Lennon, Not John. Qatar & The World Cup V.2. One More Watch & Listen.

My Level-Set. Corruption and Humanity. A Stairway To Heaven. Quick Recovery D.K.

I have been called many things, but I have never been called soft. While I have a good bit of empathy for people, my persona, stemming from my upbringing and the sport I played for fifty-five years, is in a word, driven. I have no tolerance for lazy people, time-wasters, or people who are self-serving. I usually run hard with most things I do, and sometimes must remind myself to take a step back. A year ago, I did just that. A year ago today, Lennon was born into this crazy world. Lennon is my granddaughter, a mini-me of my daughter, and she has provided me with perspective. Though my kids and Lennon live 1,000 miles from me in the beautiful Hudson Valley area north of New York, FaceTime and Zoom allow me to see Lennon all the time, bringing a massive smile to my face. Friends and associates have told me the same – that having grandchildren is a wonderful and different experience. It certainly is fantastic. I am in Beacon, New York, celebrating Lennon’s 1st birthday, so this week’s post is a look at a couple of topics previously posted.

The FIFA World Cup is the quadrennial international men’s football championship contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place later this year in Qatar from November 21 to December 18. This will be the first World Cup ever to be held in the Arab world, and the controversial awarding of this massive event resulted in many football executives from around the world losing their jobs, being prosecuted, and some sent to prison.

If you know me, I am the last person who would have disdain for the sport and this competition that millions around the world look forward to every four years. As someone who played, coached, and is still involved with football (soccer), I feel the sport is fantastic in many ways. But the post below, written and posted eighteen months ago, has nothing to do with the corruption involved in Qatar being selected as the host country. With the competition starting up later this year, here was my take – unfortunately not a positive one:

It is held every four years and is the world’s most marketable sports property. According to SportsPro’s inaugural report, the FIFA World Cup has been named as the most marketable sports property with the competition beating the likes of the NBA (third), the NFL (19th) and the UEFA Champions League (Seventh). As a simple comparison, 99 million people tuned into Super Bowl 2020, while the 2019 World Cup final averaged 517 million viewers, with 1.1 billion people, at some point, tuning into the ninety minute final game. It’s huge, it is a spectacle, and it is a marketing bonanza for many brands.

Here’s a not so random thought. Cancel the 2022 World Cup. Yes, cancel the tournament. Most of us remember and are often reminded of the unscrupulous dealings of the governing body of football (FIFA) and the awarding of the 2022 tournament to of all countries Qatar. Hundreds of deaths of workers, living in squalor, who work twelve-hour days for nominal wages to build the stadia and infrastructure necessary to host the tournament. Secret deals to allow sponsors to sell their products (beer for one) in a country where alcohol is basically banned. Then having to move the always summer tournament to the December timeframe to allow the players to perform in 90 degree weather instead of an average temperature of 115 degrees during June-July.

Now news agencies are reporting that Qatar Airways, the country’s national airline, performed unauthorized strip searches of women passengers who had boarded a plane in Qatar heading to Australia. The reports of importing thousands of workers to work in inhumane conditions is so alarming. Enough is enough. Time for a reset, so cancel the tournament and let Qatar continue to be nothing in the world’s perspective. This video is disturbing to say the least. Go to the six minute mark to see the workers’ living conditions. FIFA, you should be ashamed.

It is estimated that over 1,400 migrant workers have died working in Qatar.

I am many things…but not a hypocrite. Watching the World Cup every four years has always been fantastic – with some games having the minnows of the world upset a major football-playing nation. This event, starting right before Thanksgiving, will actually add to the festive holiday season. Some of my friends have reminded me, especially after my take was posted, that I do not have to watch the tournament. With all B.S. aside, I may not.

  • On a brighter note, I leave you with a tribute to everyone has fought Covid-19, and to those people and their families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. This is a version of one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time, Stairway to Heaven. The Wilson sisters (Heart) performed this tribute to Led Zeppelin many years ago at the annual Kennedy Center Honors show. Ann’s vocals, Nancy’s guitar, Jason Bonham, son of original drummer John Bonham, and a massive choir. In the audience are Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones. This version of Stairway to Heaven is INCREDIBLE.
I was and still am a huge fan of the Wilson sisters and Heart.

A special shout-out to my long time friend, D.K., who is recovering from surgery in the awesome area of Paso Robles, California. Get strong D.K.!!!!!!

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

Words To Ponder. If I Could. Rico Rules.

As We Head To The End Of January.

After the last two posts discussing and questioning the information offered up to us with Covid-19 and variants, I will stand down. There is discussion that the Omicron variant will dissipate over the next few weeks. Let’s hope so – as well as hoping that no future variants come to fruition.

2022 – Let’s Hope It is A Bit Different.

There are a lot of things that have generated partisanship, and I am not talking about politics. The division of thought in this country is alarming, with a go-to feeling of discontent. I don’t pay attention to anything that has to do with politics, so I will relent to an overall realm of socio-economics that are driving people to be incredibly territorial. As we somehow are already heading into the second month of 2022, I jotted down thirty-four names/words for us to ponder:

Ukraine-Biden-Inflation-Bulldogs-TikToc-Manchin-BioTech-SpaceX Russia-N95-Jeopardy-DeSantis-Covid-19-Bitcoin-Flights-Djokovic-ICU Trump-Testing-Supply-FinTech-5G -Moderna-Putin-Symptoms-Boris MLK-Giuliani-Brady-Poitier-Streaming-Ted Lasso-Peloton-Playoffs

Barbara Eden played the role of Jeannie in the American sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie.” Nevermind the way she looked in that scantily clad genie outfit – it was her ability to magically make things happen that kept my brother and I watching this show. I am no Jeannie, but here are a few things I would like to make happen:

  • If I could, I would lock the heads of the W.H.O and the CDC, as well as Dr. Fauci in a room for a week – or until they all agreed on the guidance and protocols needed to combat Covid-19, and the existing and future variants.
  • If I could, I would really like to help the people of Tonga and it’s outer islands. A catastrophe of major proportion happened last Saturday, and not many people are talking about the devastation caused by a volcanic eruption.
The shock wave from the Tonga eruption appears to dwarf those made by even the largest thermonuclear tests, such as America’s 10.4 megaton “Ivy Mike” detonation in 1952.
U.S. Department of Energy
  • If I could, I would slow down the calendar a bit. It is a bit strange that XMAS and New Year’s just passed us by and we are already at the end of January.
  • If I could, perpetrators of hate crimes would all be placed together and housed at Brazil’s Carandiru Penitentiary. Simply put, Carandiru is the world’s most violent and deadly prison. Too harsh? Too bad.
  • If I could, I would take some time to listen to Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” album. He was different and irreverent to say the least.
  • If I could, I would like to sit down with the leaders of these countries: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. The agenda would be Russia and Vladimir Putin. The desired outcome of the meeting would be to teach Putin a lesson once and for all.
  • If I could, I would purchase some Great Clips coupons – most of them would be sent to the one and only Boris Johnson.

While I mentioned that there seems to be a general aura of discontent in this country, I bring you Rico. Vacationing at the Cincinnati Zoo, Rico brings us joy, peace, and the key word, content. Turn up the volume while you watch Rico devour some corn on the cob:

The countdown is on! Nine weeks to go to Daylight Savings Time. 🙂

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

Dazed & Confused.

Some Short Takes – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

I received a good bit of feedback from last week’s post. Most of it was positive, but some were not happy with my take with the virus situation. I don’t watch the news, but I do read early mornings to quickly figure out what is, and what is not going on with this world. I appreciate everyone’s feedback as I am looking for your take on topics I discuss.

As a follow up to last week’s concerns with battling Covid-19:

  • Last week I did mention my confusion with the communication (or lack thereof) coming from the CDC, the W.H.O., and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Since my last post the situation steamrolled, resulting in a Congressional hearing, with one senator and Dr. Fauci battling it out like it was some type of high school debate. Not cool.
  • As I have often mentioned, I try to wear a mask indoors, unless of course I am eating or drinking (which is often). I never understood how it was imperative to wear a mask but then it be okay to take it off when sitting in a restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I support the hospitality industry – so let’s just keep that mask rule in place to ensure we keep restaurants open.
People with face mask drinking at coffee house
Mask on, mask off.
  • Early on in the pandemic, when the mask mandates were first initiated, the CDC was adamant that N95 face masks not be used. A complete pivot last week – with the CDC recommending that N95 and KN95 masks be used. Another confusing directive.
  • Some interesting news regarding Covid-19 last week: Researchers from Oregon State University announced that the hemp extract could help prevent and possibly treat Covid-19. Who would have thought hemp could make people feel better?
  • After promising that all Americans would receive test kits by mid-January, news broke on Friday that Americans will have access to order test kits online…starting January 19. The dilemma: some of the most severely affected by Covid-19 and the variants are the elderly. I am not generalizing, but are there not going to be major challenges for our elderly to navigate the internet and order their test kits? Sometimes I just have to level-set my thoughts, but this initiative is going to be problematic. Americans can go to a new website, covidtests.gov, to order the tests, starting January 19. Tests are expected to ship within seven to 12 days of being ordered.
  • Not surprising but still very disconcerting: “The faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants,” Leonardo Martinez, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Boston University, said.
  • Novak Djokovic – I am a tennis fan and the Australian Open would be much better with you participating. With that said, your bulls–t is getting old.

A few takes from late breaking news:

  • What is Vladimir Putin’s desired outcome with placing 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border? Is he threatening war to prevent NATO from admitting Ukraine to the NATO alliance? Is Russia willing to generate propaganda and false-flag operations to justify a war with the Ukraine? To say the least, Russia is very complicated. I wonder what their government has spent to build up and sustain these 100,000 troops…while their economy is problematic led by a weak GDP?
  • Time is passing us by. It has already been ten years since the Costa Concordia, a passenger ship on a Mediterranean cruise, was steered too close to shore, hit some massive rocks, and partially sank near the Italian island of Giglio. I can’t image the horror – on what was designed to be a very romantic cruise with ports of call we would all enjoy. Note: the ship’s captain was found guilty of manslaughter and is currently serving sixteen years in jail.
The Costa Concordia capsized ten years ago.
  • Bloomberg and CNBC. I could care less about their political alignment. Their content and production is excellent. Bloomberg in the very early morning provides both financial and general news, live, and from around the world. I don’t follow the bond market, commodities, or ETFs, but if you do want to catch up on the financial markets and the world economy, spend fifteen minutes on either network.
  • North Korea is testing hypersonic weapons. Most of us could give a rat’s ass about Kim Jong-un and his bizarre behavior. That is until we understand that a hypersonic weapon can travel at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. North Korea with a missile system that evades missile defense systems. Just what the world needs right now.
  • I am unsure of how I feel about Navient possibly canceling $1.7 billion of private student loans. Sure, I know this will give some relief to many people, but what about all of us who had to pay off some level of student loan debt? Seriously, how should this be reconciled?
  • You have reservations about returning to your downtown high rise due to Covid-19, and the tragic building collapse in North Miami. You finally come to a level of comfort and move back in to that skyscraper. Days later, you find out that the building you have been living in is actually sinking into the ground and tilting as much as two feet north and west. Yes, this is reality at San Francisco’s luxurious Millennium Tower. At fifty-eight stories, it stands 645 feet and has sunk 18 inches into the ground. Let’s just go with a loud “No.”
  • It is a comedy. It contains some incredibly funny lines. The writing and acting are tremendous. It deals with lessons learned. It even has a bit of romance. To keep the show with a level of authenticity, most of the production was done outside of London. Broadcast by Apple+, Ted Lasso, starring Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham, is incredibly entertaining. Ted Lasso is an American football coach who is hired to coach an English soccer club – and this video speaks volumes:
Jason Sudeikis is Ted Lasso.

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


Amazon. Sidney +. Two Years Of A Very Difficult Battle. Not Green Acres. FreeFall.

  • There is a good bit of criticism surrounding Amazon. Employee welfare, driving the independent retailers out of business, and the negative vibes of a category killer. I can’t criticize Amazon as I order from their site, watch content using their Amazon Fire Stick, and listen to their music offerings. I like operational efficiency and very much dislike wasting time and effort. Here is the reality of Amazon and operational efficiency: 45 minutes. That’s how much time passes between the moment you click “Place your order” and the moment your package gets loaded on the truck. That includes processing, locating, packing, scanning, and labelling your package before it hits the road. Amazon now receives 10 million orders per day (115 orders per second), and 1 out of every 153 American workers is an Amazon employee. Criticize for all the right and wrong reasons, but what Amazon has created is amazing.

  • Along with Sean Connery and Yul Brynner, Sidney Poitier was my mom’s favorite actor. I remember her telling me that he was the epitome of style, grace, and intelligence – which she obviously pointed out due to my lack of those three attributes. Sidney Poitier also was brave, taking on and dealing with the attitude of many in Hollywood, and would go on to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1963. Later in life, in 2009, Mr. Portier would earn the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Betty White, John Madden, Dan Reeves, and now Sidney Poitier to start off 2022. RIP. The 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was a breakthrough for Hollywood. The movie, starring Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier, may be the best romantic-comedy ever. This is one of many classic scenes. Katherine Hepburn’s stone-stare look, Spencer Tracy’s delivery, and Sidney Poitier’s stoic presence is the best:
Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner – one of Sidney Poitier’s best.

  • We have now been dealing with Covid-19 and it’s variants for two years. There is no way that any of us could predict the last twenty-four months, in many ways disturbing, disruptive, and in so many cases, very sad. Allow me to give you some recent developments with the viruses and a point of view that is a bit alarming:
  • As of last Thursday, 5,481,215 people worldwide have died from Covid-19.
  • The Omicron variant’s contraction rate is massive – and has caused school systems, including Chicago, to postpone the start of school post-holidays.
  • Last Wednesday, the American Medical Association publicly criticized the CDC for their continued misinformation and variable guidance. This is two years, with the CDC, the W.H.O., and other infectious disease specialists struggling to provide consistent and consolidated guidance.
  • The vaccination has now been available for one year and the lines keep getting longer. The same goes for testing. In the Orlando, Florida area, the wait times at testing sites average four hours. After two years, that is unacceptable.
  • Many businesses, including American Express and Blackrock, have told their employees to stay home. Their planned office openings for the end of this month have been put on hold indefinitely. Restaurants, airlines, and hospitals are again having issues with staffing.
  • Florida had a record 76,887 new infections on Friday; 1 out of 3 COVID-19 tests is positive as the number of patients in Florida hospitals with the virus passed 8,700, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

I am in no position to criticize anyone. I know that many healthcare professionals, scientists, and worldwide entities are trying very hard to combat these viruses. I guess I keep wondering what variants will follow Omicron? Then again, what if the pandemic involved a derivative of filovirus? Filoviruses are for now confined to regions of central, eastern, and western Africa. They are among the most dangerous human pathogens known, causing highly fatal hemorrhagic fevers – death in 60 to 90 percent of victims. This is not meant to be a negative take on our two-year battle with Covid-19. I am just trying to point out that if we are having difficulty with these types of coronaviruses, all bets are off if the different strains of filovirus ever become a worldwide pandemic. Just so all of us are on the same page: Filovirus = Ebola.

  • Though I know very little about the topic, farming and agriculture have always interested me. Maybe my interest stems from my dad taking my brother and I to strawberry farms in the Homestead, Florida area – or the fact that the college campus I lived on had a very vibrant agriculture curriculum (Note: Berry College boasts not only the largest contiguous college campus in the U.S. but the largest one in the world). Automation and the offset of labor costs are important dynamics in most manufacturing sectors, and those dynamics have reached the farming world as well. I won’t touch labor reform, but the fact remains that immigrant farm workers make up an estimated 73% of agriculture workers in the United States today. So with the obvious labor challenges to farmers and ranchers throughout the United States, some very smart people have now provided a path to automation in the farming sector. With the ultimate goal of a better yield and product from farm to table, Iron Ox Robotics has created a very interesting way to plant, grow, and harvest produce:
Technology and farming at its finest from Iron Ox Robotics.

I still smile when I remember a friend on mine, while we were driving south from San Jose to Paso Robles on Highway 101. She had never been to the area and really never correlated the state of California with agriculture. You just can’t imagine the number of farmlands in the state, with 80,000 farms and ranches. The state produces a third of the U.S.A.’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts. The amount of labor to support these 80,000 farms and ranches is immense, and the John Deere Company has entered the technology world to help farmers across the world. At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), John Deere introduced an autonomous tractor. Before you roll your eyes, realize that this is the first step with automating the farming world. Think about how this tilling/planting technology will evolve with seeding, growing, harvesting, and packing – and how companies like Iron Ox and John Deere are trying hard to ensure that our grocery stores and farmers’ markets maintain their inventories. This is a very well-done video from John Deere:

John Deere’s autonomous tractor.

  • In the never-ending pursuit to embellish Orlando’s visitor experience, the tourist corridor of International Drive has added a new ‘attraction.’ I am all good with someone explaining to me the joy received from being elevated to a height of 400′ feet, being tilted forward 30°, and free-falling at speeds of up to 80 MPH. I think they should pay us to deal with this experience. Go ahead, chime in, as I just don’t get it.
Thanks, but no thanks.

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