In Memory On Memorial Day Weekend.

What Are We Doing?

  • A Holiday weekend marred by the tragic incident at an elementary school in the small town of Uvalde, Texas. This sad event is another in the many mass school shootings that have ended the life of students, faculty, and staff. ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, May 2022, 21 dead. OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL, November 2021, 4 dead. SANTA FE HIGH SCHOOL, May 2018, 10 dead. MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL, February 2018, 17 dead. UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, October 2015, 9 dead. MARYSVILLE-PILCHUCK HIGH SCHOOL, October 2014, 4 dead. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA, May 2014, 6 dead. SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, December 2012, 27 dead. OIKOS UNIVERSITY, April 2012, 7 dead. NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY, February 2008, 5 dead. VIRGINIA TECH, April 2007, 32 dead. WEST NICKEL MINES AMISH SCHOOL, October 2006, 5 dead. RED LAKE HIGH SCHOOL, March 2005, 9 dead. COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL, April 1999, 13 dead. It has been twenty-three years since the Columbine High School tragedy, followed by twelve mass shooting incidents at our nation’s schools. What are we doing?

Over four years ago, I posted my take regarding the safety at our schools across America. Four years later, we are still asking ‘What are we doing?‘:

I will not comment on why a 19-year-old possessed an AR-15 rifle, groups of gun activists or gun control, or our divided political system.  What I will comment on is school security. Don’t get me wrong, I put no blame on the high school administrators where last week’s massacre took place. My bewilderment relates to the ability of someone, anyone, who is able to enter a school with little security in place. As taxpayers, we support the use of schools using crossing guards to protect our children on a daily basis, but what about school security? With the mental instability of so many, why are many schools left unprotected with the ability to enter a school with little to no deterrent? I realize that the tax base funding to support school systems are different, but at a minimum, should we not employ off-duty police officers to protect our schools, no different than the school crossing guards who put their lives on the line every time they direct traffic? I know these questions may be trivial, but not to the families and friends who lost loved one’s last week.  No matter the politics, gun control will be an issue for many years to come. So while our congressional leaders try to figure out what to do, can we not tackle the issue of security within our schools? That post was from four years ago. What are we doing?

  • Active shooter incidents in 2021 surged by more than 50 percent from 2020 and nearly 97 percent from 2017, according to new FBI statistics released last Monday. In 2021, there were sixty-one active shooter incidents, defined as one or more people actively engaging in killing or trying to kill in a populated areas by firearm. That is an increase of 53 percent from 2020, when 40 active shooter incidents were reported. The number of cases also grew from 30 each in 2019 and 2018 and 31 in 2017. Does anyone have any comment and suggestion surrounding the question: What are we doing?

  • For a many reasons, tomorrow is the most important holiday in the United States. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May and was formerly known as Decoration Day. Memorial Day commemorates all who have died in military service for the United States. Tomorrow takes on additional significance with those around the world who have fallen in the war in Ukraine, those lost in the Buffalo supermarket shooting, and those who lost their lives in last week’s horrific mass shooting. If you have a flag, please honor our fallen veterans and victims, and fly your flag; if you don’t have one, please go buy one.
An all-consuming rendition of the United States national anthem.

  • Do the same issues we face today mimic 1971? Probably in some ways as the socio-economic unrest of fifty-one years ago parallels issues we still deal with today. Alvin Lee’s band, Ten Years After, produced this song in response to issues with the war in Vietnam, racial unrest, and a political system creating a monumental divide in America. Fifty-one years later, the song “I’d Love To Change the World” is never more relevant.
Well said Alvin Lee.

Adios, Fly Your Flag, Pay it Forward, Be Safe and Have A Nice Memorial Day.

Thank You. Thoughts. The War. Let’s Wrestle.

No Religion, No Politics. Top Of Mind. It Is Day Eighty-Eight. Bruno Was The Best.

  • Thank you to everyone who replied to me or commented on last week’s post. A post that said many things about religion and politics without any words.

Here are a few top of mind things:

  • The continued expansion of the privatization of space is continuing at a very fast pace. Boeing has entered the space exploration market with their Starliner, which docked at the International Space Station yesterday.
  • After three years of economic despair, it seems like Lebanon may have a recovery plan for pulling the nation out of its financial meltdown. Let us hope that this finally happens.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is “working on” monkeypox guidance as cases are rising rapidly. I feel so great about the WHO providing guidance on monkeypox considering their spot-on analysis of Covid-19 and its variants. Note of interest: the first outbreak of monkeypox was in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yes, fifty-two years ago, and the WHO has no solution as of today.
  • He fired fifty rounds in a Buffalo supermarket and killed 10 people. Multiple homicides and clearly a hate crime. Anyone want to chime in on what the legal system will do with this monster?
  • A brewery in Finland has launched a new ‘NATO-based’ beer. Their tag line is a “Taste of Security.” Now that is excellent product marketing.

  • Today is day eighty-eight. As international news outlets continue their coverage of the war, there now seems to be general apathy surrounding the despair and destruction suffered by the country of Ukraine and its people. No longer a lead story for most news outlets, we now get to frown upon the bear market and the ‘sudden’ resurrection of Covid-19 and its variants. I find this alarming, and though the United States has approved another $40 billion for Ukraine, the Vladimir Putin-led Russian forces continue their relentless attack and destruction of a sovereign nation. Apathy aside, let us keep in mind the following:
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine is determined to reclaim control over the southern cities of Kherson, Melitopol, Berdiansk, Enerhodar and Mariupol, now occupied by Russian troops. Yes, reclaim control as the Russian forces have taken over these cities and either killed, imprisoned, or forced its citizens to leave their homes.
  • Since the third week of February, Russia has fired more than 2,000 missiles into Ukraine, destroying not only Ukrainian military installations but schools, hospitals, and residential apartment buildings.
  • Ukraine reports that since the invasion by Russian troops, over two hundred thirty children have been killed and 427 injured.
  • The amount of war crimes Russia is committing continues on a daily basis including executions and torture of Ukrainian soldiers and its citizens.

Vladimir Putin, for many years, has not wanted Ukraine to join the NATO alliance as a bordering country. The war Vladimir Putin instigated and began close to ninety-days ago has had a crystallizing effect on the NATO alliance as countries in close proximity of Russia are now wondering if they are next? Though Putin has shrugged off the announcements by Finland and Sweden of their acceptance into the alliance, there is no doubt that this megalomaniac is uneasy with these two former independent Nordic nations now joining NATO. Finland and Sweden both have highly capable militaries and provide a geopolitical strength and advantage to NATO. Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, expanding the land border that Russia shares with NATO territories by 100%. Though Sweden does not have a land border with Russia, it does share a maritime border with the country. The swift and hasty acceptance of Finland and Sweden into the NATO alliance must be unnerving for Putin. Who knows what this tyrant will do next? Does Putin have ambitions of invading a NATO country to test the resolve of the alliance?

The inclusion of Finland and Sweden into the NATO alliance – a new NATO neighbor for the Russians.

“War, what is it good for, absolutely nothing…” not only pertains to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but all war. Wars have started for all kinds of reasons, from keeping the world safe from the spread of Naziism, to preventing the creep of communism spreading in Southeast Asia. The Middle East conflicts offer up different dynamics of war, including the petrifying existence of religious extremism, but simply said, what is war good for?

Two young music lovers, obviously with no clue of the magical Edwin Starr, take a listen to Starr’s famous song “War,” which is so relevant with the situation in Ukraine. These kids are amazed with the song, it’s rhythm and Starr’s lyrics. As I have asked many times, why has this type of R&B/Funk music gone silent?

This song, with the great voice of Edwin Starr, has never been more relevant.

  • Gordon Solie’s Championship Wrestling From Florida was must-see TV in my household. My brother and I were fixed to the black and white box watching the likes of Dory Funk, Jr., The Briscoe brothers, Wahoo McDaniel, The Great Malenko, and of course “The American Dream”, Dusty Rhodes, make mincemeat out of their opponents. I will never forget our father, after trying to watch the wrestling shenanigans with us, just shaking his head and telling us that none of these great wrestlers would hold a candle to someone called Bruno Sammartino. With no internet or YouTube available back in the dark ages, my brother and I just took our dad’s word for it, and quickly went back to watch Gordon Solie and his sixty minutes of fun.

Fast forward many decades, and the name Bruno Sammartino has once again surfaced, as Amazon and other outlets have made a documentary film on the life of Bruno Sammartino available for our on-demand viewing. Remembering my dad’s lecture about this great wrestler, I dug up a few facts:

  • An Italian immigrant, his family was forced to leave their hometown of Pizzoferrato, Italy, fleeing from Nazi-German troops.
  • His family settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where the young Sammartino, with limited English-speaking ability and his slight appearance, became of target of bullies at his high school.
  • Sammartino quickly turned to weightlifting and wrestling, which provided him with size and strength of massive proportion.
  • In 1959, Sammartino set a world record in the bench press with a lift of 565 pounds. He was soon discovered by a wrestling promoter and the rest is history.
  • He won his first world wrestling title in 1963.
  • Sammartino sold out New York City’s Madison Square Garden 187 times.

I will watch ‘Bruno Sammartino’ sometime this week, thinking of my dad and his comment about this great wrestler, who fled the Nazi’s as a young child and went on to become, in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s words, “The Star of All the Stars.”

Bruno Sammartino, The Star of All Stars.

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

Politics & Religion. Memories.

I Have Tried To Stay Away From Both. Why I Am In The Kitchen?

After many years of my content staying away from politics and religion, and after the incessant badgering from my readers, I will finally relent and give my take on both topics. Again, it is just my take.

  • There you go. A detailed synopsis of how I really feel about discussing politics and religion. Now that I have done so, I just ask that you respect the ethos I have established for my posts. No religion, no politics.

  • As a level set, I just want you to know:

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

Leaked. Escape From Florence. Bob Hope. Mother’s Day.

The Sanctum Of The Supreme Court. Jailhouse Love. A Commitment To Our Troops. Remember Your Mom.

  • The information and detail confirming the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito is alarming. Justice Alito’s draft opinion suggested that the Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that made abortion legal in the United States. I will outline some possible ramifications of Roe v. Wade being overturned (with no bias either way), but for me I think we should all ponder on why Chief Justice John Roberts has directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the leak. Ultimately, the most important aspect of this incident will be the final opinion itself, and its impact on Roe v. Wade.

Whatever you think about the merits of the draft opinion, the leak undermines the integrity and public trust of the Court. When I write “Court” I am referring to the highest court in our land, The Supreme Court of the United States. As if the dynamics of the continuing Covid-19 variants, the effect of the Russians invading Ukraine, and the eye-opening inflation and stock market are not enough, we now learn that an opinion from a Justice of the Supreme Court was leaked. Will the Justice Department go after reporters via subpoenas to find out the reporter’s source? Possibly, but I would strongly doubt that any reporter will divulge their source.

Let us go through some of the detail surrounding Roe v. Wade. Whatever your stance regarding abortion may be, this U.S. Supreme Court decision, a 50-year-old ruling that “protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction,” the overturning of this ruling is certain to have some ramifications to ponder. Note: as part of my ethos with JustMyTake, I will state some possible outcomes should Roe v. Wade be overturned. Your opinion is valued, but no opinion regarding religion or politics will be part of my take.

  • While overturning Roe v. Wade would not criminalize abortion at the federal level, experts said it would be left to states to regulate abortions.
  • Many states are either considering or have already passed trigger laws that would rapidly curtail or outlaw abortion should Roe v. Wade be overturned.
  • One think tank estimates that twenty-seven states are likely to ban abortion once Roe v. Wade is overturned. These include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
  • An ABC News – Washington Post poll found that 57% of Americans oppose a ban after fifteen weeks. 58% feel abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
  • Clinics in states continuing to perform abortions would be overwhelmed with patients from states that limit access to abortion.
  • Texas has a six-week ban in effect and has made it a felony to have a medical abortion via a pill after seven weeks.
  • The socio-economic implications of abortion restrictions are vast. One study from the Turnaway Group found that people denied abortion had a four times greater chance of being below the federal poverty line.
  • Some states are evaluating ways to protect the right to abortion and will support out-of-state residents who travel for an abortion.
  • How will the U.S. political system respond to Roe v. Wade being overturned?

My personal take on abortion is not important. I read and hear viewpoints from both sides and just hope that any ramifications of this opinion and ruling do not continue to destroy the integrity of the United States Supreme Court.

  • Pay attention to Northern Ireland. With the ongoing ramifications of Brexit in place, Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein has won the largest number of seats in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time. This election is a milestone for a party long linked to the Irish Republican Army, a paramilitary group that used bombs and bullets to try to take Northern Ireland out of U.K. rule. My daughter, son-in-law, and I were in Ireland and Northern Ireland a few years ago. My feelings then and now vary but there is a discernible difference between Dublin and Belfast – in many ways. We had a fantastic trip that included the beautiful coastal town of Howth, a quick train trip from Dublin. We also experienced a “black cab” tour that taught us the history of Belfast, Sinn Fein, and the Irish Republic Army. That is a story for another time.
Howth, Ireland – a beautiful coastal town near Dublin.

  • We wonder where Netflix gets there ideas for a new series? Look no farther than the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Florence, Alabama. It is assumed that a corrections officer had a ‘special’ relationship with a murder suspect, who just happens to be 6’9″ and weigh 340 lbs. She helped him escape from the jail after emptying her bank accounts – and being months away from retirement. Call me crazy but this story has the same character attributes as another Netflix series, a.k.a. Tiger King. Seriously, does it not get any better than this?

  • The late Bob Hope had a lifelong commitment to U.S. servicemen and women. His visits to entertain troops began with World War II, and his travel, sometimes behind enemy lines, resulted in laughter and applause from our brave soldiers protecting our country.

Bob Hope went into enemy territory to do nothing more than entertain and lift the spirits of our troops. And while he was overseas, the comedian had no idea what kind of danger he was in. In fact, the Nazis tracked Hope, knowing that if they bombed the area he was in, they could also take out many Allied troops as well. According to war correspondent Quentin Reynolds, “Bob Hope and his troupe would do 300 miles in a jeep, and give four shows … One of the generals said Hope was a first-rate military target since he was worth a division; that is about 15,000 men. The Nazis appreciated Hope’s value since they thrice bombed towns while the comic was there.” Last week marked eighty years since Bob Hope first performed for our troops overseas. A brave man, a great entertainer, and someone not easy to replace.

A Salute To Bob Hope in San Diego, California.

  • Today is Mother’s Day. Reach out, go see her, call her, or do something in memory of your mom. Larry David is the last person we want to watch provide his take on his mom…though he does make some good points with respect to her memorial.
There is only one Larry David.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, have Funday Sunday…and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Face-To-Face. Hunger. May 1st Thoughts.

Business Interaction At Its Best. The Desert Has Nothing To Do With It. The Oligarchs.

  • Along with travel and hospitality, the corporate events industry was devastated by Covid-19 and the subsequent variants. Hundreds of thousands of workers who provided services to support the creation, planning, implementation, and execution of product introductions, consumer product experiences, trade and consumer shows, and private events were left on the sideline as clients and show associations’ event schedules came to a dead stop in March of 2020. Businesses shuttered and their employees, who in my opinion have the best work ethic of any service sector, all of a sudden downshifted from fifth gear to 1st gear as worldwide healthcare organizations tried, with no avail, to quickly halt what became a serious pandemic.

Fast forward two years, and last week’s personal experience thankfully showed me a complete pivot with the events world. I attended and participated at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference, usually held every year in Las Vegas. Pre-pandemic, this conference was one of the best attended, drawing over 100,000 attendees, exhibitors, partners, and suppliers to this mega-conference which involves any and all who work within or sell to the worldwide broadcast sector. After NAB cancelling the 2020 and 2021 events, they crossed their fingers and moved forward with last week’s conference, hoping that most attendees would make their way to ‘sin city’ and participate with the educational sessions and exhibition floor. Their bet paid off as the conference attracted 60,000, well off pre-pandemic numbers, but a strong number mostly made up of decision-makers, after two years of nominal face-to-face interaction.

Using technology, Zoom calls and email prevailed for the last two years, but there is no better business interaction than face-to-face meetings. Last week’s NAB conference clearly showed the world the importance of corporate events and the role they play with business interaction. My four days attending sessions and interacting at the expo yielded great contacts and business opportunities, and more importantly will provide a path for a high level of return on investment.

Let us all hope that we have ‘learned to live with’ future Covid-19 variants and that the world of face-to-face business interaction continues to regain its momentum. Well done NAB.

The exposition floor at last week’s National Association of Broadcasters conference.

In politics, humanitarian aid, and the social sciences, hunger is defined as a condition in which a person does not have the physical or financial capability to eat sufficient food to meet basic nutritional needs for a sustained period.

I have contributed to the Red Cross. I really do not understand, with the world’s resources, how after steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting 9.9 percent of people globally. From 2019 to 2020, the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 161 million, a crisis driven largely by conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Children are devastated by hunger. In fact, “an estimated 14 million children under the age of five worldwide suffer from severe acute malnutrition, also known as severe wasting, yet only 25 percent of acutely malnourished children have access to lifesaving treatment.” This is so sad as the United Nations and other food organizations report that there is enough food produced worldwide to feed everyone on the planet.

I am writing about the serious subject of hunger due to a YouTube video sent by a friend of mine – a funny piece done by the vile Sam Kinison, who tries to make his point with why people are hungry. Though funny, this 1985 take, in present day, could not be further from the truth. Warning: this video contains vulgar language.

Great delivery, great timing…but the subject matter is not one to make fun of…

Things I Think For the First Sunday Of May:

  • You wonder when the Russian oligarchs, who have billions of dollars frozen by worldwide sanctions, will take a stand against Vladimir Putin. Sooner than later would be my answer.
  • Another Grammy-winning singer has left us. RIP Naomi Judd.
  • The Food & Drug Administration is banning menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Why not ban all types of cigarettes? Ah, yes, I forgot about the politics.
  • I just read some information regarding Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. I have no words for these two. Just plain nasty people.
  • The premier of the British Virgin Islands was arrested in Miami, charged with conspiracy to import cocaine and launder money. You just can’t fix stupid.
  • Residential rental markets in the Sunbelt are skyrocketing. My hometown of Miami is now the least affordable city in the United States. While rent prices have risen 24% nationwide, Miami’s average rent has increased by a staggering 61%. When does this craziness stop?
  • Roman Abramovich has been forced to sell his Chelsea Football Club due to sanctions imposed on the Russian by the British government. An unfortunate circumstance for Abramovich until you realize that he paid $233 million for the club back in 2003. Friday’s bid for Chelsea F.C., by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, is $5.3 billion. A nice ROI for the Russian.

  • Chris Stapleton’s rise to the top of the music world is amazing. Incredibly talented with his voice and guitar, this song best represents what this fantastic performer is all about.
Chris Stapleton performing on Austin City Limits.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and remember that Mother’s Day is one week from today. Have a Funday Sunday.

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

Note: I am traveling so I wanted to repost a justmytake from January of 2017 – more than five years ago. To date, I have received more comments from this post than any other…and really have no explanation why.

As a tennis fan and recreational player I have followed the sport for a long time.   Many of the great players had their own style and temperament (Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors come to mind) and Serena Williams is no different.  There have been many times that I watched her behavior with disdain and often stopped watching her play.  With that said there is no argument that she is the greatest woman tennis player of all time.   Friday night Serena won her seventh Australian Open, her 23rd major singles title of her career.  She now is only one victory away of equaling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.  Call Serena what you want but she has now won ten major titles after the age of thirty and her career winnings are a staggering $82m.  On the men’s side, last night’s final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was an incredible five set match and after playing well over three hours, ended with Nadal challenging a ball that was clearly in.  After not playing for many months and enduring three 5-set matches during his run to the title, Federer now has collected eighteen Grand Slam titles and has earned close to $100m in career winnings.  On two consecutive nights we were lucky enough to see the two greatest tennis players of all time.

Weeks ago I wrote about the retail customer experience and how retailers must find new ways to change their styles and merchandising often to drive customers to purchase in-store.  Retail executives continuously strive for heightening the customer experience but it seems like to no avail.  Last week, Wet Seal, around since the early ’60’s, made the decision to close all of their 171 stores nationwide.  This followed American Apparel laying off 2,400 workers, The Limited closing all stores, and Macy’s announcing that they will shutter over 100 stores in 2017.  The economic landscape and the ease of online purchasing leads me to believe there is no end in sight for more retailers to either try and pivot their offering or decide, similar to Wet Seal and The Limited, to just give up completely.

Can someone, in simple terms, explain to me what the Women’s March was really supposed to accomplish?  I support human rights, LGBTQ, racial equality and freedom of religion, but I found the March and many of the ‘protestors’ embarrassing.  I talked to many people, both men and women about the march.  A few pointed out that most of women marching were protesting against then President-elect Donald Trump without understanding his platform and pending policies.  Too bad this massive force of women could not re-focus their time and energy on important issues.  Feeding the hungry is one that comes to mind.

Updates:  Matt Ryan, only sixty minutes left in the season….get it done.   To the terrorists in Yemen who killed another U.S. soldier yesterday:  SecDef Mattis is coming for you.  Please Wayne Rooney, don’t get selfish and piss away your career playing in China.  Showtime’s Homeland, once a crazy, action-packed sixty minutes has gone politico on us…..the producers and writers should be ashamed.  Six weeks to daylight savings time!!

Adios and have a Funday Sunday!! 

Short Takes For April 17, 2022.

My View Is Not Jaded.

I have discussed this vertical takeoff ‘air taxi’ in previous posts – and for the first time we all get a look at a test flight from Lilium, a German-based aircraft technology company that utilizes emissions-free electric jet service. Their first U.S. vertiport will be developed and built in Orlando, Florida’s fast-growing Lake Nona district. FAA approval is pending and will allow this fully electric jet service to shuttle passengers on short-haul routes between Orlando and Tampa, Jacksonville, and Ft. Lauderdale-Miami. It is very likely that vertiports and air taxi service will expand quickly to many major metropolitan areas.

Forget the Florida Turnpike – this flying taxi will get you from Orlando to Miami in one hour.
  • Tiger Woods did the unthinkable after flipping his car just over a year ago. His decision to play at The Masters provided golf fans with expectations of his health and performance. He has a long way to go but maybe there is one more Major win left for him to take?
  • I do not have any answers or even suggestions on how a transit system or shopping mall can prevent someone from bringing a weapon or incendiary device onto a train or inside a mall. Terrorism or extremely sick individuals – what is the answer? This was my take, posted on August 20, 2020 – 20 months ago: The world continues to undergo a socio/economic change due to terrorist groups and other factions dovetailing off of horrific events. This past week the Charlottesville and Barcelona events showed the world that hate is not only prevalent, but now has become a factor affecting everyday life including travel, tourism, and worldwide stock markets. There is no end in sight and these types of events feed the television and social media network’s content – which drives ratings and advertising dollars. It is interesting that after 9/11, people all over the world seemed to take a step back, offered up kindness, and in general just got along… understanding the shock and horror from a few deranged terrorists. Can you stop someone from renting or stealing a car and driving it into a crowd of people? Can you convince racists that their efforts would be better spent organizing charity events instead of hating people that just happen to have a different skin color?  There is an island somewhere in the far reaches of this planet for all these people…in my mind, that is the only solution. Other than then Covid and its variants slowing down, has anything really changed in the last 20 months?.
  • I proposed this idea and business service to a friend of mine years ago: create a cord-cutting platform that provides consumers with a simple way, based on their television viewing wants and needs, to select streaming services from one online portal with a menu of options. One-stop selection, one invoice, and one customer service outlet. “A Streaming Service Aggregator.” It is a bit of a daunting business proposition, but if anyone is up to discussing the idea…I am all ears. Serious.
  • I am very surprised that I have received few comments from readers on the sad situation in Ukraine. Do you feel like the United States is doing enough? Does the NATO charter prevent the U.S. from doing more? How long can NATO and non-NATO countries stand by and watch the horror Vladimir Putin is inflicting on Ukraine and its citizens? Someone correct me if I am wrong: Has the U.S., in previous conflicts, not employed its armed forces to try and stop warring factions across the world? I would like your take please.
  • My favorite boat, without a doubt, was my 27′ pontoon boat – basically a floating living room. Now, without regard to costs, I have found my new favorite boat. By volume, it is the world’s largest yacht, with two helipads, a salon, gym, and the largest swimming pool ever installed on a yacht (25 meters). There are accommodations for thirty-six (which for me is 32 too many), and the yacht is valued at $735 million. The upside: it only costs $5 million a month to maintain. You will need to negotiate the purchase of the yacht with the German government, as they seized the ship last month when it docked at the port of Hamburg. It seems the yacht is owned by the sister of a Russian oligarch. Sanctions are sanctions.
A yacht for sale.
  • The pharmaceutical world at its finest: “In both trials, the antidepressant response to psilocybin was rapid, sustained and correlated with decreases in fMRI brain network modularity, implying that psilocybin’s antidepressant action may depend on a global increase in brain network integration,” the study reads. I am not sure, other than some healthcare professionals, who would actually understand what this trial studied, but upon further review it relates to the use of ‘magic mushrooms’ to improve everyone’s mood. In today’s world, once the FDA approves its use, psilocybin will fly off pharmacy shelves.
  • It is apparent, after watching this video, that most children are incredibly resilient. Sheltering in a bunker, this adorable young Ukrainian girl’s version of “Frozen” went viral, attracting attention from Broadway and the worldwide media. Sweetness and fortitude all wrapped into one.
She is simply amazing.

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

Wake Up NATO. Things I Think.

Is It Time For NATO To Impose Their Will? The NBA Playoffs. JLo. Real Comedy.

  • Define Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s Prime Minister, in any manner you see fit. The one characterization of Johnson you can define is bravery. Yesterday, Johnson visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the capital city of Kyiv. Zelenskyy and Johnson, obviously escorted by a very imposing squad of Ukrainian special forces, took a long walk through the streets of the city, greeting and engaging with both their armed forces and civilians who decided to remain in their homes.

After arriving in Poland, Johnson’s trip in Kyiv was accomplished by a ‘secret’ train ride into Zelenskyy’s country, some of the territories demolished by Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces. After his walkabout with Zelenskyy, Johnson announced that the U.K. would no longer stand down with their tangible support of Ukraine, and though the balance of NATO support is tricky, he would authorize the immediate deployment of eight hundred additional anti-tank missiles, Javelin anti-tank systems, and an additional Starstreak air defense system. Zelenskyy’s call for immediate action was emphasized with the statement: “Freedom does not have time to wait” has been answered by Boris Johnson and the U.K. Though the balance of powers and the hint of Putin’s nuclear weapons have kept NATO in check, is it time for President Joseph Biden and other NATO countries to stand up to the crazed leader of Russia? Yes, it is.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a walk thru Kyiv.

My top of mind things I think:

  • JLo is back in the news again. This time it is Ben Affleck. Does anyone care about the ongoing romance of JLo? Seriously?
  • I have been a big fan of basketball, both college and the NBA, for a very long time. I go back as far as the American Basketball Association and the Miami Floridians, who not only touted the ‘world’s tallest Cuban’ in Al Cueto, but Mack Calvin, who I still consider one of the best point guards ever to play the game. Professional basketball has exploded worldwide, with top leagues not only in the U.S., but in Europe, South America, and the Pacific Rim. Understanding that television rights are the big driver of revenue for leagues, it is amazing to me how the NBA has devised their playoff scheme and the ‘play-in’ round even to make it into the playoffs. Living in Atlanta before moving to Orlando over 4 years ago, I was and still am a big supporter of the Atlanta Hawks. As the regular season comes to a close later today, here is an example of the Hawks’ ‘play-in’ scenario: The Hawks get the ten seed tomorrow with: Loss + BKN win + CLE win + CHA win OR Loss + BKN win + CLE loss + CHA win OR Win + BKN loss + CLE win + CHA win OR Loss + BKN loss + CLE win + CHA win. Obviously, the NBA employs high level mathematicians and actuaries. 🙂
  • The drama with Will Smith and Chris Rock is hopefully over. The ten-year ban the Academy imposed on Smith has somehow overshadowed how talented and funny great comedians can be, whether scripted or not. Here is an example of Eddie Murphy’s impromptu (and brave) delivery at a ceremony celebrating Sammy Davis Jr. So good. (Excuse the video quality).

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

Oscar Drama. Words. Opportunity. Rule Changes. Quote This. Taylor.

Thankful For Lady Gaga. English As A Second Language. Opportunity Knocks. The NFL Is At It Again. Being Authentic. A Tribute To Taylor.

  • In last week’s post I mentioned how put off I have been with award shows, and that due to the grandstanding of attendees and award winners, I would not watch last Sunday night’s Academy Awards. The Oscars are regarded by many as the most prestigious and significant awards in the entertainment world, with award-winners being honored for their artistic and technical merit in the film industry.

I did not watch the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident until sometime last Monday. I am not downplaying the seriousness of the incident…to me a criminal act of battery, but how sad for this once glamorous award show now diminished to one of personal mockery. In fact, Smith’s behavior overshadowed an Oscar presentation to Samuel L. Jackson. Despite Jackson’s illustrious career, and being the highest grossing box office actor of all time, with over $27 billion worldwide, the 73-year-old had never received an Oscar, until last Sunday night.

Chris Rock’s joke about Smith’s wife was not necessary and may have been a bit over-the-top, but what right did Smith have in leaving his seat, walking up on stage, and slapping Rock during a live broadcast? Was this incident fueled by the over-sensitivity of men these days, fueled by the ‘woke’ madness that has integrated itself into every thread of this country? Can you imagine this same shameful reaction from a studio audience watching and listening to Richard Pryor, Don Rickles, or Rodney Dangerfield? Will Smith: how about taking a step back, understanding that you are nothing more than an entertainer, and do something positive for the Academy. Or, with more relevance, support a former entertainer who is now the President of a sovereign country under attack from Russia.

The optics were and still are so bad for the Academy Awards, but thankfully the presentation from Liza Minnelli, supported onstage by Lady Gaga, brought some real significance and dignity back to this awards ceremony.

Liza Minnelli is among a rare group of performers awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.

  • I had an interesting discussion last week regarding the English language. Many people around the world speak English as a second language, and most people who learned the language as their second (or third) have reminded me that English is not easy to learn. After a quick look-up, English has more phonemes than most languages, and an unusual amount of vowel sounds (11). There are an estimated 172,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary with the average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker around 20,000 words. Without thinking too long, using Google, or a dictionary, answer the following regarding the English language:
  • What is a phoneme?
  • What is the shortest sentence in the English language?
  • Provide three examples of words that sound alike but are spelled differently (homophones).
  • Name three words where the rule “I before E except after C” does not apply.
  • What is a plural noun that does not end in ‘s’?
  • What is one word that looks exactly the same, but with different meanings and pronunciations?

I have been told that English is not always easy to learn – as a native speaker I cannot imagine the trials and tribulations people deal with learning English as a second language. Some of us may take the English language for granted, but learning the language and its anomalies, including the number of contranyms imbedded in the language, is sometimes overwhelming. Yes, I said contranyms.

  • A past contributor to JustMyTake provided his perspective on the subject of ‘opportunity’. Thank you Chris A., for your very powerful and relevant content:

When I am on the NC Coast, I go to church in Southport, NC. The priest there is a Vietnamese man. When I first started attending, it was very difficult to understand him. Over the years, he has worked hard at his delivery. Now, I can understand every word and it turns out, he is quite a wise, thoughtful person.

He writes an article in the bulletin each week. Below is one from last year that I saved. I’ve had a few recent events that made me revisit it. For me, when I was younger taking advantage of opportunities usually meant career. As I get older, it’s about relationships … family & friends.

Taking Advantage of Your Opportunities
“In the days before modern harbors, a ship had to wait for the tide before it could make it to port. The term for this situation in Latin was “ob portu”, that is, a ship standing over against port waiting for the moment when it could ride the turn of the tide to the harbor.
The English word “opportunity” is derived from this original meaning. The captain and the crew were ready and waiting for that one moment, for they knew that if they missed it, they would have to wait for another tide to come in.
You may remember one of the most famous passages of William Shakespeare:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune:
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries
On such a full sea are we now afloat:
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
We tend to think of “opportunity” as something that lies in the distant future. We dream of all that we could do and be if only given a chance. At the same time, opportunity knocks at our door every day that we live, with every breath that we draw.
What opportunity do you plan to take advantage of?”

  • To: Danny, Aaron, Anne, Annica, Art, Becky, Ben, Brendan, Bob, Bret, Chris, Cody, Daniel, Darren, Dave, Doug, Gary, Jason, Jeff, Jen, Jim, Joe, John, Jon, Kay, Kelley, Kirt, Les, Mario, Mark, Marty, Matthew, Nick, Pat, Pete, Peter, Phil, Rhonda, Richie, Rick, Salvatore, Samir, Sarah, Steak, Steve, Steven, Tom, Tracy, Wes, and Yvonne, and anyone else I may have missed who would have interest in chiming in on the NFL Competition Committees’ proposed rule changes. There a few proposed rule changes that are interesting, but this one is eye-opening: Make field goals 55 yards or longer worth four points. While it sounds like fun and adds some new math to the game, I have this bizarre thought in my mind with this scenario:

The Indianapolis Colts, now led by quarterback Matt Ryan, have the ball on the Atlanta Falcons’ 37-yard line, and it is third down and 16. Instead of running a positive play to pick up a first down, Ryan takes the snap, steps back a yard, and takes a knee, downing the ball at the thirty-eight-yard line. The Colts now line up for a field goal, with the ball now at the thirty-eight, plus the 7 yards where the holder sets up, plus the 10 yards with the goalposts on the end line. The Colts’ field goal kicker now lines up a 55-yard field goal attempt worth FOUR points. Am I missing something, or did I just describe a negative yardage play that yields the offense a chance for four points over three by losing a yard? Call me crazy, but to me that is strange. Note: there were more than eighty field goal attempts from 50+ yards in last year’s NFL season.

  • Shakti Gawain is a pioneer in the field of personal development. A best-selling writer, for over twenty-five years she has authored books on the subject, selling over ten million copies. I have only read random samples of her work, but this quote on living authentically is one that I really enjoyed reading:

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then, do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

  • The tributes to the late Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins continue to pour in. Last weekend, Elton John performed in Des Moines, Iowa, and provided this heartfelt tribute and incredible version of one of his many great songs.
RIP Taylor Hawkins.

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

Madeleine. Roman. Thoughts. Golazo.

One Tough Person. He Could Be A Power Broker. A Few Random Takes. Dog Gone Crazy.

  • She was born in 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. At the age of two, her family was forced to leave the country to escape the Nazi regime. The family eventually settled in the United States – giving the late Madeleine Albright an opportunity she certainly capitalized on. After graduating from Wellesley College, Albright went on to earn a PhD from Columbia University and worked as a professor at Georgetown University and the University of Colorado. Following these terms as a professor, she took on the following assignments and appointments:
  • The U.S. State Department, earning numerous awards and accolades for her work as a diplomat, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Advisor to the National Security Council
  • First female Secretary of State
  • Elected to a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2001.
  • Accepted a position on the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange
  • Served on the board of directors for the Council on Foreign Relations
  • Appointed the co-chair of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor
  • A co-chair of the Genocide Prevention Task Force
  • Served as Chair of the council for The Hague Institute for Global Justice

Albright was widely considered to have been one of the most influential women in America, and her tenure as Secretary of State is often cited as a model for future female leaders. Madeleine Albright was known for her frankness and her ability to get straight to the point, and she was never afraid to speak her mind. Here is one of her quotes that I respect and agree with: “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” Madeleine Albright passed away last Wednesday at the age of eighty-four. She rose to power and fame as a brilliant analyst of world affairs…it is unfortunate she is not the U.S. Secretary of State now, as her demeanor, drive, and spirit might be sending a different message to Vladimir Putin. RIP Madeleine Albright.

Of all things…Madeleine Albright was not shy!

  • Roman Abramovich was a former political figure in Russia, having governed the eastern province of Chukotka. In the seven years of his regime, he revived this sparsely populated Pacific region, pumping billions into the region’s economy, rebuilding infrastructure, housing, education systems, and healthcare. At the time he left his appointment, back in 2008, he was Russia’s third richest man, with a vast fortune of $24 billion. Abramovich earned Vladimir Putin’s trust with the work he did in Chukotka, and to this day these two Russians remain very close.

Fast forward to present day, and Abramovich, deemed a Russian oligarch, had acquired assets including ownership of Chelsea football club. As an oligarch, Abramovich’s assets were seized with the UK’s imposed sanctions on all Russian entities and their assets. This included the Premier League’s Chelsea F.C., valued at more than $3 billion. Abramovich has subsequently put the Club up for sale, creating a bidding war for this West London football club.

Russian oligarch and former Chelsea F.C. owner Roman Abramovich

Reports out of Ukraine report that Abramovich attended a first round of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus during the first week of Putin’s brutal invasion – that has now dragged on for over a month. Here is to hoping that Abramovich, from Jewish origin and a holder of passports from Russia, Portugal, and Israel, really does have Vladimir Putin’s ear and can somehow convince the tyrant to back off and stay in his lane. That would be Abramovich’s gift to the people of both Ukraine and Russia, as the world now has clear evidence that his little buddy Vladimir is totally out of control. I have no idea how this conflict will evolve or somehow end. Praying that the pride and soul of the Ukrainian soldiers will prevail.

Sunday Update:

  • RIP to Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins. He took over the drumming duties from Dave Grohl twenty-five years ago.
  • My posts have gone back and forth on the future of the electric car. If you use supply and demand as a barometer, it is no longer a phenomena or fad. Last week, Google searches for electric cars broke records. Is this craze due to the price of gasoline or do some new car buyers feel comfortable with the reality of recharging their cars?
  • For various reasons, I will not watch tonight’s 94th Academy Awards. Watching and listening to both presenters and award-winners voice their political or religious views has become systemic, and the show’s ratings over the years tell us that I am not alone with my no-go with watching what was once a very cool awards show.
  • Close to ten percent of the Ukrainian population has been forced to leave their home and country due to Russia’s invasion of their sovereign country. The exodus has turned into a humanitarian crisis and your help is needed. An easy way to support the effort to help is with a donation. Just do it.

  • I guess these dogs know something we do not? Sure, a spanish-speaking play-by-play announcer always gets everyone stirred up…but wow!

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