Don’t Know When I’ll See You Again

Ocean Window

So in synagogue today, the Rabbi introduced this very old man to the pulpit to say a few words. 


Apparently, he was one of the founders of the shule. 


This grey headed, stooped man walks slowly forward carrying a small oxygen tank with wires dangling in his jacket and to his nose. 


The man stands on the dais and says:


“I am 91-years old, and the doctor says  I have this, that, and the other thing, and I am terminal. 


It was very hard for me to get here today in my condition, but I wanted to speak with you all. 


I have lived a good life, but not an easy life. 


My life was a rollercoaster–at one time I had six cars and another time just one car, for the most part I had enough money, but never a lot of money. 


Now, I ask myself what is really important. 


When I have shortness of breath then nothing seems so important anymore–and it is the simple things that really count. 


My son called the other day to tell me that he is being given more responsibility at work–not just his teaching responsibilities anymore–and he won’t have time to call so often anymore. 


So while I’ve studied and explored all facets of thinking from Shintoism and Buddhism to communism and socialism, in the end, I realized that I have the Torah and am a just simple Jew from Fez. 


I wanted to be here with you today to ask you all for your forgiveness so that I can go on as I am very sick and am terminal.  


I don’t know when I will get to see you all again.” 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where’s The Value?

Binary

So I don’t know how I feel about this or maybe I do. 


The Wall Street Journal reports today that from the 10 largest companies by market capitalization:


1) The top 3 are technology companies


Apple $679B

Alphabet (Google’s Parent) $489B

Microsoft $422B


2) Moreover, a full 5 (half) of the top 10 are technology companies


That includes the 3 above and the other 2 below:


Facebook $288B

Amazon $280B


As a technology person, I am thrilled at the impact that IT has on our society. 


We are no longer the same thanks to our Apple iPhones, Google Search, Microsoft’s business tools like Outlook, Office and SharePoint, Facebook’s social networking, and Amazon’s online shopping. 


But to think that these information capabilities outweigh by value everything else in society that we need as people is somewhat astounding.


For example, the other 5 of the top 10 companies are:


Exxon Mobil (Oil and Gas) $346B 

Berkshire Hathaway (Insurance, Utilities, Clothing, Building Products, Retail, Flight Services) $340B

General Electric (Power and Water, Oil and Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation) $298B

Wells Fargo (World’s Largest Bank) $280B

Johnson and Johnson (Pharmaceuticals) $278B


So when you add these behemoths up–this is what we have:


The 5 top technology companies are worth $2.158T


Vs.


The top 5 traditional companies from all the other industries combined are worth only $1.542T


Net it out:


The largest representative IT companies are worth $616B or 40% more than the other major companies combined.


(In fact, just the top 3 IT companies at $1.56T are worth more than the top 5 other companies at $1.542T.) 


Sure IT growth has been on a tear for the last couple of decades and we love everything futuristic it brings us. 


But isn’t it a little scary to think that the companies that meet all our other needs from food, clothing, shelter, medicine, transportation, energy, finance, retail, etc. isn’t worth more to us than just the IT alone. 


Perhaps adding it up from a value perspective just doesn’t add up in a real life perspective. 


I love technology and want more and more of it, but man does not live by technology alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nothing Is Something AND Something Is Nothing

Uber Commodities

So the world financial markets continue to go haywire. 


The Uber glorified taxi service and app (with an almost half billion dollar operating loss) is now valued at–get this–over $50,000,000,000!


And commodities–you know the precious materials that REAL things are made off (gold, silver, copper, aluminum, oil, gas, coal, wheat, cotton, corn, soybeans, cotton, cocoa, coffee, sugar, beef, and more) hit a 13 year low. 


When the nothings of this world like a basic cab service become invaluable and the real things that power our homes, technology, transportation, and manufacturing become valueless–then we know a day of painful financial reckoning is coming. 


The markets can stand on their head for only so long before the blood rushes in and people become dizzy and see spots.


A reversion to the mean is the one something here that is inevitable, along with a pretty decent recession to boot. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Teats Or Not

Bull

So I heard a new phrase from one of my colleagues recently…


He goes on about somebody (or something) being like “2 teats on a bull!”


I’ve always wanted to spend some serious time on a farm…but never really have had the opportunity to learn about that whole rural world, and I’m like what????


But I got it, and didn’t really like it. 


Sort of a harsh way to call someone out as a useless piece of [you know what]!


I’ve heard kids joke about “man boobs” and I sure you can guess what those unflattering things are on a male.


Too often, we write people off without giving them a real chance!


While perhaps, there can be useless appendages through genetics or illness, there are no fundamentally useless people (although maybe some can be troubled, dejected, in a bad fit, etc.).


More often, there are unflattering comments from others who don’t appreciate differences or see clearly what each person can “bring to the table.”


Let’s just say, if G-d created someone, there is reason and purpose to their lives, and we need to understand and appreciate them for their value. 


It may take (some) exploration, but everyone has strengths (as well as weaknesses–we’re all human) and we can find what each person is good at, cultivate it, and leverage it for the good. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Carol Von Canon)

Buyer Beware, Else Buyer Remorse

Wallet
Just a quick lesson I wanted to share from my grandfather.



He used to say (or so my dad used to tell me), “You open your eyes or you open your wallet!



Put another way is that “A fool and his money are soon parted.”



But I like the way my grandfather put it even better–easier to remember and no name calling involved! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

10 Reasons To Love Trader Joe’s and 2 To Not

Trader Joes
There are many reasons to love Trader Joe’s, but here’s my top 10 (can you tell I just came from there?):



1) Pretty much you can depend that their food is good and fresh, and a lot of it is readymade and “convenient”. 



2) Prices are a value considering much of what they sell is private label, premium, or super premium–like the “Belgium chocolate” above!



3) They have many items in single-serve portions, so the food is easy to make, clean up, and store. 



4) The stores are relatively small, clean, well lit, and cozy with a limited number of goods, making shopping quick and easy–they’ve already narrowed the field for you. 



5) They have freebies to taste in the aisles–tonight it was 2 types of coffee and a pumpkin cheesecake sample–the check out guy asked me if I had a chance to try it–uh, not on my diet, but thanks!



6) They have a cool customer service bell in front that they ring whenever you need something done–tonight it was as simple as replacing a package that had opened up–ring, ring–a clerk brought up a brand new one, jiffy quick. 



7) They double bag the goods, so the bags don’t break on the way home and the goodies don’t fall out. 



8) Typically convenient locations in major shopping areas and short lines inside…never have to wait more than one person ahead on the line. 



9) They are eco-friendly and have lot’s of stuff that is organic, non-genetically modified, and without artificial anything. 



10) They ask you–and seem to mean it–if you found everything okay with your shopping experience, and seem more than ready to correct anything that was less than perfect. 



Despite these wonderful traits, there is something about Trader Joe’s that’s Normal Rockwell all smiley, small-townish annoying and claustrophobic, especially in the age of the more modern megastore supermarkets and Costco warehouses.



So it’s not the only store I go to–variety is still the spice of life. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Richy Rich Reward

Reward That's Rich
Check out this lost dog sign in Las Olas.



Do you notice anything unusual?



Look at the amount of the reward for finding this canine.



—Yes, $10,000!!!



A healthy Teacup Yorkie can run you as much as $2,000.



So this reward is 5x that and this kelev is on meds!



Amazing the meaning of money and dogs. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Pain Relief – SUPER SIZED!

Tylenol Super Size
This was funny at CVS today.



The “value size” extra strength Tylenol (equivalent)–1000 pills!



Think about it that’s something like 500 headaches…



It reminded me when I worked in the financial service industry in New York City.



The Comptroller of the corporation has a mega size bottle of aspirin right on the front of his desk when you walked in.



It was clear he was quite S~T~R~E~S~S~E~D out.



From a personal branding perspective (my wife is the expert at this), I would imagine that this is not the image you would want people to have of you all the time.



Anyway, pain relief for some is a very big bottle of Tylenol and for others a nice bottle of wine or some time at the beach. 



My father used to tell me the joke, “If I have to give up wine, women, or song…I’ll give up singing!” 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What A Waste Of Coin

What A Waste Of Coin

Coming to work this week, I saw a penny on the ground…then another…and another.

I saw people passing the money, and instead of picking it up, they kicked in off the curb.

That’s even worse than throwing them into the fountain where at least you might get some good luck from it.

Thus, the state of our minting of coinage–it’s essentially worthless.

After getting a pretty basic Venti Java Chip at Starbucks for a whopping $5.45, I quickly calculated, I would need 545 pennies,109 nickles, 54.5 dimes, or 21.8 quarters o pay for this–how ridiculous!

And uh, how many of these would you need to pay someone one hour at the new proposed minimum wage of $10.10 if you did it in coins?

Otherwise, I could just give them a credit or debit card–yes, sort of a no brainer, right?

Why do we keep making coinage that no one wants or needs in the digital age?

We have direct deposit for payroll, automatic deductions for many expenses, online banking, ecommerce , credit and debit cards, paypal, and even bitcoin…let’s just be honest and admit it, traditional money is basically obsolete.

At Starbucks, I see many people now just use their Smartphone App to pay and get rewards–another advance.

Someday soon, we will have embedded chips that simply add and deduct payments as we go along and live life–it’s really not all that complicated.

The funny thing also is that it costs more to make many coins then their intrinsic worth–and hence the drive towards making coins with cheaper materials.

According to Business Insider, in 2012, a penny cost 2.4 cents to make and a nickle 11.2 cents–quite a losing proposition.

While there truly are some valuable coins out there and I appreciate that there are many coin lovers and collectors–numismatists–perhaps there are alternate hobbies to consider.

A colleague once told me that “If you watch your pennies, the dollars will follow”–and that may be some good investement advice, but in a 24/7 society and after decades of inflation, there isn’t enough time or room to collect all the pennies we would need to make much of a difference.

ABC News reports that while our northern brother, Canada, got rid of the penny in 2012, we still make something like 5 billion of these useless things a year.

Full disclosure: my first job in Washington, D.C. was for the U.S. Mint, and while there were good things about it, I could never feel good about the mission–it just had no purpose. 😉

All Opinions my own.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Maura Teague)

10 Ways To Improve Federal Technology

10 Ways To Improve Federal Technology

While it’s good to improve government services through advances in information technology, we also need to do better with what we have, which is our own valuable IT human capital.

In the Wall Street Journal today, the “health-site woes” are spurring a push for changes to federal technology, including the possibility of a “federal unit dedicated to big tech projects.”

Whether or not we carve our a separate big tech project unit, we can do so much to improve success in all our agencies by valuing our people and motivating them to succeed.

As democracy and capitalism have taught us, we need people to be free to innovate and reward them appropriately.

While the grass may look greener in Silicon Valley, our challenge is to utilize all our resources in whatever part of the country they reside, whether they be government or private sector workers.

Ultimately, like most things, this is a human challenge, and not just a technology issue.

Hence, I developed the above comic strip to demonstrate 10 Ways to Improve Federal Technology, so we can all succeed together. 😉

(Source Cartoon [click here to enlarge]: Andy Blumenthal)