Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Little Bits of Life

You can tell how much someone likes a particular TV show by how many minutes before and after that person's DVR starts and ends recording. In fact, you can probably rank a person's tastes that way. I know I start the office 2 minutes in advance, while my DJ starts Grey's Anatomy like 5 minutes early!

Why do they call it a "bang bang play" in sports when 2 things happen at the same time (ie, the throw and the runner get to 1st base at the same time). Shouldn't it just be called a "bang" play? If the play in question was actually a "bang" (the noise of the foot hitting the base) followed by another "bang"(the noise of the ball hitting the glove), it would be pretty obvious which happened first.

Why is it so bad if China becomes powerful?

I know the govt restrict freedoms, executes more people than any nation, and is secretive. However, as China gets stronger, more and more of its 1.0B people will move from lower class, to middle class. Right now, more cars are sold in China than in this country. Isn't it good for this world for more people to leave poverty and move into the middle class? As the average person in China moves up economically, they'll have computers, they'll be educated, AND they'll demand, and ultimately have more freedom. Perhaps, affluence, education, and the internet, will do more for our push toward democracy and freedom in China than "pressure" from the US could ever do. China's rise might be bad for the strength of the US, but for the average man in the world, it could be a good thing.

**I put "pressure" in quotes b/c China can do almost anything they want except attack India or Australia and we'll let them...we have no real means of asserting pressure.

To be nice, I told my friend who was moving to 109 and Amsterdam this summer that it was a perfect location. When pressed for a reason, I stated that it's close enough to Ben and Jerry's to go whenever you want, but far enough that you don't end up going every day.

While I made it my personal quest to rid the Standard Hotel and beergarden from smoking (perhaps b/c last summer they wouldn't let me in the front door), I whiffed some the other day and had an odd reaction. Nastalgia. Irony.

A TON of media attention has been paid to the bullying death of a 15 year old girl. Similarly, media attention has been paid to the overturning of a $5M conviction against a group that was protesting at a soldiers funeral. The teen aged bullies involved in causing the emotional distress of the 15 year old have been arrested and charged. While the lawsuit against the protesters was a civil matter that will now be taken up by the Supreme Court, I don't understand why the same statutes that were applied to the bullies can't be applied to the protesters. Apparently, 40 states have bully laws. Why couldn't these bullies who were causing emotional distress be arrested and charged? I'm sure in 24 hours they could have held these protesters, they could have found something to charge them with. I know that funeral protests were highly emotional encounters during Vietnam, and perhaps they were effective. . . But if the purpose of the protest isn't to actually protest the war (it was to protest homosexuality in America, which was supposedly causing Americans to die in Iraq...and to get attention and cause emotional distress)...then why not arrest and prosecute. If not, aren't the bully's rights protected under the same 1st amendment that the protesters rights are protected?

I just heard this interesting fact. In a recent poll, when asked if taxes had gone up or down under Obama, 98% of Tea Party members said taxes had gone up. Of course, under Obama, taxes had gone down for 95% of Americans. While not understanding what they are talking about is kinda funny... lets let not forget that The Tea Party was founded, with its name being based, on a protestation of higher taxes. You would think they'd know what they were talking about.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Feistyness

I got a little animated this morning and this is what happened...

St. Pats Smokefest:

I spent a few hours on St. Pats day at the Standard Hotel’s Beer Garden on St. Patricks Day (in the evening). The place was crowded, had heaters, and was a pretty chill venue. Except for the SMOKING. Everyone was smoking. While we were outside, there was shrubbery lining the outside and the garden is actually covered by the high line. Thus, there was no place for the smoke to escape easily. I did some research and this is what I found:

Is the standard beer garden technically outside? Answer – No

People are permitted to smoke in "Outdoor dining areas of food service establishments with no roof or other ceiling enclosure." It seems to me there was a ceiling enclosure.

Was I just standing in the smoking area and didn't realize? Answer - No

“Up to 25% of seating in outdoor areas of restaurants with no roof or ceiling enclosure may be designated smoking areas. The area must be at least three feet away from the nonsmoking area. The smoking and nonsmoking areas must be clearly designated with signs.”

Does the bar have a waiver (as of 3/31/09)? Answer – No

What are you supposed to do when a bar is violating the smoking ban laws?
A) Post on Yelp
B) Call 311
C) File a complaint

Here’s what I wrote:
“Smoking is everywhere in the "Outdoor" beer garden. The law says smoking is ok in "Outdoor dining areas of food service establishments with no roof or other ceiling enclosure." The beer garden is covered by the highline park, so I would consider it enclosed and there is no place for the smoke to go. However, even if this “outdoor” establishment is deemed not enclosed, then the law says that “Up to 25% of seating in outdoor areas of restaurants with no roof or ceiling enclosure may be designated smoking areas. The area must be at least three feet away from the nonsmoking area. The smoking and nonsmoking areas must be clearly designated with signs.” There was no smoking area, there was no 75% non smoking area, and there were no signs. Ashtrays were provided on every table, as well as candles to light cigars and cigarettes. Additionally, the hotel does not have a waiver of this law.

This is what my DJ wrote:
“On this date, I visited the Biergatren at The Standard Hotel. The Biergarten sits below the Highline - thus an enclosure/roof is established and one does not get the sense that it is actually an outdoor space. Even if the Biergarten is considered an outdoor area, there was no area that was designated for smoking - as is allowed for by law (reference: Up to 25% of seating in outdoor areas of restaurants with no roof or ceiling enclosure may be designated smoking areas.) Instead, smoking at the Biergarten was pervasive - with customers smoking at nearly every table and ashtrays made available for them. Due to the set up of the establishment, there is little ventilation that would allow for the smoke to disappate. Therefore, customers and staff are subjected to high-levels of second-hand smoke. There was no no-smoking sign or policy posted - that was visible to this customer.”

Yes, she is a much better writer than I.

Honestly, this place is facing $100,000 in fines a night, but I just want the practice stopped, so I can enjoy my beer w/o having an asthma attack.

Suck it John:

John McCain had the audacity to send me an email titled “Repeal the bill” this afternoon. He said he’s in a tight race for reelection and needs more money, so that when things change he’ll be able to make changes. Most of you know my thoughts on healthcare from THIS, but to reiterate: An insurance company’s desires to pay out as little as possible contradict both 1) the so called premise of their business model and 2) the ethical desires of the populous for a healthier nation, I’d be happy to get rid of all of them. The least we should do is regulate and promote more openness and competition.

Anyway, I emailed John back – “John, You could have supported the bill and made it better, instead you tried to block and failed. Can you imagine how much better it would have been had you co-sponsored or at least tried to negotiate? This bill is so bad because of the republicans stance not to negotiate and make it a bipartisan effort. John, you failed.”

Philanthropist or Robber Barron:

I met with a very successful investor and philanthropist the other day at a UJA breakfast for the Wall Street Division. He is the 3rd or 4th speaker I’ve heard talk about his remarkable successes in finance, while not talking about his mistakes. He’s also the 3rd or 4th speaker that’s mentioned how he took profitable businesses, and made them more profitable by cutting costs, and then sold them to other companies for large sums of money. He’s considered a great philanthropist because he takes the $100’s of millions of dollars he’s made and gives a small portion to UJA, and in return, is named to charitable boards. What I don’t get, and what always comes to mind first, yet no one asks, is the basic contradiction inherent in this person’s brain. While it’s very nice that he’s donating money, which helps poor people and those less fortunate, he is also a significant contributor to the problem by firing people from profitable companies and making them poor. To me, he’s taking cash flow from the pockets of his workers, selling that cash flow at an 8.0x multiple, and then giving some of it back to the community. To me, he’s no Robin Hood, he’s the sheriff. Of course, you can’t word your questions like that at these donor breakfasts. Does anyone else see that?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What Would You Say in 15 Seconds?

Question: If you could call up the 16 year old version of yourself, but you were only allowed to talk to him for 15 seconds and nothing more, what would you say?

My friend sent me this question and then sent me some of the responses when he asked others. It's amazing the difference between how girls and boys respond. Of course, I came up with 4 responses myself.

Your job:
Post your own answer as a comment below!

Here are some samples from people who were asked this question last Sunday.

1) Girl - Don't get involved in all the high school drama. Just have fun and enjoy yourself and don't get stressed out.
2) Boy - Assassinate Supreme Court Justices during Clinton's administration so Bush doesn't win the White House and the whole world doesn't explode after 8 years of no leadership.
3) Girl - Don't let "Him" get away.
4) Boy - Take sports more seriously. You're going to grow another foot and if you try hard you could make it!
5) Girl - Don't do that. Just don't.
6) Boy - Invest in Google and create Facebook
7) Girl - Try to figure out what you want to do in college with your life. Don't leave it until you are 26.
8) Boy - Go to a college with great weather. You have the rest of your life to live on the east coast and hate winter.
9) Girl - Play basketball - It may help you get into a better college and get a scholarship.
10) Boy - Short all the banks and significantly in late 2007.

Obviously... The men recommend to their younger selves how to succeed materially, while the women focus on social issues and successfully navigating those issues (except the girl with 3 brothers).

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Obama Final Update

Obama Update:

It's been just over 1 year since Obama Called the Bottom of the markets, saying that "buying stocks is a potentially good deal if you’ve got a long term perspective." The dow jones average was 6726 on that day. Today, it stands at 10, 550, representing an amazing 56.9% one year return for the "First Portfolio." Obama is an insider since his policies impact the market's trading prices. However, that just means we should listen even more when he's picking stocks.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Say No To Drugs - Like Coffee

Coffee is a drug, and should be regulated.

Whenever people ask me why I don’t like coffee, I always respond with “I don’t do drugs, and coffee is pretty much speed.” The ironic thing is, I’m not joking. For those of us who don’t drink coffee, actually having a cup now and then will really mess us up.

Yesterday, for some unknown reason, I couldn’t stay awake at work. (I had gotten 7 hours of sleep). Around 3pm I headed to Starbucks and ordered a Tall Mocha Frappuchino. After a few sips I could feel the impact. After ¾ of it, I was in a great mood, I wasn’t tired, and I was typing up a storm. I was making all sorts of decisions (like buying an apartment), under the influence of this drug. Making decisions while under the influence should not be encouraged, and I shouldn’t be responsible for the decisions I make while under the influence. Yesterday evening, I worked out at 8, showered and watched TV till 12, and couldn’t fall asleep until 2am. Last night's sleep was a terrible sleep, and I woke up needing another coffee type substance to get through the day. Being that I’m not quite addicted yet, I have decided to break from this never ending circular catch 22.

I’ve smoked (not often) and I’ve drank (very often), but the lasting impact from my big glass of 1/2 coffee 1/2 hot cocoa trumps the impact of those other drugs.

All I know is this –

Coffee is like speed
It’s a drug
It messes you up
It makes your heart race
It makes you sleep poorly
It makes you crave more
It’s the same as a 5 hour energy
It’s the same as a NoDoze

I’m going back to coke (a cola).