Being Philosophical. Siesta. Lightfoot.

Russell Bertrand’s Take. It Is Time To Take A Break. If You Could Read My Mind.

  • Best known as a campaigner for peace and as a popular writer on social, political, and moral subjects, British philosopher Bertrand Russell often voiced his opinions on a variety of subjects. This quote by Bertrand resonated with me to some degree…what say you? “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”

I do like Russell’s philosophical approach to happiness – one that was stated by him long ago but could not be more relevant in today’s interesting world: “The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.

  • Today’s JustMyTake is #316. I do not have writer’s block, nor have I ‘hit the wall’ with my enthusiasm to write and post the blog. What I am going to do is take a bit of break, possibly change the format and content of the blog, and come back with fresh ideas -as Joe Cocker sang: “With a little help from my friends.”

Many of you have offered up your input as a guest writer – something that both myself and the readers of JustMyTake appreciate and enjoy. I am again asking (begging and pleading!) for you to take a stab at guest writing – a simple take on subject matter that interests you, or in some form bothers you. You provide me with a simple word document and I will edit/format your take accordingly. The only request: Please, no politics and no religion.

I have some travel coming up – so this is a good time to take a pre-summer siesta…but I will be back in the next few weeks with the weekly post that hopefully includes some of your input. Note: a few of you have suggested that I go to a podcast format with JustMyTake. I am interested in making that happen, but due to time constraints, no time soon.

  • Credited with defining the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s, Gordon Lightfoot became a worldwide musical talent with his whimsical and thought-provoking music, both as a songwriter and performer. Lightfoot passed away last Monday but the legacy of his baritone voice and folk-based twelve-string acoustic guitar will live on forever.
RIP Gordon Lightfoot.

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

STEM. Questions. Good News. A Hero. Anatoly.

Trade And Vocational Schools. End Of April Questions. Saving The Day. So Funny, So Strong.

  • STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. Trade-oriented instruction at the high school level and beyond was usually reserved for boys and young men, and to a degree, to groups of students seen as low achieving or low ability. This dynamic, dovetailed with many school systems reducing or eliminating traditional vocational offerings, has put the U.S. labor market in a precarious situation. As the world, and hopefully the U.S., move forward with solar electric, solar thermal, and geothermal systems, the alarm has gone off with the lack of tradespeople who are trained to install and service these types of systems. Electricians, plumbers, and other construction-related trades will be more essential as we move forward, and there are many critical issues with providing young people the essential training to eventually fill millions of available jobs.

I feel strongly that the “valorizing” of white-collar jobs has gone off the rails. We have put an emphasis on tech workers and the so-called knowledge economy. As we have all experienced, the tech world has again changed quickly, with most tech-related entities laying off workers and right-sizing their workforce, while the trade-related businesses are begging for workers to support their increasing workloads. A startling statistic from Stanley Black & Decker: In 2022, there were six hundred and fifty thousand unfilled jobs in construction-related trades in the United States, and ten million worldwide. From a personal standpoint, I had my car serviced last week. When I picked up my car, I briefly spoke to the owner of the car service and repair center. She told me that they are desperately looking for auto mechanics, offering $37 per hour, and cannot find anyone to interview. She told me she went to list the job on Indeed, but there were already fifteen pages of listings for auto mechanics – just in the central Florida area. Yes, we have a problem and one that is going to cause big issues as we move forward with 21st century technologies. Investing in vocational schools may be a smart play.

I Have Ten Questions For the End of April:

  • Is the conflict in Sudan a war between two Generals, or a proxy war involving Russia and the United States?
  • Is anyone up for another Covid booster?
  • Thank you, CNN. With that said, does anyone really care where Don Lemon and Tucker Carlson end up?
  • Were there no checks and balances or redundancy allowing a lower-level intelligence officer to download and steal classified documents?
  • Is the smell of cannabis wafting the New York City area not better than the smell of garbage – especially on a hot, summer day?
  • Many are taking the Netflix series “The Diplomat” too seriously. Can we not just enjoy the writing and plot without questioning the political semantics?
  • It is day 432 of the Russia-Ukraine war. How long will Vladimir Putin’s collateral damage continue with the sovereign nation of Ukraine?
  • Does anyone have a phone that folds?
  • What economic indicator is your barometer to forecast the near-term economy? One of mine is truck traffic as it is a forward-looking indicator, as trucks move products before consumers spend money. My other positive economic indicator is airport growth. For example, the Sarasota-Bradenton airport is the fastest growing airport in the country. There must be some strong economic indicators in southwest Florida.
  • With all the negative news we see/read daily, how can we reward this young man, who saved the day (and some lives) with his calm and heroic action?

  • You have to smile when you watch former world-class Ukrainian powerlifter Vladimir Shmondenko, who introduces himself to gym rats with the name “Anatoly.” Posing as a custodian, Shmondenko pranks the strong and mighty in a very funny way. At one time, Shmondenko was deemed, pound-for-pound, one of the strongest men worldwide. His acting and mannerisms are priceless, and the reactions from the people he interrupts are very funny.

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

Remember. Years 2020 & 2021. Intermodal. Respect. George’s Mother.

A Moment Of Silence. The Post-Pandemic Reality. High-Speed Rail. Prime Time Delivers A Message. RIP Estelle Harris.

  • Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. Two minutes of an air raid siren to remind people of the six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. This video shows traffic on a busy highway in Tel Aviv last Tuesday, with people coming to a stop to observe a moment of silence. Honor and sadness in one brief moment.
  • I returned late last week from an eight-day stint in Las Vegas. On the surface, you may think entertainment, food, and gambling, but this ordeal was dealing with a hundred details surrounding the massive National Association of Broadcasters conference. A great deal of work, very long days, and many meetings with customers, partners, and many media platforms. All went well with the conference, but something else was even more important and positive with these eight days in Sin City – the number of people at the conference, in the hotel, at restaurants, and at both the Orlando and Las Vegas airports. I was in Las Vegas during the Covid-19 turmoil, and the city was quiet, with hotels 75% empty, most restaurants only providing a take-out option, and the conference I participated in at 40% of their usual attendance. Thankfully and hopefully those days of despair are long gone as last week’s experience showed me that the food, travel, and entertainment business is once again strong and vibrant.

70,000 attendees and over 1,000 exhibitors at last week’s NAB show.

  • It is certainly not at the level of high-speed rail service that spans most of western Europe, but Florida’s intercity train system, at a minimum, is a good model for others states to follow. Eventually connecting South Florida with stations in West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa, the Brightline rail option will certainly be a welcomed alternative to driving I-4, I-95, and the Florida Turnpike.

The Miami-Orlando non-stop train will take three hours with other trains stopping in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, and Aventura. Tickets for some routes will be available next month with other routes, including Tampa, later this summer. A key step for Orlando is to obtain federal funding to connect their SunRail system to Brightline, which will provide Orlando residents easy access to Brightline routes. A long time coming but a welcome alternative for the state of Florida.

  • I have previously discussed Deion “Prime Time” Sanders – once a remarkable athlete who played in an afternoon NFL game with the Atlanta Falcons, and later that evening played in a Major League Baseball game with the Atlanta Braves. He is a coach now and does not exactly have a lot of experience or tenure as the head coach of a major college program. What he does bring is a high level of motivation and expectation to a team, with demands from his staff and players that do not sit well with many. In fact, his new head coaching tenure at the University of Colorado, all of five months, has seen many Colorado players leave the team for many different reasons. He has taken over the Colorado program after leading Jackson State University to two Southwestern Athletic Conference championships, losing only three games in two seasons. He has a mountain to climb with the Colorado program, who won one game last year, and lost their remaining eleven games by an average of 32 points. The ‘Sanders effect’ at Colorado has been amazing. Yesterday’s spring game had 45,000 people in attendance, apparel sales have jumped 525%, and 20,000 new season ticket applications have been processed since his December hiring. Most importantly, Sanders has delivered a stern message and warning to his players about respect. You have to love how he delivers this message to his players:
“Don’t have your momma call me.”

Five Things I Think I Think

  • If you think you had a rough week, take a look at Elon Musk. His Tesla investors are up in arms, his Twitter platform continues in controversy, and his SpaceX Starship exploded in midair shortly after takeoff. Rough week.
  • The Polar Ice Sheet loss now accounts for more than 25% of global sea level rise. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting seven times faster than in the 1990s. The ramifications of this ice sheet loss are too complicated for me to understand but obviously this is not good.
  • The Oakland A’s moving to Las Vegas? Another legacy franchise may be leaving its long-time roots for the money. Do you blame their ownership? I do not.
  • Nothing to do with politics, but I am done with Covid booster shots. Two shots and one booster will need to suffice.
  • Headline of the week: Alec Baldwin is working with a crew making a documentary about the Rust shooting. Take this the way you want, but the optics really look bad.

  • Seinfeld’s cast of characters were amazing, from the neurotic George Costanza to the looney-tunes Kramer. Estelle Harris, who played George’s mother, was one memorable character from the show, with her persistent level of paranoia and exasperation. This scene was one of her best in the twenty-seven episodes she appeared in from 1992-1998. Estelle Harris passed away at the age of ninety-three and will always be remembered as Estelle Costanza. RIP Ms. Harris.
The one and only Estelle Harris.

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

A Longer Border. MLB. Quotes. The Food.

Finland Puts A Line In The Sand. New Rules. Well Said. Passover Via The Italians.

  • Finland and other countries in the geographic region surrounding Russia have long maintained a military nonalignment. Finland had kept their distance from NATO since the end of WWII, but last week their application and entry into the thirty-one-country alliance was ceremoniously accepted at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The Nordic country became the alliance’s latest member, spurred by the war in Ukraine, in what becomes a strategic setback for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Putin is fuming with Finland’s inclusion in NATO, as the move doubles the alliance’s border with Russia, adding to NATO’s expansion to the east. Putin’s main concern is NATO having the largest artillery capability in Western Europe, with a reported 1,500 pieces in operation. Sweden may be next to join NATO, though their application is caught up in a political quandary with Turkey and Hungary. Does anyone want to provide their take on Putin’s next moves to counter NATO’s inclusion of Finland?

Thoughts for an Easter Sunday

  • Has Tiger played his last Masters?
  • Will mortgage rates continue to drop and spur home-buying?
  • The understatement of the week: “Ukraine says the coveted F-16 fighter jets are four to five times better than its Soviet jets.”
  • The Sunnis and Shias of Saudi Arabia and Iran, after seven years of cutting off ties, have re-established diplomatic relations. Blend this with Middle East tension bubbling up, and who knows if escalating conflicts flare up in the next few weeks?
  • CNN’s morning ratings must be favorable as I cannot think of any other reason they would keep Don Lemon on air.
  • Tomorrow marks the 25th Anniversary of the ‘Good Friday Agreement’, a historic deal that ended the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Troubles is the term used to describe sectarian violence that took place in Northern Ireland, which led to more than 3,500 deaths and even more casualties. Horrific terrorist attacks were conducted by members of paramilitary organizations, as were acts of brutality by police and army officers. I was in Belfast a few years ago and along with my daughter and son-in-law, took a Black Cab tour, which unexpectedly included a visit to IRA headquarters and their “munitions museum.” A great eye-opening and learning experience for the three of us.
  • An Easter egg hunt. Great stuff for children (and adults) of all ages.

  • Last week’s post went into detail about the changes Major League Baseball has made to speed up the game. These changes include a pitch clock, a limit to the number of times a pitcher can throw to pickoff a baserunner, and the number of times a batter can step out of the batter’s box. There is some great news after the first week of the season as baseball’s new rules have made a difference. Game times for the first week of the season were down by an average of twenty-five minutes, with one game between the Twins and Marlins ending in under two hours. There is not much wasted time with these new rules. Kudos to Major League Baseball!

Six quotes I really like:

  • “There is no such thing as a grouchy old person. The truth is once you get old, you stop being polite and start being honest.”
  • “Do what is right, not what you think the high headquarters wants or what you think will make you look good.”
  • “Your level of grit and resilience will define you more than your wins and losses do.”
  • “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
  • My dad once told me: “You are a product of your environment.” Derek Jeter said: “Surround yourself with good people. People who are going to be honest with you and look out for your best interests.”
  • “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”
  • “A mother’s job is to teach her children not to need her anymore. The hardest part of that job is accepting success.”

With Passover and Easter overlapping this year, I thought I would give you Sebastian Maniscalco’s take on the traditional Passover dinner celebration, the Seder. I shy away from religion, but Maniscalco’s take is one to watch. Happy Passover and Happy Easter to All!!

The one and only Sebastian Maniscalco.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and Enjoy Easter Sunday!

Blue Eyes. Thoughts about AI. Baseball Is Back. The Ostrich.

Sinatra and racism. Generative Artificial Intelligence. Take Me Out To The Ballpark. 60 MPH!

  • There are many stories about Frank Sinatra. Once called the “Chairman of the Board”, Sinatra’s legendary career is well-documented. Another amazing detail about Sinatra was his disdain for racism. This short video clip has Quincy Jones explaining an incident that speaks volumes. In today’s world, still rampant with racism, we could all probably use more Frank Sinatra’s. Warning: this video includes language not suitable for youngsters.
Quincy Jones explaining how Frank Sinatra stopped racism in Las Vegas.

Our mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence—AI systems that are generally smarter than humans—benefits all of humanity.

That is a positioning statement from OpenAI, one of many technology entities exploring and developing artificial intelligence platforms – that will allow all of us to expand our knowledge base, solve problems faster, and create and compose simple tasks like technical writing as well as generating complex applications and services.

I used Bard, Google’s entry-level AI platform, to test their AI offering by simply inputting ‘April Fools’ Day.’ Within seconds of entering the subject matter, Bard produced the information below. I could have been more specific with my Bard inquiry regarding April Fools’ Day, but my goal was to witness how quickly the information was produced. Here is the information Bard provided:

April Fools’ Day and Springtime: A Perfect Match

April Fools’ Day is a day for fun and laughter, and what better time to celebrate it than in the springtime? The days are getting longer, the flowers are blooming, and the air is filled with the sound of birdsong. It’s the perfect time to pull off a harmless prank or two on your friends and family.

History of April Fools’ Day

April Fools’ Day is celebrated on April 1st every year. It is a day for fun and laughter, and people often play pranks on each other. The exact origins of April Fools’ Day are unknown, but there are many theories about how it started.

One theory is that April Fools’ Day is a day to celebrate the start of the new year. In the past, the new year began on March 25th. However, in 1582, the Gregorian calendar was adopted, and the new year began on January 1st. This change caused a lot of confusion, and some people continued to celebrate the new year on March 25th. These people were often the butt of jokes and pranks, and this may be how April Fools’ Day started.

Another theory is that April Fools’ Day is a day to celebrate the spring equinox. The spring equinox is the day when the sun crosses the equator and the day and night are of equal length. It is a time of new beginnings, and it may be why April Fools’ Day is celebrated on this day.

The world of AI and how the platforms will help all of us is limitless. Sure, there are and will be limitations and issues with the use of AI. A statement from OpenAI: GPT-4 still has many known limitations that we are working to address, such as social biases, hallucinations, and adversarial prompts. We encourage and facilitate transparency, user education, and wider AI literacy as society adopts these models. We also aim to expand the avenues of input people have in shaping our models.

We have only witnessed the beginning of AI and how it will change our lives. Many have discussed how the cell phone forever changed the way that we live our everyday lives. AI, when fully developed, vetted, and socialized, will make the advent of the cell phone look like the Stone Age.

AI and all it will offer us is exciting but many technologists are asking everyone to pause on the development of AI systems. This sentence, taken from a letter signed by many, including Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, says it all: “Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders.” Well….now what?

  • Baseball has always been a dilemma for me. While I enjoy going to the ballpark and the long-standing traditions of the game, sitting through three-to-3.5 hour games, especially on a warm day or night, is not exactly enjoyable. The good news: Major League Baseball, with pressure from fans, marketing partners, and television networks, has introduced some changes that should SPEED UP THE TIME OF THE GAME. Sure, some of these changes go against the ‘purity’ of baseball, but there was really no choice if baseball was going to stay relevant with their targeted demographics. Take a look at some of the changes:
  • The pitcher has fifteen seconds to make a pitch with the bases empty; 20 seconds with runners on base. This will decrease the overall game time.
  • The hitter gets one timeout per plate appearance and must be in the batter’s box with 8 seconds left on the pitch clock. This will decrease the overall game time.
  • A pitcher gets two disengagements (pickoff attempts or step-offs) per batter; violations are a balk. This will also decrease the overall game time.
  • There is no more infield shift allowed where three infielders were allowed to be on either side of second base. Now, two infielders must be positioned on either side of 2nd base. This should provide more base hits and scoring.
  • No more positioning where the shortstop or 2nd baseman were positioned in the shallow outfield. All four infielders must now be positioned in the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber. This will also provide for more base hits and scoring.
  • The first, 2nd, and 3rd bases have increased in size from 15″ to 18″. This will decrease injury events.

Well done, Major League Baseball! Better late than never.

  • I hope you did not get fooled yesterday. April 1st is always an interesting day, with ‘pranking’ taking place at all levels of foolishness. Speaking of fools, the first Sunday of April takes us to Kevin Hart as he explains, in too much detail, his encounter with an ostrich in Nebraska. Yes, Nebraska. Note: in case anyone cares, an ostrich is the world’s largest bird, can run at speeds up to thirty-eight MPH, reach a height of 8′ and weigh as much as 320 lbs.

Warning: this video contains language not suitable for youngsters.

A Big-Ass Man Pigeon.

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

3D Printed. Come On Miami. Questions. Inspiration.

Printing A Space Vehicle. It Is Time For A No-Tolerance Spring Break. I Have Questions. Willis Reed Overcomes.

Some deemed it a failure. I do not. After two unsuccessful attempts to launch, Relativity Space managed to launch its 3D-printed Terran 1 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, but an issue with its second-stage engine prevented the ultimate orbital goal. I am not sure how anyone could deem this mission a failure, as the Long Beach, California-based startup hit several milestones on the mission including liftoff from the pad, hitting supersonic speeds, enduring maximum dynamic pressure, and a separation of the first and second stages…all with a spaceship that was 85% fabricated using 3D printing, including its engines.

Why did Relativity Space use one of the world’s largest 3D printers to manufacture the rocket? The answer is both simple and complicated, but rockets now can be produced in a matter of weeks or months versus the years it takes to produce more traditional space vehicles. There is a key milestone Relativity Space is working hard to reach: Their CEO stated: “3D printing will be essential to long-term habitability in space and on the moon and Mars. Instead of waiting months or years for replacement parts to be shipped off to habitats, for example, astronauts will be able to print the necessary parts right there.The company’s long-term goal, much like SpaceX, is to help establish human settlement on Mars.

How will the ability to 3D print rockets ignite the space race?

My hometown is Miami, Florida. I have talked about Miami in my past posts, a vibrant and tumultuous city with a very wide range of socio-economics. When someone disses on Miami, I have always defended the city because good, bad, or ugly, it is one-of-a-kind. With that said, I get upset when I read headlines such as this one: “Florida spring break partiers see Miami mayhem while Fort Lauderdale avoids chaos.” I am not naive to the ongoings of Spring Break, but when did this annual ‘break from college’ give these young people the right to be out of control, disrespectful, and in many cases criminal? I guess I could turn that statement around and ask why Miami/Miami Beach’s city officials and police departments permit these young people to run rampant and wreak havoc? The question becomes even more profound when you read that Ft. Lauderdale officials stated that there were no major incidents during Spring Break, a city and beach once known for out-of-control partying. The facts from the Spring Break period of February 27 to March 19 in the Miami area: “There were at least 322 arrests, including at least 165 for violent felonies and drug-related crimes, and 70 guns were seized, according to the city’s state of emergency declaration.” To my hometown of Miami: it is time to stop this craziness for many reasons. Quit talking about it and just get it done.

Massive crowds and many arrests during Spring Break in Miami Beach.

Questions for the last Sunday of March

  • Will the turmoil in global banking, with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the takeover of Credit Suisse, be as bad as the global financial crisis of 2007-09?
  • How long will it take ChatGPT, as well as other AI information providers, to thread their way into the mainstream of everyday life?
  • When do girl scout cookies go on sale?
  • Who gets to send Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani to a long-lost island?
  • Will synthetic fuels for automobiles cannibalize electric vehicle sales?
  • Is John Wick: Chapter 4 too much of a good thing?
  • Did the International Criminal Court’s warrant for the arrest of Vladimir Putin hit a dead stop?
  • Will the U.S. need to deploy their new B-21 Raider, capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear weapons, to a few hotspots around the world? Based on last week’s tragic event, Syria certainly comes to mind.
The B-21 Raider.

The memory of what happened in this NBA game is forever embedded in my mind. My dad and brother were huge New York Knicks fans so we watched the Knicks play against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Knicks’ Willis Reed, a 6′-10″ center/power forward from Grambling, had a knee injury during this NBA championship series. The Lakers were loaded with great players, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain to name two, and without Reed in the seventh and deciding game, many felt that the Knicks had no chance. I will never forget when the injured Willis Reed unexpectedly made his way onto the court at Madison Square Garden. Willis Reed spent his entire career with the New York Knicks as a player, coach, and general manager. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982 and in 1996, he was voted one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History”. Reed passed away last week at the age of eighty. RIP Willis Reed.

The Willis Reed ‘moment’.

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

The ‘F’ Word. Litigious Gone Mad. The West Wing Revisited. Seinfeld At Its Finest.

From Viral To A Drug Epidemic. Chicken This. Well Said, Martin Sheen. Jerry, Kramer, George & Elaine.

  • Have we gone from a viral pandemic to a drug epidemic? Fentanyl is now intertwined into the fabric of America, with news outlets writing stories about this narcotic to no end. Until I did a bit of research about fentanyl, I had no idea what it was, how it was used, and the deadly path the drug provides to thousands of people across the United States.

Let’s start with a basic definition of fentanyl, as outlined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA): Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid typically used to treat patients with chronic severe pain or severe pain following surgery. Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance that is similar to morphine but about 100 times more potent. Under the supervision of a licensed medical professional, fentanyl has a legitimate medical use. Patients prescribed fentanyl should be monitored for potential misuse or abuse. On the surface, this sounds like a controlled substance that has legitimate benefits for patients recovering from injury and surgery, until I dug into some facts and figures, that at a minimum, are disturbing:

  • The illegal drug market has exploded in the United States with illicit fentanyl, manufactured in foreign (Mexico to name one) labs, and smuggled into the United States.
  • Fentanyl is being mixed with other drugs to increase the potency of the drug, pressed into pills made to look like legitimate prescription opioids.
  • Drugs intentionally contaminated with fentanyl, because of its low cost and extreme potency, include heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine.
  • Two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal depending on a person’s body size, tolerance and past usage. DEA analysis has found counterfeit pills ranging from .02 to 5.1 milligrams (more than twice the lethal dose) of fentanyl per tablet.
  • Drug trafficking organizations typically distribute fentanyl by the kilogram. One kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.
  • Overdose deaths in the U.S., in the last two years, have risen by 38%.

Reality: unless a drug is prescribed by a licensed medical professional and dispensed by a legitimate pharmacy, there is no way to tell if it is fake, laced with fentanyl, or legitimate. Customs and Border Protection (ICE) seized 15,000 pounds of fentanyl during 2022, most of it at the southern border of the United States. What can be done to stem the flow of this dangerous and illegal synthetic opioid? One idea is for the U.S. to designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs). This would make it easier for the U.S. government to prosecute cartels under a federal statute, even if their crimes are in Mexico. This action sounds severe, but does anyone else have an idea of how to deal with the drug cartels and the extremely dangerous fentanyl?

  • A customer who ordered a meal at a national franchised restaurant did not feel like the food they ordered was described correctly on the menu. I will not bore you with the intimate chicken details, though I will express my disdain that this customer felt this situation warranted hiring a law firm and suing the restaurant chain. The extent of litigious behavior in the United States has gone off the deep end. Individuals and business entities have become prone to engaging in lawsuits, even if the suits are unnecessary, unfounded, or in many cases, retaliatory. I have had a personal experience with litigious behavior, and fortunately, after a lot of work by me, and my attorney’s follow through, a New York district court judge took a cursory look at the lawsuit and threw the case out of court. As well-known columnist Jack Anderson declared many years ago: “Across the country, people are suing one another with abandon; courts are clogged with litigation; lawyers are burdening the populace with legal bills. This massive, mushrooming litigation has caused horrendous ruptures and dislocations at a flabbergasting cost to the nation.” In 2022, the U.S. Justice Department reported false claims settlements and judgements exceeded $2 billion. Regarding the Buffalo Wild Wings lawsuit, which to me was certainly litigious behavior: A federal judge in Illinois has dismissed a Chicago man’s class-action lawsuit against Buffalo Wild Wings over the type of meat inside the so-called “boneless” chicken wings. Do we not have better and more positive things to focus on? Thanks for sending the info N.B.

  • This diatribe was written many years ago for Martin Sheen, who starred in the political drama television series, “The West Wing”. Yes, this take involves both religion and politics, two subjects I really try to stay away from. What drew me to Sheen’s speech is the way he mocks this pundit, and attacks her views on homosexuality. Religion and politics aside, my takeaway from this speech is to keep away from your “ignorant, tight-ass club.” Again, I am not mocking anyone who is religious or political. I am pointing out that along with ‘President Bartlet’, people should just stay in their lane. Thank you to K.R. for reminding me of this video.
Take His Statement Any Way You Want.

A Few Questions For Mid-March.

  • What is the follow through by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with issuing an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin? The ICC would have a better chance of bringing Godzilla into custody.
  • To China: what is a raccoon dog?
  • Has collecting biometric data from customers in a grocery store gone too far? A New York City grocery chain, Fairway, has done just that.
  • Does Poland and Slovakia providing fighter jets to Ukraine open the door for China to do the same with Russia? This smells really bad.
  • Is Time Magazine’s naming of Tampa, Florida as one of the world’s greatest places off the mark? Maybe they went too far with designating Tampa with other great cities of the world, but the Tampa Bay/Clearwater/ St. Petersburg area is fantastic.
  • Is it possible that only two days into the NCAA basketball tournament, none of 20 million brackets created through ESPN remain intact? Fairleigh Dickinson University’s win over Purdue sealed that deal.
  • Are worldwide “hotspots” at an all-time high or just systemic and ongoing conflicts? I am thinking El Salvador, Ukraine, Taiwan, Israel, Libya and many more.
  • Is the ongoing banking drama the only reason brent crude oil could fall to the $40 a barrel mark?
  • Is it again time to gather our gold jewelry? Remember when all the ‘cash-for-gold’ stores populated our cities? Gold is once again hovering around $200 an ounce.
  • Who is not watching the third season of Ted Lasso?

  • It is nine minutes of your time, but these outtakes and bloopers from Seinfeld are priceless. I am not sure how they got through one take without cracking up.
Seinfeld. Enough Said.

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

Atmosphere. Short Takes For Mid-March. Freebird.

The Passion And Energy Of San Siro. My Takes For The Week. We Have Lost Another Great Guitarist.

  • The pageantry of sports. The feeling of supporting your team in your stadium or arena, with a sold-out crowd singing and chanting – it really is an audio-visual spectacle. In the college football world, many stadiums are full and include a large proportion of students screaming and yelling for their team. Ohio State’s “Shoe” and “The Big House” in Ann Arbor, Michigan come to mind as two massive stadiums that sell out every game. Many stadiums around the world enjoy the same atmosphere, including Milan’s San Siro Stadium, home to A.C. Milan, who for historical sake would be similar to the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. The atmosphere, fan experience, and choreography in the video below tells us about the passion and support of their fans. The visual spectacle of how the stadium looks is awesome, along with the passion displayed by the fans starting at the 4:05 mark of this video. In a word, amazing.
Milan, Italy’s San Siro Stadium.

A Few Short Takes For the Second Sunday of March:

  • Are the Norfolk Southern derailments just coincidental? Two in Ohio and one last Thursday in Alabama. I certainly hope so.
  • Apple + releases the third season of Ted Lasso on Wednesday. Whether you are a soccer fan or not, this series is fantastic.

  • To all of you daylight savings time naysayers: relax as we will be back to the early days of darkness on Sunday, November 5. Does Congress put a halt to changing the clock twice a year? 🙂
  • It all started with Moody’s Investors Service informing SVB Financial Group, the parent of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), that they were downgrading the bank’s credit. That pending announcement, along with some missteps by SVB, began the process toward Friday’s collapse of the lender, who focused on California’s startup entities, mostly in the technology sector. Another hard and difficult lesson showing all of us how quickly confidence in financial institutions can erode.
  • The 95th Academy Awards is on ABC tonight. Jimmy Kimmel is the host and let us hope that the award-winners accept their award with grace and a bit of dignity.
  • A few family members and friends have new-fangled turntables. I really never thought that vinyl records would outsell CDs…for the first time since 1987.
  • There has been continuing bad press coming out of Mexico. The abduction and murder of two Americans has again put Mexico and their drug cartels on the front page. It is really a sad state of affairs as Mexico has so many great things to offer. From Mexico City to Monterey, to the areas of Tulum, Mexico has been a great country for my previous visits. The good is often overshadowed by the cartels and their never-ending murderous endeavors. Very, very sad.
  • The annual March Madness college basketball craziness starts this Thursday. I am having someone who knows nothing about college basketball populate my bracket as last year only 74% of my picks were correct.
  • A big shout out to C.A., as her eldest of her three boys was married last night. Congratulations…one down and two to go!

  • I have had a number of family and friends who have played in bands, most of them focusing on the guitar. In previous posts, I have mentioned how much I like guitar riffs, especially from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Eddie Van Halen. I unfortunately never recognized Gary Rossington, the guitarist from the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd band. Shame on me as he was magical with his riffs and slide guitar playing. Rossington, last of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd, passed away last week at the age of seventy-one. They are all free as a bird now…RIP Gary Rossington.
“Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, performed at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, England in 2016.

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

Sunshine. Woke. Execute. Dreams.

Daylight May Be In Play. He/She? Strategy Is Nothing Without The Ability To Execute. Stevie Nicks All Over Again.

  • Much to the chagrin of many, my daylight savings countdown is now one week. Yes, I received some comments concerning my posts that cheer on the advent of more daylight in the early evenings. I enjoyed reading everyone’s take – from too dark in the early mornings to too warm at night. I suppose the argument can go both ways, but to me, having daylight until 8:30PM is great in many ways.

Not to dive into politics, but there is legislation in play from a group of twelve bipartisan senators (yes, I actually stated the word bipartisan) that would make daylight savings time permanent, which followed a unanimous Senate vote a year ago that would end the changing of your clocks in the Spring and Fall. The legislation came to a quick halt last year as the House of Representatives could not agree on whether to keep standard time or permanent daylight savings time. Imagine that!

Some analysts and special advisors have advocated the U.S. go to permanent daylight savings time for many reasons, including the ability for children to be outdoors more often (and not staring at their phones or tablets), reduce seasonal depression, and cut down on the number of car accidents that occur due to time changes. Critics of permanent daylight savings time note that children would be going to school in the dark and some would have issues with alertness due to the morning darkness.

Whatever the decision may turn out to be, it is definitely time to stop adjusting our clocks twice a year. That is my take, what is yours?

  • The She/He, Her/Him movement is a bit puzzling, but all good with me. However you identify yourself is your personal business, but in some cases, this has gone way too far. Again, I am in full support of people being people and how they deem their gender is just fine. Do I understand the new wave of email signatures that are followed by she/he or her/him? No, I do not, and I do not care. With all that said, watch this video. Victor Marx is a do-gooder, turning his life around as a high-risk humanitarian with successful missions to Iraq, Syria, North Africa, and Southeast Asia – many times in high-threat environments. Severely abused and tortured as a child, by the time he graduated from high school, his lifestyle was filled with drugs, fights, and theft. The discipline of military life and his faith helped him recover from his traumatic childhood and empowered him to help others. Victor’s work and leadership has been sought after by award-winning actors, musicians, professional athletes, military leaders, and politicians – from the Pentagon to around the world.

This quick video tells us that she/he, him/her has gone too far. An example of people being way too sensitive, just to be sensitive, without any regard for situational awareness. Sort of alarming and sort of sad.

Gender identification gone way too far.

  • Speaking of discipline, meet Chadd Wright. Wright is a twelve-year veteran and former Team Leader with the U.S. Navy Seals, who served his country in conflict zones around the world. Retired in 2019, he is now a part-time defense contractor, business owner, entrepreneur, public speaker, and competitive Ultrarunner. I have read a lot about Wright, and I have taken away a few ideas and tidbits from his writings and videos. There is one big takeaway that resonates with me in many ways. Wright preaches that ideas, plans, and strategies are worthless unless there is execution. All the best personal and professional planning can go nowhere unless there is a strong component of execution…with all aspects of our lives. This short video sends that clear message.

  • A bit of a rant. How in the hell, in the year 2023, with all the advancements in technology and mobility, can train wrecks still happen? The train derailments in East Palestine, Ohio and Greece are so alarming and tragic in different ways. It is 2023, right?

  • Fleetwood Mac. A memory of great music from Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks. Nicks’ rendition of the song “Dreams”, which came off of the album Rumors, sold more than one million copies and reached the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1977. Her voice was remarkable, with a melodic reality few could replicate. That is until we hear the voice of young Lanie Gardner with her rendition of “Dreams.” So well done.
Well done, Lanie Gardner.

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

The Russian Invasion Of Ukraine. Aging Population. The All-Star Game. An Angel? Go Big. Chill.

What Has Changed In The Last Year ? Is Age Just A Number? Hey NBA: Changes Must Be Made. One Of Netflix’s Best Ever. A Category-Killer In The C-Store Space. Take A Few Moments.

  • Last week marked one year since Russian military forces invaded Ukraine. One year that has seen thousands of casualties on each side, with Ukraine also seeing many of its civilians displaced with many women and children lost to Russia’s relentless barrage of missiles. There are many questions that will need to be answered into the second year of this battle, with the NATO alignment being a big one. Some questions to ponder:
  • To what level does the west continue to be Ukraine’s arsenal, advocate, and banker?
  • Does Vladimir Putin’s announcement, suspending Russia’s nuclear arms treaty, change the west’s level of support with Ukraine?
  • Does the west become Ukraine’s full-fledged military ally?
  • Does China seek to support the Russians in the same way the west supports Ukraine?
  • How far will the west go, into the future, to be future guarantors of Ukrainian liberties and maintain economic and military stability?
  • Will Vladimir Putin ever compromise on his stance that the territories of the Ukraine are Russian regions?
  • Can the Russian forces maintain their level of consistent assault on Ukraine?
  • How long can NATO stand down with their support of Ukraine?
  • How long before NATO and the EU place peacekeeping troops on the ground in the Ukraine? What are the consequences of doing so?

There are many more questions as this sad and unfortunate conflict continues into its second year. I cannot imagine the pressure and concern that exists with the leadership of Russian ‘flank’ countries of Finland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, North Korea, and of course, Ukraine. We can only hope that Putin’s ambition to demolish Ukraine subside – a hope that may be dashed by a narcissistic dictator with a skewed sense of reality.

  • Here is an update on CNN anchor Don Lemon: ( you fill it in )

  • I agree with the adage that age is just a number. With that said, I find it alarming that the aging population of the United States continues to face issues and concerns that are life-altering. One of these issues is Covid-19 and other variants. According to the National Vital Statistics System, between 2020 and Thursday of last week (February 23, 2023), 838,016 people, sixty-five years and older, have died due to Covid-19 and its variants. That number is alarming in itself, and then you do the math which tells us that the 838,016 number is 80% of all Covid-19 related deaths in the U.S. in that same period.

My point: there is no doubt that the aging population has been affected by Covid-19 and its variants, as well as the systemic healthcare issues that surround diabetes, COPD, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. As referenced from the U.S. Census Bureau: People age 65 and older represented 16% of the population in the year 2019 but are expected to grow to be 21.6% of the population by 2040. The 85 and older population is projected to more than double from 6.6 million in 2019 to 14.4 million in 2040 (a 118% increase).

Obviously, the areas of pharmaceutical research and medical device development have targeted the aging demographic. In fact, neuroscientists at Ben-Gurion University have developed a new artificial molecule to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s. It is just in the beginning stages, with this artificial molecule given to thirty mice suffering from Alzheimer’s, with all of them recovering and regaining full cognitive abilities. Yes, these were mice, and it is just a start, but we must hope the healthcare researchers around the world continue to work hard to help the aging.

For the first time in U.S. history, older adults will outnumber children by 2034.

  • I am calling out the NBA. The All-Star game, which in yesteryear and before the onslaught of cable and satellite TV, gave us a look at the great players of the game, has turned into a disappointing debacle. I am raising my hand to help Adam Silver and his lieutenants create a better format that has some semblance of competitiveness and meaning. Why do I care? I have been a huge fan of the NBA for as far as I can remember. It is a great sport, played by incredible athletes, and playoff time in the NBA is great fun. My hand is raised.

  • It could be many things, but I certainly have challenges watching and giving a movie or sporting event my full, undivided attention. To my delight, and on the recommendation of a friend, I watched, without interruption, the Netflix movie, The Angel. I had no idea that this fact-based two-hour movie was so intense and thought-provoking. This is the story of Ashraf Marwan, who was Egyptian President Nasser’s son-in-law, and special advisor and confidant to his successor Anwar Sadat. The twist: Ashraf Marwan simultaneously was one of Israeli Intelligence’s most precious assets of the 20th century. To say the least, two hours of intense intrigue.
A must watch movie, The Angel.

  • Headline of the Week: Scorpion spotted on British Airways flight from Texas to London. Huh, I guess this must be better than Snakes on a Plane, the epic drama starring Samuel L. Jackson?

  • Big is the way of today’s world, especially in the United States. I never thought a convenience store could generate headlines and be iconic, but the Texas-based chain of BUC-EE’s is doing just that. I had a BUC-EE’s experience over Christmas, driving from Orlando to Amelia Island. Adjacent to Interstate 95, near Daytona Beach, sits Florida’s first BUC-EE’s, which in short is the epitome of ‘everything big’ in the United States. The store itself was mobbed, with people browsing the aisles as if they were at a Walmart, which now that I think of it, BUC-EE’s aligns with Walmart in many ways. BUC-EE’s just announced their second Florida location, this one located off I-75 near Ocala. This location includes an 80,000 square foot ‘travel center’ and 120 gas pumps. Yes, 120. I never thought there could be a category-killer in the convenience store world. Trust me, there is one now.

The BUC-EE’s massive convenience store near Daytona Beach, Florida.

  • Just a suggestion: put your phone AWAY for ten minutes, sit back, and listen and watch this video. No, I have not hit my head, joined a cult, or indulge in narcotics of any kind. 🙂 With everything we all have going on, it is cathartic to lose your phone once in a blue moon and RELAX. By the way, where is this beautiful place?
Destination Unknown?

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