Listen. The Magpie. Weird. Fly Like An Eagle. Lunatic Fringe.

Don’t Be A Topper. Questioning Human Intelligence. Thoughts For The Last Sunday In August. Breakfast, Lunch, And Dinner. “We All Know You Are Out There.”

  • Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don’t anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you’re always trying for a topper you aren’t really listening.” – Groucho Marx

We all know ‘toppers’ – they just can’t help themselves by 1) not listening to what you are saying; and 2) interjecting and ‘one-upping’ what you are saying. Groucho Marx is correct – ‘toppers’ are conversation killers and often are either really insecure or child-like, or both. Actively listening to someone prevents you from being a ‘topper’ and a ‘one-upper’ as you take the time to listen and absorb what someone else is saying. Here are five benefits of actually listening by not interjecting or being a ‘topper’:

  • Listening builds trust with your family, friends, and associates.
  • Listening helps to resolve conflict.
  • Listening prevents you from missing important information.
  • Listening enables you to identify or anticipate problems.
  • Most importantly, listening stops you from being so self-absorbed.

Let’s all start listening a bit better so we can all know What’s Going On. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is very easy to listen to.

  • Human intelligence has many limitations, including the inability to process large amounts of information simultaneously, limited memory and self-control, and the tendency to make mistakes when processing complex tasks. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, in this short video, provides an example of intelligence above and beyond most human intellect. I am definitely not a Magpie.

Top of Mind World of the Weird:

  • A former President of the United States and a former mayor of New York City booked into the Fulton County, Georgia prison last week.
  • A few United States Women’s National Team players, with their early exit from the World Cup, now coming out that the team was not prepared properly. Say what? How can a national team from the United States not be fully prepared for the once every four-year World Cup? Mind-boggling.
  • Electric vehicles (EV) are getting a good bit of pushback from consumers around the world. Meanwhile, gasoline in South Florida has climbed to almost $7 a gallon.
  • A plane crashes with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the infamous Wagner mercenary group aboard. Prigozhin led a failed mutiny against the Russian armed forces in June. Does anyone want to pony up a conspiracy theory?
  • Inflation headed off by the Fed has led United States mortgage rates to reach 8% with home buying activity slumping to its lowest level since 1995. Okay, economist friends….please chime in with your take on the strategic initiatives enacted by the Fed. Thank you.
  • I have not been to a McDonald’s lately. With that said, has anyone enjoyed Burger King in the last few years? Talking about a brand that has fallen off the deep end. I barely remember what I did last week, but I do remember this Burger King jingle from yesteryear:
The bigger the burger, the better the burger, the burgers are bigger at Burger King.

  • I will get to the gist of this take, but just for a little background: When you hear or read the term ‘the speed of sound’ it is also referred to as Mach 1. Mach 1 converts to 761 mph, Mach 2 is 1,522 mph, and each additional Mach number is another 761 mph. As a baseline, the average cruising speed of a commercial airliner is 760 mph. As another reference point, for aircraft speeds which are much greater than the speed of sound, the aircraft is deemed hypersonic. By definition, hypersonic speed is greater than 3,000 mph and a Mach number greater than 5, or Mach 5. Have I lost you yet?

Now that we are all specialists with the speed of sound and what Mach numbers equate to, here is the scenario that soon will be possible for air travelers. Note: the word ‘soon‘ may be ten to fifteen years.

Hermeus is an Atlanta-based startup developing aircraft for both defense and commercial use, with their Halcyon passenger aircraft capable of traveling at Mach 5. Based on the first paragraph above, Mach 5 equates to somewhere around 3,800 mph. That is five times faster than today’s commercial passenger plane and will set up some very interesting itineraries in the near future. For example, a New York city resident will be able to have an early morning breakfast in their favorite NYC deli, board the Halcyon, and be in Paris ninety- minutes later for a late lunch (Paris is six hours ahead of NYC). They could then board the Halcyon at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, and with the time change, be back in their NYC office by 1:30pm of the same day.

Halcyon Flight Itinerary NY-Paris-NY

  • Leave NY -JFK airport at 7am, arrive Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport 8:30am, which is 2:30pm Paris time. Spend three hours or so in Paris.
  • Leave Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 6pm, arrive JFK airport at 7:30pm, which is 1:30pm NYC time.

No eye-rolling, as you know this advancement in passenger aircraft is inevitable. Are there many barriers for the Halcyon to carry passengers at five times the speed of sound (Mach 5)? Yes, there many factors that Atlanta-based Hermeus will need to overcome, but I am quite sure they will get there or their competition will.

A Passenger Plane That Travels Faster Than Mach 5.

  • For whatever the reasons, the number of shark sightings and incidents on the east coast of the United States have risen sharply over the last year. Scientists and oceanographers have no solid answers but this one diver has come up with the solution when involved with a shark incursion. This is amazing and looks so simple and easy to accomplish.
Such a simple way to redirect a shark.

  • I really like these reaction videos. This one has a young man named Polo listening to Red Rider’s Lunatic Fringe for the first time. Tom Cochrane & Red Rider were highly successful in Canada, but the band never had a song in the Top 40 in the United States….including this awesome Lunatic Fringe track. A forty-something year-old song with lyrics that are still relevant today.
Lunatic Fringe One of my favorite songs of all time from the Canadian band, Red Rider.

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

Florida. Bird. Achievement. A Strong Message. Side-by-Side.

A Very Interesting State. The Best All-Around Player of All Time. Winning Is Necessary. Be Curious, Not Judgmental. A Great Version of A Great Song.

  • It is amazing how time just passes us by. I have been in the state of Florida for six years and as most of you have witnessed, this state has a lot going on. Unfortunately, much of what is going on, especially lately, revolves around politics, education, insurance entities, and the battle between Florida’s governor and Disney.

All of the babble and conflict is unfortunate as the state of Florida has many wonderful things to offer. Voted a top state to start a business, attractions galore, multicultural, and diverse, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, and no state income tax, people from all over the U.S. are flocking to Florida for various reasons. Similar to many states, Florida offers various vibes and opportunities based on the area you live or visit. Certainly, the panhandle of Florida is quite different than the bustling corridor between Palm Beach and Miami, and central Florida presents different dynamics than the area from Clearwater south to Naples. A completely different experience in the state are the Florida Keys, from Key Largo to Key West. Florida is certainly not for everyone, but the state does offer a wide span of socio-economic diversity.

This young man has a bit different take on the state of Florida. To each their own. ๐Ÿ™‚

What is Florida Really Like? It is just his take…...

  • The Premier League and other football leagues in Europe are underway, college and pro football are right around the corner, Major League Soccer is closing out its regular season, Major League Baseball’s pennant races are in full play, and the National Basketball Association (NBA) is bubbling up for its seventy-seventh year. My love for basketball stems from the days of the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the Miami Floridians, who made Dinner Key Auditorium their home arena. The Floridians, like many other ABA franchises, were underfunded which led to a team of various levels of skill. Those four years of ‘professional’ basketball were awesome as the roster included some great players, including Mack Calvin, Donnie Freeman, and Les Hunter. The team also included Al Cueto, who was promoted by the Floridians’ public relations staff as the world’s tallest Cuban. Cueto, born in Cuba, attended Coral Gables High School and was all of 6’7″.

I am looking forward to this year’s NBA season for many reasons. An Atlanta Hawks fan since the mid-70’s, they are primed to have a strong season. One of their games in November have the Hawks and the Orlando Magic playing in Mexico City at the Arena CDMX on November 9. The Magic should also be much improved with the addition of some impact players. I have that game on my calendar as that is a great excuse to take a long weekend in the massive and vibrant town of twenty-two million. Yes, Mexico City is home to 22 million people.

The ongoing saga of basketball’s greatest player is a continuous and exhausting debate. Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and others always come up in conversations regarding the greatest. Larry Bird is not the greatest of all time (GOAT), but to me he was one of the most entertaining and competitive players I have ever seen in any sport. When I watch NBA games now, I often wish players of today, who are fantastic athletes and players, had more of the attributes of Larry Bird. Along with Oscar Robertson, I deem Larry Bird as the best all-around player ever. His fitness, shooting and passing ability, defense, and rebounding were eye-opening. Many ex-NBA players have strong opinions about Larry Bird, including the praise offered up in this short video.

The NBA is Entering its 77th season.

  • Quote of the week: “The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It is doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile.” – Julia Child

I disagree with this Quote of the Week. While winning is not always the ultimate objective, a great measure of achievement is to do something that you appreciate and you believe is worthwhile, AND sometimes be recognized accordingly. I do also believe that there is great satisfaction in doing things for others without those you are benefiting from ever knowing that you helped or supported them.

  • The series ‘Ted Lasso” provided us with great writing and perfect casting. Wrapped up in all the fun and chaos of an American football coach managing his way through a London-based football team, the writers framed up Coach Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) to deliver some very strong messages in most of the episodes. This one stuck with me for various reasons, a message that I hope all of us can absorb and follow. As a level set, here is a clear and concise definition: Judgmental behavior typically involves appraising something like a situation, person, or action with a critical attitude. A person often does this in a condemning and fault-finding way using their subjective (likely moralistic) point of view and set of values.
Be Curious, Not Judgmental

  • The famous song ‘Side by Side’ talks about two people who are deeply in love and committed to each other, willing to stand by each other’s side through good and bad. I have heard many renditions to the song, and I want to thank J.P. for forwarding this interesting version, written by Harry M. Woods in 1927:
A very interesting rendition of a great song.

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


Is Talent Learned Or Inherited?

  • The Cambridge English Dictionary’s definition of talent: Someone who has a natural ability or aptitude to be good at something. When I hear/watch a talented individual, which usually relates to sports, the arts, and specifically music, I often wonder about my limited talent. Yes, I was a decent athlete (Cody: no comments, please), and have a marginal business aptitude, but real talent has escaped me.

I have had a busy week, the weather is mind-altering as it has been in the upper 90’s in central Africa Florida for the last three weeks, and in light of all the negative news (Maui, Ukraine, Covid-19 strains back again) I wanted this week’s post to be positive and highlight real talent. So…in no particular order, here is a quick review of some very talented people. Comments and disagreements are welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass, bass synth, singing bass, fuzz bass, electric piano, acoustic piano, Minimoog, Polymoog, ARP String Ensemble, ARP Pro Soloist, Oberheim Four Voice, clavinet, drums, syndrums, water drums, slapsticks, bongos, congas, finger cymbals, wind chimes, orchestral bells, woodblocks, brush trap, tree bell, hand claps, and finger snaps.

This is the instrument listing from Prince’s first album, For You. Significant, as Prince performed all vocal lines and played all twenty-seven instruments on the album. The amount of creativity, vision, songwriting, and arrangement skills from Prince is bar none and he was well-recognized for the quality of his playing rather than the quantity of instruments used. For my money, the most talented musician in the last fifty years. Enjoy the video below which highlights Prince’s top ten hits. Just talented people.

Prince did it all.

  • A painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer, Leonardo da Vinci was perhaps the most diversely talented person to have ever lived. His estimated IQ scores range from 180 to 220 (note: Albert Einstein’s IQ was 160, and the average American’s IQ is 97, ranking 29th worldwide). By the way, da Vinci received no formal education but did apply his creativity to numerous fields, including painting, architecture, engineering, and to the study of human anatomy. Just talented people.
Leonardo da Vinci: He wanted to know everything and anything.

  • Daryl’s House is a fantastic show. Daryl Hall hosts the show at his ranch and invites various artists to his home to talk about their careers, try out the cooking, and most importantly jam to a Daryl Hall and John Oates song. This is Cee Lo Green, thirteen years ago, accompanied by Daryl Hall and band, covering I Can’t Go For That. Just talented people.
Cee Lo Green on Daryl’s House thirteen years ago.

  • If I have to introduce Usain Bolt to all of you…well, I’ll just stop. My admiration for Usain Bolt does not stem from him being the fastest human on the planet. It stems from this simple but motivating statement in this video. A great message to all of us. Just talented people.
A statement of reality and motivation.

  • Led by the vocals of Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, the bass of John Entwistle, and the incredible drumming of Keith Moon, The Who may have been a top-five band to watch live. In this gig, on a 1969 version of the ‘Tom Jones Show’, we watch and listen to the awesome song, Pinball Wizard. Just talented people.
The Who’s Pinball Wizard performed live in 1969.

  • Dave Grohl. Formerly the drummer with Nirvana, and now the front man for the band Foo Fighters, Grohl is known worldwide for his pure talent. Obviously, the apple does not fall far from the tree as Grohl and his daughter Violet cover Adele’s When We Were Young. Just talented people.
The Grohl’s Got Talent.

  • Last week I went into detail about Lionel Messi’s arrival and his contract with Major League Soccer and Inter Miami. Many pundits have expressed their concerns that Messi has come to the U.S. to take his money without taking his role and responsibility seriously. Fact check: Messi has already scored eight goals in his first five games with Inter Miami, and anyone who thinks he is not taking playing in Major League Soccer seriously is very wrong. Have you ever tried to play beach soccer or volleyball? How about training in a sand pit? Just talented people.
Sand Pit Training. No and no.

  • Robbie Robertson, who led the Canadian-American group the Band to rock prominence in the 1970s and worked extensively with Bob Dylan and Martin Scorsese, passed away last week at the age of eighty. Robertson was a great musician and songwriter, and was elected to both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Just talented people.
Robbie Robertson with Eric Clapton. Two masters of the guitar.

Thoughts and prayers to the people in Lahaina and the surrounding area.

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

Sports Business. Despair. Candidates. Perseverance. Sinead.

Impact Player. Intolerable Conditions In A Caribbean Nation. Who Is In, Who Is Out? Take A Moment For Yourself. A Tribute From The Twins.

  • The business of professional sports can be complex. Different sports and leagues around the world trade, buy, and sell players to ensure their player pool provides the franchise or club with the best chance of meeting their goals, whether that be in the standings, with their attendance, or their commercial targets.

Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Inter Miami F.C., whose ownership group includes former superstar David Beckham as well as the Mas brothers, pulled off a surprising signing and brought Lionel Messi to the club. Messi, who is already recognized by many as the greatest of all time, will enjoy a $60m base salary as well as lucrative sponsorship deals, a percentage of ticket sales from all MLS games, revenue-sharing with Apple + and Adidas, and many other components of compensation.

Why did the ownership group of Inter Miami and the MLS make this happen? There are many reasons, with some listed below, but the impact of Messi’s arrival to the MLS and Inter Miami creates an immediate and future valuation bump. Forbes’ most recent estimate had Inter Miami slotted as MLS’ eleventh most valuable team, worth $600 million. With the addition of Messi, Inter Miami’s valuation could more than double next year, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion.

  • Ticket prices are up 500% since the signing of Messi.
  • Ticket prices for Messi’s debut on July 21 averaged $1,300 – on secondary ticket platforms.
  • Messi jerseys from Adidas are $150 and are sold out. The MLS e-commerce partner Fanatics reported that more MLS team merchandise was sold after the news that Inter Miami had signed Messi than the previous entirety of the 2023 season.
  • Inter Miami had 175k followers on Instagram before Messi’s signing. They now have 5.4 million.
  • Apple + added 300,000 subscriptions after Messi’s signing.

Of course, the big question is how long can the MLS and Inter Miami sustain this instant momentum and how long will this ‘shine’ last?

Many questioned Messi’s commitment, after a storied career at Barcelona and Paris St. Germain, to continue his level of outstanding play after arriving at Inter Miami. That question has been answered as Messi has five goals in 204 minutes of play, which amounts to a clip of 2.2 goals per 90 minutes. His first goal with Inter Miami, on his debut with the club, was a game-winner.

Lionel Messi’s debut with Inter Miami could not have been better scripted.

  • Has Haiti been left to suffer alone? The Caribbean nation of twelve million, the second-oldest republic in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States, has dealt with many issues including dictatorships, earthquakes and hurricanes, and now is engulfed in total chaos as armed gangs have taken control of much of the country. The gangs, made up of two-hundred factions, have extorted most of Haiti’s business, corrupted the highest levels of politics and policing, with the cause and effect that Haitians are experiencing the worst hunger crisis in the country’s history. This country sits in the Caribbean, a mere eight-hundred miles from Florida. It shares a border with the Dominican Republic, with the Turks and Caicos to the north, and Puerto Rico, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and St. Kitts and Nevis to the southeast. A third-world country in this region, in this part of the world, is mind-boggling. It is 2023, correct?

  • Though I stay away from providing my take on politics (and religion), I thought it would be interesting to track who is in, and who is out, with the 2024 U.S. presidential election. Due to many circumstances, the 2024 election is going to be historic. The pandemic changed the way candidates campaigned and voters cast their ballots, and it has been three years or so after rioters waged their protest at the nation’s Capitol Building. I will update this list now and then just to see who remains standing as we head into 2024. The lists are alphabetical:

Democrats Joe Biden, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Marianne Williamson

Republicans Ryan Binkley, Doug Burgum, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Larry Elder, Nikki Haley, Will Hurd, Asa Hutchinson, Perry Johnson, Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott, Francis Suarez, Donald Trump

Third Party Cornel West

Only in Florida headline of the week: Burger Chain Unveils Monstrous 10-patty Burger in Orlando to Honor Twitter’s Name Change to X

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Enjoy Your Burger for $29.99

  • A friend of mine, in respect to the daily pressure we may feel, the noise we often hear, and the constant turmoil of the world, strongly suggested that we all do something for ourselves. I cannot agree more as many of us provide, offer, and give, but sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. Take a step back, go enjoy a good read, a massage, the pool, or just for once, some silence. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • With the passing of Sinead O’Connor, famed for her powerful voice as well as her songwriting, I cannot find a better way of recognizing her than the reaction of these two young twins. RIP Sinead O’Connor.
“Nothing Compares 2 U”, was named the year’s top world single at the Billboard Music Awards.

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

Thoughts. U.A.P. Doggone It. A Visit To The Sun.

Top Of Mind Today. Possession Of Non-Human Spacecraft? A Nighttime Sunburn.

A Few Thoughts For The End Of July:

  • Ford Motor Company will lose $4.5 billion in 2023 with their electric car business segment. “Slower adaptation to electric vehicles” is Ford’s stance on the enormous loss, but it is difficult to get too concerned as the company generated $45 billion in revenue last quarter, a 12% increase year-over-year. Those numbers are massive.
  • The Women’s World Cup, being played in Australia and New Zealand, is a bit out of sight, out of mind with most people, due to the game times being very early morning in the United States. The competition always heats up when group play ends, and the knockout stages of the tournament commence with the round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and final, which will be played August 20th (at 6AM).
  • I am not making light of the situation in Niger, a land-locked country of twenty-five million in central Africa. If a General of mutinous soldiers staging a coup in a country can simply be named the new leader of that country, I feel like I will do the same. I will go ahead and lead the islands of Anguilla. No coup necessary, I will just lead.
  • The jackpot for Mega Millions is now a bit over a billion dollars. You cannot win if you do not play. It is always fun to see if your ticket is the big winner. Buy your winning numbers before Tuesday night. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • My final thought is that our world is full of variable behavior. Humans and dogs have always had a special relationship, but what about the behavioral relationship when a man becomes a dog? You decide.
I have no words that I can use in this blog.

  • I am the last person who gets involved in conspiracy theories but the U.S. Congress held a congressional hearing last Wednesday with the topic being UAPs – Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena. The testimony included a statement made by Retired Maj. David Grusch, that the U.S. government has retrieved numerous nonhuman craft and is in a race to reverse-engineer the technology before other nations. Either these witnesses testifying before Congress are great storytellers, or we have some things going on with what we always called UFOs… that we may, or may not, want to learn more about.
Fifteen years to declassify information?

A Most Uncomfortable Quote: โ€œAll Apollo and Gemini flights were followed, both at a distance and sometimes also quite closely, by space vehicles of extraterrestrial origin โ€“ flying saucers, or UFOs, if you want to call them by that name. Every time it occurred, the astronauts informed Mission Control, who then ordered absolute silence.โ€
-Maurice Chatelain, former chief of NASA Communications Systems

  • I will end this post with a great piece from comedian Kenneth Supersad. Maybe space scientists in Trinidad and Tobago have the solution to what is going on with UAPs and space travel?
Of course, go at nighttime!

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

Fake. Questions. 54 Years Ago. Anthony Dominick Benedetto.

Now We Have To Verify. “One Small Step…” Fly Me To The Moon.

  • We have all read about the impact of the booming artificial intelligence (AI) sector, which is impacting business, politics, education, and the media. Unfortunately, the use of AI is raising serious concerns that bad actors are posting AI-generated photos and video that are fake, false, and a hoax. The difficulty in discerning real news is becoming alarmingly more difficult, with people using AI and social media posts to push out false information. Further advancements in AI-generated images are blurring the distinction even more, with the question of how this false news could influence the stock market and an election.
This is just one example of many false news video posts.

I Have Questions……..

  • I am not one for the government to impose itself on private businesses or sectors, but when does the State of Florida step in to stop insurance companies, including Farmer’s, State Farm, and Allstate, from dropping their insurance coverages?
  • I am both alarmed and amazed why and how Delta Airlines personnel could decide to leave people onboard one of their planes for hours, on the tarmac, with temperatures inside the aircraft above one-hundred degrees?
  • Is Vladimir Putin, whose reported failing health reportedly includes early stages of Alzheimer’s, at the end of his regime?
  • Is it much hotter this summer? It was 98 degrees Fahrenheit in Athens, Greece yesterday, and 124 at Death Valley, California. How do you get to Peter Sinks, Utah? It was 33 there yesterday.
  • Could a Hollywood script be written any better than Lionel Messi’s last minute, game-winning goal on his debut with Inter Miami?
  • Just when the cruise industry was enjoying full-capacity ships after two-years of Covid-19 related issues, countries including the Netherlands are thinking about banning ships from entering their ports. When will this madness stop?
  • Has anyone seen the new Mission: Impossible movie? Is it a must-see? For me, I am looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which explores the invention of the atomic bomb and the implications of the creation of the deadly weapon.

  • The ‘Only in Florida’ headline of the week: A Florida restaurant is under investigation after authorities said seven patrons became sick after ingesting food contaminated with meth.

  • On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong’s iconic words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” echoed across the globe. Last week, we celebrated the 54th anniversary of landing on the moon. Space programs around the world have come a long way in fifty-four years, with NASA’s Artemis project, named Artemis III, putting astronauts back on the moon late in the year 2024. The progress made over the last fifty-four years is astonishing, with the privatization of spaceflight led by SpaceX, who year-to-date has launched forty-eight rockets into space, helping many entities and countries with deploying communication satellites. Does anyone want to guess what the space program will look like in the next fifty-four years?
July 20, 1969.

  • Born in Long Island City, New York, Anthony Dominick Benedetto amassed many accolades, including an astonishing twenty Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and two Primetime Emmy Awards. He sold more than fifty million records worldwide, all of this achieved after fighting in the late stages of World War II as a U.S. Army infantry soldier in the European Theater. Anthony Dominick Benedetto, a.k.a. Tony Bennett, passed away last week at the age of ninety-three. Bennett broke the individual record for the longest run of a top-ten albums on the Billboard 200 chart for any living artist; his first top-10 record was I Left My Heart in San Francisco in 1962. Bennett also broke the Guinness World Record for the oldest person to release an album of new material, at the age of 95 years and 60 days. The legacy of Tony Bennett will live on, and with respect to the take on the space program above, here is one of many Tony Bennett performances. RIP Anthony Dominick Benedetto.
A voice never to be replicated.

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

Thoughts. Divine Harmony.

Top Of Mind Things I Think. A Song Performed At 963 Hz.

  • Quote of the week: “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” – Arthur Ashe

Top of mind thoughts for mid-July

  • Are the energy sanctions imposed on Russia finally starting to make an impact? If so, will Russia’s depressed economy force Vladimir Putin’s hand in normalizing relations with Ukraine and the West? Time will tell but as long as China refrains from equivalent sanctions, it does seem like Putin and the Russians can leverage their holdings in the Chinese yuan to prevent a complete economic collapse. Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine war is on day 509. So sad, so unnecessary.
  • Did you check your Powerball ticket this morning? If you won the $875 million, all the best to you as I am sure I will never hear from you again.
  • Dogs are impressive. Loyal, usually obedient, and there for you all the time. Sometimes their expressions and reactions are quite similar to humans:
“I have no idea”
  • Football (the American version) – we are only forty-two days away from the start of college football as the August 26th schedule has seven games including Navy vs. Notre Dame at the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. This game will be played at the magnificent Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Let’s go!
  • Only in Florida: The promotional campaign for the Florida Python Challenge is in full swing with this annual competition starting next month. The website does state that there is mandatory online training. Yes, only in Florida.
Make sure you take the online training before you go python hunting!
  • Previous posts went into detail about the tragic events surrounding mass shootings across the United States. Mass shootings are loosely described as violent crimes in which an attacker kills or injures multiple individuals simultaneously using a firearm. In the first six months of this year, the U.S. endured twenty-eight mass killings, a staggering and sad amount. There is no clear path with gun control, but I did dig up Chris Rock’s answer to the problem. Funny, facetious, and unreasonable….but he does make a good point.
$5,000 a bullet.
  • The competitive nature of athletes is well-documented and does not always translate well, especially when trash talking is in play. I was a big trash-talker, always engaging with my former teammates and opponents with some level of spirited discussion, which sometimes went a bit too far. We have all watched Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes pull off many incredible plays, with his arm strength and scrambling ability – but in my opinion Mahomes’ competitive spirit is a tipping point, raising him far and above most quarterbacks in the National Football League. The video below is just one example of his ‘spirited’ nature.
Patrick Mahomes and his competitive spirit.
  • Much to the chagrin of many, the men’s swimming brief, some refer to the swimwear as ‘budgie smugglers’, a.k.a. the Speedo, is making a strong return across the globe. One fashion reporter, based in London, reports that the much- maligned swimwear is a “booming” market. Just as a level-set, here is a humorous quote from Speedo’s VP of Brand Marketing, deeming the Speedo brief as โ€œvery practical and the lightest and most comfortable item to wear when swimming.โ€ Practical and comfortable for whom? Any comments from women are welcome…….. ๐Ÿ™‚

JustMyTake avoids subjects relating to religion and politics. With that said, this young man from London performed in what music and sound specialists call ‘divine harmony’, which according to religious theorists is a frequency of 963 Hz, also known as the Frequency of Gods. This young man’s performance, before a live and televised audience, was simply amazing.

A performance of Divine Harmony.

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

Knockdown. Marriage Blessings.

I Am Definitely Not Referring To Boxing. A Big Fat Crocodile Wedding.

  • The English language is rife with homonyms. Examples of homonyms include words such as bands, mean, right, rock, and bat. The homonym I am deeply involved with over this weekend is the word ‘knockdown.’ The epitome of a homonym, knockdown to me refers to a term used in boxing. Think Jack Dempsey, Mike Tyson, Joe Louis, George Foreman, and Marvin Hagler. The knockdown of an opponent in the sport of boxing is celebrated as it sometimes results in the match being over.

Regarding the word knockdown, there has been no celebration in my household this weekend – as I was given “the gift that keeps on giving” – a beautiful double-Adirondack chair/table set that I will use and enjoy on my patio overlooking Lake Eola and downtown Orlando. I am excited about this really nice gift, something that I had my eye on for a few months, as I will use it often. Here is a photo of the gift already assembled as shown in the catalogue:

Two stool-height Adirondack chairs joined by a table that is easily able to handle one or two cocktail glasses. Tall enough to see over the balconies’ rail, this is a perfect gift to enjoy sunrise and sunset. The finished product can only be as good as it’s sum of its parts – a term never so relative when attempting to assemble this furniture.

This is the definition of knockdown (KD) furniture as described by Encyclopedia Britannica: “…is made of the โ€œknockdownโ€ type; that is, it can be taken to pieces and stacked flat and parts joined by different types of fittings.” Pieces and fittings would be the key words of this definition as the unpacking of this knockdown furniture unveiled twenty-eight pieces and 76 fasteners. A fact check:

Not alarming at all.

Of course, my tremendous background in carpentry and assembly makes this endeavor easy-peasy, especially when pulling out the large bag of fasteners and fittings, all seventy-six of them:

The two wrenches – thank you for those!

Notice how the manufacturer does everyone a solid by including tools such as a wrench and Allen key – really fantastic thinking on the part of their product manager!

Not to be outdone, the product manager obviously thought through the dynamics of assembly and included twelve pages of instructions. More importantly, at the top of page two, the manufacturer clearly states that if you run into issues with assembly, or the twenty-eight parts, or the 76 fasteners, to contact “their friendly customer service department…, etc.” What is actually fascinating about this Contact Us directive is that nowhere in the instructions, in or on the box, or in the hardware bag, are any references on HOW to contact the manufacturer – no phone number or email address to be found.

Tremendous Customer Service

I am sure that the product manager is the only one laughing their ass off this weekend. My gift is direct from the manufacturer, not from IKEA, who many of us have had the wonderful experience of assembling their furniture. “Things never said by couple assembling Ikea furniture” has never sounded so true:

Watch the entire video

I would expand on this weekend’s dilemma but I am obviously very busy. Genuine fun and with complete sincerity I am very grateful to receive this gift. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Headline of the Week:Mexican mayor weds crocodile ‘princess’ in age-old ritual for good luck.” As another fact check, here is the mayor’s bride:

I have no words.

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

Delay And Cancel. Independence Day.

The FAA – A Harvard Case Study. Freedom Comes At A Cost.

  • I find it interesting, maybe ironic, how U.S. air travel is now in a state of chaos. One would think, coming out of the pandemic, which obviously affected worldwide airlines’ bottom line, air carriers would be fully engaged and staffed with handling the pent-up demand of U.S. air travel. Sure, there were weather issues last week, but tell me the last time there were not weather issues in the U.S. in the late Spring and early Summer? According to FlightAware’s website, there were 8,000 flights canceled between June 24 and June 28…a staggering number that does not just line up with weather issues. In what I will call a most insensitive decision by an airline CEO, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby issued an apology Friday for chartering a private jet at the height of the nationwide travel disruptions last week. In the understatement of the week, Kirby issued an apology and said it “was the wrong decision” to charter a jet “because it was insensitive to our customers who were waiting to get home.” The epitome of insensitive, to say the least.

Where and what is the real issue? It is our infamous Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a vast and complex federal agency. We could debate the dismal state of the FAA for days, but their systemic failures include not modernizing their technological systems and not hiring enough air traffic controllers and safety specialists. I am not going to go politics but the FAA’s oversight is obviously under the Department of Transportation. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, who has been on the job for over two and one-half years, is Pete Buttigieg. Just as a level set, his background before becoming the Secretary of Transportation included two terms as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and seven years in the U.S. Navy Reserve. I am in no way diminishing Buttigieg and his service to the United States. What I am saying is that Secretary of Transportation’s C.V. should include a vast background relating to transportation and logistics. Enough said.

Last Monday at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

Things I Think To Start Off July:

  • People hiring phone bots to torment telemarketers = fantastic idea.
  • Have you watched “The Bear” on Hulu? So far, it is two seasons of great writing, casting, and acting.
  • I find it interesting how the banking ‘crisis’ of just a few months ago is no longer news. Some good news from the banking front, direct from the Federal Reserve: “The 2023 stress test shows that the 23 large banks subject to the test this year have sufficient capital to absorb more than $540 billion in losses and continue lending to households and businesses under stressful conditions.” My question: what about small to midsize banking institutions, including community banks?
  • Headline of the Week: “Every person in South Korea suddenly becomes at least a year younger after law changed.” Seriously, what a great idea!
  • Are you going to see the new Indiana Jones or Mission:Impossible movies?
  • Will Thursday’s Supreme Court decision lead to less-diverse student bodies?

  • Freedom and independence, based on history, come at a high cost. Along with a few other countries, Ukraine is top of mind for me on this Independence Day weekend. Sometimes, it is interesting to take a look back at different perspectives regarding freedom and independence.
  • “Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.” – Bob Marley
  • โ€œFreedom is the oxygen of the soul.โ€ –Moshe Dayan
  • “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” –Ronald Reagan
  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” – Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf
  • โ€œFreedom and democracy are dreams you never give up.โ€ – Aung San Suu Kyi
  • “We hold our heads high, despite the price we have paid, because freedom is priceless.” –Lech Walesa
  • โ€œThe American flag is the symbol of our freedom, national pride and history.โ€ –Mike Fitzpatrick
  • “We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants–everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.” –Franklin Roosevelt
  • โ€œNo other date on the calendar more potently symbolizes all that our nation stands for than the Fourth of July.โ€ – Mac Thornberry

  • A happy 4th of July weekend to you and yours.  I hope that no one takes our Independence with a grain of salt, especially in light of some of the chaos and terrorism happening at home and abroad. I was surprised that Independence Day was only declared a federal holiday in 1941, considering the United States is celebrating our 247th birthday.  On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence and two days later, on July 4, delegates from the thirteen colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by the one and only Thomas Jefferson. If you have a flag, fly it. If you do not have one, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware have flag kits for under $15.00. Buy a flag and fly it proudly. To our Canadian friends: you celebrated Canada Day yesterday….and my experience with Canadians tells me most of you are still celebrating one day later!

An interesting rendition of Lee Greenwood’s salute to America seems to be appropriate for this weekend:

Adios, pay it forward, be safe, and have a great July 4th weekend!

The Emancipation Proclamation. The Risk & Reward of Extreme Tourism.

A Statement Regarding Slavery & Racism. Below The Surface and Above the Atmosphere.

  • Last Monday was the federal holiday, Juneteenth. Last Monday made me think. Last Monday provided a bit of reflection. Last Monday reminded me, no matter the ups and downs of life, how fortunate I am. I experienced and witnessed racism and bigotry – it does not matter where and when, it just matters, and I came out the better for it.

Last Monday, June 19th, commemorated the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Commemorating the end of slavery should be celebrated to ensure we never forget the millions of people forced into slavery in the United States…and to help ensure that it never happens again. In essence, Juneteenth is no different than the Passover holiday celebrated by millions around the world, which celebrates the Biblical story of the Israelites’ redemption and escape from four hundred years of Egyptian slavery.

The unfortunate news is that in no way has slavery ended. There are forty million people who are victims of modern slavery worldwide, with twenty-five million trapped in forced labor and 15 million pushed into forced marriages. Almost three-quarters of the forty million are female, from young girls to women, and one in four a child. Most prevalent in Asia and Africa, North Korea has the highest rate of slavery, with about one in 10 people enslaved. Yes, and this is the year 2023.

Slavery and racism, after all the hard work put in by many, are still rampant in the United States. There are many reasons for the socioeconomic-racial divide in the United States. None of those reasons hold water but there is no doubt that the race issue continues to rear its ugly head way too often. Morgan Freeman, in an interview with Mike Wallace, discusses Black History Month, and most importantly his disdain for this month-long celebration. I really like what Freeman has to say – at a baseline level, it does make sense:

Well said, Morgan Freeman.

Regarding socializing the racial divide, all of us should give a great deal of credit to Norman Lear. Lear was an American producer, writer, and director known for his work on influential television series as All in the Family (1971โ€“79), Sanford and Son (1972โ€“77), and The Jeffersons (1975โ€“85). Lear had the guts to bring the White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian divide to the forefront, using television sitcoms as a platform to expose and make fun of people making fun of race. In this scene from an episode of All in the Family, the sometimes-vile Archie Bunker (played by the great Carroll O’Connor) makes a massive statement to the television audience by defending his housekeeper from a racist and bigoted associate. A scene that surely resonated with many watching this episode:

The one and only Archie Bunker goes off on a racist moron.

There were, and still are, many who fight to end systemic racism. Of course, there are many feel good stories, with people stepping up to help people without regard to race, religion, creed, or origin. A long story short, Quincy Jones, who worked with Michael Jackson to produce Thriller and many other soundtracks, asked Eddie Van Halen if he could help enhance the song, Beat It. The interview below tells the story, and to the surprise of many, Van Halen had no problem helping out both Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. The guitar riff Van Halen layered into the Beat It track is world-renowned, winning the Song of the Year in 1984. Just as importantly, Van Halen did not charge Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, doing the work for free in support of two great artists. In this interview, Eddie Van Halen discusses his reasons for doing the work:

If Quincy Jones asks you to do something…you do it.

For those of you who are too young to remember, or similar to many of my friends, just do not remember, here is the track “Beat It” with Van Halen’s riff at the 2:52 mark. The question “Who did the guitar riff on the song Beat It?” is still one of my favorite trivia questions.

Eddie Van Halen and Michael Jackson….gone but not forgotten.

Quote of the week: A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.” – Jack Dempsey, nicknamed The Manassas Mauler, was an American professional boxer who competed from 1914 to 1927, and reigned as the world heavyweight champion from 1919 to 1926.

  • The loss of the OceanGate deep-dive submarine and the five people aboard is very sad. The depth of 12,500 is extremely dangerous and obviously something went very wrong with last week’s journey to see The Titanic. Not to minimize the loss of those five people, but my thoughts move on to the company Space Perspective, who I have previously discussed as they are planning to take people to space using a fancy capsule tethered to a balloon. I am sure the owners, investors, and marketing staff at Space Perspective, after this incident with the OceanGate submarine, are scrambling to review and promote the safety contingency plans with taking people to an altitude above 100,000 feet…at $125,000 per person.
The first year is already sold out.

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