Wednesday, August 17, 2016 has been awhile. "how's Mr. B?"

Long time since the last post. Thought I would give an update on Mr. B

..."he's still looking good as you can tell. "

Thursday, June 28, 2012

....he's slicker all the time

Well, our current president has proven himself the all-time Grand Wizard of the Shell Game.

Recently, he opened our borders for millions of "Americans" that were a victim of being "born here" as a product of illegal aliens (ooops, sorry...not PC, the "undocumented.")

While his persistent promises of "no new taxes" ring in our ears, while his insistence that the dreaded, unwanted mandate would not impose new taxes on those who chose not to comply — his own attorneys argued successfully that it could be ruled on by the Supreme Court as a Congress-imposed tax.....and today it was.

And no matter how he tries to convince us otherwise — he's slicker all the time in his convincing speech — this Obamacare is a massive new tax on every American!

Although a clear majority of citizens, especially seniors, adamantly opposed the healthcare takeover, Former Speaker Pelosi urged "let's pass the bill, and then we'll find out what's in it."

And we sure are.

We now find that this takeover of one sixth of the nation's economy will cost initially at least twice what the president said it would, almost $1.7 trillion . . . and that's just the start. And who's going to pay for all that? Guess who — every taxpaying American, that's who.

Greek socialism, here we come, ready or not!

A technically bankrupt nation taking on ever more drastic, unpayable debt, succumbing to the Pied Piper siren song of "hope and change."

The inexperienced captain of the Titanic ship of state sailing the vessel straight toward the looming icebergs, proclaiming "victory for the masses."

These are all new taxes starting in less than 5 months. Some take full effect by 2014. This list does not include anticipated increases in insurance premiums or actual health care.

• New tax on individuals who do not purchase government-approved health insurance-$17 Billion

• New tax on employers who fail to fully comply with government health insurance mandates-$52 Billion

• New 40% excise tax on certain high-cost health plans.-$32 Billion
• Increase the Medicare tax on wages and self-employment income by 0.9% and impose a new 3.8% surtax on certain investment income (for individuals over $200,000 and couples over $250,000)-$210.2 Billion

• Increase, from 7.5% to 10% of income, the threshold after which individuals can deduct out of pocket medical expenses-$15.2 Billion

• Impose a new $2,500 annual cap on FSA contributions-$13 Billion

• New annual tax on brand name pharmaceuticals-$27 Billion

• New 2.3% excise tax on certain medical devices-$20 Billion

• New 10% tax on indoor UV tanning services-$2.7 Billion

• New tax on insured and self-insured health plans-$2.6 Billion

• Double the penalty for non-qualified HSA distributions-$1.4 Billion

• Eliminate the deduction for expenses allocable to Medicare Part D Subsidy-$4.5 Billion

• Limit the deduction for compensation to officers, employees and directors of certain health insurance providers-$0.6 Billion

America…land of the free! (Well, not anymore). Next blog: Obama’s quest to print Euro dollars? (or is it the Peso?)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

...the shelf life of a pumpkin

Whining is something that we all do, but the question is why? When you whine nothing really happens other than you sounding like a baby. And if you sound like a baby then you are probably going to be treated like one. But seriously, why do people whine?

Ann Curry is a world-class journalist. Ann whined when she was overlooked for Meredith Vieira several years ago as the anchor on the Today show after 14 years of ‘reading the news.’ One short year ago Meredith left the show and everyone said Ann would be the best “fit” for the job….really?

Curry got the plum assignment in part because she was passed over last time, when Meredith Vieira got the nod, and the network brass didn’t want her to leave. Poor Ann….the Today show finally dropped out of first place in the morning ratings. A nearly two decade rule as the get the job...(because no one wanted to "pass you over" again)...and you drop to record low ratings.

Ann has never been a great fit as co-host of the Today show. Just about everyone at NBC, and in the television business, recognizes that. So I’m not surprised to learn that NBC has begun talks to move her off the program, just a year after she ascended to the job. If this New York Times report is right, she’ll be gone before the Olympics.

Has her turn-back-to-a-pumpkin moment arrived?
Lauer, who recently signed a mega-deal worth at least $25 million a year, is quite obviously the future of the franchise. If he's not feeling a comfortable rapport with his on-air partner, the network has to take that very seriously.

In an interview last month Ann was asked to open-up and answer:

What she'd change about herself: "I don't always understand my worth. I think it's a chronic condition for women. I'm not talking about professionally. I'm talking about in our personal lives. We constantly punish ourselves with degrading thoughts when we look at ourselves in the mirror. We allow people to treat us poorly, we allow our husbands or boyfriends to get away with things or we have relationships with girlfriends or colleagues who don't treat us well. We don't defend ourselves as we would our own children. Women have demanded and gotten better jobs and more power. But the one thing we deserve is a better relationship with ourselves. We waste too much time beating ourselves up. I think at my age of 55, it's time to stop doing that."

Crystal ball moment Ann. You will be that pumpkin again very soon….it is not your fault that Josh Elliott on GMA is better at smiling, interfacing with guests, engaging with the stories….oh, and he can read the news as move on Ann....move on please!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

....have a drink on me

Want to super-size that soda? Sorry, but in New York City you could be out of luck.

In his latest effort to fight obesity in this era of Big Gulps and triple bacon cheeseburgers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing an unprecedented ban on large servings of soda and other sugary drinks at restaurants, delis, sports arenas, and movie theaters.

Drinks would be limited to 16 ounces, which is considered a small serving at many fast-food joints. "The percentage of the population that is obese is skyrocketing," Bloomberg said Thursday on MSNBC. He added: "We've got to do something."

Wait! Stop. Let me decide what I want to drink…and how much. This is horseshit. Last time it was salt intake and burgers. Don't we have more important issues in NYC? What's next...a limit on toilet paper?

It is the first time an American city has directly attempted to limit soda portion sizes, and the soft-drink industry and others bitterly accused the three-term mayor of creating a "nanny state" and robbing New Yorkers of the right to decide for themselves. The people of New York City are much smarter than the New York City Health Department believes. New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase.

The ban is expected to win approval from the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health and take effect as soon as March. City officials said they believe it will ultimately prove popular and push governments around the U.S. to adopt similar rules. The ban would apply only to sweetened drinks over 16 ounces that contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces. (A 12-ounce can of Coke is about 140 calories. Plastic bottles of Coke and other soft drinks often contain 20 ounces).

It wouldn't affect diet soda, any drink that's at least 70 percent juice or one that is at least half milk or milk substitute. Nor would it apply to drinks sold in many supermarkets or convenience stores. Businesses would face fines of $200 per failed inspection.

City officials said some calorie-heavy drinks such as Starbucks Frappuccino would probably be exempted because of their dairy content, while Slurpees and Big Gulp drinks at 7-Eleven wouldn't be affected because the convenience stores are regulated as groceries.

Does any of this crap make sense? (Sorry....not a square to spare).....

Thursday, May 10, 2012

...please...just shut up

Somewhere along the line I fell asleep and when I opened my eyes, the topics in the world seemed to change. Now I know that it has been 'cool' to talk about all of this like we are "experts" on the subject....but hear me out for a moment. When in the hell is this topic going to end?

If everyone has the "right" to talk about this until they are blue-in-the face, it is equally my "right" to not have to listen to it...and I do not have to agree with it. Sure, it is ok for someone to "love" another person. Of course! (just shut the hell up please).

Would you like to hear something? I do not give a shit. And honestly, most people do not but they are afraid to rock the boat by being honest.

To use an analogy: You could pass a law that says oranges now are apples. But oranges will never look like apples or taste like apples or be apples no matter how many laws we pass, nor will they ever produce the same seeds as apples.

Just because we recognize this reality does not mean we have animosity toward oranges. In fact, we can like both oranges and apples and still hold an opinion that they are different. While this example may seem silly, it illustrates that the proposed radical experiment with same-sex marriage attempts to achieve the impossible.

Working to protect marriage is not mean-spirited. It is the legitimate response of the majority of people who want what is best for individuals, children and our society, and therefore want to preserve the proven and essential institution of marriage.

Friday, March 30, 2012

...hey barista!...hold the bugs....

This is not a joke: there are ground up red beetles being used right now as a food coloring ingredient in yogurt, ice cream, special coffees, juice drinks and many other grocery products. The ingredient is called "carmine."

Carmine is literally made from dried, ground-up red beetles, and its coloring (bright red) is used in yogurt, juice drinks, candies, and a long list of other products, including many "natural" products.

It's not that these red beetles are dangerous. Except for a few individuals who suffer severe allergic reactions to the beetles, most people do just fine eating carmine. Beetles are probably good for you, just like ants. High in protein, low in fat... you get the picture.

But shouldn't someone have told you?

There's a grossness factor that probably explains why products using this ingredient list "carmine" instead of "powdered red beetles" on the label. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has even petitioned the FDA to ban carmine, or, at the very least, require its clear labeling.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will have you seeing red this year, but this time it's a good thing.

Since Jan. 5, the FDA has required food manufactures to disclose whether red cochineal beetles are among their products' ingredients. These beetles are farmed, harvested, dried and crushed to produce a red dye called carmine that, until this year, had been disguised in the ingredient list as "artificial color," "color added" or the all-encompassing "natural and artificial coloring."

Because of lax labeling laws, the extent of carmine in foods and drinks is not known.
Most carmine used in the United States is imported from Peru and the Canary Islands. The insects are carefully brushed from the cacti... and placed into bags. The bags are taken to the production plant and there, the insects are then killed by immersion in hot water or by exposure to sunlight, steam or the heat of an oven. It is to be noted that the variance in appearance of commercial cochineal is caused by the different methods used during this process. It takes about 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal.

The part of the insect that contains the most carmine is the abdomen that houses the fertilized eggs of the cochineal. Once dried, a process begins whereby the abdomens and fertilized eggs are separated from the rest of the anatomical parts. These are then ground into a powder and cooked at temperatures in excess of 212 degrees to extract the maximum amount of color. This cooked solution is filtered and through special processes that cause all carmine particles to precipitate to the bottom of the cooking container. The liquid is removed and the bottom of the container is left with pure carmine."
Yum….yum …. Yum! Not exactly what you had in mind when you were eating yogurt, was it? The most appetizing part of this description has to be, "...the abdomens and fertilized eggs are separated from the rest of the anatomical parts..."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

....oh, and ammonia

Fat, sinew, and bits of bloody meat. Oh, and ammonia.
A tendon (or sinew) is a tough band of fibrous connective tissue that usually connects muscle to bone and is capable of withstanding tension.

This is what you're eating when you buy and prepare ground beef from most grocery stores in the U.S. today. It's also what you're eating when you eat a fast food burger or grab a quick bite at your local diner, most likely.

- "Ten years ago, the rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia, and occasional bits of meat cut from carcasses in the slaughterhouse were a low-value waste product called 'trimmings' that were sold primarily as pet food. No more. Now, Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota transforms trimmings into something they call 'boneless lean beef.' In huge factories, the company liquefies the trimmings and uses a spinning centrifuge to separate the sinews and fats from the meat, leaving a mash that has been described as 'pink slime,' which is then frozen into small squares and sold as a low-cost additive to hamburger."
- "BPI produces more than 7 million pounds of the mash per week, making it the world's largest manufacturer of this frozen product. BPI explains that its product is mixed into most of the ground beef sold in the U.S. - at major fast-food restaurants, supermarkets, and school lunch programs." –(Source: Mary Jane's Farm Magazine).

But that's not all! See, the problem when you turn garbage bits of animal carcasses into "pink slime" to sell as a food product is that there's an issue with pathogens, such as E. coli. And when samples of the pink slime were tested, the tests came back showing that the slime was rampant with harmful bacteria. Now, one might think that the best idea would be to decide not to sell pink slime to feed to humans, but there's no money in that, is there?

So BPI cleverly started disinfecting the slime with ammonia. And convinced the FDA to allow them to list it as a "processing ingredient" so that we wouldn't know we were eating ammonia.
We're eating garbage, people. Literally -- garbage that's been "cleaned up" with ammonia and sold to us mixed with ground beef, shrink wrapped for convenience at our local grocery store and we’re starting young in our school system.

But no worries, I heard on the news that the school districts will have an option to buy the product with “pink slime” or without. I guarantee you they will go with what they know best….”lowest bidder.” Yummy! Eat up little up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

...does quality mean lowest price?

I wish to bring to the surface in this ongoing dilemma, the matter of the marketplace and price shopping.

Every day in every way, we are all exposed to and subjected to the idea that any business that can beat a competitor's price is where we should make our purchases.

It’s pervasive on TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, online, word-of-mouth, etc... So, our customer's always have this in the back of their minds. Somehow a discount should be offered, and we, as proprietors, should be so thankful to work for nothing, if it comes to that.

This is the machine we have to rage against, so to speak.

I definitely agree that having side-by-side comparisons in a portfolio is an excellent way to educate and appeal to the customer's true need for quality and perceived value, whether it is in tangible goods or in an online showcase. Seeing is believing. It is very true that some customers have no idea that something can be produced with much higher standards in quality and design. Part of the fun is coming up with sure fire ways to educate and convince them regarding true quality and durability.
I have customers who got burned from having work done too cheaply and they regret wasting the money. When they see the vast improvement in what is truly possible from a business that cares about quality and value, they feel a sense of relief and realize that their money was well-spent on having it redone. That makes an enjoyable transaction for both of us.
It is an ongoing battle. I love business and I love the challenge.
We also have the opposing forces of the "bean counters", which pressure companies to go cheap and quick. It's a shame to see an owner or employee thinking "only about the lowest price." If only all companies took the time to educate the customer...instead of 'take the order no matter what the profit'...things might be somewhat different.

People confuse price....with "quality." They assume that all products are the same price becomes the only did we get here?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

...what a great salesperson!

It seems like every commercial on TV is for a prescription drug. And yet consumers can't buy them without a doctor's approval. So why target consumers with these ads? Here's how the U.S. became one of the only countries in the world where pharmaceutical companies peddle drugs to ordinary people.

FDA loopholes...
The United States and New Zealand are the only countries in the world that allow direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals. Most countries banned the practice in the 1940s. The direct-to-consumer market was pioneered not in a corporate boardroom, but by Joe Davis, a regular salesman who sold packaged goods.  At the time, pharmaceutical companies marketed only to physicians through print mailings, visits, and free samples, with the patient knowing little about the drugs they were taking. The physician told them what to take, and they followed directions.

Davis went to his friend, an executive at the medical advertising company Medicus in the mid-1980s. The advertising problem was that the FDA required any drug ad to include a full list of possible side-effects, which often took several pages of tiny print....hard to do that in a TV spot.
So the two devised a way to recommend drugs in ads that did not mention the name of the medication, but only the positive effects of a hypothetical drug with the exact attributes of a specific pharmaceutical. Commercials ended with instructions for the consumer to 'see their doctor' for more information. By omitting the name of the drug, the two were able to slide their ads through a loophole in FDA regulations.

The unnamed drug they marketed was Seldane, which they tagged as an "antihistamine that did not cause drowsiness." When patients asked doctors for this exact type of drug, they got Seldane. Over the next few years, Seldane went from sales of $34 million a year in 1985, to $800 million per year. (Seldane, interestingly, was removed from the U.S. market in 1997 after it was found that the drug could cause heart arrhythmias.)
Advertising to consumers puts physicians under a new kind of pressure. If they want to keep you as a patient, and if giving a prescription for a drug that you asked for keeps you happy, they might do it.

Pharmaceutical commercials often have a strangeness as well, dominated by cartoons, unusual scenes, 'blankets with eyes,' and just about anything that can be done to convey a general sense of wellness and direct you to your physician.
The Nielsen Company determined that there are, on average, 80 drug commercials every hour of every day on television. Say it ain't so Joe.....

Friday, January 20, 2012

...the "Green Thing"

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."
She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right about not having the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day. (p.s. it also didn't matter too much if your older sibling was the same sex or not...)

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right.
We didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.
Remember: Don't make old people mad. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.

-Dr . Sherif K. Mazhar, Ph.D.