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!

Negative Vibes. Motown. Schedule. Sex Appeal.

Things Cannot Be This Bad. The Supremes and More. 90 Days. Racquel Welch.

  • I get it but have a difficult time consuming it. One objective of media outlets is to get our eyes on their content. Whether a national news network, a local television affiliate, an online outlet, or your local newspaper, the media is micro-focused on ratings and subscriptions. My concerns are the amount of negative, shock-value, or negative stories the media generates, broadcasts, and publishes every day, day in and day out. Yes, I do stay away from politics and religion, but here is a sample of the headlines from last Friday:
  • A judge released parts of a grand jury report about a Trump investigation.
  • People are reporting headaches and rashes after a toxic train crash in Ohio.
  • The U.S. and its allies are working to destroy Russian spy networks.
  • Man arrested after 6 killed, including suspect’s ex-wife, in series of shootings in Mississippi, sheriff says.
  • Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with a rare type of dementia.
  • Top Putin war official plunges 160 feet to her death from high-rise building.
  • Tesla recalled more than 360,000 vehicles over its self-driving software.
  • Microsoft’s new AI chatbot is giving out bad information and getting angry and defensive when questioned.
  • Canada to send warships to Haiti amid ongoing violence.
  • Poppy Harlow storms off CNN set after tense spat with Don Lemon over Haley comments.

Ten headlines from two days ago. I know a few media executives who read – maybe it is time to start a new media concern branded “PNN”, the Positive News Network. After reviewing some of my posts over the last few years, I realize I am being a bit hypocritical. Some of my posts, whether they relate to my self-deprecating humor or sarcasm, have a spin of negativity that I will try to refrain from going forward.

  • Two hours of great television. I watched the documentary, Hitsville: The Making of Motown last week, a remarkable story of Motown, from its birth in Detroit in 1958 until its relocation to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. Berry Gordy started Motown in the late 1950s creating a record label and management company known around the world. This documentary is very well done, giving us insight into the many hurdles Gordy and his management staff encountered along the way of bringing us some of the greatest music artists ever. The Supremes are still one of America’s most successful groups with twelve No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Other Motown artists of the past include Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, The Temptations, The Commodores, and Michael Jackson. Then, of course, there is the one and only Marvin Gaye.
Hitsville: The Making of Motown – a great two-hour watch.

It has been suggested that I try to refrain from my take on sports as there are so many journalists serving that space through the avenues of podcasts and blogs. I have and will continue to shy away from many sports stories, but I do want to remind everyone that this time of year brings us some great sporting events. Here is a quick look at the next ninety days:

  • Major League Soccer’s season openers are February 25th
  • March Madness – the NCAA’s basketball extravaganza, starts in two weeks
  • Opening day for Major League Baseball is March 30.
  • The Masters starts April 6.
  • The NBA playoffs start with play-in tournament on April 11.
  • The NHL playoffs start April 17.
  • The horses run at the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
  • The PGA golf tournament begins May 18.
  • The race date for the Indianapolis 500 is May 28.
  • The French Open, played on the famous red clay, starts May 28.
  • The Premier League’s final day is also May 28.

  • With all due respect to the likes of Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Marilyn Monroe, Mila Kunis, Kate Upton, and Emma Stone: no one celebrity brought more appeal than Raquel Welch. Sure, we can argue about Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, but in my book, Raquel Welch signified beauty, charm, and sex appeal. I am sure I will get a response from many who disagree. Raquel Welch passed away last week at the age of eighty-two. RIP Raquel.

The iconic poster from the 1966 movie One Million Years B.C.

The countdown continues: We are three weeks away from daylight savings time!

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

This Is Not A Test. Random Thoughts.

Ponder. Reflect. Grasp. Wonder.

I do remember many things about my past, but I am not one to look back. Yes, you always learn things from life’s past experiences, and if there were missteps, the old adage is do not make the same mistake twice. 🙂

I thought I would offer up a few thought-provoking questions and statements for you to fill in the blanks. Don’t roll your eyes…this is actually a good exercise for everyone. Maybe.

  • I feel ______ than my age.
  • My favorite thing about myself is _________________________.
  • If the world was ending a year from today, how would you spend the next 365 days? _______________________________________
  • ____________________________is keeping you from changing the things you’d like to change about yourself?
  • _____________________ is keeping me from dropping my worst habit.
  • How many internal organs can you name in the next ten seconds? ___________________________________________
  • If you could be any animal, you would choose to be a _________________. Why?_______________________
  • Does social media make you in general happier or sadder? If sadder, why do you keep participating in it? _______________________________.
  • If there were a way to download your memories into a searchable spreadsheet, would you do it?_____________________________________.
  • _____________________ is my favorite thing about myself.

Random thoughts for the first Sunday of February

The Fed took the federal funds rate up another quarter point last week and many expect the Fed to move forward with more increases in the near future. The direct effect to the everyday consumer is obviously in the automotive and housing sectors, but how long will it be until corporate America must deal with the higher cost of borrowed capital? This smells bad for the late 3rd quarter and 4th quarter of this year.

Video streaming and gaming. Two technologies in everyone’s home. Oh, not so much, as tech companies are working hard to provide in-car entertainment experiences. Sure, we all drive so well now that we need ‘entertainment’ in the car as we navigate rush hour traffic on such lovely interstate highways as I-4, I-75, I-95, and the infamous state road 400 in north Atlanta. This is such a great idea!

Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco and bad drivers.

I am over Punxsutawney Phil. One, because I cannot spell its name. Two, I question the whole ‘see his shadow’ thing. Seriously. Six more weeks of winter? Not in Orlando.

Fauda, a Netflix series based on an Israeli operative named Doron, is really well done. It has been a long crawl but I have made it to the newly-released season four. Doron similar to Jack Ryan? Not so much.

Israeli actor Lior Raz plays Doron in the hit series Fauda.

A Chinese ‘spy’ balloon drifting across the continental United States late last week. Only after our State Department called out the Chinese did they communicate that their balloon somehow went off course, and that is was intended to deliver weather information. The U.S. brought down the balloon once it had reached the Atlantic Ocean, after it had drifted from west to east across the U.S. The next step after recovering the parts and pieces is for Quantico to do their investigation to determine the amount of spy and surveillance equipment that was once attached to the balloon. Maybe it is time for the U.S. to send a fleet of F-22 Raptors over Beijing and tell the Chinese that they “went off course?”

My business dictates that I take a bit of time to watch some network and local news, as I am always looking for the latest trends and technology used in broadcast studios. Obviously, I watch the talent presenting the news and enjoy what CNN, Fox, and the BBC have done with the look of their sets. What I do not enjoy is watching and listening to Don Lemon. I have nothing personal against Lemon, but his attitude on-camera (and I am assuming off-camera as well) is in a word, caustic. It is too bad for all of us that CNN’s morning show has Lemon and Kaitlan Collins paired together. Collins, at just thirty-years-old, is one of the rising stars of network news. As always, it is just my take and I welcome yours.

Super Bowl LVII is one week away and will feature Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts. Both quarterbacks are game-changers, with athletic ability not too often seen in the NFL. The betting line will most likely move this week but as of now, Philadelphia is a 1.5 point favorite. I am not sure how you bet against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Anyone wish to chime in on the betting line?

Taking care of business. That phrase is used often and in many ways, but never better than in one of Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s top ten hits. “BTO” was legendary, and along with the song Takin Care of Business, the band produced two other big hits in 1973 and 1974: Hold Back the Water and Roll On Down the Highway. Drummer Robbie Bachman passed away recently, at the age of 69. RIP Robbie.

A 1974 performance by Bachman-Turner Overdrive with ‘Takin Care of Business’

And last, but not the least, a very special happy birthday to my daughter, Jaime!!

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

Short Takes. My Perspective. The Countdown Has Started. Stapleton and Rihanna.

Some Random Thoughts As We Head Into February. Why Competing Is Important. Darkness, Go Away. February 12th Entertainment.

  • The United States and other ally countries are finally sending tanks to Ukraine to help their armed forces ward off Russian forces. Does this action prompt Vladimir Putin to escalate his level of warfare and use strategic nuclear weapons?

The United States is sending thirty-one M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

  • Electric automobile entities are betting big time on the consumer’s appetite to move away from gasoline-powered vehicles (internal combustion engines). There could be benefits to electric over gas-powered cars, but this tidbit will not make the decision to switch any easier: The Anderson Economic Group is reporting that gas-powered vehicles, over a one hundred mile trip, are actually less expensive to operate than electric vehicles. Marketers at Ford and GM have some positioning to do as both companies are moving to electric car manufacturing in a big way, especially by the year 2030.

  • Not surprisingly, but unfortunately, it looks like the Israeli – Palestinian issues have again resurfaced. Terrorism just outside Jerusalem’s Old City took the lives of seven people at a synagogue, of all of times on Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the six million Jews and millions of non-Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the site shortly after the incident, both far-right protagonists who have zero tolerance with the Palestinian regime. This incident adds on to many others in recent weeks, a really bad indication that this could escalate into a another war-type conflict we are experiencing around the world.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the site of Friday’s terrorist attack – reportedly by a 14-year-old Palestinian boy.

  • California is trying to enact legislation that will raise the minimum wage to $22 per hour. My guess is that rate of pay will attract an older, and/or retired workforce to the likes of restaurants, bars, fast-food chains, and retailers. This is another in a series of issues the state of California is dealing with including immigration, floods, landslides, and fires.

  • Over the years, some of my friends have asked me about my high level of interest with the sport of soccer. I finally decided to put my thoughts on paper. The information below is my take and perspective:

I was fortunate to discover soccer at a young age. Raised in a sports family, I was encouraged to be competitive from day one. My dad loved sports but worked long hours, so he rarely had a chance to watch me participate in sports. I was lucky as my older brother decided that he would oversee my sports participation and eventually critiqued many of the soccer games I played from the youth level through college. My brother would make the effort to come watch my games, and in his thinking, if I did not play well, I was wasting his time and he was definitely not shy in questioning my commitment.

I was raised in a section of Southwest Miami where Lou Confessore (Mr. C) oversaw the local park and started one of South Florida’s first youth soccer clubs. Coral Estates Soccer Club started in the late 1960’s with the first team being under-10. Since this was the only team in the Club at that time, I got the chance to play with that team at six-years-old. What I do remember is being overrun and beaten down in practice and games, but as time went on, I learned to love the sport. My childhood friends, David and Pete, were influential with me learning to play and understanding the sport. I craved everything soccer, though in those days there was barely any soccer on TV. Fortunately, Miami had one of the first full-time Spanish language channels in the country, the infamous channel 23. My brother would track me down every Sunday afternoon as Channel 23 broadcast the Liga MX match of the week. He would watch the game with me every Sunday – our appetite for some soccer satisfied by these weekly Mexican league matches. We also had the privilege of watching Toby Charles host Soccer Made in Germany, which was broadcast on our local PBS station, but never on the same day or time.

Playing in the Coral Estates Soccer Club, I competed against the other start-up clubs in Miami including Key Biscayne, Cutler Ridge, Coral Gables, and Miami Shores. My playing career took me from Miami to Berry College, where I had the privilege of playing for Bob Warming, who is now a consultant with Union Omaha, a pro team playing in the United Soccer League. Bob’s coaching career is amazing, ending his career ranked seventh all-time for career wins. Bob also gave me the opportunity to coach at the college level, adding me on to his staff along with another outstanding coach, Bret Simon, while we earned our M.B.A. degrees.

From college I moved to Atlanta and played in the ADASL with Lenny Luckett’s Anheuser Busch club – which along with DataGraphics and Wolves were made up of many ex-pros and former college greats. A few years later, in 1995, I helped Rick Skirvin, the former Executive Director of Georgia Soccer, start the Rovers, an adult amateur team playing in the Cobb Amateur Soccer League (CASL). We started with an over-30 team, then an over-40 team, and then an over-50 team. We were fortunate enough to have some great players join the Club – again many ex-pros and former college stars. The Club now has eleven teams and the conservative estimate is that over the last twenty-eight years, 900 players have played on a Rovers’ team one time or another.

A Major League Soccer (MLS) team starting up in Atlanta was icing on the cake for me. A great front office, an ever-changing player pool, and one of the world’s best stadiums has made the sport top-of-mind for so many Atlantans. Atlanta United, over the last few years, has had many ups, and a few downs, but at a minimum they provide the city of Atlanta with top-level professional soccer.

Business took me to Orlando in the summer of 2017, where I enjoy the gameday experience and home matches at Exploria Stadium, where Orlando City of Major League Soccer plays its home games. Orlando City’s ownership and solid front office provide head coach Oscar Pareja with a great player pool. I am a big supporter of Orlando City, and of course keep my eye on the latest happenings with Atlanta United as well as the other MLS teams.

Many men and women in the Orlando, Atlanta, and Miami areas have similar stories to mine. We should all feel fortunate to have experienced the sport at one level or another.

  • The countdown to daylight savings time has started. We are only six weeks away from early-evening sunshine!

The Super Bowl, just two weeks from today, should be a great game. We always look forward to the big game, the creative commercials, the national anthem, and the sometimes great halftime show. The NFL has done us a solid with Chris Stapleton performing the national anthem and twelve-time Grammy winning R&B legend Babyface performing the ‘America the Beautiful.’ Rihanna, with sales of over 250 million records worldwide, and now the second-best-selling female music artist of all time, will perform at halftime. She is all about pure entertainment and I know she will deliver in front of a sold-out State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and an expected television audience of 105 million.

Super Bowl LVII will feature Rihanna performing at halftime.

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

C, S, & N (and sometimes Y). Humility And Accountability. Toadzilla. Cruising. $430 Million Annually.

Peace and Love. Do It Right The First Time. That..Is Not Kermit. Travel Is Back. Messi To Cash In? Carry On.

  • No matter your taste in music, it is difficult not to like some or most of the songs from Crosby, Stills, Nash, and sometimes Neil Young. Their music really did symbolize what was happening in the late 1960’s and 70’s, with lyrics that mimicked the peace and love movement of the country. I guess their music could be called folk-rock, and with their great ability to harmonize, C, S & N’s music provided hit after hit. Before C, S, & N, David Crosby formed the Byrds in the mid-60’s. One of the Byrd’s greatest hits, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was made popular again in the mid-90’s thanks to the movie “Forrest Gump.” David Crosby went on to be inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame with the Byrds in 1991, and again with Crosby, Stills, & Nash in 1997. A salute to David Crosby, who at 81, passed away last Thursday at his home in California. RIP David Crosby.
David Crosby passed away last Thursday. A tribute to a music legend.

  • There is no doubt that the technology world and its providers are facing many challenges including rising interest rates, inflation, and online advertisers forced to cut back on ad spending. It was inevitable that these tech companies, enjoying the many years of hockey stick growth, added headcount at an unprecedented rate. The unfortunate consequence of a financial performance is cost-cutting, which is usually led by headcount reduction. In previous posts, I have expressed my disdain for some CEOs, who obviously have no conscience or accountability to their employees, announcing staff reductions on social media, including LinkedIn and Twitter. On Friday, Google announced they were laying off 12,000 people from its workforce, and I do admire the way CEO Sundar Pichai made the announcement with the email below. The email is very long, but I want everyone to read his way of announcing the layoffs. A clear and professional explanation, blended with empathy, and concern:


I have some difficult news to share. We’ve decided to reduce our workforce by approximately 12,000 roles. We’ve already sent a separate email to employees in the US who are affected. In other countries, this process will take longer due to local laws and practices.

This will mean saying goodbye to some incredibly talented people we worked hard to hire and have loved working with. I’m deeply sorry for that. The fact that these changes will impact the lives of Googlers weighs heavily on me, and I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here.

Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today.

I am confident about the huge opportunity in front of us thanks to the strength of our mission, the value of our products and services, and our early investments in AI. To fully capture it, we’ll need to make tough choices. So, we’ve undertaken a rigorous review across product areas and functions to ensure that our people and roles are aligned with our highest priorities as a company. The roles we’re eliminating reflect the outcome of that review. They cut across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels and regions.

To the Googlers who are leaving us: Thank you for working so hard to help people and businesses everywhere. Your contributions have been invaluable and we are grateful for them.

While this transition won’t be easy, we’re going to support employees as they look for their next opportunity.

In the US:

  • We’ll pay employees during the full notification period (minimum 60 days).
  • We’ll also offer a severance package starting at 16 weeks salary plus two weeks for every additional year at Google, and accelerate at least 16 weeks of GSU vesting.
  • We’ll pay 2022 bonuses and remaining vacation time.
  • We’ll be offering 6 months of healthcare, job placement services, and immigration support for those affected.
  • Outside the US, we’ll support employees in line with local practices.

As an almost 25-year-old company, we’re bound to go through difficult economic cycles. These are important moments to sharpen our focus, reengineer our cost base, and direct our talent and capital to our highest priorities.

Being constrained in some areas allows us to bet big on others. Pivoting the company to be AI-first years ago led to groundbreaking advances across our businesses and the whole industry.

Thanks to those early investments, Google’s products are better than ever. And we’re getting ready to share some entirely new experiences for users, developers and businesses, too. We have a substantial opportunity in front of us with AI across our products and are prepared to approach it boldly and responsibly.

All this work is a continuation of the “healthy disregard for the impossible” that’s been core to our culture from the beginning. When I look around Google today, I see that same spirit and energy driving our efforts. That’s why I remain optimistic about our ability to deliver on our mission, even on our toughest days. Today is certainly one of them.

I’m sure you have many questions about how we’ll move forward. We’ll be organizing a town hall on Monday. Check your calendar for details. Until then, please take good care of yourselves as you absorb this difficult news. As part of that, if you are just starting your work day, please feel free to work from home today.


  • Headline of the Week: Delta Passenger Grabs Fire Extinguisher And Comes Out Spraying After Stealing Chicken Wings. I am not making light of what could have been a very serious situation in the Atlanta airport. I am saying that there must be an island. Is it possible that this woman and George Santos would be good island mates? (No, I am not referring to Santos’ politics).
Situations similar to this event are becoming all to common.

  • A few of my friends have a high level of coaching experience with both soccer and basketball. Over the years, all of them have told me that the big difference today from the past in both sports is the level of the athlete’s physicality. This includes size, strength, speed, and flexibility, which must stem from the type of training these athletes get to enjoy at an early age. There is no exact comparison of Lebron James at 6’9″, and Lionel Messi at 5’5″ – but similarities with both are their strength and impact they bring to the court and field. Training and nutrition are a big part of physicality, and today’s athletes, for the most part, have advanced their physicality to a much higher level than the athletes of the past.

Does the same hold true for the animal kingdom? Animal scientists and veterinarians can hopefully answer that question, but one would assume that most species are continuing to evolve. One example may come out of northeastern Australia, where park rangers discovered a ‘mammoth’ toad -weighing in at six pounds. One ranger was quoted that the massive toad was immediately removed from the wild because a six-pound toad will eat “anything it can fit into its mouth.” Please let that beast and its offspring stay in northeastern Australia.

Meet ‘Toadzilla’. No, and no.

  • Along with other aspects of travel, including planes, trains, hotels, and cruise ships, no one could predict how all of these would come out of the pandemic. The cruise industry, already dealing with airborne, surface, and noroviruses on many of their ships, was hit extremely hard with the onslaught of Covid-19, especially during 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Though it took a good bit of time, it is remarkable how cruise carriers have recovered, now enjoying record passenger counts. Last Wednesday, six cruise ships set a record for the number of passengers visiting St. Maarten. Port of St Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs said: “This is a significant development for the destination when we look back at what we and the region, and the world had to endure with the pandemic and the shutdown of the cruise industry for 15-months.” Well done to the cruise industry!

  • All of us enjoyed the performance of Argentina superstar Lionel Messi at last month’s World Cup. Messi earned his first World Cup trophy, in a dramatic 3-3 tie with France, which after thirty minutes of overtime, Argentina won on penalty kicks. Messi’s club team is Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), who competes in Ligue 1, the top division of French football. Last week, a Saudi Arabian Club, Al Hilal, has reportedly offered Messi $430 million a year to play with their club. This offer comes one month after Cristiano Ronaldo left massive club Manchester United and signed with another Saudi Arabian club for $300 million annually. When does this craziness stop?
Max Scherzer, Luka Dončić, Lebron James and Patrick Mahomes must saying: “What?”

  • In honor of David Crosby, here is Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performing “Carry On”, a near perfect song with their harmonies, melody changes, and guitar skills. To say the least, David Crosby will be missed. Enjoy this song – one that will never be replicated.
There are no other words than “Carry On”

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

Mid-January Takes.

Things I Think I Think.

Coming off last week’s 2023 predictions, I now get back to my usual (or unusual) takes on things I am thinking.

  • $1.35 billion. The cash option and relative taxes will yield somewhere around $540 million. Friday the 13th has made someone in Maine very happy.
  • Since the war began nearly a year ago, the West has resisted giving some of its most potent weapons to Ukraine, fearing that supplying Ukraine with weapons to fight the Russians would bring NATO into direct conflict with Russia. NATO allies are walking that fine line now as the U.S. has provided Ukraine with a Patriot Air Defense System, and other NATO countries have relented and are finally offering up tanks to Ukraine’s forces. I am all in with this.
  • There will be a lot of love-making going on in this Chinese city. Shenzhen, a city of 13 million people, has offered its residents £2,300 to have more children.
  • First it was Southwest Airlines and late last week it was the FAA. Does anyone want to wager that there was some outside cyber interference with their IT infrastructures? A scary scenario to say the least.
  • Everyone seems to have classified documents just laying around. I looked last night and could not find any documents. You?
  • I really enjoy the guitar and the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen, and Billy Gibbons. There was also Jeff Beck, whose skills on the guitar were amazing. RIP, Jeff Beck.
Jeff Beck’s skills on the guitar were unprecedented.
  • Headline of the week: “This $8 billion startup is fining employees $1,200 for contacting colleagues on vacation.” Say what?
  • The following is a summary from The Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Last Thursday they released an unclassified version of the government’s new report on UFOs. “Initial characterization does not mean positively resolved or unidentified. This initial characterization better enables AARO and ODNI to efficiently and effectively leverage resources against the remaining 171 uncharacterized and unattributed UAP reports. Some of these uncharacterized UAP appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities, and require further analysis.” That is 171 reports of UFOs that the National Intelligence agency cannot explain, mostly from Air Force and Navy pilots. Any questions?
  • The University of Georgia overwhelmed TCU in the college football championship game. Never have we witnessed a bowl game where the result has been so lopsided. For sixty minutes, The Dawgs overwhelmed the Horned Frogs of TCU, but one of TCU’s players was not impressed with Georgia: “You know, defensive-wise, they didn’t really do anything special,” Winters said. “We just kind of beat ourselves up. Kind of just executed on our mis-alignments and kept scoring on those.” I think TCU’s Dee Winters must have hit his head.
  • “I have a dream…” Tomorrow we celebrate the federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr….a fierce and brave leader of the Civil Rights Movement.

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

A Look Ahead.

Things I Think For 2023.

Over the holidays I took a break with JustMyTake and I am definitely ready get started with my weekly posts. As we are already into the second week of the new year, I thought I would provide some random thoughts and takes on what we may see and experience in 2023. I have a note in my calendar to review my predictions at year-end. As always, your comments are welcome.

The World, The Economy & Finance

The Russia-Ukraine war will continue with no cease fire. As long as Putin is in power, he will continue to justify his existence with his goal of a Ukrainian land grab. A sad and alarming conflict.

Imposition of Islamic law, a continuing economic crisis, lack of freedom of expression, violation of women’s rights, and the killing of Mahsa Amini. Yes, Iranians will continue to protest, and violence will continue throughout the year.

The environment again becomes top-of-mind for the world. Going green was ‘too costly’ years ago, but the world, based on science and data, has no choice but to level-set sustainable environmental policies and controls. It will be more than residential recycling. Way more. A new generation of thinking will want our planet to heal, dictating carbon-reducing agriculture and massive incentives for farmers and others who grow food. I know, I write like I am living in the Arlo Guthrie/Joan Baez era, but seriously, something has to give with the way all of us are altering the environment.

More banking institutions will shy away from consumer services, as the onslaught and availability of online banking continues to keep people out of bank branches. As more secure and encrypted virtual communication comes online, why would the consumer spend time to travel to a bricks and mortar branch when they can just simply schedule a ‘zoom-type’ virtual visit with their favorite banker?

Speaking of virtual visits, the number of virtual healthcare visits will skyrocket in 2023. Same as above: If you do not need to be examined by a doctor, there is no reason to wait days for your appointment, travel to the doctor’s office, sit in their sometimes unhealthy waiting room, and receive the same information and prescriptions from your doctor that you could have obtained on a virtual call.

Regarding unhealthy offices and waiting rooms, indoor air quality will become a mainstream strategy and practice. The science and data around indoor air quality having a direct correlation to airborne viruses and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is vast and eye-opening.

Look for the acronym ‘ACH’ to become mainstream. ACH, or air change rate, is the number of times that the total air volume in a room or space is completely removed and replaced in an hour. See above regarding indoor air quality. Why is this important? If your air change rate is too high, you are losing air that you are paying to heat or cool. If the rate is too low, your air becomes stale and stagnant, which can lead to a buildup of toxins, viruses, pathogens, VOCs and the like.

Equity markets, other than the S&P 500, will actually have a decent year. The pending recession has yet to fully bite into corporate earnings expectations or stock valuation…but it will later this year.

Investors will focus on profits this year and not worry too much about top-line growth. I always loved the old adage, “We want year-over-year double-digit growth AND we want a substantial increase with margins all the way down to the EBITDA line. Uh huh. I know my friend and private equity executive, Chris A., will chime in on this one. 🙂

The Fed will stay the course by raising rates to ensure inflation stays in check. See the next item.

Real estate will be problematic, with mortgage rates unacceptable and home prices still too steep. The Fed will continue to manage inflation by raising the fed rate, which bottom line will raise 30-year mortgage rates to 8%+ and lead to homes sales dropping 10% in 2023.

The cannabis industry will continue to scale, with bigger brands and entities entering the once ‘taboo’ space. There are many dynamics with cannabis, and the massive growth of the industry will be fueled by public policy to improve access and streamline regulations. Hockey stick growth may be waning, but the projected numbers show the industry will grow from $30 billion back in 2021 to $55 billion in 2026, a compound annual growth rate of 13%. It will be very interesting how regulation will play out with this industry.

Self-driving cars will still have barriers for consumer use, but government entities will quickly acquire self-driving fleets to offset labor costs.

Food, Media & Entertainment

Netflix will merge or be acquired by Paramount or Disney. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts…

Due to socio-economic drivers, we will see a surge in group outings and group activities. Bowling, which no longer is just bowling, will surge with continued development of multi-purpose bowling venues. Drink, eat, play, meet, socialize….and yes, bowl. Look for the continued swell of pickleball, indoor and outdoor soccer, chess and checkers parlors, group cooking, and art-type classes to get people engaged with one another. What a concept, huh?

Kitsch will be the go-to, cool design look. Why? I have no clue. I think we previously used the term ‘eclectic’ but I will leave the word kitsch to the interior and fashion designers of the world.

“Digital nomadism” will continue at a high rate and the ‘hush’ trip will be the travel trend of 2023. Scenario: Remote workers pack up and head somewhere new for a limited amount of time—think a week or two, rather than all year—without ever telling their employer. They then login, get to work, and save some time to explore a new city or area.

The National Football League will announce one or two international franchises. Think Munich, London, or Mexico City.

Disney, with their former CEO now back in the captain’s seat, will divest and refocus on core businesses. That could mean they spin off ESPN. Crazy right?

Twitter, with Elon Musk driving the ship, will alter its platform and offerings, driving subscription rates with comedy and other entertainment offerings. Yes, Musk will streamline Twitter’s headcount while expanding their platform.

The platform initiated by OGT Management, where you can order food at airports and other venues before you get to the restaurant, will quickly become a standard platform and practice. Think about the ease of ordering and limited time waiting on a server… and quickly receiving your food, drink, and tab.

Southwest Airlines, after their massive technology debacle last month, will take a $1 billion dollar hit…and become ripe for acquisition. Shame on their lack of technology and redundancies.

REALITY: Last Monday night’s football game, between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, reminded us of how precious and fragile life can be. It looks like Damar Hamlin has turned the corner and we can only hope he continues to progress to the point of having a normal quality of life. For all parents, and their children playing contact sports, take a look at this product from Unequal Technologies.

Unequal Technologies has done a great deal of work with commotio cordis.

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