (join the club) with my exuberance and angst concerning the new Kong v. Godzilla movie. If you remember, I questioned the audacity of Warner Bros. Pictures and the film’s writers for growing Kong to the size of the 393-foot tall Godzilla. A sham in my opinion but the movie in general came off well. Out of respect for those who have not watched, I will not divulge the details and outcome of the movie. What I will say is that no one ever needs to challenge me about the greatest antagonist that has ever roamed this planet. Just don’t – and if you are not on Team Godzilla you just need to check yourself. 🙂
Another mass shooting last week and another Capitol police officer dead. In some states, a surge in Covid-19 contractions. These type of events damper what has become one of our bright spots in the last 14 months – the vaccine. There seems to be some momentum and a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Then we get another dose of reality with the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the arrest and subsequent death of George Floyd. My assessment: Chauvin was a tenured officer, experienced in apprehension and arrest procedures. I do not believe that Chauvin had the intention of killing George Floyd but I do believe that he should be held accountable for his actions that have led to the charges filed against him. Whether it be his ego, machoism, or insecurity, his action of placing his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes was not warranted, especially with the presence of his fellow officers. To me he was proving a point -unnecessary actions that unfortunately led to George Floyd’s death. I agree with the charges levied against Derek Chauvin – and this is just my take. I am interested in your take, but don’t bother interjecting any reference to race or politics. Unacceptable as part of my ethos with this blog.
This weekend has always been the start of many good things. A few weeks into daylight savings time, the weather moving into springtime, and the sports world on fire. The start of Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer, the NHL and NBA in playoff positioning time, Europe’s top leagues jostling for Champions League qualification, and the NCAA Final Four for both men and women. Tuesday starts the CONCACAF Champions League competition for a few MLS teams with Atlanta United playing the first leg against LD Alajuelense down in Costa Rica. This will be a difficult match for the Five Stripes, still putting together their team under new manager Gabriel Heinze, and with a starting lineup that will average 24 years old. Speaking of young, it looks like Heinze will start four very young defenders – a big ask on the road in Central America.
It is so fun to watch these two YouTube sensations discover music from the past – whether it be Pavarotti or Metallica. I am sure Heart’s Crazy on You provided these two young men a dose of reality when it comes to Ann’s incredible vocals and Nancy’s rifts on her magical guitar. The twins, Tim and Fred from Gary, Indiana, have become YouTube sensations with their “First Time Hearing” videos which were originally focused on rap. They have obviously expanded their range of music listening with over 250,000 YouTube subscribers. Nice work gentlemen!
The week’s guest writer is Ben Lewis, a long-time friend and associate. We worked together for many years creating and executing corporate events, from a blank sheet of paper to outstanding and award-winning event marketing programs and environments. The projects we worked on were massive trade show exhibits and customer events, involving many different facets of people and skills, including designers, CAD engineers, carpenters, and on-site install and dismantle teams.
Ben is the Managing Director of MC², a leading experiential marketing company. Experiential marketing is broadly defined as any form of customer-focused marketing activity, at various touch points, that creates a sensory-emotional connection to and with customers, partners, employees and the media. While many of us are aware of the massive layoffs that occurred in many industries, not many are aware of the impact on the corporate event and meeting world. Just as a baseline, here are some facts and figures (pre-pandemic):
1.9 million meetings occur annually —more than 5,200 every single day.
Those 1.9 million meetings resulted in some big spending. If you add up planning, production, travel, and other direct expenditures, meetings and events account for $325 billion of direct spending in the U.S. Of that figure, $120 billion comes from travel alone.
All that money directly supports 2.5 million jobs. This doesn’t include another 1.5 million indirect jobs and 1.9 million induced jobs , all across a wide cross-section of industries.
A Year in the Life of an Experiential Marketing Professional – Ben Lewis, MC2
Yes folks, it’s been a year now. A year since “live events” came to a screeching halt due to the pandemic. In fact, the last real live tradeshow I attended was one of the country’s largest tradeshows that occurs every three years, called ConExpo. It takes place in Las Vegas and is the American version of BAUMA – a similar show that takes place in Shanghai and Munich. In fact, I left Las Vegas a little early a year ago with what I expect now to have been Covid-19 symptoms in early March, 2020.
Wow. Did things change? More than you can imagine.
As a company that made its bread and butter off of live B2B and B2C events, tradeshows, and Business Theater, etc., we really had to make some major adjustments. I refuse to continue to overuse the word/verb… (Begins with “P”, ends with “T”, and has an “IVO” in there somewhere in the middle). However, we had to do it to stay alive. We went from building physical and architectural environments – often larger than your own office building – to making a nearly gamer-like environment, or ecosystem, that fits on your computer screen. This was nothing new for us really, but it was now more the rule (and the necessity) to the exception. Thankfully, we were already good at it – the “hybrid event” that is. And we were able to… ugh… pivot… rather successfully. The platforms that show organizers were providing just left no way to really stand out from your competition in a virtual tradeshow. That’s why, though they’ve been around for awhile, they’ve never taken off as successful. We had to create an experience beyond that provided platform into something more immersive.
Here’s the toughest part. Our business was, and will soon be again (thankfully), largely built of Operational employees – somewhere around 65-70%. Project Managers, Master Carpenters, Logistics Employees, Traveling Supervision, and Union Labor. All at once, they had nothing to do. Thankfully, our company was strong enough to keep the large percentage of them on furlough, continuing to pay health benefits, and allow for them to draw unemployment – in a sense, they’re all still employed – there’s just very little physical work. It’s been a struggle for so many of our most loyal employees. People that have been with us for 20+ years of full time employment. It can be pretty depressing to be called off furlough several times to accomplish a couple of week’s work, only to have to be furloughed when that trickle of work runs out. Then you’re back home waiting for the next call. Most have had tremendous attitudes about it and are grateful that those of us who are working are doing everything we can to continue to generate revenue, so there’s a job to come back to. A handful have reluctantly moved on to another career path, or are at least considering it.
With the vaccine, and several states taking the steps to reopen more aggressively and despite the piecemeal and sometimes conflicting and confusing information from the press, Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and others, there are brighter days ahead. A recent survey indicated that 78% of potential attendees plan to travel to live events in the late summer and fall. Several large shows, including the “granddaddy of all shows”, CES, seem full speed ahead in early 2022. This show alone generates nearly $300 million in revenue through the approximately 180,000 attendees, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority – in a normalized year, of course. Not to mention the revenue generated for companies like ours, with the lion’s share of creative and production taking place late in 2021 to make it to Las Vegas with the early January 2022 show dates. It will be no simple charge, to go from the skeletal team we have across the country right now – about 110 of us, all sharing resources – to ramp back up quickly when the firehose is turned on for us to drink from again. It’s going to be a welcome challenge. It will still be some time before everyone is back. And unfortunately, some people and smaller companies won’t make it back. But we’ve been through this in some ways before. The stock market in 2008, and of course that fateful day in September of 2001. As traumatic as both of these events were, the pandemic has done more to simply STOP live events, single-handedly, than both of the prior events combined. Crazy right? A simple virus.
If I have to go too much longer without shaking a customer’s hand, and only looking at their living space behind them in their Zoom call, I might just lose it. One more “you’re on mute, Jack” and I’ll begin to slip. What’s interesting is how convinced I am at my increased productivity working from home. I’m out of the bed and in front of the computer with my coffee, by 6:30-7:00. I normally have an hour commute, each way. That’s literally two hours out of my day. On the flip side, working from home will negatively impact your personal life. There’s no clear “start and stop” time. The standard ten-hour day has become the 12-hour day. It’s been a welcome change to get back into the office, officially, three days a week or more.
I think we’re all due a Brave’s game soon – a concert at the Battery before or after the game.
Have you had your vaccine? Do you plan on taking one? Do you think it will be required for travel? If you don’t want to take the vaccine and it becomes a requirement to travel, OR if to visit your customer, can they require you to have it – jeopardizing your career? Can anyone? Lots of questions.
Thanks Ben. A heartfelt take from an industry professional. The impact has been massive – and hopefully the experiential world will be back very soon.
Adios, pay it forward, stay safe and have a Funday Sunday!
A Happy Medium? Light It Up! Samuel L. Jackson At His Finest.
I need to be careful with this segment of the post as you might take this assessment as political…it is not. I am going to make my point from a holistic point of view. Yes, some of what you will read may relate to the political system of the United States and with that said politics are energy draining.
Bill Maher hosts a weekly show on HBO. In theory, I have no business watching as the subject matter and guests of the show discuss and debate politics. More than often, the information focuses on bipartisan issues that no longer concern me. In last week’s show, Maher, who in my opinion is very intelligent, witty, and sometimes belligerent, went on a rant about the United States and China, which sort of struck a cord with me. His rant related to both China’s aggressive, authoritarian regime along with their ability to analyze, address and solve problems. As a baseline watch the one minute video below.
Yes, China is different than the United States in many ways. Yes, their authoritarian rule allows for buildings, hospitals, and actual cities to be built in a matter of days or months instead of years. They don’t have the city and state building statutes to contend with…or on the other hand the Food and Drug Administration that dictates and approves the development and distribution of vaccines.
Maher had some rather harsh words for the U.S.A. saying China is overtaking our place on the world stage because “Americans are busy obsessing over culture wars and not doing anything productive.” The following are taken directly from Maher’s rant last Friday night. While I do not agree with some of these comments, he does make comparative points that hit home:
“You know who doesn’t care that there’s a stereotype of a Chinese man in a Dr. Seuss book? China. All 1.4 billion of them could give a crouching tiger flying f—,” Maher said, referencing the controversy surrounding six of Seuss’s books that were pulled by Dr. Seuss Enterprises over racist imagery.
“You’re not going to win the battle for the 21st century if you are a silly people, and Americans are a silly people.” This is in reference to a quote from “Lawrence of Arabia” that as long as the U.S. continues to be a bunch of squabbling tribes, we will remain silly people.
“In two generations, China has built 500 entire cities from scratch, moved the majority of their huge population from poverty to the middle class and mostly cornered the market in 5g and pharmaceuticals. In China alone, they have 40,000 kilometers of high-speed rail. America has… none. Our fastest train is the tram that goes around the zoo.”
“Nothing ever moves in this impacted colon of a country! We see a problem and we ignore it, lie about it, fight about it, endlessly litigate it, sunset clause it, kick it down the road and then write a bill where a half-assed solution doesn’t kick in for 10 years. China sees a problem and they fix it. They build a dam; we debate what to rename it.”
To be clear, I do not agree with all of Maher’s statements. I guess my take is that there has to be a happy medium between authoritarian government that tells everyone what to do and a representative government that sometimes can’t get anything done at all. With all that said, I will not be a hypocrite about my lack of political interest, but if Maher does not like living in the United States I am sure Iran or Myanmar are looking to accept high-wealth comedians.
Anyone who has attended any event at Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium certainly must enjoy the overall experience. The Atlanta United games I have attended certainly have raised the bar in the sporting world, as the stadium structure and in-game production is outstanding. Other Major League Soccer teams have brought their new soccer-specific stadiums online including Orlando and L.A.F.C. – with Austin, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Columbus, Nashville and St. Louis following suit. Another new stadium that is very close to opening is in Cincinnati, where their Major League Soccer team will be based. I am not privy to what the stadium amenities include, but one thing is certain: their owners have put their stadium on the map with the use of ‘LED Fins’ to produce an amazing light show on the exterior façade. Five hundred and thirteen ‘LED Fins’ to be exact, which is the area code for Cincinnati and surrounding cities. Kudos to their owners for stepping up the overall stadium experience.
I have exhausted my take on culture wars, social imbalance, police brutality, and racial discrimination. Then we again get hit hard with last week’s tragedy in the Atlanta area and it again brings our sensitivity and awareness of hate crimes to light. Then we get onto the subject of stereotyping, which in my mind is another version of racist behavior. Enough is enough as the divide in this country continues – a divide that includes politics, race, religion and origin. On another front, the video clip below brings some levity to light in regards to stereotyping with the way Samuel L. Jackson handled this moronic Los Angeles-based entertainment reporter. As much as Samuel L. Jackson is a gentleman by continuing the interview, he certainly did not cut this reporter any slack. Well done SLJ, as most of us would have certainly ended this interview early on.
Adios, pay it forward, stay safe, and have a Funday Sunday!
A Year Of Infamy. 100X The Speed Of Sound. Box Jacking At Its Finest. Speaking Of Ridiculous. Let’s Play! Larry Made Us Cringe.
Last Wednesday marked one year when the sports world shut down. Led by the NBA stoppage, the onslaught of Covid-19 led to the temporary end of competitive sports. With that said, factoring in all the issues with the pandemic, it was amazing that the Major League Soccer restart was back four months later with that infamous tournament in Orlando. A tournament that gave all of us hope that with a massive spend and tight protocols, sports once again could give us some television viewing pleasure. The NBA followed with their “Orlando-based season” and at whatever level, live sports on television got many of us through a very difficult year. A year to both remember and forget.
An asteroid as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge is long will hurtle past Earth next Sunday. The bad news: this asteroid’s speed and velocity, if colliding with our planet would be devastating, especially if it hit near a highly-populated area or the ocean, where it could create a tsunami or vaporize enough seawater to cast a haze over the entire planet. A bit difficult to comprehend, but as a comparison a plane flies at 575 miles per hour, the International Space Station at 17,000 miles per hour and this FO32 asteroid at 77,000 miles per hour, or 100 times the speed of sound. The good news: though NASA scientists call this a “near-earth” pass, this massive rock will actually come no closer than 1.25 million miles from earth, which obviously poses the question why it is deemed a “near-earth” experience?
I have always appreciated and enjoyed the creative world. I have lived it for most of my business career, along with the engineering, production and installation process that follows the design development phase. I came across a construction process called box jacking reading about Florida’s Brightline train service, which is in the process of building their railway system from Miami to West Palm Beach to Orlando, and hopefully to Tampa. In theory, box jacking is a well-established means of engineering culverts or tunnels under highway overpasses, rail embankments or waterways to accommodate road or rail traffic. Brightline has enlisted the box jacking methodology to save immense time with creating tunnels under overpasses. What usually takes many months or years to accomplish with traditional burrowing methods can now be cut in half using box jacking. Used in Europe for many years, box jacking has recently been employed in the United States, most significantly in the Boston area. The animation below is a bit wonky, but it does simulate the process of pushing massive concrete structures inch by inch under an overpass. Not simple, but a much faster way than conventional methods.
As I mentioned last week, I can be tough on many issues and I am sensitive to any type of discrimination but this aversion to everyday culture is ridiculous. Calling out Dr. Seuss books as racist did not sit well with me and now I read about a very ‘high-end’ private K-12 school in New York City that has gone way too far. The school (name withheld) has produced a 12-page guide for their students and staff that demands they use more “inclusive language” – their effort to explain the school’s mission of inclusivity. As an example, one part of this 12-page guide tells students and staff to stop using the terms “mom,” “dad,” and “parents” – because these words make too much assumption about a student’s home life. While I understand children live in a myriad of home circumstances, the school now recommends the use of terms “grown-ups,” “folks,” “family” or “guardians” as alternatives to “mom,” “dad” and “parents.” It also suggests using “caregiver” instead of “nanny/babysitter.” This is insane and this “sensitivity at all cost” is not a good thing. As if our youth don’t have enough socio-economic issues to contend with….they now need to learn a new way to discuss their family support system. Insanity at best.
Major League Soccer is back. The League announced the season and home openers for each of the 27 teams last week – and will follow up with the season schedule by the end of the month. I don’t envy the League’s scheduling staff, as they still are dealing with the national and state protocols with Covid-19, while trying to prepare a schedule that is competitively balanced. One great opening weekend matchup sees Atlanta United visiting Orlando City the afternoon of April 17. For many reasons this opener should be great fun to watch due to their long-standing rivalry and the return of Orlando nemesis Josef Martinez. Depending on the League and the State of Florida, Orlando City will hopefully announce a level of fan capacity soon. Though Orlando City lost a key striker, Darryl Dike, to a loan with an English Premier League team, they have made some key additions to their player pool. Look for Orlando City and Atlanta United to be on top of their conference standings this year.
I have exhausted the topic of sensitivity. Classic movies being called to the carpet, schools dictating how their students refer to their home lives, and anything else that sets off our “sense of sensitivity.” The dilemma is that some of the funniest people on earth used their “insensitivity” as a platform for comedy. What would we have done without the crazy Don Rickles? What about the numerous scenes in the Blazing Saddles movie? Did we all not laugh hard at Rodney Dangerfield’s comedy? All of us: black, white, green and purple, laughed out loud at Leslie Nielsen in the movie Airplane, as he abused everyone from air traffic controllers to nuns. Richard Pryor, pound for pound the best standup comedian ever, abused every race, religion and nationality and WE ALL LAUGHED hard at his content and amazing delivery. While we need to keep racism in check, we don’t ever need to go away from raucous comedy. Larry David in the HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm made everyone cringe – in every episode. He was brutal with everyone, and we all watched and cried laughing at him being a total moron. Please don’t get me wrong. There is a time and place for everything – and racism has NO place in our society. Just watch Larry David in this classic scene with him visiting a lemonade stand. OMG.
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, have a Funday Sunday, and ENJOY DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME!
Touch A Button – It Expands! Too Much Wine. The Queen’s Gambit. Let’s Be Certain. Daylight Coming.
Almost two years ago I ranted about Samsung’s effort to enter a new era of mobile phones. They had just introduced their ‘foldable’ model only to receive feedback that the hinges allowing the phone to fold were not working and many screens were detaching from the frame. A $2,000 phone and it failed miserably in the marketplace. Two years later, there does seem to be a mobile phone technology that could be a game-changer. Oppo, along with other device makers, has introduced a ‘rollable’ phone allowing a normal-sized phone to expand to a small tablet. If this rollable technology does maintain efficacy, consumers will once again get on wait lists for its availability.
We long for the trip to the shore to take in the balmy ocean breezes and the soft pounding of the surf. There is definitely a peaceful existence to being at a coastline, until you look out to the sea and try to recollect the quantity of Cabernet consumed the previous evening. There is a “out of my pay grade” scientific reason you witness a massive cargo ship flying above the water’s surface, but we remain silent to avoid our family and friends calling us crazy. Us crazy?
My brother, who very early on was at a much different level of intelligence, introduced me to the game of chess. I enjoyed learning how to play, as the strategy of thinking many moves ahead challenged me. I was never successful playing against my brother but enjoyed hm teaching me how to play. Unfortunatly, like many indoor activities, I did not spend too much time on the chess board as I was always outside playing sports and listening to music. After watching a few episodes of The Queen’s Gambit, I wish I had spent much more time learning the game of chess.
A thank you to a long-time friend who sent me this YouTube video. While we all need to be aware of racial discrimination, police brutality, social injustice, and sexual indiscretions, I feel strongly that words need to be turned into actions. There are many who are doing just that, putting actions into place that hopefully will get us into a more positive environment. Unfortunately, in my opinion, some of this sensitivity has strayed too far as I recently learned that movie classics including Gone With The Wind and Guess Who’s Comng To Dinner have been lambasted by some who call out themes of racism and discrimination. Again, I am extremely supportive of ACTION taking place to put these social injustices behind us once and for all, but calling out classic movies, enjoyed by millions of people, made over fifty years ago, has gone too far. Black, white, or brown, I have never heard one negative comment about Kathryn Hepburn, Sidney Portier, or Spencer Tracy in the classic Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Let’s all check reality at the door before we judge a classic movie, with amazing actors, made fifty years ago.
Today is March 7, 2021 and I should not have to tell you what that means. One week to go.
Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday.