Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/31/2010


Early on in my financial sales career, I was given the opportunity to sell for what was then, by far, the finest organization in that particular business. Headed by a young financial wizard the company became a household name, quickly rising in stature to the top, and a listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The employees were extremely bright, competitive, quick-witted and though coated with layers of polished veneer and manners, were cold-blooded killers at heart when it came to closing business.

I joined as a salesman covering Northern New Jersey, and was told before taking the job that all sales personnel were hired for 90 days. At the end of that time period, company-wide sales results were totaled up and the poor performers were terminated. Those who survived the cut were given another 90 days, after which the evaluations were repeated. Consequently, no salesperson was ever promised employment for more than three months, regardless of how long they'd survived in total.

Now, if you have a competitive spirit, and are good at your profession, a place like that was ideal. Because, if you succeeded and continued making the quarterly cuts, you were compensated more than handsomely for your efforts. Successful sales folks in that ball game really made a lot of bucks.

In my case, due to management's problems with other personnel in my region, I quickly became manager of sales in the Northeast. As such I became responsible for offices in New York, New Jersey, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale.

In a very short time, I was told that there were some issues in the Boston office that they'd not resolved prior to my promotion. And although it hadn't been my responsibility to tend to those issues, they'd decided to let the manager go. Consequently, I was asked to fly up, fire the person in question and insure that the rest of the personnel remained with us, and assure them a replacement for their boss would be arriving soon.

Naturally, I made the trip, did as requested and came home.

Now, one of the things that occurs in a job like mine was not only the effect of the constant competition, within both, the marketplace and company itself, but also the continual need to excel in every aspect of one's professional life. Because, in one way or another, everything you did was measured and evaluated every step of the way.

So, when I returned from New England, not only did my "boss," want to know how it went, but our president, a young, aggressive, tough and brilliant guy himself, wanted to hear about it too, because Boston was a pretty important office. Thus, they were quite eager to learn about how I'd handled such a delicate situation on short notice.

Well, facing these two guys who were living professional legends within our organization -and likely amongst our competitors and clients as well- I wanted to be sure that my actions measured up to their expectations of combined polish, veneer and particularly, smarts. So, I needed to show them that I handled the termination in a way that would meet their standards of professionalism, while living up to our image of tough, cold, effective accomplishment.

So I explained what I'd done.

It was all pretty simple I said, when you get right down to it. I walked into the office up there and introduced myself. Then I asked all the employees to stand in a row against the back wall of the main room. Next, I said, "Now, all current employees, please take one step forward." As they followed my instruction, I said, "Not so fast, Joe Blow." And, sure enough, Joe Blow got the message, packed up his stuff and left.

My tale was met with a combination of disbelief and hesitant laughter, as they were unsure if I'd told them what really happened or not. But, I never actually confirmed or denied what I'd done and in time, the subject was dropped. However, in short order that story became one of the legends that get grape-vined very quickly, and I've had many folks ask me over the years if I'd really done what I'd said.

Still to this day, I've never confirmed nor denied how I'd handled that particular chore in Boston. However, afterward I sensed folks tended to treat me with a bit more respect. So, I guess it all goes to show that, regardless of professional attributes, it helps to have some other kinds of talents, because while money may be a great motivator, fear has its merits, too.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, August 30, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/30/2010


I have a friend with whom I discuss many things that I'd put under the heading of current events. Since he's very well read and keeps himself informed, the conversations often get into some real depth. In fact, there have been quite a few times where we've been ahead of the curve, regarding expected outcomes or conclusions of events making headlines, to the extent that my friend thinks our conversations are being overheard or taped by the media or other entities.

Now, what I wrote about yesterday isn't really in the category of predicting the outcome of a current situation, but it's sort of in the same realm. Because the scene I described was how Saddam Hussein's media guy was on live TV boasting and raving about how wonderful Saddam's armed forces were while our military marched into the studio and dragged him out on camera. Yet, this guy kept on yapping about Iraqi superiority and wouldn't shut up.

Well, that scenario was just something I wrote about yesterday because Joe Biden reminded me of the misguided Iraqi spokesman, holding the rail tightly, then going down with the ship. But today, the analogy became even clearer, although I wasn't trying to make any kind of prediction.

Because the president gave a speech this morning, about how important an additional $30 billion in spending is that he wants to use to create jobs. And, as he was talking, I was watching the box in the lower right hand corner of my TV update the three major stock markets index change. The longer he talked, the lower all three indices declined. So, I guess that that was another confirmation that the American public has had enough talk, and now wants to see some positive results. But this guy and Biden struck me as being exactly like Saddam's guy in Iraq. They'll just keep on yammering until somebody drags them out by their ankles.

And, to clarify, I'm not writing this stuff about only the current administration, they just happen to be in office now. It applies to all politicians, regardless of affiliation. They don't have a clue, never did, never will and all of them exist purely on what they can steal from other's pockets. So, hopefully there will be a clean sweep in November, and the November after that one, and so on. Because the only way anyone in any elected office can help the general population is by being voted out.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/29/2010


Sitting here this afternoon, thinking about what to enter, a thought came to mind about Joe Biden.

When things heated up in Iraq a few years ago, and Saddam Hussein was on the way out, CNN did a live news show every day from Baghdad. There was this Iraqui guy who appeared on every show, and he continually boasted about how well the war was going for Saddam, that he would never give up and it was only a matter of time until the U.S. and its allies were booted out of the country for good.

Then President Bush put on a surge, Baghdad was invaded, Saddahm was captured and taken prisoner and his regime fell apart. Now, on the day that our troops marched into the presidential palace and took it over, this Iraqui propaganda guy was on the air for CNN, broadcasting live. And while he was blubbering on about how well his troops were doing and how awesome their resistance was, our guys walked into the TV studio and carried him out live on camera. As he was being hauled through the door, on the way to prison, he continued to jabber about how the U.S. was a paper tiger and would never succeed in winning a thing in Iraq.

Well, I think Joe Biden and the Iraqui guy are one and the same when it comes to propaganda. Because he's running around reading the same horror show of economic data that proves the country's half way down the proverbial chute financially, yet he's boasting about what a wonderful job the administrations doing at job creation and rescuing our economy. So, that leads me to ask what these folks expected to happen after their election. Did they think unemployment would be at twenty percent, thus they're doing a good job?

In reality, there isn't a thing that the administration or Congress has done except make a bad situation worse, yet it's amazing to hear these people talk. I guess its really true that there's a world inside the Beltway that functions on its own and goes on regardless, like the Energizer bunny. It keeps running around in circles, chasing its tail, either oblivious to what goes on elsewhere in the country or simply uncaring about the matters. And, if they really do sense trouble or unrest, they make a speech saying otherwise.

Of course, there are things that are as bad, maybe in some ways worse than politicians. Which brings me back to CNN. Because during Saddam's regime they were the only network allowed into Baghdad, or to talk to Saddam and his top advisors. And CNN knew for a long, long time about the atrocities committed by Saddam's regime, his WMD's, and persecution and murder of his foes within Iraq and elsewhere. But, they never reported any of it. Not a word.

Sometime later the president or chairman of CNN, was interviewed. I don't remember him or his title specifically, only what he said. But, when it was found out that his network never mentioned even a hint of what they knew, and how horrible and bloodthirsty Saddam's regime was for years, he was asked why they kept everything quiet for Saddam.

The CNN guy's response was that they had to cover up for Saddam, or else they would have been thrown out of the country for telling the truth like everyone else. And, if that happened, he asked, where would the American public have gone to find out what was going on in Iraq?

Think about that one, then take two aspirin.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/28/2010


Busy day today. Chores, errands and a couple of fix-its around the house. But, I did see one headline that struck me. Something like "Obama on way back home from vacation."

So, my question is, vacation from what? I mean, what exactly does this guy do? I know I entered a whole shopping list of stuff yesterday that this Administration's rammed through a stacked Congress, but where's the work involved? All these folks did was sit on their tails and vote "yes" for a pile of legislation that few, if any of them, bothered to read. And, the president didn't do any work on any of it it either, except make a lot of noise, that I know of.

And, unfortunately, for people who really do work, and need to, there don't seem to be enough jobs. And that seems like a double whammy, because you have people who do absolutely nothing as far as "work" is concerned, passing piles of gibberish they call laws which take the whole country down the chute financially, ruin the marketplace, and eliminate job after real job. This isn't even a Catch 22, It's more like a Catch 44.

However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for folks who do want to work Administration-wise. Because after the fall elections there's going to be a lot of new people in Congress. And they're going to have to roll up their sleeves and undo every word of legislation that's been flung at the walls by all those incumbents getting booted out. Realistically, it could take five or six years to intelligently restructure the horror show those brain-dead ciphers jammed through in two.

So, I guess I've just answered my own question. While it's true there's nothing at all that this Administration needs a vacation from, they're likely going to vacate soon anyway, hopefully permanently. And that'll give all the rest of us a chance to go back to work.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, August 27, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/27/2010

The Commerce Department downgraded economic growth to 1.6 percent today, from an expected 2.4%, confirming significant momentum loss and raising job loss fears.

The Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, said the Fed will consider making another large-scale purchase of securities if the slowing economy deteriorates significantly and if signs of deflation show. He offered extensive thoughts on how to pull the U.S. economy out of a deepening slump, despite fears growing that there could be a lapse back into a double-dip recession. He concluded that the economic outlook is "inherently uncertain" and "remains vulnerable to unexpected developments."

After all was said and done though, he said he believed that 2011 would be better than most economic forecasters predict and seemed quite positive about next year.

Now, I would expect someone in Bernanke's position to put a positive spin on things, because above all he wants to see the U.S. economy grow and relieve the humongous pressure the Fed's been facing for several years.

Yet, the figures simply don't support his upbeat position. Unemployment continues to stay at the worst levels it's been at...month after month. Exports are down, big business continues to conserve capital refusing to spend, banks still won't lend at all, small businesses are being strangled by rising taxes, the Bush tax cuts are likely to be repealed, damaging small business further. Health care implementation is increasing all business overhead significantly, and government continues to burn taxpayers money without rhyme or reason under the guise of "stimulating" an "economic recovery" that doesn't exist.

So what is it that Bernanke sees that could possibly turn all these disasters around and change the tide of things in 2011? Well, he didn't say or hint it, but, there's only one thing that could possibly help, and Bernanke evidently thinks it will happen. Come this November he likely expects a Republican landslide, and regardless of anything else, that will be good for business. And then, if the adage is true that nations run on their pocketbooks, maybe we've still got a prayer.

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/26/2010


Former New York Governor, George Pataki, was on the Chris Matthews show yesterday, and apparently had opinion differences with his host. The subject was the Mosque currently planned for construction in NYC.

The Governor’s point was that many are upset with the project, feeling the site’s too close to Ground Zero, and he thought it better to build it someplace else. Apparently, Matthews didn’t agree with him, saying that those opposed seem to be all radical right wingers, who are trying to politicize the issue, and politics isn’t the issue, religion is. Thus, the opposers are all anti-Muslim.

Pataki continued along, trying to support his position by pointing out that if, in fact, the construction was a religious undertaking there should really be thought given to moving it elsewhere. Because the open hostility the project was receiving certainly wasn’t in keeping with peace, harmony, goodwill and understanding that religious sites are meant to promote and support.

He further went on to say that, so far, those involved with the Mosque had not met with the families and friends of those lost at Ground Zero, and didn’t seem to be planning to do so. He thought that at least they’d want to talk to them and hear their point of view.

He was also curious about where the construction funds came from, because, apparently the person behind the project was a waiter in a New York restaurant at the time the site was originally purchased by him for about $5 million. And now, millions more have suddenly appeared for construction. Mr. Pataki thinks it prudent to at least ask where the money came from.

It seems to me that this whole situation will continue to fester, and as I’ve written before, there’s no solution I see that can assuage both sides. But I think that if this project isn’t moved to another location, whether the issue is religion, politics, terrorism, or simply arrogance and ignorance, all hell’s going to break loose in the city somehow or other, and maybe that’s just what the waiter wants.

That’s it for today folks.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/25/2010

I never expected to be quoting Steve Wynn, of Las Vegas fame, regarding his views on the economy. But in a recent interview on CNBC he made several very blogworthy comments.

He recently finished the new Encore Beach Club, which opened for the Memorial Day weekend. He tore down and rebuilt a $13 million entrance to the $69 million club because he didn't want his patrons viewing the slew of half finished developments across the street which stalled in the downturn. He said, “There were going to be 10,000 rooms across the street and they all went bust.” So he changed the whole front of the resort to close it off and create a "sensual" adults-only escape.

Even more passionate about where the country is headed, he speaks of “wild, uncontrolled spending,” and “unbelievable, unsustainable debt,” while planning to split his company headquarters between Las Vegas and Macau. He's put a bigger emphasis on Macau, because of its tremendous profitability, and has no qualms about dealing with the Chinese government, saying "Macau has been steady. The shocking, unexpected government is the one in Washington.”

His major concerns here are, the prospect of inflation, of the FHA repeating the mistakes of Fannie and Freddie, and the cost to business from the new healthcare law. “We’re on our way to Greece, in the hands of a confused, foolish government,” he says. “It’s got to stop. It’s got to stop.”

Now, Mr. Wynn may sound a little overboard in his views, but has certainly proved beyond doubt that he usually knows what he's doing, because he's been tremendously successful throughout his business career. Much moreso than most.

It also seems that he may be a bit different by concentrating on Macau, but not so odd when it comes to managing his funds. Because at the moment, many of our country's top businesses are sitting on huge stores of accumulated cash which they seem reluctant or afraid to spend or invest.

According to The Washington Post, "Non-financial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash, roughly one-quarter more than at the beginning of the recession. And as several major firms report impressive earnings this week, the money continues to flow into firms' coffers."

The newspaper goes on to say that the "good news from big business hasn't translated into much promise for jobless Americans" because these businesses aren't hiring more workers, regardless. A major theory is that these companies don't want to expand when they're not sure there's the consumer demand to justify it. And, confidence still isn't quite there. Beyond that, they're also nervous about their ability to borrow if the financial system comes under stress again.

Lastly, Boone Pickens says "According to the June oil import numbers, we are still importing approximately 12 million barrels of oil per day at a cost of about a billion dollars a day to get it. About 70 percent of that oil is used as transportation fuel even though we have resources here that could fuel our vehicles. It just doesn't make any sense that we continue to send money abroad when we can keep it in our economy and in our wallets." My arithmetic indicates that's a significant part of our deficit.

So, what all the preceding quotes, from some pretty smart people, tell me is our nation's being run by a bunch of mis-guided, unqualified stooges who are burning our hard earned dollars hand over fist, and haven't a clue as to how to fix it.

Yet, there's also another alternative, almost too far out to mention but certainly not beyond belief. It's possible that the strengths of our nation are being dismantled and neutered one-by-one, weakening us to the point that someone with cash can step in and buy up the pieces on the cheap. (fuel distribution, vehicle manufacturing, banks, health-care facilities, insurers, real estate, etc.) But, that couldn't happen in America, could it?

Now, I have no doubt that just about every incumbent today has a very high probability of being voted out of office, conspiracy possibilities or not. But, if by some horrible chance that doesn't happen and we stay on the same track, ...not only will Steve Wynn move permanently to Macau, anyone with half a brain who can afford the airfare is going to go with him.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/24/2010

TNBNT once more.

I did some consulting for a couple of years, wrote a professional book, and ran some seminars for clients about selling equipment financing and leasing services.

One day, a former competitor of mine called to hire me for an afternoon of training up in New England. It was surprising, because we'd been hostile combatants back when I was out in the field actually selling. And, there were one or two major national accounts where we vied literally every day for deals.

Nonetheless, a job was a job, so I gracefully accepted the offer and went to work preparing the agenda we'd worked out for his sales meeting.

The day of the meeting was disastrous weather-wise, causing long delays at the airport, but the flight eventually took off. However, there were huge traffic tie-ups at Logan Airport in Boston when I arrived and many roads were flooded. The net of it was, I was very, very late in reaching the meeting site.

As I walked in the door of my destination, I still had some time to spare, because I'd learned long ago to leave plenty of margin for travel delays and such when flying anywhere. But, this day turned out to be a different story. Because, within moments of my arrival, someone approached me and said something like, "Gee Mike, glad you're here. Seems we're running faster than we planned this afternoon. So, you're on right now. They're waiting for your presentation."

Now, all of my agenda and material was carefully planned in advance, but nonetheless, I had equipment to set up, overhead slides to arrange, and materials to distribute before I began my presentation, and now had no time to get that done. But worse, as I passed a mirror outside the meeting room, I realized I looked like I'd just spun around for an hour in a mangle dryer. Because, during all the scrambling around in the airports on both ends and the traffic hassle at Logan with people pushing in every direction, and hauling my luggage and equipment all over the place, I'd become a little disheveled.

Regardless of my unpreparedness, a shove in my back from the guy who'd greeted me, propelled me to "center stage" in the meeting room.

I viewed the audience, twenty or thirty folks, seated in rows, classroom style, and introduced myself. I quickly told them who I was, why I was there and then explained that the most critical aspect of any sales call is the first impression a salesperson makes on a prospective buyer, regardless of all else. Because you only get one chance at a first impression and from then on you're typecast. Consequently, the impression you make has to be a good one or your cooked.

I then went on to say something like, "Look at me for example. My suit jacket's over my arm, my hair's dishevelled, my shirts not properly tucked in, in fact, I look awful. I highly doubt anyone would ever buy anything from me, considering my appearance." I further explained that I used myself as an example because "pictures" have far more impact than words and I wanted to insure they'd not forget my message.

After my initial comments to open the meeting, I kept up chatter about the importance of preparation as I walked about the room, adjusting my clothing, then my equipment, step by step putting myself and things back together. The process took only ten minutes or so, to get what I needed on track, and then move on to the planned agenda.

I was quite pleased with the eventual outcome, especially when during a break a couple of attendees told me they thought my vivid approach to highlighting the importance of preparation was very helpful to them. All in all the whole session went quite well.

Later that evening, meeting over, I was relaxing with a refreshment when someone I knew quite well approached me and said hello. He'd been on a sales staff of mine for eight years, and was now working for my client. After a minute or two of small talk, he asked, "What happened, Mike? Miss your plane?"

After I innocently replied that "No" I hadn't missed my plane at all, I inquired as to why he thought that had happened. He replied that he'd known me for too long to ever believe that I'd walk into any business situation looking like I did when when I'd arrived that afternoon, object lesson or not. So, the only conclusion he'd reached was that I'd been railroaded into the meeting room, and scrambled an introduction to recover.

I finally acknowledged that he'd been right, I took the audience's time to set up, but it wasn't really my fault. He smiled when he told me that he certainly understood that it hadn't been unpreparedness that led to my recovery preamble, because he knew me too well. But, if it had been anyone else presenting that afternoon as I had, he'd have exposed them during the meeting.

So, looking back on it all, I guess the best compliment I ever got about my insistence on preparedness, came on the day I wasn't prepared at all.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, August 23, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/23/2010

I thought that after two entries I'd written enough about the 9/11 Mosque in NYC. But, this morning I came across a blurb about why Hollywood types have been so quiet about the subject.

The blurb suggests that most Hollywood folks are presently very upset with the president's support for the project, but to vent their feelings would ally them with Republicans. Since alliance with such horrible sorts would be worse than death, they've chosen instead, just to ignore the issue.

But I don't agree with that conclusion.

I think on balance most who've become "stars," don't have much of a worthy opinion on anything that takes thought, intellect, or study (except perhaps for scripts.) Because, as a practical matter, few of them do anything for, or by, themselves. Writers put words into their mouths, directors instruct them in everything they do, step by step taking control of their physical actions and emotions on stage or screen. So, since vocationally actor types are totally programmed by others, intelligence is not only not needed in movie actor types, free-thinking might actually cause occupational conflict and be a hindrance.

As far as off-screen activities go, they have maids, cooks, chauffeurs, valets, masseuses, hair stylists, make-up consultants, diction coaches, physical instructors and so on. Thus, none of them have the need to make any effort in the real world to do anything themselves at all.

What it all boils down to is folks who are occupationally programmed to go through their business lives functioning as robots, totally controlled by others and, in an everyday sense, doing neither real "work" or intellectualizing at all.

Consequently, I think their minds atrophy to a degree, perhaps significantly, because, surrounded by bosses on the work side and flunky serviles elsewhere, none of them really have to think for themselves at all.

From their perspective, then, since everything they want or need is provided in one way or another, whenever they want it, I think it's quite easy to see how these folks get an unrealistic view of how the world really works for most others. I can also surmise, and am relatively certain that although they may be out of touch regarding "real" jobs and the actual workplace, many of them do sense that perhaps, they're quite fortunate to amass the wealth they come into without effort. Therefore, it's likely a sense of guilt that underlies their liberalism, combined with a total ignorance of what's needed politically to maintain the country's status as the world's premiere nation.

While I haven't watched talk shows or daytime live programming in many, many years, my senses tell me that ten minutes of listening to any of these Hollywood types converse, as far as intellect or knowledge is concerned, will quickly prove my point.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/22/2010

TNBNT for a change.

That means I can add a bit to yesterday's subject.

This morning as my wife was watching the McLaughlin Group, I glanced at the screen and noticed that the discussion seemed quite heated. When I asked her what was being discussed, she told me is was the Mosque at Ground Zero.

Having watched that show in the past, though not for some time now, I know that the panelists are quite articulate, bright, well-informed people with very strong opinions regarding their positions on whatever subjects are discussed. And, I guess, today's discussion was no exception.

But I was surprised when my wife told me that these panelists, including the likes of John McLaughlin and Pat Buchanan, approached the Mosque discussion believing that the underlying arguments, pro and con, regarding the Mosque are about religion. These guys are much too smart for that. Because I'm not sure that this Mosque location argument has a thing to with religion at all. And that got me thinking about what the issue really is.

Part of the problem in the U.S. today is that very few people know or care much about our history in a specific sense. A world-changing event like World War II is memorialized in movies or TV shows, and veterans still around walk in parades, but as to how and why it happened, is another story and, today, it's little known.

Back then President Roosevelt didn't really want to get involved while the Nazis and Japanese were invading Europe and islands in the Pacific. He believed it wasn't our problem or our war. After all, we were oceans away from those fights. And, perhaps, in many ways he was right. But, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, that was the last straw and finally we retaliated.

My point however is, that for quite a long time before our entry to that war there were many early warning signs of what was ultimately coming down the pike. And we just sat back and let it happen because we were the home of free people and free thought and didn't get involved in other people's business, especially their fights. And whether or not any encroachment was really expected here by some, nobody did anything about it until it was almost too late.

Looking back on what caused our entry to WW II, it seems that because we sat on the sidelines, not wanting to get involved in other folks business, our non-participation was mis-construed by the Axis: Germany, Japan and Italy (you know, all those folks who now sell us cars, TV'S, food, clothes and travel tours) as an unwillingness or fear to fight. Of course, the Axis soon learned that we could only be pushed so far before all hell broke loose on them and we broke their spirits, backs, militaries, economies and anything else worth breaking at the time. Then we put it all back together so well that today, they're among the strongest nations in the world.

So, what if in the current situation we're being tested again. To see how far we can be pushed before getting upset. Or perhaps, it's assumed that it doesn't matter if we get upset, we've become pushovers once more. So, it's okay to build a religious site only yards from where we lost two symbols of American ingenuity, homogeneity, success and independence. Of course, I don't know that that's the case, so this is just a "What if?"

But if it isn't a "What if," and instead a world-wide message that two of our proudest symbols have been replaced by another culture's, I think that's a whole different ballgame and one to seriously consider.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/21/2010

Watching the news yesterday afternoon, I saw this blurb about Daisy Khan, the Imam’s wife, saying that moving the site of the proposed new Mosque at Ground Zero is not negotiable. I guess she was speaking for her husband, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who’s on a U.S. State Department paid trip to the Middle-East to promote peace and good will. You can look that up. I did.

Now, I have no political or religious axes to grind here, I just have some questions. Because I’m not familiar with Imam’s or their religion, or their beliefs. So, I’m just curious.

For instance, what is it about that particular location that makes moving this mosque somewhere else out of the question?

Does it have to do with being nearby the confluence of two rivers?

Does it have anything to do with monetary aspects of Islam? I mean is it extra-beneficial religion-wise to be near Wall Street?

Does it have to do with being in the eastern-most part of New York City?

There are lot’s of subway stops in that vicinity, so does it make it easier for the prayerful to get there?

There are also several Subway Stores around there. So, is it dietary in nature? I mean, are there Imam hero sandwiches that relate to religious icons and martyrs? I really don’t have a clue at all as to what those folks eat or why.

And, it also just dawned on me that Hillary Clinton’s the Secretary of State (I completely forgot about her these last two years.) So, since the State Department’s paying the Imam’s way on his peace trip, does this have anything to do with any of Hillary’s close Middle-Eastern friends, like Mrs. Arafat, who somehow escaped to parts unknown with two or three billion dollars, most of which was glommed from the U.S. Treasury by her husband Yasir, when Bill Clinton was in office?

That leads me to ask if any of those Mosque construction fund dollars went toward the Clinton’s new home in Westchester County? After all, the Clinton’s claim to be religious folks, so maybe the two constructions are spiritually related.

The more I type here the more I realize that these religious issues are very complex things. And, not knowing diddly about Islam put’s me at a great loss. But maybe some time when I’m up in an airplane, and closer to heaven, I’ll understand more clearly what all this means in a spiritual sense as I gaze down at the new Mosque. And I’ll certainly be able to see it clearly, because the World Trade Center's twin towers aren’t there anymore to block my view.

That’s it for today folks.


Friday, August 20, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/20/2010

TNBNT so here's another travel tale.

I was very fortunate as far as my business life went, because I advanced very quickly almost everywhere I worked. In fact, I reached a level where I wrote a book about how to sell successfully in my industry. The text was published by the American Management Association.

I gave the preamble because today's entry is to share why I think I succeeded so often and so fast. Because, text books or not, I only know one way to prevail. And it's simple -work harder than everyone else.

Hard work provides lot's of benefits in the end, because it allows lot's of room for error, and mistakes are by far the best way to learn. Because, no matter who does the telling or no matter how hard they try, most instructional input goes in one ear and out the other before you can blink. But when you make a mistake and have to pay the price yourself, you never forget the lesson.

Consequently, in my business life I put in humongous time on the job, and before and after hours too, and that left a wide, wide margin for errors. So, even though I'm quite sure I made many more mistakes than most others, I had so much good stuff going on I could afford them. Because, when mistakes are made by losers, the loser's gone in a heartbeat. Winners get another turn at bat.

And that brings me to a lesson about humble and arrogance I fortunately learned early on. My first regional managerial position covered the seaboard states from Massachusetts to Florida. At the time, I was a hotshot top producer in New York, and it was my fast growing production that caused the promotion.

Quite soon, a salesperson from Florida called informing me of a meeting he'd arranged with a prospect in Georgia concerning a whole plant full of equipment to be financed, and my sales guy asked me to meet him in Atlanta. I flew down on the appointed day and he drove to the prospect's office.

The drive took some time and after a pretty long while we were down to two lane roads and then much farther along, we reached a dirt lane, just about wide enough to accommodate a tractor-trailer. The lane was long and shouldered by thick towering pines. At the end of that lane there was this break in the forest, and before us stood one of the largest single story, state-of-the-art factories I'd ever seen. It was as if the river in Deliverance suddenly opened up into the Hudson River around Mid-town Manhattan. This place was functionally magnificent and huge.

In no time we were ushered into the president's office and seated on the visitor side of his ping-pong table sized desk. He greeted us cordially, told us his name was Billy Ray Bob Deacon Jones, asked if we wanted a refreshment of some kind and sat back, waiting to hear whatever we had to say.

Well, one look at the surroundings in this man's office, after the shock of encountering this magnificent structure when we'd arrived, my trigger-haired, street-trained instincts told me we were in the presence of an extremely successful and very, very busy man indeed, no time to waste here.

I flipped open a proposal we'd prepared for the meeting, spread it before him and began, I'm Mike from Leasco.... In, as they, less than a New York minute, I streamed out who my employer was, a brief history of the organization, the types of transactions we offered, who some of our major customers were, why I'd prepared the proposal I'd put on his desk and it's benefits to his organization, and assured him that although I believed what I'd already proposed in writing was best suited to his needs, we were flexible and open to other alternatives if need be.

If I must say so myself, looking back -my verbal presentation to him was complete, precise and functionally perfect.

When I finished, I sat back myself, smiled and asked Billy Ray Bob Deacon Jones if he had any questions. He smiled again himself, and said, "You're Mike who? And what was that thing you said about that Lee-Ass-Co stuff. What's that all about? And this paper thing here you gave me? Am I supposed to read this now or what? And, are we gonna' talk about the money I need, or what?"

Now, I know to this day that that sly fox heard, digested, thought through and could likely repeat from memory every word I'd said. But, this was his way of showing me that no fast-talking Yankee, especially one from the big apple was going to come in and slick talk him into any kind of a deal. And the way he did it had much more impact on me than if he'd just told me to slow down or shut up.

So, as I said in the beginning, That was one of those business life lessons that helped me every day for the rest of my career. It taught me to never judge books by their covers, never assume anything about others at all, and always let others lead the way until you're certain you're on sure ground. And always remember, as Casey Stengal, the Old Perfesser said, "As long as you're doin' the talkin', you sure ain't learnin' nothin."

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/19/2010

I'm tired of starting these entry's with comments about there being no news worth blogging about, and I'm sure readers are bored-and-a-half with having to re-read those same words every day. So, when there's no news, I'm not going to type, "There's No Blogworthy News Today." In the future, I'll just keystroke TNBNT and move on.

Since my current theme's been about travel, I'll add another vignette to the list.

A fast growing organization I was with and mentioned before, was opening offices around the country at a very fast pace. To populate them, we promoted and relocated employees willing to move, providing them great opportunity. And in order to bolster skills and proficiency, we emphasized training and networking.

As our employment rolls increased, and new folks joined us quite often, local managers trained and evaluated their personnel frequently, conducting the sessions themselves. As a result, particular subjects concentrated upon most were overhead and expenses, because each office operated under it's own P&L. Performance evaluations and measures of productivity were also significant items when offices themselves were reviewed at the corporate level.

As likely expected, because of our growth pace, it became more difficult to relocate trained personnel. First because many didn't wish to move and second, there were only so many we could afford to transfer at particular skill levels because they were critical to the positions currently held.

Thus, one morning I arrived at a newer office in Los Angeles, to spend a day or two on the road accompanying sales personnel on calls, one of the ways our personnel and managers evaluated each other and developed familiarity.

On this particular day a newly-hired young lady drove me around all afternoon making several stops at prospects and customers, then at six or seven o'clock said something like, "That was my last call for today, so I'll drop you off at your hotel." I told her that would be fine, and off we went.

In a while we arrived in an area that looked somewhat run-down to me. Not knowing LA all that well, I had no idea at all as to where we were. Then the car slowed down to a crawl, but didn't quite stop. And the next thing I knew the young lady told me that the building we were edging past was my hotel, and suggested I get out, open the back door and grab my overnight bag and attache case. I reached in, grabbed my stuff and as soon as I closed the car door, her car squealed away in a cloud of tire smoke.

The place I stayed in that night was so seedy and run down I couldn't believe it. I didn't sleep at all because I was sure that Anthony Perkins was going to show up in his mother's wig with a carving knife like in Psycho, whether I took a shower or not.

But at least they had a complimentary breakfast next morning. There was a pile of cardboard trays of sticky-buns on top of the cigarette machine in the corner near the bullet-proof glass, iron-barred cashier's window. There was no lobby or furniture for guests. The tops of the buns stuck to the bottom of the tray that had rested upon it. And, the coffee came only one way. Pre-poured half-cups fifty percent of which was evaporated milk, in cardboard containers that looked like they'd been used before.

I checked out, went outside, and the same young lady who'd dropped me off the previous night arrived at the front of the hotel on time. Once again, she didn't come to a complete stop, so I trotted along next to her car, opened the passenger door, tossed my luggage in the back, and as I sat down, she peeled off again.

With curiosity driving me crazy, when she slowed down to normal speed I politely asked her who'd made my hotel reservation. She smiled and proudly told me that she had. I asked if she known anything about the place before booking my room. She said "No", she'd selected the place purely because after quite some time on the phone, it was the absolute lowest-priced she could find, and she assured me, she'd really done a lot of research.

Hearing her answer, I asked why she'd gone to all that trouble to find the cheapest place in California. Her reply was that, after all, I was some honcho from corporate and if one of the most important things was P&L, she wasn't about to be responsible for spending the company's money for a visitor to stay the night in some glitzy over-priced palace. She believed she'd handled my accommodations precisely by the corporate book.

I sat back, and smiled to myself, appreciating what she'd done. Because, to this day I'm still not certain of what transpired. Did she sincerley believe she was doing what was expected of her while making my hotel reservation in a neighborhood so bad she'd been afraid to stop her car for two minutes, or was she simply using the "manual" to hoist me on my own corporate petard?

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/18/2010

I added Nancy Pelosi to yesterday's entry simply because I'd mentioned the president and Harry Reid because of the perceived power of the offices they hold. Since she too, holds a supposedly powerful office, I threw her name in. Now, that has nothing to do with her personally at all, but she presently holds a powerful seat.

Then, in describing her I wrote "l think of her as some rinky-dink weasel politician who looks like an emaciated Chihuahua, and likely allergic to Wheaties, red meat and exercise, and I don't think the Oakland Raiders are going to be drafting her at middle-linebacker any too soon. I mean, this housewife whose husband's pockets are deep looks like the closest she's ever come to power is when she plugs in her shaver."

In reading that back yesterday before posting my entry, I thought I'd done a pretty good job of describing her, and so I left it alone. Then today, surfing the news, I found a comment from her about the proposed new mosque in Manhattan, where she said that those opposed to the construction are part of a conspiracy whose basis is anti-Muslim, anti-religion, anti-Democrat and Auntie Mame. Going on to suggest that she feels there should be an inquiry to uncover who's behind this nefarious scheme (nefarious is my word, not hers. The only two long words she knows are congressional investigation) and have them brought up on charges for trying to stop the construction.

So, now having read her comment today, I've concluded that my description of her yesterday was wrong. Because, I made her look better than she really is. And, beyond that, what I wrote is inadvertently insulting and demeaning to rinky-dinks, weasels, and Chihuahua's who are considerably higher up the status ladder than she is. So, for that, I apologize to them.

That leaves me some space for one more flying tale. A few years ago, I started a consulting business and sent out a flyer describing my services. Within only a few days, someone contacted me from a financial subsidiary of an industrial giant. In almost no time we worked out a proposed presentation agenda for a sales meeting he was planning. We did the whole thing by phone and never met in person.

A day or two later, the gentleman called again and asked if I was willing to travel to their meeting, it was not going to take place in their headquarters office. I replied that I surely would, after all my travel expenses were charged to the client. He said, okay to the expense charge, and then asked if I was free for next Thursday, When I responded that that would be fine, he asked if I minded going all the way to Hawaii, because the meeting was going to be held in Maui.

I flew out Wednesday afternoon and with the time changes, I think I arrived before I left. But the next thing I knew, I was standing in front of a large group of guys in flowered shirts and working down an agenda of topics regarding selling financial services. Then, in what seemed like almost no time, I was again on an aircraft headed back to New York. I think the whole gig took less than 30 hours, round trip, and I don't remember sleeping at all. In fact, because of the immediate turn-around, I didn't even reserve a hotel room.

Now, I've been to Hawaii several times, and enjoyed every minute there, but for me, this meeting could have been held in a hotel in Newark because the sights and sounds of this island paradise were never seen or enjoyed by me.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/17/2010

If I was editor of The New York Times, I'd really have a problem trying to get out editions these days. Because their motto -All The News That Fits, We Print- is almost impossible to live up to this summer. It just seems that day after day, there's simply no news anyone cares about. But then again, nobody cares about the Times either, so I guess it's a wash.

While looking for blogworthy items this morning, though, I came across a very disturbing article. It seems that Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, is at odds with the president as to whether a mosque be built nearby ground zero in New York. Now, I'm sure that the argument about erecting the mosque will go on for some time, and regardless of the conclusion, the issue will likely fester for years to come, because neither side will ever be pleased with the outcome.

But, it wasn't the mosque argument that disturbed me. What got to me was, in the article the writer described Reid as the second most powerful person in America, right behind the president himself. Now, I've seen Harry Reid many times and never given him a second thought, in fact, I don't recall ever giving him a first thought. But, perusing the article made me re-think, because, of course, the author's correct -Harry Reid indeed has some political clout.

Now, if you'd asked me yesterday what I thought of Harry Reid, I'd have said he's some rinky-dink weasel politician who looks like an emaciated Chihuahua, and likely allergic to Wheaties, red meat and exercise, and I don't think the Oakland Raiders are going to be drafting him at middle-linebacker any too soon. I mean, this guy looks like the closest he's ever come to power is when he plugs in his shaver.

But, it shows you how wrong I can be. Because as it turns out to be, he is someone who has enormous power but only looks like some rinky-dink weasel politician who looks like an emaciated Chihuahua, and likely allergic to Wheaties, red meat and exercise, and I don't think the Oakland Raiders are going to be drafting him at middle-linebacker any too soon. I mean, this guy looks like the closest he's ever come to power is when he plugs in his shaver.

Having straightened out my erroneous perception of Harry Reid, I'll move forward to Nancy Pelosi who, I guess, is the third most powerful person in the U.S. So, that means I'll have to reconsider her too. But regardless of her post as House Speaker, I still think of her as some rinky-dink weasel politician who looks like an emaciated Chihuahua, and likely allergic to Wheaties, red meat and exercise, and I don't think the Oakland Raiders are going to be drafting her at middle-linebacker any too soon. I mean, this housewife whose husband's pockets are deep looks like the closest she's ever come to power is when she plugs in her shaver.

Now, having gotten my governmental perceptions corrected, I feel much better. And, I truly hope that if Reed and Pelosi do turn to football this fall when they're both out of work, that the Oakland Raiders do take them. because, I sure as shooting don't want to see either one on the Jets.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, August 16, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/16/2010

I'm a very confused blogger. It seems that, somehow, the posting dates on my last two entry's crossed and one was lost altogether. So, yesterday's entry is actually today's, and yesterday's is gone completely.

Worse yet, I don't remember yesterday's exactly, so I have to start from scratch. Since that's the case, just a short entry on how airlines really work (or don't.)

My wife and I were in Florida, or maybe Puerto Rico, or the Bahamas's, or wherever but it was a short hop, flightwise, back to New York on Eastern Airlines. It was a few years ago, yet there were often departure delays even then and we were more or less used to them.

On this particular day, our flight was held for quite a long time, close to two hours as I recall. Though we hadn't inquired as to what the delay was about, because, bottom line it didn't matter -a late departure was a late departure, case closed, somehow, someone who knew told us why we were being help up.

It turned out that, according to our informant, an Eastern employee, that Frank Lorenzo, Eastern's chairman was going to be on board and he was running late. Thus, they were waiting for him.

I moaned and groaned remarking that for a guy like that they could fly him privately or add another later flight to their schedule, but I thought it was criminal that we were going to get home late ourselves because of this turkey's delaying us. To that I was told not to worry.

The employee said something like "Don't worry about your arrival time in New York, that will surely be on schedule. It's only takeoff that's delayed. They'll fly straight through once he gets here; meaning no waiting for airfcraft in front of you for departure or circling before landing once you reach New York. And there's lots more room than we've used in the scheduled departure times for situations like this. In fact, if the pilot really opens the throttles, and wastes a little fuel for Mr. Lorenzo, you still might arrive early."

And that's exactly what happened. We arrived on time, no problems, just like the Eastern employee had told us, regardless of how late we left. So, here's a tip from an experienced air traveler for those of you who fly a lot. Always make reservations on flights where the carrier's chairman's on board. I guarantee you, you'll never arrive late again.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/15/2010

Aside from politicians scrambling all over the place to avoid the press and party affiliations, there's still not very much news. It also doesn't seem like any other flight attendants have attempted to jump airship, so the world's a pretty boring place at the moment.

I guess that means I need to fill in with another airborne story. I was on my way to New Orleans from LaGuardia early one evening, for a trade show, or maybe Tulane University Medical School, a financing customer of mine back then, I really don't remember exactly which.

Anyway, I was sitting in back in the smoking section and after a while in the air a lovely older woman sat down next to me in a vacant seat. I quickly glanced at her as she lit a cigarette, and then I said something like, "How are you, Mrs. Staub."

The woman looked at me suspiciously and replied with, "Do I know you, young man, you really don't look familiar." I immediately told that no, she indeed didn't know me, but I certainly knew who she was, because she'd been on television many times that very afternoon, and I remembered her from that. She was quite taken aback by my explanation, and seemed not only completely surprised by what I'd told her, but having difficulty accepting my answer.

What had transpired was, that afternoon was Rusty Staub day at Shea Stadium, commemorating his days as a Met's player and baseball analyst and his Mom who'd flown up for the occasion, was now returning home. However, even with her face on the huge Diamondvision screen in right center field frequently all afternoon, she'd been unaware of how many times they'd shown her image on TV.

Once she'd heard my explanation, she really was somewhere between embarrassed by the publicity, yet thrilled with her newfound celebrity status. So, after she finished a smoke or two, she asked me to accompany her to the front of the cabin where her seat was, whereupon we stopped at a bar cart in the middle of the aisle.

Next to the cart were two or three guys, one of whom was Ray Knight, former Met's third baseman. A woman in a seat beside the spot where Knight was standing was Nancy Lopez, his wife and perhaps the best woman professional golfer that ever lived. She'd accompanied Knight to New York and along with them was a nanny and the Knight's infant child.

Mrs. Staub smiled at me and told me that she'd thought it nice of me to tell her about her unknowing TV appearance, and suspected I'd be pleased to meet a couple of her friends. I assured her that she was absolutely correct, and then to prove my point, I spent the rest of the flight with her, the Knights and their friends around the bar cart making that one of my most pleasant evenings in the air.

And, as for the attendants on that flight as I recall, except for refilling the ice bucket when needed, they left us and the cart full of booze completely alone.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/14/2010

It's a good that I have lot's of stories, because there sure ain't no news worth typing about.

Aside from that, I've got a lot of business stuff going on, so there's not too much blogging time today. But, I do have a short story about a long flight.

Way back when I first flew coast-to-coast, I was heading to Los Angeles (LAX) from Newark accompanied by two of my salespeople. We were on our way to attend a week of meetings run by our employer, The Bank of Virginia.

Our flight originated in Newark, NJ flying non-stop to California. I don't recall which airline it was, but am pretty sure it was United or TWA. At that time both were very good airlines.

Our group was in coach, and we left mid-morning. And, for whatever reason, there weren't many others in our cabin, maybe fifteen or twenty all told in a good sized plane. DC8 perhaps or an early model 727.

There were two stewardesses in coach that morning, and we soon found out that neither had ever been to the West Coast. They were friends and flew short eastern hops, like Pittsburgh-New York, Chicago-New York or something like that -two hour flight times at the most. Their plan was to fly out together and take a few days off in California.

Since this was their first long trip west, they were quite excited themselves. Especially since back then the pilots always told you where you were by announcing things like, "We're just coming up on Pittsburgh, it's on your right." So, the further west we flew the more hepped up the stews got because this was all new to them. Several times, if things were slow, they'd actually move into an empty row and look out the window.

When my guys and I realized this, I made a suggestion to the stewardesses. I told them we weren't the types who needed constant attention, so If they wanted to look down at whatever we'd fly over, that was fine with us. Except, we'd really appreciate it if they'd leave the bar cart in the aisle, and we'd simply help our selves. They readily agreed.

Needless to say that was a very pleasant flight for all of us, even the other twelve or so passengers who soon joined our little party. In fact, there was one guy two of us had to carry off the aircraft in LAX. He was totally wasted.

The only other thing I remember is how me and my guys clinked as we walked down the Jetway leaving the plane, because, naturally, we couldn't possibly have finished all that booze by ourselves in that period of time. So we filled our pockets with those little bottles as best we could, because later on we planned to do some flying on our own.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, August 13, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/13/2010

The new American folk hero Steven Slater, a flight attendant who chastised an unmanageable passenger over the plane's intercom, grabbed a couple of beers from the galley and then slid down the escape ramp from a parked aircraft at Kennedy Airport reminded me of another story.

Several years ago, during my intensive flying days I was waiting for a flight in Atlanta? Chicago? Cincinnati? Detroit? St. Louis?, I really don't remember. I do recall that we were headed for LaGuardia in New York.

White waiting, an announcement informed us that departure would be delayed for a half-hour, not an unusual occurrence by any means. I had learned long ago that delays were to be expected and frequently happened for all kinds of reasons: weather, equipment problems, a late arriving plane that was to be serviced and then re-boarded, air traffic jams overloading the arrival runways causing landing back-ups, and so on.

What my travels had taught me was, to expect waits for boarding and to bring along things to occupy my time. Ordinarily that included a briefcase full of business items needing attention, and when my work was done, crossword puzzle books. At the time I was a New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle fanatic. I prided myself on completing the puzzles in ink (almost always) and finishing them in one sit-down ASAP.

Somewhere along the line someone had given me a pile of spiral bound Times puzzle books holding 50 puzzles each as I recall. The first thing I'd do is tear out the answer pages in the back, to eliminate any chance of my wearing down and peeking should I not know, for example, the three letter Urdu word for micro-biology.

Anyway, on the afternoon in question, after the original 30 minutes of delay went by and there was still no sign of boarding activity at the gate, a man approached the gate agent and asked when the flight would board. The agent picked up the microphone and announced that there'd be another wait of a half hour or so. The passenger grumbled, and returned to his seat.

Twenty minutes or so later, two or three men approached the agent's desk, asking somewhat louder when they could expect to take off. The agent picked up the microphone once more, then announced another delay of however long. During all that time I'd sat in a quiet corner, working my crossword puzzles, trying to drown out the surrounding noise.

In time, the crowd of passengers around the agent's desk kept increasing. The original man, his two compatriots and now a cadre of others, each moaning, groaning and informing the agent of how important they were, how miserably they were being treated by being made to wait like this -they all had things to do do, places to go, people to see on the other end. They grew noisier by the minute. The gate agent announced another delay.

Overall, I don't remember how long boarding was delayed all told, but it was certainly a couple of hours. Then of course, once we'd all boarded there was a wait to push back from the gate, and then a long queue of other aircraft for take-off. So, naturally, there was a lot more loud complaining from the upset passenger group throughout the aircraft. Through all of that, I sat in my window seat, body angled away from the passengers in my aisle, and kept quietly working my puzzles.

In time of course we took off, flew to New York and deplaned at LaGuardia. As I was walking down the hall, toward the exit, the original complainant stepped alongside me and said something like, "Excuse me, but I saw you in the waiting lounge before we took off. And, during that whole time, with all of us trying to get on board and out of there you never even looked our way or said a word to anyone about it. How come?"

I took hold of his upper arm, pulled him along and said, "Come with me." I entered a men's room, still holding his arm (back then you could do things like that and not get arrested) and stopped in front of a big mirror. I said, "Where are you?"
He answered, "A men's room."
"No, No." I replied, "I mean, what city?"
He answered, "New York."
"Okay," I said, "And where am I?"
"New York," was his answer.

Then I went on to say, "Well now, let's look at us both. You're clothes are a wrinkled mess, your hair looks like a bird's nest, your shirts half out of your slacks, a button or two are missing and you look like you haven't slept in a month. And you did all that to yourself by ranting, raving and jumping up and down about a situation totally out of your control in an airport. Meantime, I'm neat, clean and spiffy and am going to meet my wife right now for dinner. As for you, no restaurant on earth would let you in without you taking a shower and changing your clothes, and for all that you accomplished zip, zero, nada, nothing at all."

The point of all this is, that flight attendants, gate agents, even pilots and crews who have little or nothing to do with determining when flights arrive or take off, take heaps of abuse from a public that is either unknowing, uninformed, uncaring or all three. So, in that regard, I think it's a good thing that Steven Slater did what he did. If others like him follow suit, maybe the quality of air travel will improve for all of us passengers.

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/12/2010

If no news is still good news, then the news is really, really good -because there's absolutely no news at all. So that means I can type some more about flying.

While this entry isn't really about flying itself, it does involve aircraft. Back a few years ago a National Sales Manager of the company I was with called me excitedly at our home office in Massachusetts. He was located in Tampa, FL and had just secured an appointment with a National Manager for Canon, USA -the copier people. Our guy wanted me to come to that meeting.

Canon was located in Lake Success on Long Island in New York and the appointment was for the following day. I flew down from Logan in Boston, our guy, Randy F., flew up from Tampa and I met him in LaGuardia Airport. Together, Randy and I rented a car and drove to Lake Success. No pun intended, we had a very successful meeting and won the account.

The meeting ended around noon, and the Canon person, Bill J., suggested lunch. He picked up our business cards from his desk, looked at them and then told us that since we were both from out of town, he'd take us to a real "New York" deli because you couldn't get food like that anywhere else in the U.S.

We got in Bill's car and he drove us into Great Neck, the next town, and then took us into Bruce's, a fine establishment of it's type for sure.

Now, unbeknownst to Bill J., I lived in Great Neck and at that time had been there for more than twenty years. However, I'd never relocated to Massachusetts when I took my current job. I commuted by air every week. So, what Bill had unknowingly done was taken me to a restaurant that was less than a mile from my house.

Not wanting to rain on Bill's parade, because he was so proud of the spot he'd picked for lunch, I said nothing about the fact that I'd passed this place about five thousand times already while driving in town, and even been there twice before. But I hadn't gone back, because, as deli's go -I didn't think it really was too good.

But then, I guess Bill J. didn't realize it but deli-wise, he too was from the sticks. Because I was born and raised in Manhattan, and that's where the real and only "DELI'S" are. There's the Stage, the Carnegie, and even Wolf's. But the Mecca's Katz's on Houston Street, certainly the best deli in New York and likely on the planet.

Katz's is where Billy Crystal took Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, one of the best New York scenes ever filmed. In fact, you can see it for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-bsf2x-aeE

Back years ago I went to Katz's often, sometimes making the trip from uptown where I lived, just to get a hot dog. The sauerkraut alone was worth the drive. Later on, when crossing town from the East River Drive to the Holland Tunnel, or vice-versa a quick stop at Katz's was always worth going a few blocks out of my way.

Today I think the only things that's really changed is the size of the sandwiches. Even in the Harry Met Sally clip they look kind of small. Because, way back when, it took practice to figure out how to take bites, because the amount of whatever you'd ordered, corned beef, roast beef, turkey, pastrami or anything else was immense.

So, in all due deference to Bill J. from Canon, who'd truly done his best to impress us, I'm certain that lunch at Bruce's wasn't worth my round trip flights from Boston. But, if he'd called me in Boston and suggested meeting at Katz's in the first place, I'd have walked down if I had to, but I certainly would have shown up.

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/11/2010

It seems there's some outrage over the House deciding that the best choice for spending $12 billion of the $26 billion of taxpayer's money they came back early from vacation to re-allocate, (Vacation from what, I wonder? What on earth do these people really do?) is to take the funds from those needing food to survive and giving it to people who're losing jobs because they're either not needed, poor performers, or both.

Either way the incumbents think they'll make out best, because even if the one's who should have gotten the money for food decide to revolt, they'll likely die of starvation before election day while the new recipients guarantee 160,00 sure votes in November. Looks like a slam-dunk win/win idea for shaky incumbent Congresspeople to me.

It's no wonder that even Michael Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary thinks these folks are on the way out of office and likely beyond hope or help.

Then there's the flight attendant who flipped out yesterday and jumped off the plane at Kennedy Airport in New York. I was truly surprised. What surprised me though, was not that he bailed out, but that it doesn't happen more often. Because, what flight attendants have to put up with today is beyond belief, and I wonder how they can take the abuse and disrespect heaped on them by brain-dead, often stoned or inebriated passengers, loud mouths, boors and best of all, unmanned, unmanageable, spoiled-rotten kids, and not go berserk.

I traveled significantly over thirty years for business reasons. I have no idea how many flights I've taken. For seven of those years, my "home" office was in Framingham, Massachusetts, but I resided on Long Island in New York. Therefore, I flew back and forth roughly 85% of those weeks, or approximately 618 flights. Since we had twenty five other offices across the country, if not flying to Massachusetts, the other weeks, I flew somewhere else. That's another 110 flights, including vacations.

While the other twenty-three years or so weren't so flight intensive, there were still plenty of trips, so let's say they averaged 10 a year. That adds another 460 flights to my total. My arithmetic tells me that's 1,188 flights all told.

I mention it because, having flown that much I've seen a lot on airplanes and have an understanding of what flight attendants put up with, especially today. Years ago for example, air travel was proportionally much more expensive than today. So, without trying to sound elitist, pompous or naive, those who flew were likely more socially sophisticated, the majority business people. And, it's not that these folks with some bucks can't get stoned, tanked or otherwise totally obnoxious, because they certainly can and do. But, back then, they didn't often do it on airplanes.

Beyond that, except for business folks who flew routinely, flying was an "event" for most others. People actually dressed for flights as if the trip was an occasion. So, when the stewardesses (this was pre-"Flight Attendant,") gave their orientation speech before take-off, people actually listened.

Over the years, not only has the cost of air travel reduced, but there are more aircraft, more airports and an incredible number of flights. Thus, the law of averages alone says, the bozo probability among passengers has become immense. There are passengers flying today who shouldn't be allowed within twenty feet of another human being, much less sitting in a crowded aircraft.

And while there are many stories of flights I've been on where strange, funny or scary events took place, I'll get to those in later blogs. But, after providing some background of where my opinion of air travel stems from, I think the attendant on the flight from Kennedy should have thrown the passenger down the chute and then had a beer himself. And, had I been on board, I would have helped him.

That's it for today folks.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/10/2010

As I seem to begin more and more often lately, there are some things you couldn't make up because they're just too far out to even dream of. And then, Congress comes along and outdoes the ridiculous.

I mentioned yesterday, the House was called back from vacation to vote on a $26 billion education bill. They claim the funds are already on hand and will not raise taxes, saying it's just a reallocation of how the money's spent. But, aside from the fact that Congress always raises taxes, it's amazing (or politically brilliant) who they're going to short-change to free up the funds -a cut to food stamps benefits and a tax increase on some multinational companies based in the United States.

The last time I looked, very few folks on food stamps voted at all, and foreign nationals can't vote period (unless they become Senators and then President of the U.S.) In the meantime, this is being done at a time when fiscal restraint is being touted in most political campaigns.

So, why would responsible representatives of the people play this economic shell game at a time of financial crisis like this? Well, let's look at who benefits. According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, "This bill will help keep 160,000 teachers around the country in the classroom as we start school the next couple weeks rather than on the unemployment line."

Now, we all know teachers can't teach worth a hoot, but they all do tend to vote.

In summary then, in this bill congress will spend $26 billion dollars of taxpayer's money to insure 160,000 likely Democrat votes. If my calculator's right that's $162,500 per vote and seems about right. Teachers probably do average $162,500 a year for baby-sitting six to eight hours a day, nine months a year. During the other three months, students are free to go elsewhere, camp, study-groups, travel, or simply staying at home where they'll likely actually learn something.

All in all though, at this point it looks like it's going to take more than buying 160,000 votes to save these Congressfolks. But, although they'll still be outvoted in landslides around the country, losing an election doesn't seem to be enough. There should be some sort of real penalty for the gross misuse of their offices, much less taxpayers funds. Then again, maybe Charlie Rangel and Blagojevich are just the first steps, and perhaps we'll see droves of them locked up. But, if that actually happens, I pity whoever winds up sharing a cell with Pelosi.

That's it for today folks.


Monday, August 9, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/9/2010

Nothing at all worth typing about in the news, except for the House being called back from vacation early, expressly to vote for throwing another $26 billion of taxpayers money down the education chute. Between teachers being paid for no earthly reason I can dream of, because not one of them's worth a dime and the lawyers bleeding health care dry, what's left of ours for Congress to give away? Oops! I almost forgot, we pay those turkey politico's livelihood too.

But, now back to something important. I did that write-up about ipods yesterday, and that got me to thinking about music in general. And, as I mentioned, unless something really important conflicted, for many, many, years my wife and I were out in a restaurant and then in a nightclub in NYC on most Saturday nights.

Of them all, I think the best club was Sirocco. As I mentioned, the theme was Middle-Eastern. The owner, Ari San a Cypriot, had been a big-time recording star in Israel, Cyprus, and Europe and then came here with his four piece band. We stumbled across the place because my in-laws, both of whom loved to dance, were with us one night in a club in the city called Dionysus on 49th Street (I think), also Greek-Mediterranean. My in-laws ran into someone there that they knew, and he suggested we try Sirocco.

At that time, I knew nothing about Middle-Eastern music, traditions or anything else. I was in the equipment financing business then and a potential client, let's call him George D., sought financing for a couple of tanker ships, to bring oil here from overseas. Almost every time we met, sooner or later he'd get me to accompany him to Dionysus, and we'd sit and talk. When the music started, we'd both sit back and listen a while, then George would apologetically say he'd "dragged me there because he loved the music" and then he'd pay the check so we could leave. And that, as I said, eventually led us to Sirocco

After we began going to Sirocco regularly, we learned more about the music, traditions and protocols of Mediterranean life. And, over time, we were accepted as what would be called "regular" customers. One of the benefits of regularity was where we were seated. At first we generally wound up in a low balcony, quite a ways from the dance floor, and although the club wasn't huge, it wasn't small either. So, a trip to the dance floor was, frankly, a pain in the neck. Especially since this was Manhattan and the place was extremely popular. So, there were lots of folks between us and the dance floor.

In time, we worked our way up to a regular table for six right next to the dance floor, across the way from the entrance so people didn't trip all over us entering and leaving the club, and about ten feet from center stage. If we stood up we could easily have joined the entertainers. And, unless we were being joined by more than four other people, we never had to call for a reservation, because we were always expected.

The few times my wife and myself were really late in arriving, Mike E., the Maitre'D, gave our table away as he should have. Since we didn't call, how was he to know if we weren't coming and he had plenty of pleading customers to seat? And, that table, even back then, was probably worth a twenty to fifty buck tip, depending on who he chose to seat there. So, when we finally did show up after all, he apologized for letting our table go and brought out another one from storage and set it up right on the corner of the dance floor, in front of some other high-roller. But, that's what friends are for, and in time, Mike E. turned out to be a great one.

The headline entertainer was Ari San himself, accompanied by three others, a guitarist, a bass and a drummer. Unbeknownst to us at first was that Ari's style was unusual. Most Greek and Mediterranean music includes a Bouzouki, kind of a watermelon-shaped, big mandolin with six or eight strings. But Ari played the electric guitar. So even though he played the same songs as most similar musicians, he sounded completely different. And, as he aged his voice became richer, producing an incredible sound. If you want, you can listen to some of his hits at: www.last.fm/music/Aris+San/+videos/+1-IzBoFYMoR2k (Sorry, you have to copy and paste in into your browser, I couldn't find a link.)

Aside from Aris San, the headliner, most evenings included other instrumentalists and singers, most of them pleasurable even though they were more traditional in style and not as entertaining to us as was Ari. And then, there always a belly dancer on Saturday nights. While I can honestly say, belly dancing wasn't my thing and I truly thought it was boring because I'd have much rather have danced to that music myself than watch somebody else, some nights were truly amusing.

In most Mediterranean clubs, if audiences like particular entertainers, or songs or whatever, the tradition is to throw plates. Customers buy stacks of china from their waiters, then toss them at those they enjoy (they toss the plates, not the waiters.) But not in Sirocco. The tradition here was cash. Customers would exchange tens, twenty's, fifties or hundreds for singles then toss the bills either at the entertainers themselves or fling them across the dance floor. Afterward, a sweeper would brush all the bucks into a pile, pack it in a plastic bag and give the bag to whomever had entertained.

Now, when my son was younger, and he, or he and his similar aged cousin, accompanied us to a party at Sirocco, the kids quickly caught on. At four, five and six years old they'd duck under the table and snatch up thrown dollars that landed there out of sight. Sometime later they even figured out to hide their stashes, because they knew if we caught them, they'd have to throw it all back on the dance floor.

I'm sure as I sit here typing that in time, lot's of Sirocco stories will come back to memory, like the times Telly Savalas, Anthony Quinn (Zorba the Mexican)or Mayor Koch showed up. But for now I've got to stop, because I just figured out how to download itunes from Apple into my PC. So, I guess my wife's ipod is safe from theft for now, because I no longer need it. In fact, I'm listening to Tom Jones on my desk speakers as I write.

That's it for today folks.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/8/2010

A few days ago, my son gave my wife an ipod to be used during her morning walks. I wasn't aware of their discussions about the ipod itself, or its programming. I also know absolutely nothing, zip, nada, zilch, zero about ipods at all, and don't think I've ever seen one before. But, I guess my wife decided she wanted some upbeat tunes in the thing to help her keep up her walking pace.

Anyway, yesterday or the day before I saw this little thing on the kitchen table, put on the tiny earphones and figured out how to get it playing. And, I couldn't believe my ears. That square inch or so of technology blew me away. Song after song, artist after artist playing their top hits in outstanding sound -it's gangbusters!
That little gadget's amazing.

At this point, I guess a little background is needed to describe the ipod's impact on me. As I've mentioned before, sports broadcasters in general and most news analysts got me into watching most TV with the sound off and into just reading the crawlers and blurbs. Topping that off is a very serious couple of medical bouts I went through that, for some reason, made me hyper-sensitive to sound in general, so I never turn the radio on at all, even to listen to music.

During the last few months, however, I've noticed a lessening sensitivity to sound, so I've turned an FM music station on a couple of times and am perhaps bridging my way back to listening to radio music again. And, I guess, that's why I picked the ipod up in the first place, just to try it out.

And, now that I've tried it, I think I may be hooked. Because, back a while ago my wife and I used to go out a lot. In fact, for about forty years, or so, we went to nightclubs in the city every Saturday night, and many Friday nights too.

There was one place, Sirocco, on 29th street just off Madison Avenue, where we practically lived for twenty years or so, and spent most of that time on the dance floor. The music was Middle-Eastern, which I knew nothing about then, nor do I know anything about now. But, what I do know is the sound. You can't just sit in your chair when it's played. You HAVE to get up and dance. When the place finally closed, that was the end of that kind of music for me, and to this day I still haven't a clue about the songs, the singers or anything else, I only remember dancing to whatever they played and staying in the club til' closing time.

And that brings my story back to the new ipod. When I put it on, the first thing I heard was Donna Summer's "Dim All the Lights." In a couple of seconds I was spinning around the kitchen, hooked by the beat and the tune. Then came, Billy Joel, Tina Turner, Tom Jones, Peter Frampton, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, and on and on.

Anyone looking in my window would likely have called the cops. Because, here's this guy disco-stepping and twirling across his floor all alone at ten o'clock in the morning. And, not only is he solo, there's no music to be heard because they wouldn't have seen my ear pods or whatever they're called, those things are so tiny they're practically invisible. So, no doubt it, from a peeping Tom's point of view, I definitely should have been locked up.

Right now, I have no clue as to where all this will lead as far as me and sound goes. All I do know is, the music generated by that microscopic thing is great. So, perhaps my aversion and symptomatic stages may be over. And, as far as my wife goes, I hope she and my son can find another ipod, because pretty soon as sure as I'm sitting here typing, I don't think she's going to get this one back.

That's it for today folks.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/7/2010

A couple of days ago, I used the term double-speak in an entry when addressing something or other that politico's were talking about. This morning I think I came across what has to be at least triple-speak regarding how bailout fund recipients are paying off their donors and those in office who supported the bailout concept. As usual, the column was buried among others, as if inconsequential.

Here's the first couple of paragraphs of what I read. "Several companies that escaped financial failure two years ago through massive taxpayer-funded bailouts are spending millions of dollars to make donations to political causes and even some candidates' campaigns.

General Motors, Chrysler and Citigroup are just three of the biggest bailout recipients who have continued to remain politically active, through their political action committees, federal lobbying or direct donations to the pet projects of lawmakers."

Now, not all bailoutees are proceeding that way, but seem to have some sense of decency because according to the same article, "The potential public relations disaster for firms spending big dollars on political causes and federal lobbying after being extended a taxpayer lifeline has led some, such as AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to suspend their political activities until they pay the government back in full."

The way the paybacks are being packaged and sold defends them in some cases as simply efforts to form groups whereby employees voluntarily support political causes, or that federal lobbying is needed to keep Congress informed of their mission, and also that donations to pet projects are going to a good cause.

Critics though, doubt the logic. GM for example has spent $4.2 million on federal lobbying efforts so far, and likely to ultimately match its $8.4 million in 2009. Yet taxpayers own 61 percent of GM because the federal government gave the company about $50 billion in aid. GM's paid back $6.7 billion of the money, the balance converted to ownership.

Chrysler, another bailee, spent $1.2 million on lobbying this year, nearly half of the $3.12 million it spent last year. Chrysler has given back $2 billion of the $11 billion it has received from the government.

Citigroup's returned $31 billion of the $45 billion received from government. This year they've spent $3.03 million on federal lobbying, while last year, they laid out $5.56 million.

Now, in the scheme of things, a couple of million dollars laid out by major corporations is practically a non-event. I mean, who cares if these folks spend some bucks on candidates and their causes. But, the key point here is, it's not these corporations money being spent, it's ours. Because, without the taxpayer bailouts, these businesses would no longer exist.

So, what do we have here. As usual government has stepped in and given away taxpayer money to businesses that may or may not deserve to survive, then they've taken back their share in kickbacks disguised as donations to causes. Naturally, at the moment the donations aren't too large, but the way's been paved and future paybacks are certain to grow.

And where does the taxpayer, you and me, stand while all this goes quietly on? On the sidelines as usual, watching our dollars go back and forth over or under the net, because we're not in the actual game at all. Beyond that, not only don't the players want us in their events, they don't even want us to watch what goes on.

That's it for today folks.


Friday, August 6, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/6/2010

After reading back yesterday's entry,I thought that perhaps there ought to be some kind of agency or group focused on controlling unnecessary practices and costs in the medical care business. I then decided that I might try organizing a group myself, and even came up with a name -Association Nationally Trying Initiatives Relieving Incessant Procurement Of Folks Funds "ANTI-RIPOFF"

By massing together, people might perhaps put some pressure on the administration and Congress to start eliminating the costs that are really killing health care -ambulance-chasing lawyers, outrageous malpractice court awards, and incompetent medical practitioners. Lopping all that fat and theft out of the system will by itself save billions.

Then, as I was typing, I glanced at the news. Buried among the stories I saw this stuff. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said today that "the Obama health care law has dramatically improved Medicare's finances. Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is now expected to remain solvent until 2029, 12 years longer than was projected last year."

Then he conceded that it's easier said than done. "As we know the future is uncertain, these are very long range projections. And those reforms require that we achieve very substantial improvements in efficiency and productivity."

Conversely, the Medicare trustees report expressed some skepticism, saying there's "great uncertainty" about the assumptions on Medicare cuts. While the health care law assumes some $200 billion in savings from productivity gains alone, the trustees called that "far from certain."

Though John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis says extending the life of Medicare would be good news, he also says the problem is it's all a fantasy, based on assumptions so unrealistic Medicare's own actuaries put out a separate report today, which he's never seen happen before.

The report from the office of the actuary of Medicare, a nonpolitical watchdog, questioned many of the assumptions used to justify $575 billion in cuts to Medicare, including an analysis saying cuts to providers "could jeopardize Medicare beneficiaries access to mainstream medical care." They say cuts could also force 25% of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health care agencies into the red over the next two decades, and many "would have to withdraw from providing services to Medicare beneficiaries. The actuaries also said several prominent health economists, "all believed that the payment reductions were unsustainable."

John Goodman went on to say, "Half the funding for health reform is paid for by cutting spending on the elderly, and the way they're going to cut spending is by squeezing the doctors and squeezing the hospitals."

Top administration officials want to fix fees for doctors. Those treating Medicare patients are scheduled to have their fees cut 32% in the next three years. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called that "untenable", saying "If you want to destroy the Medicare program, the fastest way to do it would be to drive providers out of the program, and I think that kind of cut would do it."

Fixing doctors' fees was originally in the health care bill but the administration took it out to make the changes seem less expensive. Now they say the fees have to be fixed or the new law won't work. But officials are not talking about restoring any other cuts, because the savings, at least on paper, are needed to pay for the subsidies and expanded benefits in the new health care law.

So, what you have here is typical political double talk. They've set the mirrors up in the corners, turned the lights down low, and are trying to focus your attention on the hat while they pull your rabbit out of your refrigerator and have it for dinner. But, in the meantime, the election clock's still ticking and now the elderly, one of the administration's strongest allies are going to take it in the shorts healthcare-wise. Thus, it might just turn out that its the administration that even overpriced life-support won't be able to keep alive.

That's it for today folks.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/5/2010

After reading yesterday's entry my wife told me she'd never read another word of mine if I didn't stop beating the Soros issue to death. She said she was tired of the tirades, bored with the text and suggested I either move on (no pun intended) or give up blogging.

I replied that I was only trying to mention issues in the news that seemed noteworthy, and that my feedback from many folks indicated that a lot of them were unaware of information I'd found, thus, I was only trying to inform them. But, regardless of why I input all that stuff, if I bored you all, I apologize.

Meanwhile, I think something I wrote yesterday is worth a few more words. Because, I guess I came down pretty hard on medical folks. I did that, however, because they, like many others in service businesses today seem to have gone along with the current trend of providing poor to mediocre service and conditioning the customer to accept their miserable to non-existent performance nonetheless.

I know extremely well from my own experience that there are significant numbers, perhaps the majority, of medico's whom do their jobs as if they're doing the patient a favor. I also sense, from many folks that I talked to, or watched in medical offices and hospitals that many, many blindly accept these medico's seeming disregard and keep coming back for more, because they apparently feel that these medico's are "special" people.

But, I keep coming back to the same question. What are these medico's really? They're service people and technicians whom happen to work on people instead of products or inanimate structures. And, just like products, bodies consistently function in specific ways unless or until there's a glitch. Then, when glitches occur, service people are the ones expected to make repairs.

Well, if that's the case, and I'm pretty sure it is, why should anyone be shocked or surprised if the repairs come out right? That's what repair professionals are supposed to do to begin with, fix things that are broken or in disrepair.

Consequently, when I was talking to the guy the other day who thought I should be more respectful or appreciative of people simply because they properly did what they're far more than adequately compensated for, I fail to see why. In fact, I think it should be the other way around. While you can't return a customer that one of these turkeys croaked through mis-diagnosis or botched handiwork, or get reimbursed for lost hours of folks time frittered away in waiting rooms while these clowns overbook their calendars, there should be compensation back to whoever bears the loss.

And I certainly don't mean that ambulance-chasing, lounge-lizard lawyers are justified in their class-action or malpractice cases. What I think is needed is a simple refund schedule. If an operation is botched, the customer should get every nickel back, plus a penalty of "X". Conversely, a mis-diagnosed hangnail gets the customer back a pre-set amount and so on for every procedure. Every other business works that way. If a product or service is fouled up -the customer gets rebated a certain amount. Therefore, croaked patient refunds should be huge.

I think a system like that would solve lot's of problems for medical customers. If nothing else it'll get a whole bunch of these turkey medico's to shape up. Because, above all -even above the hypocritical oath- these guys want the bucks. So, maybe they'll pay more attention to their customers and actually start caring about the case outcomes, because right now the medico's have no downside.

Aside from all that, we won't have to worry about the clowns on the bottom of the medical ladder, because they'll all go broke and blow out in less time than it took to compose this entry. And, as for me, I have to stop typing now, because I want to send this idea on to the White House, Congress and the AMA.

That's it for today folks.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BloggeRhythms 8/4/2010

Maybe the wheels are really beginning to fall off the administration's bus. Because a day after a federal judge ruled that Virginia has legal authority to sue the federal government over the health care law, Missouri voters sent a symbolic message to the White House and Congress, overwhelmingly rejecting a key provision slapping a penalty on any American not having health insurance.

Add this revolt to the court cases over border control and maybe the grassroots majority will do something the Republicans in Congress can't seem to: blow Soros and his stooges out of the political water. Because, although I have no idea how Soros is profiting from health care reform, you can bet that if this administration fought for passage, he told them to get it done. And when the "boss" says jump, all this administration ever asks is "How high?" Because all Soros ever cares about is the money.

More than likely he's planning to build a network of rehabilitation centers across the U.S. populated with specialists who can repair all the patients that socialized medicine will almost kill, after the new health care reform bill puts all the good doc's out of business. And then those who don't like his clinics can fly to Guatemala, Haiti or Sierra Leone where the health care will likely be better. Maybe even Cuba will look good healthwise by then.

Going back to my own case that I touched on yesterday, I can't stress enough how scary it will be for those who are seriously ill in the future. Because, as I stated, if I was in one of the supposedly best hospitals in the United States, I can't imagine how awful it must be in a lesser institution. I met with and was examined by many people who are too dumb to tie their own shoes, yet they graduated medical school and landed jobs in a top-line place. A lot of that of course goes back to the fact that our educational system is valueless, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Anyway, having survived two so-called life-threatening infirmities and two long, involved, surgeries I think I got a pretty good insight into how and who does what and where in a hospital or medical practice. Furthermore, both cases involved months of hospitalization, so I saw and dealt with a lot more on the inside than most.

The conclusion I drew from my experience is that there are two critical things needed to survive in any aspect of medical situations, no matter. What you really need most are good genes and dumb luck. And, without either, you're likely cooked. Because, if you have to withstand what's done to you by most medico's, they'll ice you in almost no time.

I was explaining my medical viewpoint to someone just the other night, and he said, "Hold on a minute, Mike. You yourself went through two of the most life-threatening medical situations there are and survived. Don't you think these people are special and should be revered?" I replied that, "Yes, I agree, they are special in exactly the same way that my auto mechanic is, and I don't particularly revere him either."

The guy went on to ask why I had such a cold, non-caring feeling toward folks who'd "saved my life." I told him it was because, in my opinion these folks were simply doing their jobs and what they'd been trained to do. And, just like with a car, people go to them when something isn't working right and they're supposed to fix it. So, what's the alternative, should I be surprised that people who trained and worked at something every day for thirty years got it right and revere them for it? I don't think so. I went to these guys in the first place because their references said they were good at their trade. And, yes the two surgeons lived up to and surpassed their billings.

Yet, despite my opinions about my general expectations and performance among doc's, there's still the underlying, fundamental question. As perfunctory and rote as medical treatment is today, what's going to happen when the system socializes and future medico's don't even bother to open the manual up?

That's it for today folks.