Retail Since 1886. Boarding. Terror. On To Panama.

Retail Woes 2.0.  Delta’s Pillars.  We Need A Solution.  Kicking It.

They dominated retail for decades as millions of loyal customers flocked to their stores to buy everything from appliances to tools to clothing.  I am talking about Sears, the retailer that has been around since 1886 and now finds itself in substantial doubt of staying in business.  I know I have discussed the retail sector many times but it is amazing that the bricks and mortar retailer is in serious jeopardy due to online shopping, the shift away from mall shopping, and the lack of customer service and in-store experience.  In January, Sears announced that they were closing 150 stores and restructuring the company to cut $18B in costs.  That is $18 BILLION  in costs that they suddenly realized they could forego?  It makes you wonder the short term mentality of retailers’ executive management teams and their lack of insight into product and customer trends.  Sears is not a stranger to this mentality and dilemma as Payless Shoes, whose portfolio consists of 4,000 stores in 30 countries, announced last week that they will file for bankruptcy and close 500 stores.  When will this fall from grace end?

Most of us have been there.  After dealing with getting through security and making your way to the designated gate, you wait for the Delta gate agent to start their announcements.  You think the boarding instructions are relatively clear cut, but similar to Tarzan’s call for all his animal friends, hundreds of passengers disregard their boarding zone and rush to the front of the boarding area.  If you are one of the preferred zones you push people aside to make your way to the boarding area already knowing that the frazzled gate agent has let through non-premium passengers.  We assume that Delta has a lot of smart employees and they must constantly be working on time and motion studies to maximize boarding efficiencies?  Finally, after spending thousands of man hours studying the boarding process, someone at Delta has come up with the brilliant idea of placing pillars in the gate areas that designate zone numbers.  So instead of Tarzan’s herd stampeding the boarding area, passengers line up next to the pillar that designates their boarding zone.  The first and business and ultra-premium passengers also keep their seniority as they have their own separate pillar where they can board at their convenience.  So, after many years of passengers complaining and thousands of man hours studying the boarding process, the answer is pillars.  Well done Delta.

I guess you can’t stop someone from driving into a crowd of people on a busy weekday afternoon.  Again terror struck last week in London with another horrible outcome.  Anyone have any answers to this terror tactic?

The United States National Team finally won a game in the qualification cycle for the 2018 World Cup beating Honduras 6-0 Friday night.  A new coach, new players, and a few veterans combined well to earn our first 3 points in the qualification tournament.  We travel to Panama for our next qualifier on Tuesday night.  It will be a war as there is no love lost between any Central America team and the U.S.  Catch the game on BEIN Sports at 10pm EDT Tuesday.  Then on Friday the party is on (any volunteers?) as Atlanta United visits the MLS defending champion Seattle Sounders.  Watch it at 10pm on Fox Sports 1.

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!

 

 

 

Unite and Conquer. Just Stuff.

A Very Entertaining 90 Minutes.  Random Takes.

I will exclude my interest and background in the sport of soccer and focus on the game day experience at yesterday’s match between Atlanta United #ATLUTD and the Chicago Fire.  We drove over to MARTA’s North Springs Station and parked at no charge.  $2.50 to ride down to midtown’s North Avenue Station and an easy walk to Bobby Dodd Stadium.  Great weather and a great performance by United for a perfect afternoon.  We waited 20 minutes or so after the game to let the crowd thin out and then walked a bit past the North Avenue station and had some food and drink.  By that time the train station was quiet and we rode back up to the North Springs station.  A fun day with a very lively crowd. It is obvious that the Atlanta United staff have made a tremendous effort to make the temporary digs of Bobby Dodd Stadium a great fan experience.  Even if you have little interest in soccer I would strongly recommend you attend the next home match on Sunday afternoon, April 30th.  A shout out to the supporter’s behind the north goal….all of you rock! United has some special players to watch and if you are a big fan of United you better enjoy Josef Martinez while you can because a large European club will make an offer to United that they will not be able to refuse.

Freedom of speech is a very important constitutional right.  With that said, it is very difficult for me to understand how a billboard in Arizona, with Nazi-themed messaging, can stay standing.  We don’t need any public messaging that may entice and support a moron’s interest in hate crimes.

I have pointed out the rapid decline of large to big-box retailers in previous posts so it comes as no surprise that JC Penny will close 138 stores and terminate 5,000 workers.  JC Penny’s justification:  the store closings will provide them with $200m in cost savings.  Go figure.

The Muss & Turner restaurant expands to East Cobb this week with an opening in the space of the former Common Quarter.  All the best to Ryan Turner for taking the chance with the very fickle East Cobb customer base.

If you have not watched FX’s The Americans wait for a rainy day to binge watch from the first season on.  Great writing and acting depicting a typical American family back in the ’80’s…..who happen to be KGB.

I do not and will not write about religion or politics.  I will leave those topics for the self-serving pundits.  With that said, there really is a lot to write about based on President Trump’s first 100 days in office.

March Madness is underway with some great games and crazy coaches.  Take a look at Northwestern’s coach in yesterday’s game going crazy over what he thought was a non-call by one of the referees.  His behavior resulted in a technical foul that basically swung the result of the game against No. 1 ranked Gonzaga.  Shameful as this was Northwestern’s first visit to the NCAA tournament and they had a great chance to upset Gonzaga.

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!!!

 

 

We Are the Reason. What Cable? The Jungle Book. Updates.

Supply and Demand.  Can We Be Cord-Cutters?  Mowgli Goes Live.

  • We are the reason that networks pay the National Football League hundreds of millions of dollars each year.  We are the reason that sponsors and advertisers can pay the networks hundreds of millions of dollars to promote and advertise their brands, products and services.  We watch the NFL every Thursday night, all day Sunday and Monday night and the sponsors capitalize on the high ratings as they are looking for our eyes on the NFL broadcasts.  You say so what?  So did I until I read that the Chicago Bears are able to pay Mike Glennon $45m over three years to quarterback their team with $16m guaranteed for 2017.  The same Mike Glennon who is 5-13 during his career and has thrown a total of eleven passes in the last two years.  Yep, these crazy contracts are no different in the NBA, MLB, and international soccer but it just makes you wonder how a backup quarterback can demand that level of compensation? Though NFL ratings were down a bit year-over-year, shared television revenue spread between NFL teams allows some of the crazy signings we have seen last week during free agency.  Note:  Glennon’s salary for the 2017 season only places him 23rd amongst the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL.
  • It comes via snail mail or email every month.  Most of the time the invoice amount changes monthly and you need a CPA/forensic accountant (I know one by the way) to explain the line item charges.  Don’t even try to challenge the bill with the provider unless you have a minimum of an hour to kill as the customer service experience is maddening.  I am referring to the cable bill which for some of us is blended with internet service and for very few a hard line for telephone or fax use.  As confusing as it may be, it is probably time for all of us to look to alternative bundling via the internet.  Last week YouTube announced that they are introducing YouTube TV, which similar to Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, and Netflix provides programming with fewer channels than Comcast or other cable providers but at a fraction of the cost.  Some of the offers limit the span of programming.  For example, YouTube TV does not offer Turner (TBS, TNT), A&E Entertainment or Discovery Communications channels.  “Cord-cutting” and moving to a combo of on-demand services is here and here to stay.  It can be confusing and if you add-on too many bundled services the monthly charges can rise rapidly but the ongoing monthly charges for cable and internet services are ridiculous.  Look for aggregators to pop up that will help you determine what on-demand services to purchase.
  • The new version of The Jungle Book has been out for almost a year.  I thought I was giving up my man card when I was coerced into watching this new version but to my surprise The Jungle Book is actually an unexpected surprise.  The producers bring Mowgli to life and this man-cub’s supporting cast of characters are an animated marvel.  The movie won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effect and for good reason.  When you need to get away from politics, news, and sports, watch The Jungle Book for a good two hours of entertainment.

Updates:  Daylight savings time from now until November 5th.  Atlanta United: let’s play the full ninety today against Minnesota.  Driven through Sandy Springs on Roswell Road lately?  Friday is St. Patrick’s Day….do us all a favor and use Lyft or Uber…driving is not an option.  Watch the last 12 minutes of last week’s Champions League match between Barcelona and Paris St. Germain…never say never!!

Have a Funday Sunday!!!

 

 

Short Takes to Start off the Month of March.

Topics of Interest or Without Substance?  Let me know Your Take.

  • I have been all over Samsung for their product issues regarding their flying washing machine tops and burning phones.  Now Mercedes-Benz, long known for their “The best or nothing” promise, has recalled over 300,000 of their cars because of a part that may catch fire.  This defect has been linked to 35 car fires across the USA with their luxury C and E class sedans.  I guess “the best or nothing” is their literal tag line.
  • A British technology company has developed and is now marketing the smart condom.  Yes, because we need not only to practice safe sex but just like everything else these days, we need metrics calculated based on our performance.  Perfect.
  • Autonomous cars having issues again.  It seems Tesla and their ‘autopilot’ feature is somehow installed in many of their model ‘S’ cars and the software that engages the autopilot is only in beta testing.  Say what Tesla?
  • 55,000 people at Bobby Dodd Stadium tonight to watch the home opener for Atlanta United.  Well done Darren Eales and team.  If you are not going you should Uber to midtown and enjoy the pregame tailgating and then watch the game in one of midtown’s many bars.  That is a Funday Sunday, especially with 70 degree weather.
  • The big box retail woes continue as HHGregg is closing 80 stores in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.  As mentioned a few times, retailers better discover the customer experience quotient and do it very quickly.  HHGregg joins Macy’s, JC Penny, and Sears in the battle to stay afloat.
  • It has been around for a mere six years and  it’s market value exceeds John Deere, Delta Airlines, Hewlett-Packard, CBS and Target.  The messages sent via their app disappear after a few seconds and many adults don’t care to know what it is and how to use it.  $40 billion in market value and to date has not made any money,  but Snap, Inc.’s IPO is the most ‘successful’ to date.  Time to unplug and dumb it down at bit.
  • I had hoped that the Academy Awards would be without the political diatribe that we witnessed at the Screen Actors Guild back in January.  For the most part Jimmy Kimmel and presenters/Oscar winners kept it straight but the ending was a farce.  On the upside, Justin Timberlake’s opening performance was outstanding.  He is a very underrated performer.
  • The 1996 Olympic Games was the beginning of downtown Atlanta becoming a prominent live, work and play destination.  Centennial Park, museums including MLK and Coca-Cola along with the Georgia Aquarium and the College Football Hall of Fame have influenced developers and restaurant owners to spend money downtown.  We all know what the new Mercedes-Benz stadium will bring to sports fans, but Philips Arena is also a venue that will be outstanding.  Steve Koonin and team are working on changes to Philips Arena that will cost $200m but will keep the Hawks downtown and serve as one of the country’s best venues for concerts and entertainment.  Google Philips Arena and check out the concepts and renderings.  Outstanding.
  • More vitamin D, a bit less crime, and less traffic accidents.  Yes, we have one week to go until we change our clocks and enjoy about eight months of more daylight.

Have a great Funday Sunday (and let’s hope ATL United starts of with a win)!

 

 

89th. Ice + Land. Turner Sports Makes a Play.

No Politics Please.  It’s Not Hawaii.  Football Instead of Family Guy.

Jimmy Kimmel takes the mike later tonight for the 89th Academy Awards.  A celebration of Hollywood’s finest or a live worldwide platform for the red carpet walkers and Oscar winners to go into their political diatribe?  On the bright side, the 100 million worldwide viewers (note: the Super Bowl viewership was barely over 100m) will hopefully get to enjoy some magical production and a few good performances.  This year, after a few years of homogenized nominees, diversity is prominent with nominees including Fences and Hidden Figures.  Hopefully the Academy of Arts and Sciences has issued strict orders for award winners to stand down from the world of politics….think Meryl Streep’s embarrassing acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.  As the great Betty Davis said in the 1951 classic All About Eve, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride tonight, fasten your seat belts”.

I assume travel is no different than most trends.  When ideas about a destination go viral people around the world flock to a location that is not always top of mind.  The ‘flavor of the month’ destination is non-other than Iceland, a country the size of Ohio.  More than 2 million tourists will visit this country, located in the North Atlantic (just east of Greenland for you geography freaks) and 350,000 of those tourists will be Americans.  Some friends have visited and reported back that the country is full of great things to see and do, including glaciers, volcanoes, the Northern lights, and the Blue Lagoon, an artificial pool warmed by a geo-thermal power plant.  I guess I will forego another trip to the Caribbean or Carmel, CA, and head to the North Atlantic for a holiday stay.

Phone calls from some soccer friends and associates late Friday afternoon.  One of the callers was an associate from the past who works for Turner Entertainment Networks, which all of us know as the parent presenting the cable networks of TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, and TruTV, etc..  She works at Turner as a financial analyst and had just learned that her employers had bid on and won the rights to the Champions League, committing over $180m over three years.  When she saw what she considers a very high spend for broadcast rights she phoned to ask what and why Turner would want the Champions League in the first place?  It is simple:  the Champions League is one of the most sought after sports properties on earth.  It is Europe’s annual tournament of their top club teams with the best thirty-two clubs involved in the tournament  starting in late August and ending with the final in mid-May.  Obviously the matches are broadcast five to six hours ahead so the time slots in the U.S. are in the afternoon (2:45pm EST), so during the rounds of tournament play Turner can use one or more of it’s networks to promote and broadcast the Champions League.  This works well with their other sports properties including NBA, PGA Golf, Major League Baseball, and the NCAA basketball tournament.  At a quick glance, the Champions League broadcasts will replace mid-afternoon shows such as American Dad, Supernatural, Bones and Family Guy, most likely targeting the coveted 21-35 year old male and boosting their afternoon ratings.  The worldwide total broadcast fees for the Champions League is astronomical and driven by sponsors targeting a massive viewing audience.  As a comparison, last year’s Champions League final was viewed by a worldwide television audience of 380m while this year’s Super Bowl pulled in 113m viewers.  Turner will pay $180m over three years for the broadcast rights.  Combined with other worldwide rights, the payout yields the winning Club of this May’s final over $100m.   I probably did not answer my friend’s question very well but a least this is a start.

Updates: Iran is holding maritime training exercises in the Persian Gulf…..really Iran?  Atlanta United opens up two weeks from tonight.  The half-brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was murdered in a very bizarre way in a Malaysia airport…..one down, one to go.  Two weeks to daylight savings time!

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!

Incoming. Airplane Food. Hot Ticket. South Korean Woes.

Drone Alert. Delta’s Free Food.  55,00 Coming to Bobby Dodd.  Power Hungry.

Fast delivery from Amazon Prime is one thing but do you really want your package delivered by a drone parachuting the box into your backyard?  Competitive advantage and a high level of customer service is one thing but this may be taking turnaround time a bit too far.

I am not exactly proud that I am a frequent flyer.  Airplane travel these days barely surpasses the nicest Greyhound bus.  So it is interesting to me that Delta Air Lines announced last week that they will offer, at no charge, “meals” to coach class passengers on some long range domestic flights.  Call me crazy but do they think most passengers see this offer as a goodwill gesture?  I have a better idea for Delta on their long range flights. Instead of spending the money with airline food service providers (think food production, delivery, and storage),  with flight attendants clogging up the aisle serving the meals, why not at the time of booking offer passengers on these flights a food service coupon that aligns with restaurants located at the passengers’ departure terminal?  Delta would save millions of dollars, offer their customers a variety of options to pick up food, and free up their flight attendants to deal with important matters like safety (or serving cocktails).  Let’s see, do I want inflight ‘food’ from Delta or a coupon to buy a great meal or salad at Mellow Mushroom, Columbia Restaurant, or Pappadeaux’s?

Atlanta United’s home opener is March 5th.  The opener is at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium (United will move into Mercedes Benz stadium when it opens in late July) and 41,000 tickets are already sold.  With a typical walkup crowd of over 5,000 you better get your tickets soon as the game will sell out.

Samsung’s President was finally jailed in South Korea this past Friday.  Maybe a bit severe but something had to happen with this consumer products company.  Bribes, scandals, phones catching fire and washing machine lids flying around the laundry room are not appreciated in Asia’s 4th largest economy.

Adios and Have a Funday Sunday!!

 

 

Lady Gaga. WTC Experience. NYC. Updates.

Retraction.  Memories of a Tragic Event.  Good Food, Good People.

In last week’s blog I ranted a bit about Lady Gaga and why the NFL selected her for the Super Bowl halftime show.  I mentioned lack of talent, etc., and I was wrong.  Lady Gaga’s performance, supported by tremendous production and execution, was actually a perfect fit for the Super Bowl.  I really enjoyed the first thirty minutes of football and the halftime show.  The last thirty minutes of football…not so much.

I had the opportunity to visit the World Trade Center site yesterday.  The last time I was there was shortly after 9/11 and at that time the only visible elements were the vast area of rubble, building materials and equipment.  Sixteen years later, the new One World Trade Center stands at a building height of 1,362 feet, the height of the original WTC South Tower. An amazing building, it is one of five structures that will be built on the site.  As a dedication to the people who were lost to that tragic event, two reflection pools were constructed in the same footprint of the original South and North towers.  It is a bit surreal to stand and look into the reflection pools knowing that many of the people who perished in the two towers and surrounding area were never found.  One World Trade Center was designed with an observatory on the top floor providing guests with a 360 view of the New York metropolitan area.  A great experience, it makes you reflect on that tragic event and the many days following that left Americans and most of world feeling empty and violated.  I hope all of you have the chance to visit the site soon.

New York City can be overwhelming from both a density and humanity standpoint.  Incredible traffic, way too many people, and sirens from police or emergency vehicles never-ending.  With that said, NYC is definitely in a category by itself.  The activity, the pace, and the people representing most of the countries of the world are blended with the many restaurants, bars, service businesses and buildings.  Walking NYC is an event in itself and sometimes leads to great experiences.  My daughter, Jaime, and her fiancé, Daniel, were nice enough to take us to a local, family-owned Italian restaurant Friday night.  We went early as we had a plans later in the evening which allowed us to have a nice quiet dinner with great food and service.  Jaime and Daniel frequent Il Posto Accanto often so we had the opportunity to speak with the owner, a former NYPD captain.  Sincere, engaging, and genuinely interested in our dining experience, he represents what NYC is really all about.  Family-owned businesses who have tremendous competition from every end of the City.  Some restaurants in NYC open and get popular due to it being the trendy place to be.  Il Posto Accanto opened many years ago and will stay open for a long time due to the ownership’s attention to detail and personal interaction with their customers.  On the lower east side, Il Posto Accanto is definitely a restaurant you should try.

Updates:  Atlanta Falcons:  you got to the big show but forgot the dance always lasts at least sixty minutes. Ford’s $1B investment in a startup engaged with the autonomous car project sends a clear message that the Jetson’s era is coming soon.  Great start Atlanta United….looking forward to March 5th!!  One month to daylight savings time!

Adios and have a great week!!

 

Take the Day Off. Halftime. Super Bowl v World Cup Final.

National Holiday.  GAG, not Gaga.  $4B v $112m. Updates.

Sunday’s Super Bowl LI (Richie, that is 51) brings together two of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League.  The game, telecast on FOX, starts with the ‘Super Bowl Kickoff” at 1pm followed by a four-hour pre-game show.  Yes, four hours of content that probably could be condensed into 30 minutes.  Why four hours of pre-game?  Thank the sponsors who pay big money to air their commercial spots before, during and after the Super Bowl.  In the east, the game starts at 6:30pm and between the TV timeouts and Lady Gaga’s 25-minute halftime show the game will be over by 10pm.  Yes, that is 9pm central and 7pm west coast time.  So, I find it amusing that Kraft Heinz (think ketchup and Velveeta) has called for tomorrow to be a national holiday. They “campaigned” for their national holiday stating that close to a $1B in productivity is lost on the Monday after the Super Bowl due to employees calling in sick or being late for work.  Coined “Smunday”, Kraft Heinz’s marketing team have found a simple way to get national publicity by announcing they will petition the federal government to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a designated national holiday.  Smart, strategic and a low cost idea to bring attention to the company and their global brands.  Well done and kudos to those marketing folks.   FYI:  a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl will cost a sponsor $5m.  In 1967, at Super Bowl I, the same spot cost $37,500.

Speaking of the Super Bowl and specifically the halftime show, the NFL, in their infinite wisdom, selected Lady Gaga to perform at the 25-minute intermission on Sunday.  I guess if you are under the age of 25 you may be able to watch and listen to her but really, NFL, why the hell would you select a no-talent, out-spoken zero to perform before 75,000 spectators and a viewing audience of 112 million?  Roger Goodell, by now it seems like you would have learned a lesson so good luck dealing with the aftermath of her performance at today’s game.

I really do enjoy the Super Bowl and today’s game is going to be even more special as the Atlanta Falcons have a shot at being Super Bowl champions.  I am a huge NFL and college football fan and today’s game is bittersweet because it ends the football season.  It is a long wait until late August but for some folks college basketball, the NBA, the NHL and the start of baseball season fills the void.  For me, the long wait is filled with watching European and South American soccer as well as the Major League Soccer season.  To keep things comparable from a worldwide perspective, today’s Super Bowl will be viewed by approximately 112 million.  Two summers ago, more than 1B people watched the 2014 World Cup final.  The power of a global sport is amazing.

Updates: The Houthi’s, the Yemen sect supported by Iran, attacked a Saudi warship thinking it was a U.S. ship…you can’t fix stupid.  Speaking of Yemen and the Houthis, SecDef Mattis ordered the USS Cole into the Persian Gulf and it is parked off the coast of Yemen.  Just to be clear, the USS Cole is one of our warships armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.  Sleep well Yemen. Jaime turned 30 years old yesterday.  It is Super Bowl Sunday – GO FALCONS!

Adios and Happy Super Bowl Sunday!!

Dominance on the Courts. Retail Woes. March On This.

Serena & Roger Rule.  Retailers Better Find a Way to Pivot.  Find a Real Cause.

  • As a tennis fan and recreational player I have followed the sport for a long time.   Many of the great players had their own style and temperament (Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors come to mind) and Serena Williams is no different.  There have been many times that I watched her behavior with disdain and often stopped watching her play.  With that said there is no argument that she is the greatest woman tennis player of all time.   Friday night Serena won her seventh Australian Open, her 23rd major singles title of her career.  She now is only one victory away of equaling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.  Call Serena what you want but she has now won ten major titles after the age of thirty and her career winnings are a staggering $82m.  On the men’s side, last night’s final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was an incredible five set match and after playing well over three hours, ended with Nadal challenging a ball that was clearly in.  After not playing for many months and enduring three 5-set matches during his run to the title, Federer now has collected eighteen Grand Slam titles and has earned close to $100m in career winnings.  On two consecutive nights we were lucky enough to see the two greatest tennis players of all time.
  • Weeks ago I wrote about the retail customer experience and how retailers must find new ways to change their styles and merchandising often to drive customers to purchase in-store.  Retail executives continuously strive for heightening the customer experience but it seems like to no avail.  Last week, Wet Seal, around since the early ’60’s, made the decision to close all of their 171 stores nationwide.  This followed American Apparel laying off 2,400 workers, The Limited closing all stores, and Macy’s announcing that they will shutter over 100 stores in 2017.  The economic landscape and the ease of online purchasing leads me to believe there is no end in sight for more retailers to either try and pivot their offering or decide, similar to Wet Seal and The Limited, to just give up completely.
  • Can someone, in simple terms, explain to me what the Women’s March was really supposed to accomplish?  I support human right’s, LGBTQ, racial equality and freedom of religion, but I found the March and many of the ‘protestors’ embarrassing.  I talked to many people, both men and women about the march.  A few pointed out that most of women marching were protesting against then President-elect Donald Trump without understanding his platform and pending policies.  Too bad this massive force of women could not re-focus their time and energy on important issues.  Feeding the hungry is one that comes to mind.
  • Updates:  Matt Ryan, only sixty minutes left in the season….get it done.   To the terrorists in Yemen who killed another U.S. soldier yesterday:  SecDef Mattis is coming for you.  Please Wayne Rooney, don’t get selfish and piss away your career playing in China.  Showtime’s Homeland, once a crazy, action-packed sixty minutes has gone politico on us…..the producers and writers should be ashamed.  Six weeks to daylight savings time!!

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!! 

 

 

Airport Anxiety. Mr. Blank and the Falcons. Circus No More.

Let’s Go Private.  Houston Here We Come.  PETA Does a Number on Ringling Bros. 

  • It was always interesting to watch the strange behavior of people once they arrive at an airport and proceed to check in and get through security.  I suppose the dynamics of packing and getting to the airport, as well as parking and getting to the terminal leads to a bit of tension and anxiety?  The behavior of people changed even more after the events of 9/11 with security parameters heightened along with the Transportation Security Administration.  Yes, TSA, the array of disciples dressed in garb reminding everyone of their diligence and duty to the country.  For the most part, TSA has straightened out their hiring practices and training but there are numerous occasions that you just must wonder why the United States has not provided for the privatization of TSA services at our airports.  Obviously, money is not an obstacle because like most government agencies the marginal productivity of TSA personnel surely lags the private sector security firms that certainly could provide airports with more qualified agents to screen passengers and their bags.  I am not admonishing the TSA nor most of their agents, I am simply wondering why these services are still under the guise of the Federal government.   Speaking of privatization, next week I will take a hard look at the U. S. Postal Service, whose 2015 financials showed a $5.1B loss.
  • They are on their way to Super Bowl LI.  Yes, in two weeks the Atlanta Falcons, led by MVP quarterback Matt Ryan, will make their way to Houston to play for the NFL championship against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  It is simply amazing how a new head coach, a new staff and a few new players in key positions can change the performance of a team.  The person responsible for demanding these changes is 74-year old Arthur Blank, who co-founded The Home Depot, and is both a respected businessman and philanthropist.  You must feel great for Mr. Blank, who has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Falcons, their new stadium, and his new Major League Soccer franchise, Atlanta United.  Losing Super Bowl LI to his longtime rival Robert Kraft is not an option so let’s hope that the evening of February 5th is a great one for Mr. Blank and the Falcons.
  • Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been around for well over 100 years and has performed worldwide before hundreds of million spectators, many of those young children.  Wild animals and courageous acts filled most arenas and left young children with huge smiles on their faces as they wondered how you really survive getting shot out of a cannon or hanging out in a cage with a few lions and tigers.  Last week Ringling Bros. ownership group announced that they were closing down due to the financial pressures of increasing the level of safety, security and habitats of the performing animals.  PETA went after the Circus many times threatening lawsuits and continued protests mostly focused on how the trainers treated the elephants.  I do think there is a time and a place for PETA but this has gone on way too long and now Ringling Bros. has thrown in the towel.  What a shame that many millions of children will miss out on this spectacle.  I remember my daughter and her heightened excitement knowing that the circus was coming and the joy she experienced once she walked into the arena.  Hopefully, the assets of Ringling Bros. will be bought out, retrenched and reintroduced to the world soon.
  • Updates: the Trump inauguration costs will reach $200m.   The Philippines’ President Duterte has gone quiet and for good reason:  General “Mad Dog” Mattis was sworn in as the Secretary of Defense.  Nigeria needs help with Boko Haram and their terrorist ways…. maybe a first assignment for the new Secretary of Defense? Have you tried Wendy Dunlap’s Impromptus?  Great solution for a gift or bake them yourself for a great appetizer….Impromptus Savory Shortbreads.  To order, email Wendy at myimpromptus@gmail.com .

Adios and have a great week!