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Administrative Law Judge
 
Corporate Training Specialist

Associate Legal Counsel to Police Commissioner William Bratton

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Are you one of the parents this holiday season that purchased a pink gun for your   seven year old daughter   in order to kill rabbits with instead of a stuffed animal rabbit for Easter?  It is hard to believe but that is exactly what is happening in America these days.  It is just another chapter in the deadly and sad fascination that America has with weapons.  This chapter directly involves kids.  It is hard to believe that kids are allowed to purchase weapons when they’re not allowed to purchase a lottery ticket, adult magazines, condoms, cigarettes or beer.  But they can buy a deadly weapon.

Despite the growing calls for stricter gun control many states these days are actually making it easier to put deadly weapons in the hands of children.  Aren’t we as parents supposed to be protecting our children against anything deadly?  I guess not anymore.  A child’s ability to handle a weapon in a responsible way is also questionable.  The American firearms industry is taking new aggressive steps to secure   future customers by literally giving young kids weapons.  It is a sick marketing strategy to keep their industry thriving.

It is not unusual to hear of five year old brothers shooting their toddler sisters.  It is what happened in Kentucky   this year.  Caroline Sparks was just two years old when her brother shot her with a   rifle. The coroner   in Cumberland County described the death as,    ”Just one of those crazy accidents!” but the fact that the little boy had a rifle was not an accident at all.  It was given to him for his birthday;   a   kid size hunting gun called The Cricket.  It is sold anywhere in advertisements as if it is the hottest toy.  The TV commercials show parents giving it to the kids lovingly as their first rifle.  It comes with a gun toting   stuffed animal.  This is no joke on Saturday Night Live, these wacko   adults are serious.

It seems to be   all part of a little known but aggressive campaign being waged by America’s gun industry. Meanwhile   stupid parents are believing that they are teaching kids how to be responsible, yet they are irresponsible in allowing weapons to be put in the hands of their children.  The plan is obviously in getting guns into the hands of future consumers as quickly as possible.  They sell weapons as being something exciting, cool and fun sports.  The worry is   that   children would be having more fun shooting at their virtual video screens then bothering with a real gun.

There is a magazine that is published called Junior Shooters that is   designed not only to attract young people to the sport but through lots of   advertising, endorsing all sorts of weapons for kids.  Support comes from major   gun manufacturers like Winchester, Rugger, Colt and Big Sauer. The    industry   trade group called The National Shooting Sports Foundation advertises heavily.  So all you Red Necks screaming about your Second Amendment Rights in the Constitution about the right to bear arms that was written when there were little or no law men in the wild west, must realize that the big manufacturers are just using you and your children to keep their  businesses afloat.  Go to college and major in economics don’t buy more guns.

The publication called Junior Shooters is just a marketing tool for the   gun industry putting all our children at risk.  It is irresponsible and as a civilized society, controls should be put over this industry. One of the highly publicized guns featured in the magazine is the AR15 that they call the modern sporting rifle.  In this world of extreme sports and violent video games, getting the attention of kids requires offering   them mini machine guns.  The AR 15 is the civilian version of the M16 assault weapon used in the military.  To make sure little kids get hooked on guns, there are colorful rifles called The Rascal that is available in seven colors and they are   more popular than   ever.  The bottom line is that this issue is about sales, marketing, and about finding new markets for products.

The manufacturer’s arguments for   giving   a child an AR 15 machine gun is that it has less recoil.  No one discusses the infinite damage a rapid fired gun can do in a confused child’s hands.  The association has annual meetings with gun manufacturers and the constant theme is, to find   the best way to reach out to kids?  They have focus groups that test children and market to them.  You don’t have to be old enough to read to be old enough to shoot.  Kids are out there shooting as young as four years old and at six years old someone can read   to you the safety course.  You don’t have to spend a lot of time in class either.  They conduct   safety courses at   gun shops   where kids can get a license the same day.  The class lasts about 7 hours and does not require any live shooting.

You can hunt that very day without any instruction on the gun in terms of accuracy at target shooting.  To me this all sounds like a horrible nightmare ,a spoof ,however it is reality.  The kids don’t even remember the four rules of hunting like being courteous, careful and whenever the other two rules are.  To me,   there are two feelings that   represent heaven and hell.  Heaven is the feeling when your child is born and hell must be when he dies from a foolish act   of violence.  It has happened repeatedly in the last six months of kids learning shooting sports accidentally shooting playmates or themselves sometimes with fatal results.

Doctor Denise Doud of  Kansas City sees so many children  with  gunshot wounds in that it has become her field of specialty.  She says, safety classes do not work for one reason that kids will be kids.   Children because of their stage of development are risk takers.  They are impulsive and dare each other to do things.  We know the brain develops sequentially and simply teaching them it doesn’t mean that they will do what they are taught.  The last thing that humans develop in their brain is your preferential cortex that is the   thinking part, the break of your impulsiveness.  You can’t educate a teenager to be less impulsive, it comes to you naturally through maturity.

Despite that scientific fact, the gun association and gun manufacturers have been lobbying states to lower age limits and  lighten hunter educational requirements and to date 35 states have done just that.  I don’t like the government sticking their nose    in my business either but without regulations there is chaos in society.  It has not been anti gun.  It is common sense.  You do not put lethal weaponry in the hands of children.  But in the end the lobbyist are powerful and successful in getting states to lower regulations about guns.  The parents of dead  children are home crying, the greedy gun companies are out there finding new markets and new customers for their guns.

A 12 year old is not old enough to drive a car or get a job but he is allowed to kill things.  It is laughable if we dare to expose a kid to buy a lottery ticket but OK to kill things.  At a gun show with cash that 12 year old can legally buy a shotgun quickly and easily from a private seller.  Although not all states will allow a 12 year old to purchase a gun, practically all states allow kids to possess weapons when they are used for   hunting or shooting sports.  That is still a risk to possible accidents.  Adolescence with access to guns are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.  Suicide is just a long-term solution worked to quite often a short term problem that could be resolved in other ways.  Shooting yourself doesn’t take as much coverage as working out a problem.

Since the beginning of 2013 there have been nine school shootings that have been carried out by kids.  All of the teens had their own guns and had sport hunted before.  Adam  Lanza, used the AR 15, had been shooting since age five and at twenty years old he killed 20 children in a school in Newtown Connecticut.  Youth hunters between the ages of six and 15 is on the rise.  The gun companies are pleased because they are capturing a market as the kids grow up for many years.  It is understandable that even cigarette companies are looking for new markets overseas but is any of this ethical?  Is any of it moral?  Any reasonable person knows that marketing to children weapons is misguided and border line insane.  


It is a common sense issue.  In parts of the country where there are active   police forces,   you don’t give kids guns.  In rural areas where it is part of the culture and there is a heritage of owning guns, they think it is natural to introduce guns to the kid as early as 00000 batting called Noah or age 4.  There are about 2 million kids in this country.  It is sad to realize that the association headquarters are located in Newtown, Connecticut where the most recent large tragedy happened.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The comic and actor Billy Crystal recently aired an HBO comedy special where he jokingly revealed a special relationship between him and his father.  Billy tells us about his father’s   job where he was surrounded by jazz musicians and credits true American music as being jazz.  Listening to jazz makes you realize that you are listening to some of   the   greatest musicians that you’ve never heard of.  Jazz is the closest thing you will find to classical music in terms of the complexity of melodies into weaving   very much like a Bach cantata only jazz uses scales you would never hear in   classical   music.

Like the old classical masters, jazz musicians can be in the composers of the songs they perform.  Yet a true master at their instrument will be able to play the same song in many different styles.  Try to find some of the old music somewhere.  Pianists like Errol Garner who was known for his sexy swing ballads yet he was a performer from a half century ago.  You know they were   great when you can play their music   50   years later and it still sounds great and not old.  Thank goodness for   U Tube where you can still type in the names of these guys and instantly hear them   and   see them as if they’re performing   for you right here right now wherever you are.

Listen to James P. Johnson to hear great old Ragtime music where the pianist seems to play every key on that piano in a good old western bar.  No he was not life related to our president and these guys did not have the benefit of fancy recording studios where they could record   one note at a time.  No these great jazz musicians had massive hands and seemed to have used every finger to play every note on the piano as fast as they could.  In the early 20th century,   Johnson   took   Ragtime and made it sound like swing.

Thelonious  Monk was like a Picasso only on piano. Listen to his song called Round About Midnight where he is a true virtuoso combining notes and chords that no one really heard of in 2017.  You really need a day to listen to each one of these guys individually to get a true feeling of jazz music and the magic of a piano when played well.  But there were the big bands too.  A time in America when there was a job for every musician, no   electronic keyboards faking the sounds of a good trumpet player or trombone player and nobody did big band music better then Duke Ellington.


Duke had famous songs like Take The  A Train that had a simple melody that we can all whistle too.  His music was played a lot on the radio.  He  had a big famous band that tore up cities and paved the way to make other individual musicians famous like the great trumpet player Louis Armstrong who appeared in movies well into the 1970’s like Barbara  Streisand’s Hello Dolly and sang solos in his romantic gruff voice.  It was the first time in America when white people loved black people and accepted them for their talent.  Lewis was not handsome.  He was not tall.  He was known to play for hours and hours till   he   was all sweaty and his lips were swollen from playing that trumpet.  Often he would even play with a towel hanging from his playing   fingers to be able to quickly wipe the sweat from his brow between phrases he had to play.

Chick  Corea is a Spanish jazz pianist who can define the word improvisation  though his music.  The way you can pick out the famous melody in a Beethoven orchestral piece you can  pick out the famous melody in Chick’s music and he will make you feel smart like you know something about music.  And what about the guys who can simply play the stuff the innovators gave us?  There is a musician who is  alive today that you’ve never heard of called Marcus Roberts who is a fabulous pianist that you’ve never heard of.  He can play the music of all the guys I just mentioned with his eyes closed.  His eyes are closed forever because he is   blind.  But he can see the many colors of musical styles that most people can’t see because he does not have the distractions that sight gives someone.

Listen to his amazing concert where he played his rendition of George Gershwin’s song called Rhapsody In   Blue  performed with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in front of 18,000 people.  This performance is particularly notable because random notes came out of his fingers that an entire classical based reading music orchestra was able to follow his lead into a flawless musical experience for all.  The word improvised means not written down.  It is music from your heart at the time it is beating.  George Gershwin was a pianist himself and   it  is  so sad that he wasn’t able to hear  his performance of his work.


We can listen to the performances of all these guys.  So listen to them.  All these guys are black.  So be grateful we have black people in this country to always give us new things in music whether it is jazz ragtime swing or rap.  They make us feel good so feel good to have them in your  lives.  Keep young Black boys out of jail.  Give them a  piano keyboard to play with.  They will figure out  something to do with  it even without a single  lesson.  I say for every gun you take away from a kid, give them a piano, it can become an excellent trade off.

Friday, April 18, 2014

They call this holy week.  The week when Jesus was very busy.  On Thursday they called it Holy Thursday because it was the day Jesus washed the feet of friends and strangers.  On Friday Jesus had his last supper with his Apostles.  On Saturday he died on a cross.  And on Easter Sunday, he rose from the dead.  We have all heard   this story before and many of us have read the Bible.  It seems though that our children know more about wolves   and   demons  then they know   about saints and religious heroes.  But Jesus works in many ways and we need to thank God for all the   gifts he has given us and this  Easter season I choose  to thank God for Shakira.  Yes, I am not a dirty old man and I did say Shakira.

The tiny blond bombshell can go by one name because when you are that well known and that beloved, people know   you   by one name.  She is known by young   people all over the world and is worth about $220,000,000 dollars now.  I thank God for her hips that seem to be able to rotate   360° as she sings and dances.  She is half Colombian and half Dutch, a combination that encompasses much of the world.  I thank God for her ability to be so hot that when she stands next to a wall it seems she could make love to that too.  We have much to be thankful for and what is wrong for thanking God for Shakira?

God works in mysterious ways and I truly believe that he is working through her.  She represents the new type of disciple since   she   is doing only   good things   with her fame and fortune.  Shakira is known to be an international singing sensation but she is so much more.  She is giving back to the poor and the helpless in her native country of Colombia.  Jesus was the son of God and was known this week to even give up his life for others.  Shakira is sensual with a capital S.  I guess that is how she attracts her followers.  Her unique way of making you want to listen to a combination of various rhythms in her songs helped her cross over from just being a  Latina  music  star  to a main stream popular song star.

After a   four year hiatus, she   recently released a new album that includes a duet with superstar Rhianna. Back in 2008 Forbes Magazine listed her as the 4th richest woman in   music and that was before her lucrative  contract with NBC to be a celebrity coach on The Voice.  What makes Shakira most interesting to me this Easter season is that fame and fortune   isn’t   enough for her.  She wants to give back.  She is not spending her fortune on wasting her money on living the fast life involved in drugs and alcohol like so many celebrities do.  She is a beautiful saint.  Our young people may not know the religious saints and what they were known for but I hope they know more about Shikera other than her amazing beauty and sexy dancing.

Cartagena Columbia is known for its drugs and its slums.  With that comes unreliable plumbing and poor electricityand for the children, school is often seen as a luxury.  She knows that there are so many kids that have nothing and little in the way of having a good shot at life.  Most children that must grow up in extreme poverty will become criminals.  They cheer for her now when she visits the streets of Columbia not because of her hotness or great voice or amazing dancing   ability even though she possesses all that.  They cheer for her because she was instrumental in creating a brand new state of the art   school for the children.

From the very first bricks, she made it happen.  The children are protected, healthy and away from drugs; a  place where kids can become kids.  Architecturally it looks like a castle on a hill overlooking Cartagena.  There is enough room for  1700 children to be educated and fed while their parents get support and training.  It is clear that being happy is this place for Shakira.  This is why I thank God for Shakira this Easter season.  I like looking at this modern day saint anyway.  She has been laying bricks in her country over the past two years.

It is not charity, it is an investment in humans.  Early childhood education has been her passion ever  since  Shikera  started her own charity.  It is called the Bare Foot foundation named after her first album.  Her foundation has built six new schools in Columbia as well as funding one in Haiti and another in South Africa.


She has given real purpose to her life.  There is more to life than just shaking your ass for a living.  Shakira is also a UNICEF Ambassador and three years ago she was even appointed to President Obama’s Commission On Education for   Hispanics.  Jesus didn’t have to die on   the cross and she doesn’t have to do any of this for any one else.  Shikera  has a full life. She is in love with   Spanish  soccer star Gerard Pique who is the father  of her child.  During this religious week think of some modern day saint  to help you to become a better person.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

BURP!!!!!!! Sorry, I just had a bunch of breakfast meals at fast food restaurants this week as research for this blog post. I think I gained another five pounds but I didn’t spend that much money. Breakfast meals seem to be the most inexpensive purchase you can make at any fast food restaurant these days. Besides, Mom always used to say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Skip lunch and dinner if you have to skip a meal.  After this week, I feel that I should have skipped breakfast too. They should give out Tums like candy after eating that greasy messy stuff.

According to some reports, breakfast is becoming the most lucrative meal to prepare at fast food restaurants.  Americans are spending more money in the morning than ever before.  It seems that all the chain’s want   a piece of that bacon.  What happened to the days when Mom or Dad woke up early to make sure all the kids had a good hot breakfast before they went to school?  I guess those days   died along with the morning paper being delivered and read before your 9 to 5 job.  The reality now is that people work all sorts of shifts.  Dad leaves early while Mom stays in bed talking to her lover   on the phone till the kids are late for the bus and when she is driving them to school, maybe because having to stop speeding because of a   red light causing her to pause, she might make a right turn into the drive through long enough to throw a couple of bags of something resembling breakfast food into the back seat for the best catcher to have a decent breakfast.

Now   McDonald's and Taco Bell are in a bitter advertising battle fighting for your   morning breakfast meal money.  Taco Bell found real guys whose name is Ronald   McDonald and had them do commercials attesting to how wonderful Taco Bell’s breakfast is.  The commercials are very funny.  Rarely have you seen competitors trashing each other   this way other than politicians are on their way to Election Day.  On the Internet we will find a cartoon showing the Taco Bell Chihuahua   biting the heels of the   McDonald’s clown in a boxing   rink.  Taco Bell just opened up early a few weeks ago to serve breakfast.  They are selling things called a Waffle Taco, a Steak and Egg  Baretto  and  a AM Crunch Wrap.  Taco Bell has another advertisement showing a guy eating Egg McMuffins since 1984.  To update him they give him a new cell phone, cut off his mullet hair style, and give him new   Taco Bell breakfast to eat.  I wonder if all these attacks at one company will really improve Taco   Bell’s bottom line profit   numbers?

How did a chain of stores that usually serves Mexican Food think   they could take on a giant like McDonald’s?  The breakfast industry makes thirty two billion dollars per year just on their   breakfast items alone.  Other fast food chains in the breakfast game include places like Burger King, and Dunkin Donuts as well as places that don’t usually have a drive through like Starbucks and Subway.  McDonald’s  gets about 20% of its sales from breakfast.  The giant clown makes about 10 Billion dollars from breakfast alone per year. Taco Bell makes only 7.6 Billion dollars per year from total sales.  Those tiny dogs are  always arrogant with people much bigger than them. Hayley Peterson, a Retail Reporter from the Business Insider says that she thinks that Taco Bell can chip away at McDonald’s market share and the giant is  worried .

Taco Bell has been working on its morning menu for seven years. Chris Brandit, Chief Marketing Officer of Taco Bell says, they thought that breakfast was really boring and they want to shake up the routine.  I think they just really need a boost in sales.  The big winner here is the female head of Cinnabon who has Taco Bell selling a not so sticky version of her delights in all their stores.  Taco Bell has a new coffee line and made sure that all their items can be held in one hand.  Do you think they are encouraging you to eat while you’re driving? Ssssh but sure. McDonald's is worried.  They even  offered free coffee during breakfast hours to its customers for about two weeks.  The giant offered a marketing blitz by putting on a concert in Times Square in Manhattan and organized a flash mob in Chicago to continue the buzz over McDonald’s breakfast products and take the attention away from Taco Bell.

The giant is worried because they know that traffic during the breakfast hours has been steadily increasing while the traffic during lunch and dinner hours has been declining year over year.  So why breakfast?  I think it is because it is the cheapest meal you can get outside of a  snack.  Consumers are still tight with their money after the recession.  All the fans food chains seem to be chasing after a piece of that breakfast pie.  Just weeks ago Dunkin Donuts revealed its new Eggs Benedict Sandwich.  Last month Starbucks came out with new items like its Egg and Cheddar Sandwich and its new and improved reduced fat Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich.  The newest entry into the breakfast wars have healthy options too.  But Taco Bell is not going healthy by offering a 700 calorie Taco Crunch first thing in the morning.  Gosh I’m still burping.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

There is a reason why people still come to America.  It happens to be a great place to live.  This country can attract talented people from all over the world because it still is a land of opportunity.  You’ve heard it before but let me remind you as we walk in life with a very special man living here in America.  His life story can also be an inspiration for   all of you who face extreme disappointment in your life and feel like there’s no tomorrow.  Yet we don’t know what tomorrow will bring even if your   life   truly   turns to be disastrous, tomorrow can only be better.

Let’s talk about a guy who has created something truly different for the world.  It is a car called the Tesla.  If you try to compare the Tesla   Model   S to other cars, it is like   comparing   an   I Phone to a desk phone.  It can go from 0 to 60 in four seconds.  Tesla is just another idea from the amazing mind of   Elon Musk.  He is a 42 year old man who grew up   as a little boy dreaming up of fast cars and rocket ships.  He also had dreams of   colonizing Mars and saving the earth.  We all just dream this guy creates.

The Tesla Model S is powered by 7000 battery cells that is linked to an Electric Motor.  No engine.  No transmission and no tailpipe.  There is a waiting list for the car even though he makes 600 of them per week in a plant in Northern California.  Elon describes himself as an engineer who is interested in things that can change the world for the better in the future.  His electric car when mass produced will save the world from pollution from fossil fuels burning.  How is it even possible that he can build a new innovative car and build spaceships   from his company called Space X that can land on flames?

The car company can be the first successful American start up car company in 90 years.  He wanted to create a reasonable car that everyone can use other than a sluggish electric golf cart.  What is important to him is to reduce greenhouse gases that threatens the world.  His car can go 250 miles on a single charge.  He is also building a network of charging stations where the driver   pays   nothing for a fill up.  He hopes to make the stations solar powered.  We need a guy like this to make significant changes for   everyone in the world.

This car won the highest quality rating in the history of Consumer Report’s and has the government’s highest safety rating.  His fascination with technology began during his childhood in South Africa.  He was interested in computers at an early age.  By age 12 he wrote the software for a video game and sold it.  He realized   that super heroes and comic books were a product of the United States, the software   capital of the world. So, he followed the American dream and moved to this country.  He lived in his office in Silicon   Valley and invented a program that gave step by step directions between addresses that is used commonly today in cars and   phones.  In 1995 it was brand new and within four years he made $22,000,000.

Only in America do you have opportunities like this.  He went on to invent an online banking system called Pay Pall that he sold to E Bay for one and a half Billion dollars.  His   share   was $180,000,000 and invested it all in Tesla and Space X.  At the age of 37 he hit rock bottom.  His first rockets   failed to reach orbit and his early cars   had quality problems.  In 2008 he lost all his money developing these two companies and he was getting a divorce with five children to care for.  Yes life can be disastrous even for those who seem to have all the answers.  But there is always a tomorrow that we must look forward to.  He thought he would be suffering a nervous breakdown.

There is always a tomorrow and that date came when his fourth spaceship launch was successful later that year.  That success lifted   the darkness from his life.  Soon thereafter NASA called with a Billion and a   half   dollar contract to provide space travel to the space station.  America saved him financially and emotionally.  Two days later Tesla’s investors decided to pour in more money.  Within three days both companies we saved.  The rockets have not failed since and have docked many times with   the   space station bringing   it supplies.  They are currently fitting the rockets with seats preparing   it for manned missions.  Space X is also researching a rocket that can be reused by landing on a column of flames.  His dream for Space X is to eventually bring humanity to Mars.

He spends 3 days a week at Space X and two days a week at Tesla.  Weekends are spent at home with his five boys from his first marriage and his 22 year old second wife.  They were engaged for only two weeks and then married. Tesla stock has gone up nearly 500% not based on the amount of cars he is selling today but based on the hope that Tesla will create a car at 1/3 the price of their current car.  The entire bottom of the car is consumed by a giant battery that keeps the car expensive. In order to bring costs down he is inventing a smaller battery. A new 5 Billion dollar factory was built to create more lithium ion batteries   in the United States. The manufacturing plant will be larger than all the other plants combined. This dreamer is not afraid to dream big.  Skeptics have  spent  a lot of money hoping he will fail.  Others seem to give him more money even when he fails.  All we know is that without dreamers we would never have anything new.  Without  new  things, our  economy would crumble..  It is good to know that America is still the land of opportunity   where  it   welcomes dreamers and opportunity is thriving .  What do you dream about?


Monday, April 14, 2014

Malls were supposed to be a convenience.  A place where you can buy everything and anything you needed.  A place to meet friends and have lunch.  The place where your   kids can take a picture with Santa and then at the end of the day even see a movie.  Yes those were the days, the fantasy until reality set in.  Until the bad guys knew where the good guys were hanging out.  Then you heard the news stories.  The horrible news stories of crimes being committed at malls.
Soon people were getting robbed   in the parking lots.  People were getting shot up in the movie theaters.  Gangs of teenagers with nothing to do but annoy people and buy their drugs   were at the mall.  Children were   being abducted at the mall.  Housewives were being followed home raped and murdered after a day of shopping at the mall.  If you are lucky to survival all that horror you find out that there are hardly any employees in the stores and the few cashiers you can find are very bitter people who work  only on commission as in the Sears employees who do not even receive an hourly wage.

Well the consumers have had enough.  People have found elsewhere to buy their products.  And now all across America, malls are being torn down.  The malls used to be the place to go.  There was a time when everyone wanted to go to the mall.  For half a century the mall was the mecca for our   booming     economy.  America’s love affair with shopping malls began in 1956 when the nation’s first fully enclosed mall opened its doors in Minneapolis.  It was the most exciting period in our recent economy.  It was the most explosive growth anywhere on earth at any time in recent history.

From the early fifties throughout the 1970’s, the malls were immensely popular.  Robin Lewis is the author of the book called The New Rules of Retail.  In the book he explains in detail about the death of malls.  In the mid   fifties Dwight Eisenhower signed the interstate highway act that provided a significant change in people’s buying habits.  It was after World War II and people were making money and spending money again.  They bought new vehicles and tried them out on the new highways to the new malls.  No longer did they have to rely on the neighborhood stores.

They constructed 54,000 miles of interstate highways.  That provided such mobility that people began moving out of   the city’s into newly constructed suburbs.  It also afforded the ability to construct the regional malls.  Between 1956 and 2005, about 1500 malls were built including the largest mall ever called the mall of America   in Minnesota.  It is 14.2 million square feet long enclosing   120 stores, an   amusement park and even a wedding chapel.  You can meet your girl on a ride, buy her a ring and get married all in the same day at the same place.  Does that make Americans lazy or enterprising?

It was a golden age of shopping   which lasted until fairly recently when a new golden age of shopping has emerged courtesy of the Internet.  All of a sudden the consumer now has everything a retail store provided and more sizes and choices throughout the world literally at their fingertips in the safety and comfort of their homes.  No annoying teenagers, no shootings, no robbing and no abducting.  You now buy whenever you want in the safety of your home surrounded   by family and friends.  This is our new shopping   utopia.  You don’t even need the movie theater anymore, you bought your   big screen TV on the Internet too.  Some people   even find   their   girl on the Internet these days.

As a result of our   newest shopping habit that also frees us from the traffic jams on the interstate highways, malls across the nation are   empty   and even being torn down.  No new enclosed mall has been built since 2006.  In the book Robin Lewis predicts that nearly half of America’s malls will close within the next 10 years.  Technology is blooming in the commerce business that now people are making many purchases directly from their phones in their pocket.  It is   a new world now that is even more impersonal.

  You used to know the shop people in your local stores.  You used to   know   the people you met at the mall.  Now we know the UPS driver that will deliver all your stuff to your door.  I read that soon a drone will deliver your stuff and drop it   down from the sky.  Will anyone know anybody anymore?  But I will have stuff.  What is an American without their     stuff?  Who needs   stinking   people anyway?  I know one person that is doing well in a mall.  Does it count that   she owns an auction house where   people bring all their   stuff back to the mall?  She says the people stink and their stuff stinks too.  I think I’ll stay home today.


Sunday, April 13, 2014


 Let’s talk dating.  A special kind of dating.   I’m talking about considering dating an older woman.  They are usually very intelligent, very secure and willing to admit to just about anything.  This kind of woman has been there and has seen it all.  They know what they want and know   who they are.  It is now up to you to decide if that is what you want. Dates should be pretty easy.  They like to do daytime activities and want to have dinner at exactly 6:00.  By evening hours   they’ve had enough of you and are willing to end their day.  By 9:30 the young women are just starting to play.  I am not in this game and am pretty old myself.  How old would I have to go to date an   older   woman if I was inclined to do so?  At any age, anyone older than you I’m sure would still make you feel like some kind of stud.



Catherine Deneuve   is a movie star whose face   defines the word beauty.  She is an undisputed legend.  She   is now 70 years old.  Yes I am talking about an extremely older   woman who somehow is still a sexy beautiful classy lady.  Being French can only add to the romanticism.  The entire French language is based on puckering your lips.  Just saying,   jus suis   francoise,, I am French, is a puckering of her lips.  You youngsters who don’t know who she is can do some research and view some of the one hundred films she has appeared in over the past 57 years.  I know most of you only know Brad Pitt movies and Angelina Jolie movies that are played alternately whenever they have time to make another film.

In her early years she was known as the ice maiden.  Catherine was elegant, distant and reserved.  Yup probably hard to get.  Then she started making films packed with passion and some kinky sex.  Films  called Bill Du Jour or And All Seventy.  Her personal life was always interesting but never scandalous.  Love affairs with friends are rarely scandals and she had many friends.  Friends who she appeared in movies with.  Actors like Francois  Truffaut, or with Marcello Mastrionni.  And if you don’t know who these guys are, you are too young for this conversation.  Actually, I am a bit young for these movie stars too.

Her message was clear and is the same message from many   older   women today, “If you want me, you got to deserve me and if you do, welcome to paradise.” Wow!  That has to at   least   be intriguing.  Some have called her the   most beautiful woman in the world.  It can’t be easy living up to being called the most   beautiful   woman in the world . It can be a burden because you always have to live up to that expectation.  Her second film was called Ladies Man and of course she had   the leading role.  Her son was born when she was 19 years old.

Her .career was speeding toward stardom when one of her early films won the best prize at the Cannes film festival.  In 1965 she married photographer David Belli and during those years with him she flourished taking both risky and risqué roles.  She starred in a horror film called Repulsive directed by Roman Polanski.  At age 22 she was in theaters around the world.  Two years later she appeared as an elegant affluent woman who does tricks in the afternoon.  If  France is known for its cuisine, wine and women, then she represents the sexy, sophisticated French woman.

In 1971 she appeared for the first time with the Italian idol Marcello Mastrionni who became her lover and the father of her daughter.  They never married and their affair   lasted for four years.  See him in the classic film called La Douche  Vita.  In 1980 she won the equivalent of the French Oscar for the critically acclaimed   movie called The Last Metro directed by Francois Truffaut who was crushed after their affair ended. You might have to be a tormented man to go out with a stunning woman.  Nearing 50 years old she played an   unmarried plantation owner in 1992 in the movie called Indochino where she  raises  an orphan in China .    
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She was awarded her first and only Oscar nomination for her   work in that movie.  I wish that there were   more movies made for older actresses who still look beautiful and know their craft well.  People like Catherine deserve to win Oscars.  Her latest film   had her playing a grandmother who was a former beauty queen.  If I could turn back the hands of time I would have loved to seen her work in more   American films perhaps with our handsome   hero, Cary Grant.  Was he possibly the one man she never had?   Could there be a secret to ageing  well besides growing up beautiful?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

. Words are so important in our lives.  They can invoke all sorts of emotion.  Love, hate, tears, joy and passion all can be conveyed through   words.  Choose your words carefully since there’s always someone to inspire or   someone   to   offend.  People are even   using the same word in   many   different parts of speech.  The word fuck is used randomly all the time in many different ways usually to   offend people.  I blame it all on the fact that people don’t read enough, don’t have a large enough   vocabulary to even make substitutions of that word adequately.


What about the stupid expression O.K. Is it a word at all?  Why can’t people just   say yes?  Well, the   word happens to be America’s most successful export and has been blown around freely in this country for about 175 years.  There is no other word that is widely recognized throughout the world.  No other   American word has succeeded like that.  Like what the F word has become, one reason for OK’s appeal is   its    versatility.  Above all,   it is an   adjective.  When you say, “This is okay.” But it is also a noun when you say, “I gave this in my OK.” It is also a verb,   “   I said it was okay” It is also an adverb, “She did it okay.” And it is also an interjection, “Okay!”

So just where did this word come from?  One theory is that it came from a Greek word OLA KALA   that means all good.  A recently famous OK   origin   story was featured in the recent 2012 Academy Award winning movie called Silver Linings Play Book where the leading actor says,” Martin Van Buren the eighth president of the United States used to  say you are OK because you were part of a club.” In reality in 1839 an abbreviation craze was sweeping America.  So OK was born meaning correct.  The earliest finding of the word OK in a dictionary was in the 1864 edition of the Slang Dictionary   of   Vulgar   Words.  Is the word OK as annoying as the F word being thrown around and the word like that also seems to be in every sentence of every person that has a hard time   expressing    themselves?

Which word is more annoying like or OK?  I find the word like   infinitely more annoying than OK because like is just a brain fart; a word to throw into   a sentence when you don’t even know what you are saying.  At least the word OK it is used as a form of mutual agreement.  Like in just a mediocre word.  At least OK was featured in a famous quote.  I’m OK you’re OK.  OK is emphatic, distinctive it is simple.  Americans don’t like to be complicated.  It is a way of life.  And they hate spelling long words.  So you can’t get much shorter than OK.  OK?  OK.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring is finally here. I can tell because the daffodils are desperately trying to raise their stems through the hard winter soil.  It is a magical time of year.  Everything that looks dry and dead begins to come to life again.  It is the time of the year when a hard circle of a thing called a bulb sprouts something   beautiful in vibrant colors and is literally a gift that will multiply and sprout for   you every year.  Yes, take the time to smell the flowers better yet watch them grow for you.

After a cold winter when   way back in September you were already cuddling and smuggling with your woman under the covers and spending the winter watching the magic of her body growing till   a beautiful baby pops out of her too just in time for spring.  It is the time of the year when you can   get out and feel the warmth of the sun on your face, stand in front of your flower garden and show off that beautiful baby you made.  It all sounds pretty perfect and not   really far beyond our reach.

Spring is a religious time of the year where   people   celebrate Easter or Passover.  They celebrate the story of their God overcoming oppression to a happy ending.  I prefer to celebrate nature and the here and now because that is what I am experiencing.  By planting a bulb in the fall or a flowering tree or a bush I am gifted by beauty beyond belief in the spring.  But paying more attention to you a woman in the winter, it is possible you will be gifted a   beautiful child in the spring.  Everything takes care and planning.  Everything good   in life need special attention.  It is worth the trouble.

In Philadelphia there is an event called flower week where the Philadelphia flower show is in full bloom.  It is one of the few shows where they encourage you to take as many pictures as you like.  This year   they  put  culture back into horticulture.  From the moment you enter this show, art surrounds you. Alexander Calder was their inspiration since he is known for his mobile work and a local artist from Philadelphia. They recreated art work this time made up from thousands of flowers finding the right   shades of color found in nature. To me that is a religion finding all the colors   nature provides especially at springtime.

10 acres of the Pennsylvania convention center has been transformed into a springtime wonderland.  These are professional exhibits jt  in the typical small garden.  I don’t care if you live in an apartment building, you can still have a window box that can thrive on the same sunlight and water that the big beautiful gardens have at their disposal.  It all started in 1829 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.  The Philadelphia flower show is the oldest in the world.  Today it attracts thousands and earns about a million dollars.  The show also holds a national competition.
This year the show’s designers paired up with museums from all over the country.  They looked at famous paintings and then transformed and created an inspired garden.  Entries competed in a number of categories.  It is like the Olympics of horticulture.  You are competing against the best in the industry and when you win here, you   become one of the best in the country.  During the competition judges are kept separate from visitors and noise is kept to a minimum something similar to a tennis match.  It is actually very serious business and some exhibits even come with   birds chirping and singing their songs for the total   actual effect.


Jamie Wyeth is a painter from Pennsylvania known for wildlife scenes.  The Wyeth family was known to emphasize the natural terrain of the area.  The judges judge on how many of your   senses are activated in the exhibits.  Yes they want to be able to smell the trees and flowers.  Designers, judges and visitors alike are   all amazed by the commitment creativity and craftsmanship on display.  But most of all it is all a tribute to the beauty of the ugly bulb that turns into an amazing flower in the spring.  Perhaps it is the bloom that helps us all to blossom in the spring.  It is  time to dust winter off our shoulders and have a renewed commitment to the land our  philosophy and to our families.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Criticism.  It seems that everyone is a critic.  We all have opinions and we all wish to express them.  There is nothing wrong with that and some people might think it’s healthy.  There are people who get paid well to be a critic. How do you   get those jobs?  Growing up there was a lot of tough talk on the playground.  Whenever someone would say something mean or   hurtful we would just shout   out, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me” and then the annoying person would just go away.  It seems some things were simpler then or at least somehow I   survived   those   days.

What do we remember anyway?  It seems that   we   remember   criticism a lot more vividly than some of the nice things people have said about us.  It becomes almost a vendetta.  We say to ourselves,” how dare they say that about me, I'll show them!” and then all of a sudden we have a quest to accomplish something.  Prove a point that before the criticism stayed in our mind was never thought about that much before we got   criticized.  Why do we act that way anyway?  Who cares what other people say or think?  The fact is that we do care and can affect us physically and mentally.
At every awards ceremony after thanking God the recipient of the award can be found giving a shout out lifting their trophy forward   while saying, “I dedicate this award to all the people who said I would never amount to anything and here I have an award saying I am the best!” yes we love to show some   payback after being criticized.  To some people it takes a lifetime to finally get that accolade that award.  But it can't be that criticism that becomes the   driving force for our   ambition.  Why are the unpleasant things so unforgettable?

Scientists call it negativity   bias.  The theory is that bad news makes a much   bigger   impact on our brain. Psychologist Rick Hanson PhD..    wrote   a book called Hardwiring Happiness.  His book deals with how we can beat our natural   negativity bias.  The problem is that   we have a brain that is really good at learning from our negative experiences.   It is bad at learning from relatively good experiences.  When people criticize others they don’t take into consideration the other person’s feelings.  They criticize with reckless abandonment.  We have all been criticized in our lives.  But we all don’t deal with criticism in the same way.

Scientists are also looking into how   negative comments can affect the brain. When someone says that you are horrible, that word horrible will stick in your   brain and haunt you.  There are at least two regions of your brain, the Amygdala and the Medial Prefrontal Cortex that work harder  when processing criticism and can keep the brain from doing much else.  It can become all consuming.  It literally effects you to your core.  Maybe that’s why pushing back becomes so much fun.  Not all criticism is bad.  Just look at those movie stars on the red carpet when they have to show up for their   awards.  Hopefully when they are picked upon everyone will agree that they are all so very talented and beautiful.  We all know that even the movie stars are criticized for what they wear and what they do.  Who they love and who they choose not to love.  When they go and where they don’t go.

I feel when it comes to sports people, they are paid   a lot of money for their abilities and for being a role model for younger people.  If they don’t behave well,  they deserve to be criticized.  That is the price you pay for fame.  Be glad that everyone knows your name.  And be proud of the image that people have of you.  Go out of your   way to avoid negative criticism because you are in the spotlight.  Bottom line find  ways to see the positive ways  into everything because you stay healthier if you a smiling and happy.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

We only have one life to live and we all know there is no turning back.  You only hope you can repair the messes you have made, learn from your mistakes and move on perhaps to even a better life.  Not many of us have that opportunity but when you hear of someone who has done that, changed   their life for the better, it is remarkable and worth talking about.  The real life greed depicted in the   Academy Award winning movie The Wolf of Wall Street in real life involved an important person in the foot wear   business.  The movie was about real life greed that continues in some part on Wall Street’s till today.

His name is Steve Madden and if your girl has any sense of style, she probably has a pair of his shoes in her   closet.  He doesn’t look like the ordinary shoe designer.  He looks like an ordinary hardworking husband even now as a very successful man.  His shoes are sold in nearly 60 countries and he enjoys to be part of every part of his business including weekly visits to his own New York stores.  He even knows the name of almost all his shoe styles.  Last year his company walked off with more than $1.3 billion in sales.

Women love his shoes because they are comfortable and very stylish.  From boots to sandals to   stilettos, Madden   designs many of his top selling shoes   in his factory in the New York City borough of Queens   not   far from where he grew up in a Long Island suburb.also a place near where I grew up.  As a teenager his first job was working in a shoe store.  He fell in love with the marriage of art and commerce.  In 1975 he went to college at the University of Miami and seemed to have majored in sun tanning and drugs and didn’t pass many classes.  He dropped out of college because his father refused to pay any more.  He was told to go get a job because he wasn’t taking school seriously and his father  wasn’t going to waste any more money paying for it.

With only about a grand in the bank he went back to working   in a shoe store again.  He started selling a clog he named The Marilyn and the shoe was an instant hit.  Within three years, Madden had opened his first store in New York’s trendy Soho.  Then more of   life’s mistakes happened. Greed crept into his soul.  In 1992 he went into business with Jordon Beaufort   the crooked stockbroker played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street. Jordon’s brokerage firm took Madden’s company public and artificially inflated its   stock   price.  They raised more money for him than he ever dreamed was possible.  In the beginning he thought   it was legitimate but then after   a while   he knew   something had to be crocked.  By then he was in too deep.

The price for his   greed was 31 months in prison.  A sentence Madden began serving in 2002.  It may have been the best thing that ever happened to him.  Yes we only have one life but it is a long life where many things can change.  While being locked up, Madden grew close to one of his employees Wendy who visited him regularly and they began holding hands, then kissing, then writing love letters.  All behaviors that never happened in their working relationship before he went to prison.  She made his time in prison better and gave him something to look forward to.  The excitement built as their heart beats raced as they counted down the months to his freedom.  They married immediately after his release and now they’re blessed with three children.  Madden has a life now surrounded by love that he probably would not have had if he did not go to prison.  Wealthy   single men rarely settle down to   a wife and kids.

He was able to go right back into his business because customers   don’t care if you’ve gone to prison, they still want great shoes.  Now he feels a greater purpose to his life.  It is no longer about making as much money as you can.  Life is about giving back.  It is about devotion to his wife and children and to his customers.  At age 56, Steve Madden has gone full circle.  He no longer   hobnobs with trendy stockbrokers but hangs out with his kids.  He is   still very busy being   a famous designer and a hands on businessman.  Madden is kicking up his heels.  Steve admits that he is sorry that   he had been so foolish to break the law however he realizes that without   going to prison, he  never would have gotten close to the woman who now is his wife and had his kids.  He loves what he does and is grateful that he has been given a second chance at life.

Yeah this was a warped feel good story, but I am a whim and I like good love stories every now and then.  What is important is that whatever God that you believe in, he or she or it never lets us see one moment into our future but our   past can haunt us forever. So look   forward to your future.  It may surprise you despite the foolishness you do today, the price you pay tomorrow, for perhaps something good in the long run.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In poker a full house   is   a good hand to be holding.  In the theater world, a   full house is one where every seat   is filled. In everyday life a full house is one that is packed with   so much stuff,   you   can   hardly move and there isn’t much room for people.  Usually the people that depend on having lots of stuff around them don’t have many friends around them.  They seek comfort in   their belongings and quite frankly do not have the time to even   organize   them.  Their junk   becomes a work in progress that really never gets tended to.  It is not fine   if others come in to help touch their stuff for fear that the strangers will simply throw out something of value or something sentimental.  You   are   looking at someone   defined by one word. Hoarder
There are millions of people who hoard things they have accumulated for years.  It is estimated that up to 5% of the United States population has the problem of hoarding.  Yes anything you do to   an   excess is considered a problem.  The hoarding   problem is equal to men and women.  A new poll found out   that a third of all   Americans admit they have too much clutter in their homes.   4% of people say   things are just fine and 12% people say that they don’t have enough stuff.  This subject of hoarding has become so sensational that there   have been many reality TV shows finding success in discovering hoarders.

Beyond the spectacle of the events hoarding has now been diagnosed as a mental condition.  Earlier this year for   the very first time, The Diagnostics statistical Manual of mental disorders essentially the handbook   for mental health experts recognized hoarding   as a specific disorder.  The formal definition is someone who has difficulty   getting rid of or letting go of possessions.  Two major components of the disorder are that you accumulate way too much more than you need and   you have a hard time saying goodbye to your things.  There is a   third   component to the disorder that is equally important and that is the inability to keep it organized.

There is a book out there called Stuff by   Randy Frost   which offers   a less clinical view on this subject of hoarding.  He has been studying and writing about hoarding since 1990.  The public has been fascinated by dramatic stories on the subject. Back in 1947 for example, there was a story about two brothers who were descendants of a wealthy family that made headlines that their dead bodies were   found in their town house that was filled with stuff.  No scientific research was done on hoarding until about 20 years ago.  Now you can find plenty of people that have homes full of plenty of stuff.  There is a whole storage industry that has popped up where you can put more stuff in these containers that you can rent.
You can rent stuff and buy and sell stuff on places like E Bay.  Randy Frost’s   observations have revealed some key findings.  Hoarding   affects   people across the whole economic spectrum.  There is even evidence that hoarding may even   be inherited.  Also that a significant number of hoarders suffer from   depression and the region of the brain   that determines the importance of   objects shows abnormal activity when hoarders are faced   when making decisions about   dealing with their belongings.  The cut off where you will   find   a sloppy and disorganized person to a mentally disabled hoarder is when the quality of their   own life diminished to a point when they cannot conduct every day duties because of all the stuff around them.

There are companies that clean up and help hoarders get rid of their stuff but that may not really address the root of the problem.  It might be just   making more room for more stuff.  So there are support groups now for people who need to discuss their habits and recognize what they are doing, discuss the reasons for keeping all their   stuff and finally gaining the ability to let go and say goodbye.  They need to establish very specific weekly goals.  Even if it requires tidying up a very small area.  There are always people who do not have success and still have their meals sitting on top of their mail.  Groups are good to be able to discuss the why they   do these things.  When all the stuff around you becomes   suffocating, you know it is then time to seek help or to do something about the problem.

Like with any other addiction, you have to make the choice to change with visible results.  Words mean nothing unless you prove your words   in your actions.  Impulses will always be there but it is important to realize how you deal with your impulses and curb them.  The urge to hoard is probably a lifelong struggle.