How Did We Get Here? There Is No Doubt. Headlines. Friends. Mystery Ride.

What Is Not Inflated? He Is No Different Than The Worst Of The Worst. It Is Not Just Florida. Don’t Get Your Panties In A Wad.

  • The coronavirus and the pandemic. The serious supply chain issues reducing the amount of available goods. Stimulus checks being pocketed by millions. The sanctions and other economic responses to Russia invading Ukraine. All of these socio-economic and geopolitical events have resulted in the fastest rate of inflation in forty years. Compared to 2021, gas at our favorite convenience store is up 38%, used cars 41%, and food prices at the grocery store up as much as 9%. By economic definition, the continued rising prices across the board define inflation, a general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money. The sector of the population most affected by inflation are people living on fixed incomes or lower-wage workers. The problem is systemic and will hopefully resolve itself by solving the supply chain dilemma and the Federal Reserve slowly raising interest rates.

Established in 1913, The Federal Reserve System (“the Fed”) is the central banking system of the United States. It was formed in response to a series of financial panics with the goal of controlling the monetary system to help alleviate issues with financial and banking systems. It is interesting how things have not changed over the last one hundred and nine years, as there is no more important time than now for the Federal Reserve to step in to mitigate inflation not seen in more than 40 years. One way the Fed can help with slowing down the economy is to change (raise) interest rates. It does this by raising the short-term borrowing rate for commercial banks, who in turn pass on the higher rates to their consumer and business customers. It is sort of like a gas and brake pedal for the economy, raising rates to slow down the economy as higher rates usually correlate to a slowdown in spending, or lower the rates to stimulate the economy. For now, the Fed will try to make borrowing more expensive so consumers and businesses hold off on making purchases or investments, which will in turn cool off demand and bring prices for fuel and food back in check. With all that said, no one knows the full effect of Russia invading Ukraine, and what the subsequent sanctions, will do to our economy.

The United States is experiencing the highest rate of inflation in over 40 years

  • Josef Mengele. Adolf Eichmann. Saddam Hussein. Ratko Mladic. Pol Pot. Omar Al-Bashir. Muammar Qaddafi. Augusto Pinochet. Slobodan Milosevic. Idi Amin.

These are a random sample of so-called leaders accused of war crimes. As a level-set, here is the definition of a war crime, outlined by The International Criminal Court, an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands: A war crime is a violation of the laws of war that gives rise to individual criminal responsibility for actions by the combatants, such as intentionally killing civilians or intentionally killing prisoners of war, torture, taking hostages, unnecessarily destroying civilian property, deception by perfidy, wartime sexual violence, pillaging, the conscription of children in the military, committing genocide or ethnic cleansing, the granting of no quarter despite surrender, and flouting the legal distinctions of proportionality and military necessity.

There has been continued discussion regarding Vladimir Putin and his egregious behavior. Russia is bombing Ukraine’s civilian population, including apartment buildings and a maternity hospital. Civilian property is destroyed, and many civilians have been killed – in a sovereign country now devastated by Putin and his armed forces. These events in Ukraine are no different than Putin’s actions with Chechnya in 1999, Georgia in 2008, and Ukraine in 2014, which led to an illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea. Then there’s Syria. For a decade, Putin has propped up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad despite evidence of atrocities that war crimes investigators believe is the “strongest since the Nuremberg trials”. By definition, Putin is a war criminal and must be treated as one. I understand the thirty-member NATO alliance, and their hesitancy to send troops to non-NATO Ukraine. What I do not understand is why a clandestine operative has not sent this narcissistic megalomaniac to a place called Hell.

Do you need any additional evidence that Putin is a war criminal?

  • I often run across some interesting (or puzzling) headlines:
  • India accidentally fires missile into Pakistan – how does India actually make this happen? Did they aim incorrectly?
  • Florida man arrested after stealing a crossbow by stuffing it down his trousers – yes, this happened in FLORIDA. Anyone surprised?
  • New Jersey animal control officer called to capture fake parrot – okay, so maybe Florida is not so bad after all?
  • Box of human heads stolen from Denver truck – Weed is legal in Colorado, right?
  • Unusual, submarine-shaped vehicle spotted on Florida road – okay, I take back what I said about Florida. It was obviously a slow news day in Punta Gorda.
No, and no.

We can lighten up the tone of this post with someone’s interesting definition of friends. I do not disagree with this take:

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

Kheil HaAvir. Keeping It Light In A Very Serious Time.

Maybe They Could Impose Their Will. A Bit Of Humor Needed By All.

  • Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade the country of Ukraine has added additional concern and heartbreak after more than two years of dealing with a pandemic. I do not have any answers for stopping Russia’s onslaught as NATO’s hands are tied due to Ukraine not being part of the thirty-nation alliance. As I discussed with a friend last week, there is a non-NATO country who can run point on eliminating Russian tanks, artillery, and other assets…a country known for their precise use of air-to-surface missiles? I have one in mind.

  • Instead of trying to provide a light and funny take last week, I took a stab at the Russia-Ukraine situation. For this week, let us look at Jason Statham, Volkswagen A.G., a tractor, Clint Eastwood, some pets, Kramer, and of course my favorite breakfast:

He is a heartthrob. A badass with a British accent and the tough, handsome look of the star he has become over the years. More importantly, Jason Statham has a profound sense of humor.

Jason at his finest. 🙂

I am not making light of Volkswagen A.G. or their brands including Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, and Lamborghini. There is no humor with this cargo ship, carrying 4,000 luxury vehicles with an estimated value of $400 million, sinking in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. The Felicity Ace started to tilt to one side and take on water after it caught fire. There was no loss of life as all twenty-two sailors on board the ship were rescued after the fire started last month. I am a bit surprised that there was no off-loading option and more perplexing to me is the caption of this photo, which was taken by the Portuguese Navy.

The Panama-flagged vessel caught fire, tilted to one side, and then RAN AGROUND in the mid- Atlantic Ocean.

There can be no doubt about my feelings with Russia invading Ukraine. My post last week provided my views but without too many solutions. I cannot comment on Russia’s armed forces, their tactics or strategy. They are doing massive damage to Ukraine, a savage attack on a sovereign nation instigated by Vladimir Putin. The armed forces and citizens of Ukraine have taken a stance and are fighting for their country. Let us all pray that they prevail and if the video below is a small indication of Russia’s Army, we may have some hope.

Really Russia?

If Vladimir Putin wants a fight, a good opponent would be a roll up of the badass characters Clint Eastwood played during his incredible career. Once bundled, a bit of a one-on-one interaction with Putin would be enjoyable. I think a combination of Josey Wales (The Outlaw Josey Wales), Blondie (The Good, The Bad, The Ugly), Will Munny (Unforgiven), Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry), and Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino) would be nice opposition in a duel with the Russian tyrant. “Get Off My Lawn” has never been more relevant.

Let’s get Harry Callahan to do the dirty work.

If you know me you know I love dogs, especially big ones. Whether they are a man’s best friend is up for discussion, but I have always enjoyed having a dog around. I guess there are guidelines with their breed and demeanor, but this video takes the pet thing a bit too far.

My first and only question is where is this bear’s momma? Hopefully far away.

I miss Seinfeld. Actually, I miss Kramer. I take in a rerun once in a blue moon – just to experience the bizarre world of Kramer. A little bit of Kramer may be what the world needs right now.

“They kept ringing the bell.” There is only one Kramer.

And finally, on this first Sunday of March, I finally decided to yield to my internist’s orders to keep my caffeine intake at a minimum. I am pretty sure some of you would agree with his directive.

Obviously Tito’s or Grey Goosenot Russian.

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a Funday Sunday! And yes, we are one week from daylight savings time!


The Little Tyrant Has Put the World On Alert.

After my previous posts touched on serious topics, I thought I would lighten things up this week. Then, my prediction regarding the Russians invading Ukraine unfortunately came to fruition. For various and personal reasons, and without diving into politics or religion, here is my take on the invasion of Ukraine. Do I have a level of bias? Yes, I do, as my family lineage includes Ukraine.

  • We will start with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Made up of the republics of Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Uzbekistan, the Soviet Union’s demise was fueled by a substantial number of radical reforms. At that time, the Soviet Union’s president, Mikhail Gorbachev, had followed the paths set by Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, with totalitarian controls including administering over all industrial activity as well as controlling most aspects of political and social life.

Late in 1991, after a never-ending bad economy, the repressed and frustrated republics of the Soviet Union, one by one, declared their independence from Moscow and the Soviet Union. Gorbachev, under immense pressure, resigned on Christmas Day of that same year. Many governing protocols with the former republics were initiated, but one ended up sacrificing tremendous leverage.

Though Ukraine inherited a large number of nuclear weapons after the Soviet Union’s collapse, three years after declaring themselves an independent country, they decided to fully denuclearize under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which offered Ukraine security assurances from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia. It is now obviously clear, that twenty-eight years ago, the Ukrainians could not foresee the impact of their decision to forego their nuclear weapons. The Budapest Memorandum was authorized at the highest level by the heads of state with the implication that Ukraine would not be left to stand alone to face the threat and onslaught that started last week.

Civilians shelter in a metro station in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

There are a few reasons that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, decided to invade neighboring Ukraine. None of the reasons coming out of Moscow are valid, including Putin stating that this his war on Ukraine is a peacekeeping mission, a “denazification” of the country. This is simply a ‘power grab’ by a narcissistic henchman who shaped his persona as a long time KGB operative and FSB leader. There is no doubt that his insecurity stems from Ukraine’s alliances in the West, and the idea that another neighboring country being a NATO member unnerves him, but what type of leader invades another sovereign country? I’m sure the ‘napoleon complex’ plays into his thought process, a so-called leader of Russia with the following on his resume:

  • The murders of Putin’s critics, including Boris Nemtsov and Anna Politkovskaya. Nemtsov attempted to expose corruption involving Putin and the state-controlled natural gas conglomerate Gazprom.
  • Imprisoning hundreds of dissenters due to their political beliefs.
  • Supporting the murderous regime of Syria and their president, Bashar al-Assad.
  • Instigating the Russia-Ukrainian War early on in 2014, centering on the status of Crimea and parts of Donbas, republics that were internationally recognized as part of Ukraine.
  • Kickback schemes and unqualified elections.
  • The poisoning of anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.
Poland’s leader welcoming NATO troops on February 25, 2022.

Last week’s invasion of a sovereign country, as I stated last week, has shocked financial markets and energy derivatives. The harm already done to Ukraine and its citizens is incomprehensible. NATO is frozen, with Article 5* in place, afraid of the ramifications of escalation. Putin is a tyrant, unstable, and has put the world on alert. * The most serious section of the treaty is Article 5, which is known as the “commitment clause.” Within this clause, every member of NATO agrees that it will consider an armed attack against any member state, whether in Europe or North America, as an attack against all 30 members of the organization.

Putin must be dealt with by whatever means necessary to end this invasion – yes, by whatever means necessary. This situation reminds me of two favorite quotes from former United States General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., who also served as the commander of the United States Central Command: “You can’t help but… with 20/20 hindsight, go back and say, look, had we done something different, we probably wouldn’t be facing what we are facing today.” “I believe that forgiving them is God’s function. Our job is to arrange the meeting.”

A sovereign nation invaded – forcing many of their citizens to flee to Poland.

  • On a brighter note, we are two weeks from the start of daylight savings time, March Madness gets going soon, the NBA and NHL seasons are in their late stages, and Major League Soccer’s 27th season kicked off yesterday. Godspeed to all Ukrainians and others whose lives have been turned upside down.

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

Stay Away Vladimir. The Forgotten Virus. Escobar’s Legacy Lives On.

Global Markets React. The Numbers Are Still Staggering. Hippos. My Takes.

Vladimir Putin has indicated he sees NATO’s expansion as an existential threat, and the prospect of Ukraine joining the Western military alliance a “hostile act.” The situation is complicated and has already spooked global markets, as the prospects of spiking costs of gas, electricity, and oil are highly likely once the Russians clamp down on Ukraine. Energy prices were up 29% annually in December and will continue to rise should a war break out. I obviously have no inner circle of intel, other than my friend, Samir, but I predict the Russians enter Ukraine later this morning, two hours after the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony. I hope my prediction is very wrong.

Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, sits 236 miles from the Russian border.

  • For two years, we have focused on viruses. There is no doubt coronaviruses, namely Covid-19, woke up the world with the rate of infection, hospitalizations, and unfortunately over 927,000 people passing away. Pharmaceutical entities around the world went into action to quickly develop, produce, and distribute vaccines way outside of usual regulatory protocols, resulting in millions around the world electing to be vaccinated. The world of modern medicine took action – against a virus and its variants to help people.

I now wonder why another virus, first discovered forty-one years ago, did not have the same sense of urgency from the CDC and the World Health Organization (W.H.O.)? Maybe I am wrong, and that pharmaceutical companies that have so successfully and so quickly brought vaccines to the market to combat Covid-19, at that time did not have the same technologies in place to develop and produce vaccines to help people who are dealing with HIV. Here are staggering facts: “…after 41 years, the W.H.O. reports that 1.5 million more people were infected with HIV in 2020, and nearly half of them died, despite a commitment to end AIDS by 2030. Worldwide, 38 million people have HIV, and about 73% are receiving treatment with antiretroviral drugs.

The ignorant consider discussion around HIV taboo, which is ridiculous considering infection numbers are still staggering. Is there any path to a cure, which is viewed as the only way to end the decades-long HIV pandemic? Possibly, as last week, a woman with HIV who received an umbilical cord blood transplant has become the third person in the world to be cured of the HIV virus. The woman was diagnosed with HIV in 2013 and took antiretroviral drugs to keep her virus levels low. The path to a cure may lie with hematopoietic stem cells, which are used to treat more than seventy types of diseases, including diseases of the immune system, genetic disorders, neurologic disorders, and some forms of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma.

More than 36 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic but there is now some good news: Since 2004, AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 65% with patients receiving treatment with antiretroviral drugs. Hopefully, the hematopoietic stem cell procedure will finally lead to a clear path of a cure. Let us all hope that the great news from last week continues.

  • As if Colombia needs more socio-economic issues: Colombia’s government plans to sign a document declaring hippos an exotic invasive species, according to Environment Minister Carlos Eduardo Correa. This means coming up with a plan for how to control their population, which has reached 130 and is projected hit 400 in eight years if nothing is done as they flourish in Colombia’s rivers. I asked the same question you are now asking: “Why and how are there hippos in the rivers of Colombia?” We can thank drug lord Pablo Escobar, who thought it would be a great idea to bring a few that were imported illegally from Africa in the 1980’s. Nice work Pablo. Why could you not stick to the thing you did so well?
At least they are so good looking…..

A Few Short Takes:

  • It was awesome to see former UGA quarterback Matt Stafford lead his Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl victory.
  • This could only happen in the state of Florida. The headline: Officer chases woman riding motorized suitcase in Orlando airport. And to reinforce the world of the weird:
The poor police officer.
  • Kanye and Kim – please stop; please go away.
  • With the pending invasion of his country, why did the Ukrainian President decide, of all times, to fly to Munich yesterday? Maybe he knows something we do not?
  • I have had little time and for the first time a lack of interest in watching a great amount of Olympics coverage. I am not alone as NBC’s ratings are down 40%. I guess the main reasons for this ratings slide include the thirteen-hour time difference between Beijing and the U.S. eastern time zone, China’s controversial human rights record, and viewer fatigue due to the short timeframe with the Winter Olympics following last summer’s Olympic Games.
  • I try to be millennial-relevant, so can someone please explain this headline to me?: Call of Duty now lets you destroy cheaters with your own automatic god mode.
  • BA.2 is a new subvariant of Omicron. Please be a variant with little to no severity.
  • The price-earnings ratio, for many years, was the barometer many used to gauge the future success of various business entities. That metric is no longer the case – especially with the technology sector and their start-ups. Many say that we are now in a market that is NOT rewarding non-profitable tech names with long pathways to profitability. At market close on Friday, many tech stocks took a bath, including the once-prospering Roku, whose shares are 77% off their highs from July 27th of last year.
  • I am still not finished with the Ted Lasso series – so well done, and at times so damn funny:
Ted Lasso at his finest.

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

Scale Carefully. Random Takes. Will: Make The Save!

A Haunted Headcount. Mid-February Thoughts. A Goalkeeper For The Ages.

  • The desire to scale quickly has presented some very interesting scenarios for start ups across the world. The pressure to scale comes from institutional and private investors who want to see their positions with these companies yield positive returns – sometimes to the point of ad nauseum. The spectrum of financial metrics have expanded over the years, especially considering the level of sophistication some private equity firms have instituted to garner weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual financial data. Here are a few financial metrics to ponder:

Gross Profit Margin. Runway. LTV.
Return on Sales. Operating Margin.
Net Profit Margin. Operating Cash Flow Ratio. CAGR.
Current Ratio. MRR. Working Capital. EBITDA.
Quick Ratio. Acid Test. CAC. COGS.
Gross Burn Rate. IRR.

Now that I have you Dazed and Confused (Milla Jovovich was memorable in that 1993 movie), I am a bit confused as well. My case in point is Peloton. Once the darling of Wall Street, this “fit-tech” company scaled quickly but now has fallen on hard times. They have taken a beating after peaking early in the pandemic as homebound consumers turned to Peloton’s bikes to stay in shape, but sales have since turned to a trickle with the stock falling 80% from its all-time high in early 2021. I do understand that people returning to gyms, the supply chain, and competitive pressure have slowed Peloton sales down, but what I do not understand is how their Board and senior executives allowed headcount to grow exponentially, leading to the span of control actually spiraling out of control.

Peloton is expecting a $313 million operating loss – and better late than never finally took action last week by replacing CEO John Foley…and unfortunately terminating 2,800 employees, which was 20% of their workforce. So, while the consistent spiral of Peloton resulted in the Board finally taking action, can someone please explain to me how a company can cut 20% of its workforce and maintain operating efficiencies?

If I am Peloton investor, my first and big question is WHAT THE HELL WERE THOSE 2,800 PEOPLE DOING AT PELOTON IN THE FIRST PLACE, IF YOU COULD JUST CUT THEM FROM YOUR PAYROLL? I’m not the sharpest pencil in the stack so can someone please enlighten me? Here is a side note just to add a bit of fuel to the fire: Last December, while Peloton’s stock continued to plummet, former CEO Jim Foley bought a $55 million home in the Hamptons. He hosted an invite-only holiday party for Peloton instructors, though he had canceled a company-wide holiday event and froze hiring. Foley is laughing all the way to the bank while 2,800 people are looking for a job. Disgusting behavior.

Some mid-February things I think I think:

  • Amazing that it had not happened earlier, but there was finally a failure with a private space entity. Last Thursday, space exploration company Astra had their first launch result in the rocket spiraling out of control and losing its payload of satellites. I’m sure Astra will be back bigger and better very soon.
  • I’m a decent athlete but to date I have not conquered the art of ice skating. Then I watch what Nathan Chen does to earn a gold medal. I cannot imagine having that type of ability while wearing ice skates. My friend Richie can…he is a big Brian Boitano fan. 🙂
  • What exactly is Russia’s end game with their buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border? Let’s hope the Russians pull their troops off the border soon before this escalates into all-out war.
  • LSU’s Joe Burrow against the University of Georgia’s Matt Stafford in tonight’s Super Bowl. I am hoping that this game follows the thread of those crazy-fun playoff games.
  • Inflationary woes continue to be top of mind. Some of this is due to the supply chain issues, which certainly are not getting any better with Canadian truckers blocking entry points into and out of the United States…but that is a story for another time. On September 25th of last year, I posted about the number of cargo ships that were in queue off the coast of California, waiting to offload their cargo at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. That number was sixty-two. Almost five months later, this update comes to us from the Wall Street Journal: As of February 8th, the number of container ships queuing to enter the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach declined to 78 vessels, down from the peak of 109 ships reached a month earlier, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. C’mon…there must be a way to speed up this process. Maybe we should employ SpaceX and NASA to help solve our supply chain issues? Moving the new StarShip spacecraft prototype to Kennedy Space Center’s 39A launch pad is a logistical nightmare:
Maybe SpaceX can solve the supply chain issue?
  • The day originated as a Western Christian feast day, to honor one or two early saints named Valentinus. That means tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – have fun and enjoy!

  • With an ownership group that includes Magic Johnson and Will Ferrell, the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) plays in the Western Conference of Major League Soccer. The club began play in the 2018 season at the beautiful Banc of California Stadium, and over the last few years one member of the ownership group is well known to insert himself into the thread of the team. Will Ferrell attends most home games, some away games, and is serious about soccer and his club. I can’t explain the nuances of Will Ferrell, and after he made another appearance at a team training session, I am sure the LAFC players feel the same as I do. The player front and center is Carlos Vela, who before joining LAFC, played with the Mexican National Team as well as big clubs in England and Spain. Vela’s smile and wonderment with Ferrell is priceless.
Is Ferrell ‘in character’ or is this just Will Ferrell?

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, enjoy the Super Bowl, and all of you have a very nice Valentine’s Day.

A 30,000 Foot View.

Integrity. T-Minus Cruise Ship. Road Charge. Age Is Just A Number.

  • I’m a football fan. From my days watching the Miami Dolphins win back to back Super Bowls to the Atlanta Falcons epic collapse in Super Bowl LI, the NFL has always been must-see TV for me. There have been many controversies with the NFL as the socio-economics of the league, the owners, the teams, and the players are no different than what happens within major corporate entities around the world.

Brian Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, has made some very serious allegations stemming from his tenure as the Dolphins’ head coach, and including interviews he was asked to participate in as many teams look to fill their head coaching vacancies. I am not going to comment on NFL hiring practices and the “Rooney Rule” – that is a subject that stands on its own as one of the League’s major failures. What I will comment on is Flores’ allegation that the Miami Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, trying to position the Dolphins with a higher draft pick, offered Flores a $100,000-per-game bonus for every loss by the Dolphins in the 2019 season, Flores’ first as the team’s head coach. Would Brian Flores lie as a backlash for Ross firing him after this past season? Would Stephen Ross actually attack the integrity of the game by offering his head coach money to lose games?

The commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, works for the NFL team owners and is reportedly paid a base salary of $63 million annually. He has dealt with many issues with teams and their personnel – but this issue is not about player personnel issues. It is about the integrity of the game. In so many ways I hope Brian Flores is lying…but why would he? What is your take?

  • As if the cruise ship industry has not suffered enough, another faux paus puts the Royal Caribbean brand in a bit of disarray. About fifty five miles east of where I live in Orlando, Florida, sits Port Canaveral. Just a few miles away from the port is Kennedy Space Center, which has never been more active with the private space exploration companies seeming having a launch once a week.

After three previous attempts were delayed due to poor weather, last Sunday’s SpaceX Falcon 9 launch was aborted just seconds before launch. No, not due to weather or a hardware/software issue, but because a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, against any and all protocols, sailed into the NASA “hazard area” off the Florida coast. Seriously people, are you telling me that the NASA/SpaceX and Royal Caribbean/Port Canaveral peeps had a failure to communicate? All indications are that NASA/SpaceX followed the proper communication advisory protocols, and that Royal Caribbean and the ship’s captain failed to stay away from no-go zone. NASA and SpaceX have not taken this failure lightly and the U.S. Coast Guard has launched their own investigation into this serious breach of protocol. As I have been told a few times…you can’t fix stupid.

There may be a cruise ship captain looking for a new job.

  • Just when we think the never-ending saga of interstate highway construction finally completed, for example the section of I-4 that cuts through Orlando, we learn that there is a possibility that many interstate highways may have to be replaced or retrofitted. No way, you say?

While I have written about the stake in the ground from Ford and other car makers with their commitment to electric vehicles, there has not been much discussion about electrical load factors servicing the onslaught of vehicles needing electricity to run. So some very smart people have decided that similar to placing your phone on a charging pad, constructing highways with electrical charging capabilities is the “road of the future.” In a few years, cars going down a road in a historic section of Detroit will theoretically be able to charge their batteries as they drive. That’s the goal of an Israeli company that is finalizing an agreement with the state of Michigan’s Department of Transportation to build the roughly one mile long experimental roadway.

If an electric car is capable of wireless charging journeys on powered roads, the thinking goes, it would be able to drive with virtually unlimited range, its batteries never running out of juice. Does anyone else predict some very interesting issues with this road technology?

This looks to be a very simple retrofit.

  • On Friday night, a group of us had dinner at the local trattoria, when one of our friends sent a group text. The look on everyone’s face, including mine, was one of puzzlement. I just don’t know what to say about this comparison.
I have no words….

The countdown continues: five weeks to Daylight Savings Time!

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

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,, 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!