22
Jan 15

Things to read

I had a nice four-mile run today. First mile was great. I paid for it over the next three miles. In the third mile, though:

Crows

I thought they were hawks when they were flying. But it makes more sense to have a murder of crows rather than a flock of hawks. They were massive and there were at least 34 of them.

Things to read … since we haven’t seen this feature since the holidays:

First some, jobs/money news:

Alabama and Peru to sign trade memorandum

Polaris to add 1,700 jobs at massive Huntsville plant

Alabama DHR program to receive $41 million child care grant

Hoffman Media expands digital media division

Glad to see the multimedia growth for our friends at Hoffman. They were very successful in the magazine-only model for longer than most. Now, this diversification is a good move for them.

Here are a few news stories. Bureaucratic apologia, in three, two … Can America afford Obama’s two-year tuition proposal? Putting $60 billion in perspective. And by perspective, we mean in isolation. That makes everything look like a possible rounding error, and who can’t sympathize with that?

Glad we could finally see this through. Desmonte Leonard sentenced to life without parole for 2012 University Heights murders

I said last March, and again in September, Venezuela is key. The Impending Collapse Of Venezuela:

The falling oil price is causing a widening foreign exchange gap. Venezuela needs an oil price of $100 per barrel to balance its external accounts, but oil is falling rapidly towards $40 per barrel and so far, Venezuela has failed to persuade other oil producers to reduce production in order to support the price. Venezuela’s foreign exchange outflows now substantially exceed its inflows, not least because it is supporting a complex and unhelpful exchange rate system: its US$ reserves are down to $22bn and falling fast. Venezuela will probably attempt to staunch the bleeding with tighter price and exchange controls, but all this will do is accelerate demonetization of the economy as more and more trading shifts to the black market.

But the real issue is Venezuela’s domestic economic problems. Venezuela has been in deep recession for most of the last year. Its budget deficit in October 2014 – before the most recent catastrophic oil price falls – was 17%. Inflation is officially at 65%, unofficially probably far more. Import controls, inflation and the overvalued bolivar are causing shortages of essential goods.

[...]

Fearful of public unrest escalating into something more serious, the government has now deployed troops to control queues of disgruntled shoppers at the country’s half-empty stores. And it has introduced a system of rationing, limiting shoppers to two days per week at government-controlled stores. As Bloomberg cynically put it, “Venezuela reduces lines by trimming shoppers, not shortages”.

President Maduro returned empty-handed from his recent whirlwind global tour: China didn’t want to lend him any money, and oil producers didn’t want to cut production.

Being a resource-dependent economy doesn’t seem like the best idea, but that’s Venezuela at this point.

And, now, two Journalism reads. First, here’s a journalism dean who wants to curb journalism. Wickham: ‘Charlie Hebdo’ crosses the line

Jeff Jarvis, indirectly, puts the lie to all of that. Free speech is not a privilege. It is a journalistic responsibility.

Standing for free speech is not American. It is logical. If one allows a government to control—to censor—offensive speech, then no speech will be allowed, except that which government approves, for any speech can offend anyone and then all speech is controlled.

The idea that speech should be controlled to limit offense is itself offensive to the principles of a free, open, and modern society. That is what the Charlie Hebdo murders teach us.

Some quick marketing links:

An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media

What Budweiser is teaching us about marketing to millenials

The 4 types of audio that people share

4 Ways Marketers Can Learn From a Journalist’s Approach to Content Planning

Smartphones and live sporting events

I love the data in that last link. It just screams at the need for athletic departments — professional clubs, colleges high schools, what have you — to be proactive with their audiences.
Let’s make this simple. You are in the business of providing a source of entertainment. Your audience has determined that their new toys and tools and platforms suit them. Join them there. Be loud.

And that has to mean more than “Write #GoTeam on your tweets and we’ll select the best ones to put on the big screen!”

Here’s a read to help remind you that exercise should be fun: Recovering Athlete Finds Hope in an Indoor Tri:

As she prepared to start the Indoor Tri presented by IRONMAN and Lifetime Fitness, Gluck was filled with doubts of whether her body (specifically her leg) could hold up for the 10-minute swim, 30-minute bike and 20-minute run. Setting a new PR, placing top ten in the age category—all those goals she’d had as a top age-group athlete were replaced with a simpler goal: finishing.

It’s been a long road since the September day in 2012 that Gluck was hit. She doesn’t remember anything about the accident. She was in a coma for over two weeks and suffered a traumatic brain injury. A section of her skull was removed to help with the swelling. Much of her body has been put back together over multiple surgeries, with titanium rods, screws and plates in her knee, clavicle, femur and hip.

[...]

Still struggling with balance issues, so there is no real time frame for when she might be able to ride her bike outside again. For now she grins and bears it, riding her bike on the trainer set up in her room. “They don’t give me time frames,” Gluck says, clearly frustrated. For now, she wants to continue to strengthen her leg, and work on what she considers her biggest limiter by entering more 5k’s.

The things which we would take for granted are the ones we should cherish the most.

That was worth reading, no?


21
Jan 15

My good, delayed, fortune

We don’t eat Chinese terribly often, but the nice lady that runs our favorite restaurant knows us. She knows where we work and our names and, on the phone, when we tell her our orders, she says “Oh hi, Mr. Smith.” Because we are predictable. Also because she has an amazing capacity for knowing her clientele.

I noticed that we developed another little habit, one I doubt she knows. The last two times we’ve ordered takeout from there we did not eat our fortune cookies. We have four on a countertop, 2014 fortune cookies. I tried two tonight, thinking they might have gone stale, but was pleased to learn the manufacturer is using industrial grade cellophane.

This brings up a question. We all agree that the fortunes don’t apply to the person that puts them in the cookie, or just on the day they are placed there. (What? Your fortunes aren’t handwritten? One of us is doing this wrong.) Do they apply only on the day that they are given and purchased? What if I wait several days, or weeks, before I enjoy them?

I ask because of the four I could choose from tonight, these are the two fortunes I got, in sequence.

That has to mean something, right?

I choose to view this as a good thing.


20
Jan 15

Looking back

Instead of catching up, and because I needed to put something here for today, I’m offering up these deliberately fuzzy photos. I took them this way intentionally, but I’m not sure that I was aware, at any given time, that I had more than one or two of them in hand.

So, before the memories grow fuzzy, let’s let the pictures do it.

This one isn’t fuzzy, but if the sky and the ocean are showing off they deserve to be seen, wouldn’t you agree?


19
Jan 15

Back to the routine food schedule

We are having to eat normal food again, which means we have to prepare it or go out for it. Since we are still recovering from our travels we’ve not yet made it to the grocery store, which means we are eating out.

We stopped between the airport and home to get lunch yesterday at Zaxby’s. They’ve been in decline for the past few years, it seems, no matter the store. The slide has seemingly accelerated now that they are partnered with the Duck Dynasty brand. Not sure why. The burnt chicken niblets this time were perhaps a last straw.

For dinner last night we had barbecue at Jim ‘N’ Nick’s. Standing in line, waiting to be sat, The Yankee said “Don’t look,” because she knows one of my 21st century pet peeves is waiting for a table when there are plenty of tables available. I looked. And then I counted. A full 40 percent of the tables were empty and read for guests. We stood and waited. The head chef finally sat us. He and two other staff members came by to continually apologize for the delays. This seemed excessive. You got blindsided on Sunday evening. No one likes that, it is a staffing shortcoming, but it happens. And then the head chef took our orders, too.

We had breakfast at the Barbecue House this morning, because they have the best biscuits and they know our usuals. We try to go once a week or so. I’ve been going there for far, far too many years, but the breakfast is delicious.

We miss these guys, who brought us all manner of delicious foods on our cruise. This is our waiter, Iresh, from Mauritius. We’d learned his whole life story by the end of the cruise, and it is a good one. Now we are all Facebook friends.

Iresh

This is Selvin, who was working as Iresh’s assistant. He is from Honduras, and was quiet and shy. Nice guy who was always Johnny on the spot.

Selvin

Also, I miss the desserts they brought.


18
Jan 15

The cruise is over – travel day

Woke up in the darkness, before the cruise ship had docked in Miami. I’m not sure how or why that happened, but we got to watch the skyline slip by in the quiet, last moments before dawn.

We got off the ship late. We got to the airport early. The plane departed more-or-less on time. We arrived in Atlanta, took a shuttle to the car and were on the road with no problems. Now we’re home, unpacked and getting fussed at by the cat.

So here’s another video from the cruise, which should be the last one with any real purpose. (I have other clips. We’ll see if they wind up anywhere.) This one features a few clips of some of the performers we saw on board.

Great shows, all.

Tomorrow, I’ll do a day-late version of the weekly catching up post. I may stretch these photos out for a few more days after that, as well. If you missed something from this amazing trip you can catch up by checking out the Caribbean subdirectory.