Wednesday, March 31, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/31/2010

Still getting more feedback by email and phone than from reader's comments regarding the blog, but it's well thought out and constructive, so it really helps.

The weather in my area has stayed the same for several days and has poured an ocean of water upon us. So it's pretty bleak around here and so is the status of my new book. It's not that I'm not getting anywhere at all with publication, because significant progress has been made. It's just that I've been working with repetitive technicalities and production issues which have nothing to do with writing. So, it's been sort of an author's groundhog's day that I wish was over with and gone.

As far as what's in the news goes, there seems to be another wrinkle in the national agenda. From the headlines, the President has apparently decided to allow off-shore drilling for oil and natural gas. And although I haven't seen or heard anything anywhere about Mr. Soros' involvement in this issue yet, my own guess is that he must have made some mega-billion dollar investment in off-shore, underwater properties or rights right here at home. After all, he's already done similarly off the coast of Brazil, and too boot, he did it with our taxpayer's money. So, why shouldn't the administration get a piece of the oil and gas pie?  I can't think of any other reason for their sudden change of heart.

What also strikes me as interesting about the current positions of the present administration as a practical matter, having nothing to do with politics at all, is that they are just about exactly the same, if not even firmer that of their predecessor, except for one. Nothings really changed regarding Iraq, while Afghanistan's escalating somewhat, the economic crisis isn't heading toward any kind of rapid turn around while the financial bailout's compounding debt upon debt in staggering amounts. Aside from that, the rattles of sabres seems to be getting louder each day in regard to Iran.

There are many other issues, to be sure, Korea, Columbian drugs and the safety of our borders, for example, the list goes on and on. Yet, as I wrote above, not much has changed at all. Except for Israel, one of our two strongest allies in the world. While we still seem to be willing to fight for anyone's safety and rights anywhere on the planet, in this case we've more or less told the Israelis to take a hike.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/30/2010

There obviously haven't been a lot of comments posted about the content of this blog which presents me with a bit of concern. Because, while the blog is supposed to be about what's on my mind in particular, I'd still like my jottings to be of interest to those who log on. Without feedback I have to guess what readers would like to read.

On the other hand, I have been getting a lot of email and even a phone call or two concerning the entries. Without any prompting from me, most of the commentary I've been getting is about what's going on in Washington and especially about health care. So, hopefully not boring or dissuading any readers I'm going to write a bit of a follow up on the subject.

It seems that, as I projected here a few days ago, businesses large and small are accruing for the hit they're going to take in the pocketbook to cover future health care costs. Early indications are that the sum is going to be humungous. So much so, that some businesses may face financial losses. While that is simply a matter of fiscal fact, Congresspeople don't seem to want this information to become public.

In an effort to diffuse the issue, particularly regarding the largest employers wherein the accruals for future health care expenses are the greatest, some of the head honchos from these organizations have been summoned to testify in DC next week. Congress wants to question their actions and determine whether or not the financial accounting and reporting steps these businesses are taking regarding health care liability are really called for, or just a knee-jerk response. The informed projection about what will take place is that these businessmen will be cajoled, muscled or threatened into keeping the issue quiet and doing whatever is needed to divert newspeople and commentators from splashing distasteful information across their pages, screens and airwaves.

Leaving aside the particulars of why, how and when businesses will do what they do about accounting for health care, I'm much more concerned about the vapidity and audacity of politicians. As I've asked before on these pages, what do these whatever they are's in Washington expect? Businesspeople have entities to run and are required by law to conduct themselves in particular fashions. When the lawmakers themselves create problems for them and burden them with additional hurdles, what are businesspeople to do? Should they just sit back, lose a fortune and say "thanks for squandering away my hard earned money? And, don't worry, Congresspeople, we won't make a peep."

What's worse is, health care itself could probably be paid for in full ten times over if taxpayers could only recoup what Washington's misspent in people's "best interests" time and again over the past forty years.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, March 29, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/29/2010

Just got a request from someone in a governmental department. It seems they're working on a project that requires some information I can likely provide as an "expert" in a particular subject. My expertise was discovered by them as they were searching for someone to assist them. They found me via the web, and may need me in the future.

The reason I mention it now is because it reminded of another situation whence another organization needed something, quite some time ago in my business career. I was in the equipment financing business at the time.

I came into my office one afternoon, after spending the morning calling on customers. There was a note on my desk that Mr. So and So had called from American Express. I picked up the phone and called him back.

It turned out that American Express desired to lease some office equipment. Not the largest request I'd ever seen, but a sizable configuration, nonetheless. Naturally, I went to work with my calculator, then called Mr. So and So back to inform him of the details of my proposed financial solution. He replied "Fine, please get the paperwork to me ASAP, so we may enter the agreement."

I was quite taken a back with his reply. I'd expected at least a few questions, certainly some attempt at negotiation, or more than likely, a terse "Thank you for your quotation, I'll call you back." That was the way almost every major business entity conducted business. If nothing else, all of them did their financial "shopping" homework, with very sharp pencils in their hands.

Nonetheless, I did as Mr. So and So requested and had the contracts delivered to him forthwith. To my even greater surprise, I received them back without delay, executed as required, without one single question. That, my Bloggeroo's out there, is unheard of.

I was now extremely nervous about this transaction. Was this for real? Businesses don't act like that. Especially household names ones. Was someone setting me up? I'd done sufficient research on my own to determine that I was in fact dealing with the real Magilla, but now I still wasn't so sure.

To move on with the tale, within a short while the equipment was delivered and installed, and by agreement that's when the contract really took effect and the customer began to make payments. And, lo and behold, that's what happened. The customer lived up to its obligations without a hitch, and the transaction was indeed valid. So what was the story? How had this all gone so smoothly?

Curiosity was killing me and the transaction was now cast in stone, I had nothing to lose. So, I called Mr. So and So and asked. "Why me? Your organization has its pick of any financial entity on the planet. How in the world did you get us?"

He replied, "the Yellow Pages," to which I said, "What?"

He said again, "the Yellow Pages." You see, he went on, when I need something like financing, I employ a simple test. I pick up the phone, call companies listed in the phone book and leave a very short message. I'm "Mr. So and So" I say, "Please call me back." And the fact of the matter is, when practically everyone I call for the first time sees that message -they got a call from American Express- hardly anyone ever calls me back. They all simply assume they owe us money and I'm calling to collect it.

"So, you see, by calling me right back, you answered two of my most important
questions. A. Yes, you were still in business. and B. You likely paid your bills on time and weren't worried. That goes a long way with me when it comes to doing business."

The little tale above illustrates something I've been writing about in different ways since I started this blog. People are much more measured by what they do then whatever it is they say. So advertising, promotion, rhetoric and all kinds of other noise aside, if people just go out and fulfill whatever it is they promise, they're far more likely to succeed.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/28/2010

It's Sunday, and once again, I was going to skip an entry and take a day of rest. But then I remembered something a friend of mine told me last evening.

It seems that Henry Waxman, congressman from California (at least I think it was Mr. Waxman. If not it was another Democrat congressman) questioned the validity of those businesses preparing immediately for the costs of future health care expenses down the line. His concern apparently is the fact that these accruals are substantial, newsworthy and thus, are getting exposure in print and on the air. Furthermore, it highlighted the fact that while the new program will not only cost a lot of money now, it hasn't even begun. Therefore, I guess Mr. Waxman thinks it best that the costs not be mentioned until 2014 or whenever in the future they take effect, or perhaps, not mentioned at all.

So, my question for today is why do just about all politicians, regardless of affiliation or party, object when any potential negative aspects about their actions come to light? Is the public just supposed to accept what's been done for, or perhaps, to them, and the media to just let things slide by unnoticed?

It seems that the politician's posture generally is that certain things have to be done for whatever beneficial reason, and therefore shouldn't ever be questioned. And anyone who disagrees with what's been suggested or done is either subversive, self serving, or worse, politically incorrect. In other words, everyone should just be a good soldier and shut up as they take it in the shorts.

In conclusion, it's apparent that once again, we've been helped by the Good Samaritans inside the Beltway. And this time, the help is of such great magnitude and universal beneficence, they'd prefer that it not be mentioned.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/27/2010

I was going to skip the blog today, because either there's a lull in stuff going on in the world, or I just haven't tripped over it yet. And, whatever else is on my mind has been on these pages already. There are things going on in my life, that's for sure, but none of it particularly blogworthy.

My having made the decision to take a rest from typing today was fine with me, and maybe fine with whoever reads these pages, too. And then all of a sudden -as I was flipping TV channels- I came across a panel discussing the health care bill. From the chatter on the panel, it seems that once again politicians have not only shot themselves in the foot, they may have blown one off.

It seems that although the legislation won't become effective until several years in the future, big business being what it is, and publicly held companies in particular being what they are, accounting rules, and the SEC, and a whole alphabet of other departments and overseers demand that preparation for the future be begun right now. So, to comply with regulation and both present and future liability, business entities are accruing funds immediately.

What that means is, the money has to come from somewhere. A simple look in the corporate crystal ball indicates that, especially for huge, household name organizations a lot of bucks are going to be needed to pay for employee's health care. So, from where will those funds accrue? Employees themselves of course, in cutbacks on other benefits, cancelled perks and unaffordable pay raises. And from customers in price increases, cancelled discount plans and reduction of already diminishing services.

Depending on the size of the mushrooming potential hit in the pocketbook to businesses of all sizes, and its trickle down effect on employees, customers and shareholders, before this bill even kicks in, an awful lot of employees and customers will have kicked in themselves.

If I'm not mistaken, the general consensus on the impact of the bill on voters was that since the bill wouldn't take effect until 2014, and newly covered folks are being benefited, the administration would not only likely not suffer for its passage, but might increase in popularity. Yet, with the new wrinkle of people's pocketbooks potentially being slammed right out of the box, maybe that thought should be rethunk.

Last but not least, and on the same subject, it's been mentioned that tort reform and malpractice issues were apparently left out of the health care bill entirely. Thus, I guess it's not odd that the largest contributors to the heads of the Democrat party turn out to be lawyers. Though they contribute individually, so they aren't as obvious as say, a union or business organization, when you add up the amounts contributed by attorneys and look at the total, it's huge. Here again, I really don't want to get into party politics specifically, it's just that that's what's in the news now. So, if you have a problem with what I've written above, sue me.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, March 26, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/26/2010

Still pondering the weight of yesterday's burden placed on my shoulders by a friend who reads my entries and expressed interest in what's been written therein. I think I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that, if people have a serious interest in my jottings, those jottings should be worthy of the time taken to read them and the subjects discussed should have some intellectual value.

Consequently, today's blog will address the recent advances in differential calculus and what this means in regard to quantum theories formerly, in my opinion, treated haphazardly by professors emeritus from MIT. After that, we'll talk about why particular chemical formulations have a nascent effect on laboratory animals, but cause totally different reactions in humans, especially when administered above the 49th parallel, late at night.

Only kidding. I'm not going to write about the above. And anyway, it wasn't the 49th parallel, it was the 39th. I just wanted to see if anyone out there would catch it. Ha Ha.

All kidding aside, though, I might as well write about the stuff listed above, because unless I'm missing something in the news, there's just not a whole lot going on that's of any Earth shaking interest to me. I did, however, hear something this morning about the President traveling somewhere to "sell " his health care program. So, my question is, if this deal has been done and all that's left is a Senate rubber stamp after slam dunk conference committee agreements, what's left to sell and to whom?

Lastly, of course there's the continuing saga of my trying to get my continuing saga (figure that one out) into print. Yesterday I was closer than I've ever been to publication and was looking forward to showing up on bookstore shelves once more rather soon. Alas, my optimism was premature. Right now it's back to the drawing boards to get program compatibility between my graphic output and a publisher's specifications for receiving input.

It seems my output and their input are at odds, and they're out of sorts with my output of displeasure at their inability to input my output, so I'm presently out and about trying to gain some output input so I can put out my input in a way that they can input it into their system.

The above is about as clear as their instruction manual.

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/25/2010

I spoke to a friend today, just to say "hello" because we haven't talked in a while. During the conversation, he mentioned that he reads my blog pretty regularly and, in fact, was curious to find out if anything further had occurred after my recent "incident" in a local tavern. I'd written about the incident itself on these pages a couple of days ago.

I'm bringing the point up now not because I have anything further to report on the incident in question, but because, evidently, people are actually reading what I write. And that certainly puts a whole new slant on my entries. It seems I now have a real responsibility, and parties whom are waiting for what words of interest will be found here when they log in. While that's flattering, to be sure, the pressure upon me is now huge. I've graduated from itinerant typist to responsible journalist, resultant of one phone call.

That gives me an "either or" to consider. Do I spend serious time insuring that my blog entries are of significant value, or, do I stop talking to people on the phone? I guess I'll have to ponder that one for a while.

As far as what's on my mind today, naturally there's the same old primary subject: publication of a new book. In that regard, believe it or not, today I made some progress. It's not in bookstores yet, but as far as things go now, I'm closer than I've ever been.

That leaves me with only one other issue for today, health care of course. And, once again I don't want to go into the plan itself, what's been done or how it's been handled. Those are political and business issues and, as far as I'm concerned, are being discussed in depth in many other places. For me, it's not health care that's the point, but more about how politicos handle everything. Apparently Mr. Obama was asked on a program this morning: "Mr. President, will you and your family give up your current health care program and join the new 'Universal Health Care Program' that the rest of us will be on?"

Well, it seems, Mr. Obama never answered the question. He simply changed the subject and moved on. Now, because of the brushoff, people are focused on the President's action, news shows are making noise, hostile emails are shooting back and forth across the country and many people appear to be upset.

As I understand the situation, and I could be wrong, but the Constitution clearly states that Senators or Representatives, and Congress must be treated equally under the law as any other citizen of the United States. Thus, the issue should simply be settled routinely as part of the institution of the bill, or if not, will wind up in the courts. So then, if that's the case, why not just say so instead of being evasive or non-committal? Doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me to do otherwise.

But, that's politicians. If they were capable of making sense, they'd probably go out and get real jobs.

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/24/2010

I think I need to go back and start over. Because, somehow or other I've wound up in a world that I simply don't fit into.

Anyone who's read the last few days of my blogs has seen several postings about things that just seem out of kilter to me. Stuff goes on now that either I thought was done differently years ago, or perhaps I've simply reached an age where memory isn't serving me properly anymore. Without repeating specifics about what I've been writing about lately, my basic issue has been that almost no matter what anyone is trying to buy, sell, accomplish or enjoy today, nobody wants to let them. Even when people are readily paying for whatever it is that's wanted or needed.

Need knowledgeable help in a department store? Forget it. Want somebody to pump your gas? Maybe yes, maybe no -depends on where you are. If you don't exactly know the fast food you want and the short-hand lingo to order it, you not only might starve to death before they get your order straight, but the folks in line behind you might kill you for holding them up.

Now, the things I listed above are just little examples of what's really a change in the attitude toward shoppers and customer service (Boy..there's an oxymoron). From supermarkets to dry cleaners, nothing is easy to get done any more. But now I've got another thing to add to the list of attitudes that have gone south and changes of general opinion.

I was in a watering hole early last evening, one where I stop often enough to know many of the people. There weren't many others there at that particular time, maybe five or six, and I was sitting at the bar with my wife. There were several vacant stools on my left...and then a group of three other customers. Two women, one man. Soon, one of the women began to sing, rather loudly. I asked politely, but somewhat loud myself, to be heard over her screeches, if she could tone it down. My wife and I, I said, couldn't hear our own conversation. She didn't comply. So, I asked again, somewhat louder, perhaps a tad forceful. She stopped singing, but complained to her bar mates about me in tones louder than she'd been singing. At that point others, including a bartender stared at me as if I'd committed some kind of terrible sin. I was asked if I was aware that I might have upset the singer. In effect, I was really quite the bad guy. And, that's when I realized that I just don't understand it any more.

Surely, I've heard of political correctness, and before that, was even brought up to have good manners. But where has the line been drawn now? How far can people go? If it's wrong to complain about someone else's boorish behavior, because you might hurt their feelings, what else can't I do? Should we (my wife and I) have gone out to our car to have an audible conversation? Or perhaps, we just should have stayed home. Because, heaven forbid, nobody should dare to request quiet from a half-tanked singer.

As for right now, I'm not quite ready to become some kind of hermit. So I'm going to practice being nice and behaving politely and then I'm going to try going out again. And if someone sings out loud or dances on the bar, I'm going to smile and ignore it. I guess the time has come to accept what's come to pass. Nonetheless, if someone tries to stick me with a cover charge because there was entertainment, I'm really going to be upset.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/23/2010

They say these blogs are places to note what's on the blogger's mind at the moment. Like an automated, public diary. Now, I've got no problem doing that, but I'd guess that from the perspective of folks who read my writings, it might get a little tiring. Because, for the past few days (seems like months), I feel like I'm on a merry-go-round. It seems the same stuff keeps coming up, over and over again.

For example, as recently as yesterday I thought I had a breakthrough and was talking the exact same language as a service provider I'm trying to work with. I explained why a couple of days ago in my blog. Well, today I come to find out that although I've done what they told me to do, I still didn't do enough. Apparently, our "programs" aren't communicating and until I figure out how to meet the supplier's standards, my projects going to stay on hold.

I only wish I had thought of operating as businesses do today back when I was plying my profession. Because if I had, I would have had the time to do so many things I was never able to do, such as: spending time with my family and friends or stopping during my working day to have lunch or dinner, may even play some golf, go see a movie, perhaps take a long walk, even take a vacation now and then. I never had time for any of that stuff, because I was too busy working with my customers, trying to please them, and trying to succeed. Today, I'd be able to do all of things of leisure I never did, because if I used the current customer service attitude, I wouldn't have had any customers at all. Thus, my time would have been my own.

As far as what's occupying the other part of my brain, it's also still the same old, same old. Health care. I don't mean "health care" itself, that's something else entirely. I'm only talking about government's role, if any, in how it should be run. I've also written about this a couple of times before, so I won't bore you or me with the details again. I only want to mention something I saw this morning.

Jack Welch, retired Chaiman of GE, was on CNBC. He seemed livid about the way this issue has been handled by the politicians. Aside from the massive cost that he suspects has likely been grossly underestimated, there's the matter of whether there's really that huge a problem with health care presently at all. His practical and sensible approach made a lot of sense to me. He said something like, don't take on the whole monster of an issue all at once, it's too big and likely impossible a task to handle that way. He suggested attacking the individual issues, the most problematical ones first, such as tort reform and malpractice insurance, and then managing a way into the solutions in controllable bites.

The main reason I was so pleased with his approach was, I suggested the exact same thing a day or so ago in this blog. And, now that I know that the former GE Chairman and myself think so much alike, I'm going to go out and replace all my bulbs.

That's it for today folks,


Monday, March 22, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/22/2010

A friend e-mailed the following text to me today as seen on the"Glen Beck Show" on FOX (Fox Cable News)as quoted in the Wall Street Journal

"Today, even though President Obama is against off shore drilling for our country, he signed an executive order to loan 2 Billion of our taxpayers dollars to a Brazilian Oil Exploration Company (which is the 8th largest company in the entire world) to drill for oil off the coast of Brazil! The oil that comes from this operation is for the sole purpose and use of China and NOT THE USA!

Now here's the real clincher...the Chinese government is under contract to purchase all the oil that this oil field will produce, which is hundreds of millions of barrels of oil".

We have absolutely nothing to gain from this transaction whatsoever!

Wait, it gets more interesting.

Guess who is the largest individual stockholder of this Brazilian Oil Company and who would benefit most from this? It is American BILLIONAIRE, George Soros, who was one of President Obama's most generous financial supporter during his campaign.

If you are able to connect the dots and follow the money, you are probably as upset as I am. Not a word of this transaction was broadcast on any of the other news networks!"

The reason I posted the excerpt is, for quite some time now I've been going back and forth with friends of mine as to not only how and why Mr. Obama won the Presidential election, but how he got the the nomination in the first place. After all, as a practical matter he's someone without a trace of a record of importance in the Senate, and although I've done no real research I sense he did little of significance anywhere else in his life. There is, of course, his support of NINA mortgage financing along with Chris Dodd that helped collapse the worldwide financial markets, but that's a different matter.

So then, how could this person show up on the national scene and bang, not only blow the likes of the Clintons out of the water for the nomination, but go on and win the White House?

At the time that the Clintons evaporated, folks were pretty stunned. That was really unlike simply quit. I scratched my head like everyone else. Then a short while later, I began hearing about and groundswells of support for Obama all over the country and, naturally, leads one to George Soros, and as the article says: Guess what? Gee, there's the money.

It all made absolute sense way back when Obama rose so quickly. But, I never saw or heard anything to solidify an Obama/Soros connection. So, if what the above article says is fact, the financial connections been established now. The information certainly helps to clear my quandary up about how things changed so fast during the campaign and confirmed many of my suspicions. Yet, why would the payback come now? Why not wait until after the Presidents re-election to carve and expose a deal like this?

I suspect the answer to that one is that after health care reformation and the damage done to the party, a financial genius like Soros wants his money today, because I think he believes the odds are extremely low on any Dem's chances of re-election, especially Mr. Obama's.

That's all for today folks


Saturday, March 20, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/20/2010

To my amazement, I may be making some progress in my latest project. Enough hostile emails and phone calls have gone back and forth between myself and a "service" provider that the provider may actually be willing to provide what I need.

Now, don't misinterpret me here, it's not that the provider has seen the light and is attempting to offer some customer service. Oh no. What's actually happened is I think they realize I won't give up and go away. And, I think they now understand that no matter how many roadblocks and obstacles they put in my way, I'm determined to see this through. Why? Because I need what they provide, and without their service my project is cooked.

Well, you might ask, why would you go through these travails? Why not find someone else to do what you need? The answer is simple. I've done some homework regarding others in the field and suspect that they're all the same. Beyond that, I've got serious time and effort invested here that I spent with the provider before I knew how horrendous things can get. I've also advanced them a couple of bucks I can't get back. The bottom line is, I'm determined to get this done with the folks I chose in the first place. Whether they like it or not.

Of course, there's an another alternative. I can contract with an intermediary,
someone who understands the lingo, procedures and geek-speak of the provider's business. It's likely an "expert consultant" can get me through the provider's maze. The only problem with that is, by the time I explain what I need to some third-party and go through their rigmarole, I'll likely end up right back in the same boat except -it'll be months later and with all the time lost, plus the consultancy fees and such, I'll never make a profit.

I mention all of this today for two reasons. First because, obviously, it's on my mind -the object of writing this blog. But second, and maybe more important, I think this situation reflects how most, if not practically all so-called "service" businesses operate today. With few exceptions (Home Depot comes to mind as a helpful place to shop) almost everywhere you seek whatever it is you need you run into brick walls. Sales staff and likely a good percentage of the management know very little to nothing about what they sell or how their offerings work, nor do they seem to care. Unskilled or helpless customers take up their valuable time and keep them from other, more important things, like staff meetings, coffee breaks, cell phone chats or chewing gum.

So, that's why I'll repeat something I wrote in this blog just the other day, because I believe it's worth the redundancy. If anyone out there, in almost any field wants to make a fortune, open a business that actually services and helps its customers and your on your way to becoming the next Bill Gates.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, March 19, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/19/2010

March 19th and global warming seems to have finally reached the Northeast. I don't want to jinx myself by writing that the possibility of snow has finally gone, because I've been around too long. So I know that we could get another cold snap anytime in the next few weeks. But, for the next couple of days anyway, it looks like spring weather's predicted.

Health cares still all over the news and from what I've seen reported the Dem's say they'll be able to pass it, no problem, except for the six or seven votes they're short. Now it's expected that a vote will take place over the weekend, perhaps to somehow ram it through behind closed doors. That should sit well with the general populace whom are reportedly 75% against passage.

I guess the administration is taking the approach that it knows better than the people as to what's best for them, so they're invoking the upper hand. That's the same position my parents took when I was in my formative years. Interestingly enough, as far as my own case is concerned, the actual outcome illustrates that they weren't right about me once. Not even close. Didn't have clue one. Fortunately I became succesful despite their helping hands.

Then of course there's the trevails of Tiger, and the question: Will he show up at the Masters tournament? I think the premise that he won't is ridiculous. There's too much money involved, along with too great a risk of being forgotten. And, last but most important, he obviously doesn't really care about what anyone thinks of him anyway, as demonstrated by his past off-course performance. So, after all the noise quiets down and he's back on the tournament trail, my bet is he'll go right back to being Tiger. Tigers don't change their stripes (or was that leopards and spots? I,m not sure.) So all the honeys who think they missed out don't have to worry. He'll be back to you as soon as he can be.

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/18/2010

Almost forgot to blog today.

Been going around the block with a new publisher again. Took almost all my time. I've written about this issue before, so I won't repeat myself here. But, I still wonder who does what for who in today's world.

It just seems to me that "service" businesses don't even exist anymore. I get more "Sorry you'll have to resubmit in XXXX" or whatever, then "Thank you, you'll have your stuff tomorrow" not only from publishers, but practicaly everyone else I try to do business with. And, when I say "Gee, I don't know how to do that" or ask "Can somebody there help me?" I get a hostile email intimating that I'm some kind of dolt. Or, if it's a phone call request, I get a dial tone.

I've said this before, too, but I think it's worth repeating. If anyone out there wants to make a fortune, just open some kind of business that actually does something for its customers. There's no way you can lose.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/17/2010

St. Patrick's Day. Although I'm not Irish, I certainly have many close friends whom are. And, that's good enough for me to feel that this is a very big day indeed.

I grew up in the city and remember from when I was quite young the excitement of the parade. Living on the East Side, the corps of marchers and bands organized themselves in the streets near my house and then made their way a block or two west to begin their trek down Fifth Avenue. My friends, Irish and otherwise, and I ran alongside the marchers all afternoon long until we tired ourselves out.

In later years I came to appreciate additional aspects of the celebration, particularly when I was allowed to enter the pubs. On March 17th midtown Manhattan was really the place to be. That was the day when you realized just how many folks in the city were firemen and cops. Of course, for the folks I knew best at that time and me, heaven was PJ Clark's.

In recent times, now that I'm older and perhaps wiser, I find there are less trying ways to celebrate the day then trying to bull my way into the most popular taverns on Earth. A very good friend has for years held a gathering for his constituents in the town where he served loyally as Mayor. Though I'm not a resident, I was always invited. Alas, he's recently relocated, but there's a reasonable chance he'll decide to come back.

As for today, I'm not without an alternative as to where to hoist a beer. In fact, I'm on my way soon to one of my favorite local spots. What's even better, they're serving corned beef and cabbage.

That's it for today folks.

How do you say "Adios" in Gaelic?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/16/2010

Since I saw something go by on the news today that the house will likely pass health care, I looked through my files for a letter I remember sending to my health insurer.

At the time I had some unknown or undiagnosable malady, so my regular physicians referred me to a specialist whom they believed could likely identify my ailment and then come up with a cure.

What happened next is covered in the following letter;

Dear Insurer,

There's a payment listed on the attached sheet, evidently already paid to a Dr. XXXX (Item 2). But, in my opinion this guy didn't earn a dime from my case. In fact, I never even met him.

I had no way of knowing he'd be paid for doing nothing, or even that he sent a bill, until I received the attached sheet. However, this guy didn't perform any services on ,or for me, at all. In my case, he did zilch, nada, nothing. He didn't even show up in his own office.

I was referred to the guy by another doctor. When my wife called for an appointment, after Dr. XXXX's appointment person, or whoever she is, made a huge deal out of how he was adjusting his schedule to see me, and was going out of his way for us, yada, yada, yada, we went to his office on the appointed day. The appointment person had sternly informed us that this guy was so busy and important, we had better be on accepting my visitation, she said, the doctor had bestowed a favor of immense magnitude upon us.

Well, to be sure we were doing the right thing on the appointed day, we got to the guy's office a few minutes early. Then, after I filled in the required forms, and the doctor's people had assured themselves he'd be paid by my insurers, we were told the doctor was unavoidably delayed somewhere. In fact, he wasn't even in the office. But, she said, ...he would show up in about a half-hour or so. So, we waited. And, then waited a little longer.

After about thirty-five or forty minutes more, or so, went by, the appointment person spoke to us again. She said the guy had still not arrived, but was on his way, and I should be a patient, patient. He'd get there as soon as he could. Maybe only another "twenty minutes to half-hour," she said. At that point, I said "Goodbye."

So, I went home. And, to tell you the truth, I don't know, or care, if the doctor guy ever showed up that day (or any other day since). What I do know is -he never performed any services on me, near me, or anywhere I've ever been. As far as I know, there may not even be a Dr. XXXX. I've never seen him, spoken to him, or even heard of him anywhere else.

Thusly, I think you folks are entitled to your money back. And, after all, since it's my policy you paid out on -it's my money too. If all these doctor types just sit there and send out bills, having done nothing to earn it, it's no wonder the costs of health care are through the roof. I'd guess there must be a huge margin of non-existent charges that slip through the cracks every day, get paid, and escalate costs. And, my particular case is no big deal. Thirty bucks. But, multiply that by however many of these types of situations happen every day and you're talking major league unearned payouts. And, that's why I'm writing. Something needs to be done to confirm that these doctor guys actually do whatever it is they bill for. If the bills right, so be it. But, if not -don't pay them. I can't think of any other business in the world that could get away with the kinds of preferential deference medicos expect. That needs to be fixed. They're businesspeople like everyone else. Period. Case closed.

If you need anything further, to get your (our) funds back, please let me know.

While mine is a relatively trivial situation, I think it really does represent a sampling of what goes on in medico land. I can't think of any other businesspeople, except maybe auto mechanics and computer techs who could get away with what these white coated guys can, because the general public hasn't a clue regarding med-speak.

So, instead of Congress trying to fix a whole system that really isn't broken, but in fact is the best in the world, they should just work up from the bottom, a little at a time. Chase down over-billing practices, and lapses in the insurance system, and dramatically reduce malpractice suits. That's where the drains are. But I think trying to overhaul what's been built as far as really treating the infirmed goes is a horrible mistake.

That's all for today folks.


Monday, March 15, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/15/2010

Just finished a wonderful book about golf. The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost. It's not a new book, published in 2002, and has since been produced as a movie of the same name. Though I've seen the movie many times, I still sat down and read the text.

I mention it because, not only is it a great story, but the book goes into considerable detail about the customs, politics and social issues of the time...1913. The writing describes how Francis Ouimet a young American amateur golfer faced off against professionals Harry Vardon, by far the greatest golf talent of his time, and Ted Ray, Vardon's compatriot and also a remarkably skilled player. Both Vardon and Ray were from the Isle of Jersey in Britain, and England was then without peer in international competition. The only ones to come close at that time were the Scots, and Scotland was where the golf game was invented. Nonetheless, Ouimet came out the winner.

What I found most interesting about the book was how the author wove the personal, familial and historical issues into the story. Golf itself, for instance, was a wealthy man's sport. Country clubs were built and populated by the wealthiest of the wealthy, both here and abroad. And, the professional athletes and caddies who possessed most of the talent were treated as less than human, unless some aristocrat or other needed a lesson. All three, Ouimet, Vardon and Ray came from dirt-poor working class homes beginning their golf careers as very young caddies, working for less than pocket change.

In that environment, the early 1900's, some names that even non-golfers might recognize began to have some impact, because the press began to diligently promote the sport by their writings of the intensity of the competition. In years to come the likes of Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, followed by Ben Hogan, then Palmer, then Nicklaus paved the way for those household golfing names that followed. While professional golf in time began to provide the best of players a trade that could support them financially, many including Ouimet himself and Bobby Jones remained amateurs throughout. Ouimet because he'd pledged to find a real "career" to his father and Jones because he simply chose to.

While I found the history, the social environment and the elements of the competition to be fascinating, what interested me most was how these gentlemen conducted their lives. Their sport, their accomplishments within it and their behavior on and off the course reflected a tremendous love and admiration of their endeavor. Wins and losses were treated with class and an appreciation for all of the competition.

In comparison to today's athletes, I think the differences are beyond measure. The players of Ouimet's era had time to speak and deal with all of those who sought them out, whether the press, associates of the game, or the public. They felt it was an honor and privilege just to be allowed to participate at all. Thus, it's likely that today's players in almost any sport would find guidance and inspiration in the writing. So, I guess it's really a shame that so many of them can't read.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, March 12, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/12/2010

Clouds, rain, dark, dank downer of a day. Even the news is boring.
Still waiting for a new publisher to respond, but it ain't happened yet.
And, I think I'll just wait until the health care issue reaches boiling before saying anything more about that one.
So, as contrary to the occupation as a writer can get, for today I'm out of words.
So long for now.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

BloggeRhythyms 3/11/2010

Spent another good portion of my day today working on the publication of my new book. The book is a sequel and continues the story of a Manhattan bartender whom through a series of seemingly unrelated events, winds up in the body guarding business.

The reason that this guy was especially important to me these past two days, aside from just being my hero, is that he's big, tough, smart (street and otherwise) and doesn't like being pushed around. Beyond that, he's a certified martial arts expert and he carries a gun. These are skills, qualities and aids that as an author (or perhaps, anyone else) trying to get something accomplished in today's world can certainly come in handy.

It seems that every step I take toward publication, leads to another step and if every single base isn't touched precisely, the process stops altogether. A completed form leads to another form and that's followed by a questionnaire which leads to what? Of course, another form. What's more, since a lot of time can be saved by trying to do this stuff on the web, if a required field is left blank (because it doesn't apply to you or your project and you therefore don't have the information) you might as well choose another career, because the technology won't let you proceed with this one. And, talking to someone doesn't help, because they either send you right back to the web or suggest snail-mail. While mail perhaps results in better help, I don't want to add six weeks to the project.

Without putting down another two hundred words, because I think you now have the picture, I was considering what Bobby Cole, the guy in my books would do were he in the same position. As a first step he'd probably just show up in person. Most often, in that situation folks generally go out of their way to assist him because he doesn't look like someone who likes "No" as an answer. But, heaven forbid, even if the situation heats up a little, folks most often eventually comply because Bobby's the type that doesn't have to sound like a threat to be one.

Then, last but not least, there's always his weapon. As I sit here and write about him even I am generally amazed at how compliant people suddenly become when they're staring down the barrel of his Walther.

Now that I've put these ideas firmly down on paper I think I might just go out and try to take Bobby's approach. Who knows, maybe I'll be the first guy to serve ten to twenty for "Attempted Publication".

That's it for today, folks


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/10/2010

I met two long-time and dear friends for lunch today, and, naturally the question of "What's new in your life?" came up to us each.

During my reply, I mentioned my new blog. Now, these two folks are very savvy about what goes on in this world, but neither are into blogging. So, as I went along I needed to do some explaining. About the purpose, the goal -if there is one, and what's expected of a blogger and why. It was then that I realized, the questions aren't so easy to answer.

While I don't get a slew of feedback from readers yet, and maybe won't ever, I do get some. And their statements, questions and replies (on-line and off) indicate that, like most things in life, for as many of them as there are, there's different likes, dislikes and opinions about what's been written.

So, what does a blogger do? Try to put into words each day things that will please the widest number of people perhaps. Or voice opinions that are unpopular to many readers, but the true thoughts of the blogger nonetheless? Or find some innocuous tidbits in the news and list them as a public service. Is the objective to state what's on your mind, or to attract the largest number of readers?

At this point I certainly don't know the answer. But if the blog objective is truly just to simply state what's currently on your mind, while today's entry may not be the most stimulating of public opinion, it's undoubtedly about what I'm thinking.

So long for now.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/9/2010

A guy that I used to work with many years ago whom became a good friend of mine used to say "You know, nothing difficult is ever easy."
And, just like the great Yogi Berra whose musings have become classics, such as: "Nobody goes to that place anymore, it's too crowded," my friend's comment was right. At the moment, I'm going through the process of getting a new book published. Silly me, I thought the hard part was writing the book. After that, let the publisher take care of what needs to be done. Well, as it turns out, nobody takes care of anything that has to be done any more. We all have to do pretty much everything by and for ourselves (if we want it done right.)

So, I can't just submit my work and let the publisher take it from there. Oh no. There have to be specific copies in specific file formats and fonts for submission. Paper type must be selected, ISBN numbers secured, spell checks, gramatiques, cover graphics designed and styled. You name it, the list goes on and on.

I'm certainly no expert in data processing or computer technique, but I can fudge my way around the basics. But, what do authors do who haven't got a clue? It's a wonder books get published at all.

Naturally, you can have all of this done for you, if you want to leave time frames and production decisions totally to somebody else, but then, you've got no vote in the final outcome. And, aside from that, it costs.

I realize that I'm just sitting here venting in frustration, but it's not just something like publishing that's changed today. It seems no matter what you do, want or need lately, the only way you're going to get whatever it is handled correctly is by doing it yourself.

So, I've got to leave you now because my time's being taken up by publication issues. And, after that, since my car's running low, I've got to go out and pump myself some gas.

See you later.


Monday, March 8, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/8/2010

Things might be looking up, because I've gotten no suggestions so far today to blog out permanently. Yet, it still isn't a very good morning. I was looking at my list of to do's just now, and for some reason decided to start putting my tax stuff together. After all, April 15th is almost here.

Like many others I guess, I certainly know what's going on regarding my financial condition and keep track rather often, especially since there's instant account access on the web. Nonetheless, the daily, weekly, and monthly ups and downs go along and one tries to adjust accordingly. And, certainly not speaking for anyone else here, but when I looked at the accumulated year-end data I got a double-barreled shocker. Regardless that I was generally aware of the downward shift in financial markets, when you look at the cumulative hit in the pocketbook, it's a humongous disaster.

So naturally, I considered once again, who caused it. The answer goes right to Washington, DC. Mindless politicians redistributing what they consider wealth, though for most of us it just about makes ends meet, and taking those funds and cramming them right down the chute.

Worse yet, when they discovered the horror show they'd caused, they sat down to do it again. Piling debt upon debt, adding worthless legislation on top of the brain dead pap they'd already written and then searching the planet for people to blame. Thus, I certainly hope that the indications we've recently seen, that incumbents are on their way out, is really true. For once, let somebody else pay the price for their ineptitude other than the public, and I certainly pray that it's them.

That's it for today.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

BloggeRhythms 3/7/2010

A frequent topic of discussion among friends and myself is whether certain activities or others, though commonly referred to as sports really are. Since the topic arose again yesterday, I thought about it again later last night.

This time, I thought of a brilliant solution that would end the argument once and for all. Surprised at myself that I hadn't thought of this solution before, I simply looked up the definition of sports. And, according to Wikipedia (and similar others), here's what I found out.
"A sport is commonly defined as an organized, competitive physical activity requiring commitment and fair play. It is governed by a set of rules or customs. In a sport the key factors are the physical capabilities and skills of the competitor when determining the outcome (winning or losing). The physical activity involves the movement of people, animals and/or a variety of objects such as balls and machines. In contrast, games such as card games and board games, though these could be called mind sports, require only mental skills. Non-competitive activities such as jogging and rock-climbing, are usually classified as recreations."

Well, reading the definition not only didn't clear the matter up for me with finality, I think it made the situation worse. For example, auto racing. My contention has been that auto racing isn't a sport, but a pastime because aside from the stamina issue, almost anyone can drive a car in a circle. And, regardless of the speed involved (and speed comes from the auto maker, not the driver) the average track is a safer place to drive, surrounded by other skilled drivers, than any expressway.

So okay, let's say I was wrong. I admit it. Because, according to the dictionary auto racing clearly meets the criteria for qualifying as a sport. But if that's true, then a significant number of truck drivers hauling down the road are sportsmen, too. Regardless of a possible beer belly, you have to be in pretty good physical condition to sit behind the wheel of a rig for eight, ten or twelve hour stretches, and most often, they're trying to meet some kind of a deadline. Freights got to be delivered on time, sometimes under terrible conditions -traffic, breakdowns, construction, inclement weather. And are there rules and regulations? You bet, just ask any traffic cop or federal highway authority.

Beyond that, what about the obstacles? A woman in front of the driver perhaps, who's talking on the phone with one hand, holding a coffee cup in the other and simultaneously screaming at the two kids strapped into the back seat. Aside from the question of who's steering the woman's car, truck drivers have to try to anticipate the woman's every move. Is she going to speed up, slow down, change lanes, should I consider another, safer, occupation? Talk about stress under pressure. it doesn't get any worse than that.

The more I think and write about this issue, the less doubt I have. Driving eighteen wheelers is not only definitely a sport, it's tougher than competing at Indy. The only question now is, where to erect the Hall of Fame, Detroit or Dearborn.

See you later.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bloga-Rhythms 3/6/2010

Apparently, yesterdays entry was somewhat better, because I didn't get any heat from disgruntled readers. I did, however, hear from two gruntled readers (I assume that's the converse of disgruntled). You can read their responses in "Comments".

So, while I don't think the blog itself is meant for give and take, these two folks thoughts deserve some pondering. As for the first one, I can't figure out for the life of me why anyone of the Jewish faith would vote as a Democrat. Maybe 60 years or so ago, back in FDR's time, the federal government was very helpful to Jews. But even then, Roosevelt refused to allow Jewish ships to land here with refuges from Europe during the Holocaust. (I don't believe that that's too widely known.)

Moving on, Jimmy Carter wasn't a friend to the Jews during his administration, and certainly isn't one now. Then we look at the Clinton's whom went out of their way to befriend the Arafat's, Hillary seemingly more so than Bill.

I doubt anyone could seriously believe that the current administration would hold out a heartfelt welcome mat to Hebraics. As I recall, the Reverend Wright had a lot to say about Jews during the campaign, none of it repeatable here. Of course, the President himself never listened to any of the Reverend's sermons over twenty years while sitting in church, so I guess Jews don't have to worry about him.

On the other hand, I doubt American Jews, and especially Israelis, could find better friends than either of the Bush's. Between Herbert Walker and W, two wars were fought in the Middle-East, both extremely helpful to Israel. And, an open door existed in the White House for whenever Israeli diplomats chose to visit.

Consequently, I'll say it again, I'll be damned if I know why any Jew would ever vote for a Democrat.

The second readers response referred to my take on medical care and healthcare reform, with which the reader seemed to agree. But then the reader went on to say that he or she felt the current financial quagmire was even more important.

It's hard to argue with that conclusion. Having spent most of my business life in financial markets, I think it's fair to say the government hasn't got a clue when it comes to finance. And, it certainly hasn't got the capability to run or control any kind of business. Just as a place to start, how can any entity run efficiently when there are 535 opinions in play, and the vast majority of those opining have never held a real job?

Beyond that, every legislative decision is tainted because, right, wrong or indifferent in terms of what's good or bad as policy, each of those decisions is weighed against whether or not it will help with one's re-election. Consequently, our political leaders put us in financial holes dug by their ineptitude and partisanship, then the citizenry bails them out via taxes. And then, the cycle repeats itself and on and on.

Lastly, I'm not so sure the current unemployment figures are the most accurate data in the world. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to find that a significant number of those shown as unemployed aren't unemployed at all. Instead, during all of the turmoil of the disappearance of their former jobs and the mad scramble afterward, they've found other work, but just choose not to report it. In that way, they avoid remaining part of a system where the feds take significant taxes and then either lose the money or give it away, only to come back and do the same thing again next time. Perhaps, folks are just tired of it.

That's the blog for today. I'm all blogged out.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Bloga-Rhythms 3/5/2010

Took another double broadside yesterday folks. Seems there wasn't any improvement in my blogging at all. According to the same critics who took me apart on Wednesday. But, I'm not quite ready to blog off for good yet.

Today, I'd like to put forth a theory I have, and think about all the time. It regards health care and what the administration is trying to do by overhauling it.

From a patient's point of view, and I have considerable experience here, along with input I get from others discussing the issue, I think there's little doubt that the U.S. has the best medical system in the world. I mean, I don't hear about a lot of Americans trying to sneak into Canada or Mexico for medical care.

Boiling it down, I really think the problem is that the administration is going after the wrong profession. It's not the medical system that needs to be fixed, it's the legal profession that sucks.

Shakespeare said it about 400 years ago in King Henry VI with the line "Lets kill all the lawyers". And, he certainly was right. Many doctors today have to work for eight or nine months just to cover the cost of their malpractice insurance. Why? Because some attorneys are waiting like sharks to smell the blood of a misdiagnosis or mistreatment. Then they jump right in to handle the case or add the injured party to some massive class action suit. Then, when there's a final adjudication, the injured party walks away with a couple of bucks and the attorney takes his huge windfall, finances a campaign and tries to become President of the United States.

So, no wonder medical care is so expensive. If someone has a hangnail and seeks medical attention, doctors no longer immediately treat the problem. They order a series of tests and gather additional information. Such as, lab reports, second opinions, and major consultations. Not necessarily because any of that stuff is really needed, but to avoid a lawsuit if they're deemed to have misdiagnosed or overlooked something along the way. And, every single one of these unnecessary tests and procedures costs money. Thus, if the original hangnail could have been remedied for fifteen bucks, by the time all the tests and whatever are tacked on, the case costs four hundred dollars. Multiply that by the thousands and thousands of people treated every day and the total cost becomes immense.

That's a lot different then it used to be when all doctors had to worry about was helping patients get better. The late, great Henny Youngman told of a man who went to see his doctor. When asked what was wrong, the patient raised his arm all the way and said, "It hurts when I go like that. What do you think?" The doctor replied, "OK, don't go like that. That'll be ten dollars." Today, that doctor would likely lose his license.
That's it for today folks. See you later.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bloga-Rhythms 3/4/2010

Boy, did I get blasted yesterday. Not that I have that many readers for my new blog to begin with, but a couple of the ones I do have really took me to task.
Apparently, there's a protocol to blogging and a particularity about what you post. It seems that what you write is supposed to be about what's on your mind at that moment, random thoughts, stuff like that. Me, as an unskilled blogger wrote a treatise on competition, covering aspects of the subject that I had planned to use as a basis for future postings. Unfortunately, that approach is wrong, as I've now been told.
Blog-planning for the future is verboten. What's more, I was informed, yesterday's entry was not only way out of line, it was boring. I was so upset, I almost considered permanent de-blogging. Why not just sit back and let some other typist take all the abuse.

Nonetheless, although I've been warned, I still believe competition is an important subject and it's something I think about rather often. But, perhaps, I should have used another word. I used the word "competition" because I believe that it's how people compete that separates human wheat from chaff. Winners rise to the top, while losers fall by the wayside. However, maybe it isn't so much competition that I should have focused on, but on "productivity" instead.

And, that brings me around to another subject which I'm certain is blog taboo. Politics.

Now, I'm not going to go off the deep end here and endorse or support a particular party or political belief. I surmise that would be tantamount to committing blogicide. I'm thinking more about politics in general. And, why for instance, someone will raise and spend half a billion dollars or so to try and win a job that pays a little over a hundred thousand bucks. I think the answer to that one might be, that although a politician might be able to raise mega-dollars as a candidate, in the real world no business or other enterprise would likely pay them a quarter (naturally, there are a few exceptions). And that brings me back to productivity.

Exactly what do these politicians produce or contribute that helps anyone do anything, unless you're totally incapable of helping yourself? And, if that's the case, that you can't support yourself, politicians help you by offering the aid of someone else's hard-earned money. It seems to me that most elected folks sit on the sidelines and do their best to figure out how to get their fingers into successful people's pies. Thus, if by chance and hard work, you come up with some fantastic new system or widget, within a heartbeat some pol or other will figure out a way to tax it.

As you delve further into this morass, and consider how politicians think, the more successful one is in the real world, the bigger target one becomes for governmental fleecing. It makes one wonder why economically successful people would want to be successful at all. Beyond that, there's the question of why politicians would want to kill the proverbial goose.

If logic says that government can't function without income, and is obviously incapable of earning anything itself (except for taxation), it needs the producers to stay alive, especially the best ones. Why then try to deincent producers from earning by taxing them into next Tuesday?

There are several answers to that one, which I'll likely get into on another day. Because, even though I've been warned that carrying thoughts over and purposefully continuing them on another day is un-bloglike, this is stuff I think about all the time, so I'm sure it will come up again by itself.

Adios for now. Hope to see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bloga-Rhythms 3/3/2010

I don't want to mislead readers by writing something about sports every day. My plan isn't to turn this blog into a sports column. Nonetheless, I think that, in their own way, sports are generally the purest form of competition and bring out the best and worst in man. In that way, they can be used as examples for just about every other aspect of life. And, that's why sports analogies so often focus on individual performance, and the manner in which a competitor steps up to challenge, faces adversaries and handles immense pressure.

Now, one might ask, what in the world does competition have to do with me? I'm an accountant or pharmacist or perhaps I stock shelves in a store. I'm not some kind of competitor. But, the fact is: yes you are. Everything in life is a competition, whether people realize it or not. Every person that one confronts measures them in one way or another; appearance, poise, articulation, vocabulary, skill, knowledge...the list goes on and on. Whether one measures others purposefully or subliminally, the process still goes on. And from the results, people formulate judgements.

That person's too smug, or to glib or too self-absorbed they might conclude. Or conversely perhaps ascertain -Gee I really like that person, he or she seems friendly and easy to talk to and seems to know his or her stuff. But, whatever these judgements about others are, or how they were reached doesn't really matter. What matters is: a judgement has been reached and in the eyes of the judge, that's you or me, the person in question has been sentenced. We either like them or we don't, we admire them or don't, we respect them or don't and on and on. And, its in that sense that I mean everyone competes every day, whether they realize it or not.

The bottom line of it all is, people generally appear to others as winners or losers. So, if that's really true, than everyone who wants to succeed needs to do what the best athletes do. Learn everything they can about their position, practice until every function is second nature, seek the best counseling for constant inprovement, use the best equipment available and put their heart into every attempt.

To come back to why I think sports achievements are analagous to success in most other endeavors in life, I recall something the great Joe DiMaggio said many years ago. He was asked near the end of a long season near the end of his career why he played so hard in a game that really didn't matter to the team at all. He replied that he did it because there might be some kid in the stands, or maybe some really old fan, watching him for perhaps the first or last time. And if that was the case; he owed them his best performance.

I think if everyone applied that same attitude to whatever it is we do, we'd all benefit from the wisdom and belief of the great DiMage.

Having said all the preceding, I hope to use sports analogies from time to time to illustrate other aspects of life. Thus, this column was meant to set that stage.



Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thoughts 3/2/2010

Though as I progress in blogging I expect to cover current topics, I think readers should know something about why I think like I think and write like I write. That brings me to something I mentioned in yesterdays entry -watching TV with the sound off.

In recent years (5 or so) I've had some medical issues requiring heavy medication. For some reason, which I've narrowed down to be a side effect of that medication, I find that certain sounds, and especially TV sound, are painfully irritating to my ears. Thus, for quite some time I've left the sound off while watching most TV. Now, considering what I generally view, watching TV soundlessly is not as bad as it sounds (figure that one out). Mostly reruns of Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, movies I've seen twenty or more times each. A couple of cooking shows. So, what am I missing by sitting there in silence? Not much, I don't think. I also know most of the scripts by heart anyway. And, as far as watching the news goes, the crawlers tell you whatever you need to know and listening to the average TV newshead forces you to turn the sound off anyway, so that takes care of that. Lastly, there are the commercials.

I can't put into words how much I despise having to watch some clown destroy a tomato by dropping it into a machine, slamming a plunger with a karate blow that could kill an elephant and watching the fruit divide into four hundred perfect pieces. I know if I ordered that machine, first shot out of the box I'd break my hand, shatter my counter top and turn the tomato into soup. Then it would take me four days to clean the machine, the kitchen walls and the sink. Tomato stains are horrid.

Worst of all, I pay for my TV service. So, it costs me megabucks a month for the right to watch hucksters peddle cars, insurance (what's with that little green worm, salamander, or skinny frog all about anyway? What does a frog have that's insurable? Maybe I'll actually listen to that one some time and find out) toothpaste and investment scams. Would anyone really run out to a dealer and buy a car because some celebrity hawks the auto? Tiger's the spokesman for Buick I think, so why does he drive Cadillac SUV's into trees? Is he trying to denigrate Buick's competition? And then there's Toyota. They spend billions promoting vehicles that are no doubt among the best in the world on the road. Of course, if you need to stop anywhere along the way, you might have a little problem.

Needless to say, I probably hold the world's record for channel-changing speed when commercials air. If not, I'll keep on trying. Most often, I try to find a movie on a commercial-free network as an alternative to switch to when an ad appears. If the movies a good one, sometimes I don't even bother to go back to whatever I was watching before the commercials started.

In case you're wondering what others do in my house should they want the sound on, the answer is earphones. I turn mine off during commercials, or most often, don't even bother putting them on to begin with. This way, my wife or whoever can listen through their own headset as long and as loud as they choose. The only program I can think of that really requires sound is Jeopardy, anyway. I suppose I could set up closed-caption, but I doubt that would be the same as Alex and his answers in real life.

I could go on with this subject for a while, because there are lots of issues regarding commercial TV. But I'll save them for some other times. Right now, I'd like to address my first steps down the road to watching TV in silence.

As I already stated, I rarely listen to TV sound today for reasons mentioned above. But, I've had lots of prior experience, particularly in the area of sports. The first time I turned my TV's sound off was many, many years ago and I remember the reason well. The reason's name was: Howard Cosell. Cosell was a sports broadcaster whose voice was a cross between sandpaper scrapes and a screeching tire braking on wet pavement. His voice however, was what it was. I doubt there was much he could about how he sounded. On the other hand, however, he certainly could have controlled what he said with that voice. And, there was the rub.

It seems that this former attorney from Brooklyn, who appeared to have less athletic ability than a tree stump, ordained himself the oracle of sports. He knew, according to himself, more about sports that any of those lowly grubs who unfortunately had to play in the games. And, not only did Cosell believe he knew more about sports than the professional practitioners, he took every opportunity to tell them so. Anyway, somehow or other this guy winds up in the broadcast booth on Monday Night Football, sitting there with two all-star former players, and telling them what the game is all about. When they disagreed for any reason, Cosell's response was something like "Well, what would you expect from a dumb jock. I actually attended classes in college."

For me, about twenty minutes of Cosell was enough. I turned off the TV sound and turned on the radio. It was then that I learned that, not only were the guys on the radio better broadcasters, I got a better perspective of the game. I assume I'm not the only guy who did this by a long shot, because sometime later the TV broadcasters inserted a delay in transmission, so that the radio play-by-play was out of synch with the action. I guess they hoped to frustrate their viewers into turning the TV sound back on. As for me, I've never listened to TV football announcers since Cosell, and don't plan to. Reading my own stuff back now, it seems to me now that Cosell may have single-handedly revived the radio business.

Aside from football, and whatever else Cosell blabbered about, I think the biggest thing for him was when he came across Cassius Clay who became Muhammad Ali, World Champion boxer. Cosell followed Ali around like a Cocker Spaniel and stuck to him like glue. I imagine that if Ali ever stopped short, Cosell would have come out of Ali's navel. My best guess is that Ali tolerated Cosell because Cosell made him laugh. I doubt Ali cared a whit about Cosell's opinions, but I would truly would have enjoyed watching the two of them spar. Cosell though, would never stoop to stepping into the ring, that was for thugs and brawlers. The true sportsman sits on the sideline and critiques. After all, it's the broadcaster that has all the knowledge.

That's the blog for today. With any luck, there'll be more tomorrow.

Adios, MB

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thoughts 3/1/2010

Well. After urgings from a couple of folks in particular over the past few months, today I started my blog. As described in my profile, I have no particular agenda to pursue, but I do like to think and write. Sometimes I do both at the same time. In that way, I believe I may be different than many writers and journalists, especially those in the area of politics, where it seems many of the writers seem incapable of thought, at all. On the other hand, perhaps they're not really not thinking, they just prefer to hide their intellectuality from readers. But, since this is my first posting, I''ll try not to alienate any of those who stumble across this blog by my going down some political road, I'll save those thoughts for another time.

I guess the biggest event being discussed this first day of March, aside from the fraud called health care reform and why global warming seems to bypass the northeast, is the winter Olympics. The two week event ended last night in Vancouver. I myself am not a winter sportsperson. The closest I've come to any kind of winter sports are driving my son to hockey games at four in the morning when he was a player, and watching my grandson play the same game now. Today, I still know nothing about hockey at all, but have acquired a taste for hot chocolate. Since that is the case, I certainly had no interest in any of the Olympic events and spent absolutely no time watching any of them, except for women's curling. Now, don't get me wrong -I don't know anything about curling either, nor do I wish to. All the same, I watched every women's curling match that was televised.

Furthermore, this isn't my first go round as a curling fan, I've watched these ladies in several prior winter Olympics games. For reasons I'll go into in further blog entrys, I watch almost all television with the sound off, thus I learned absolutely nothing about curling as a game, yet I still watched with great interest. The game seems to me a combination of horseshoes, scully and house cleaning (not to make a feminist statement here, because men curl, too) it's just the broom part that makes me think that. Anyway, I happened to mention my interest in the game to a friend the other night, in a sports tavern I've been known to visit on occasion. And, lo and behold come to find out that all the guys in the place watch women's curling (one or two watch the men, too -but that's a different story) and not only that, they know all the lingo.

Discussions and arguments evolved over how much the rock or the stone or the whatever it is they slide down the ice weighs. What kinds of brooms are used, where to buy them and how to get the best broom deal on ebay. They even knew curling terms that sounded something like "I think that was a left-handed Evel Knievel she slid just now, Tom. It seems headed for the house or the parking lot." Needless to say, I was somewhat surprised to see all this interest in an event that doesn't seem to be a macho kind of thing. I mean, nobody's driving at six hundred miles an hour and crashing, burning and exploding into chopped meat. Nobody's trying to jam a puck into these ladies ears and then tamp it down with a big "l" shaped stick. And, nobody's going over the edge of a winding ramp carved into ice, and then shooting off into space when they miss a turn, only to land in intensive care or a body bag. In fact, I doubt anybody dies or even bleeds an iota in the most gruelling of curling matches. So, what's the story here? Why all the interest?

I think it's all about the moment that the curling lady, the one who slides the thing with the handle on it down the ice, lets the thing go. It's then that the camera comes in for a close up of the curling lady. And, I think that that's when the guys realize that a lot of these curling ladies are babes. I doubt a lot of the guys give two icicles about where the curling widget actually winds up, unless perhaps they're die hard patriots and won't sleep unless their nation prevails. For me, I couldn't really be upset if some other countries won the medals because I don't think I have any interest in anybody's curling skill, even our ladies, I just like the close-ups. Then again, if the contest was rocket launching, grenade tossing or just general warfare, I know damn well I'd be rooting for Team USA, regardless of what the enemy looked like in a uniform.

Since tomorrows another day, I'll de-blog for now. After all, I need my rest and have to find another subject. Maybe I'll do some research to try and find out why they show women's curling at three in the morning.