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Archive for the ‘Cool People’ Category

Last Sunday Trisha and I got married. Our guests were close family and friends. The instructions for gifts were “the four As:”

  • Art
  • Alcohol
  • Adventure
  • Activity

Soon they turned into five As, when some friends asked us about our favorite charity they could donate to on our behalf. So officially, it was now the five As:

  • Art
  • Alcohol
  • Adventure
  • Activity
  • Africa

For Art: We both love art. Our house is full of original art I made, and people have given us, to the point where there are dozens of unframed paintings stacked in storage. Art, and anything related to art, is always an exciting gift for us.

For Alcohol: We are not drinkers at all. Trisha loves her wine, and she’ll go to a local winery for a tasting, but I suspect more for the social adventure with a friend than for the wine itself. As my daughter pointed out in her wedding speech, “Dad used to drink one beer a year…” and it made it sound like it’s a lot more now. But not really. I have a rule that I can have one drink a day. I do enjoy some exotic stuff, like Cognac, or Absinthe. One friend asked in advance if coffee fit under alcohol, and I said Yes!

For Adventure: We like to do things out of the ordinary. We recently took a ride around San Diego in a biplane. Your get the idea.

For Activity: Take us out to dinner, get us to eat something, do something, or learn something.

For Africa: Send money to Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia. Trisha recently was in Botswana and connected with many good people who work for the conservation of endangered wildlife.

I must say that the five As ( Art-Alcohol-Adventure-Activity-Africa ) was a resounding success. But one fried (JW) took it over the top and I could not help feature his gift here:

He said that since the gift had to start with A, it was a pretty easy choice:

  • Absinthe
  • Applejack
  • Aquavit
  • Arak Sannine
  • Armagnac
  • Amontillado

…where the latter came with the book by Edgar Allan Poe, the Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales, where the inscription by JW pointed us to page 162, where the story The Cask of Amontillado started.

Try to even find a place where they sell all these exotic examples of fire water!

Now I have a lifetime to spend, one glass a day, working my way through the As.

Then come the Bs.

Oh, married life!

 

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John McCain recently made a lot of headlines. His decision to kill the repeal of the Affordable Care Act may have been the most influential, and the most controversial, vote of his career. His illness may require him to retire soon, but I have always believed that he was an American hero.

I haven’t always agreed with him. If you search this blog for the name “McCain” you will find many posts, some negative, and some praises. I don’t always have to agree with a man on everything to respect him. Let me say it right here: I have always respected John McCain.

If you are at all interested in McCain’s career, here is a review of his book Faith of My Fathers.

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Here is the moment when Senator John McCain voted “No” on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Mitch McConnell, standing by with crossed arms, watching every senator vote, walked away defeated moments later. He knew he didn’t have the votes.

It has been incomprehensible to me how a government, by the people, for the people, would want to take action that takes insurance coverage away from a significant percentage of its people.

There are 243 million people in the U.S. over age 16, so let’s call them the adult population. Taking health care coverage away from 26 million people would affect 10% of the population.

Picture yourself being one of those 26 million. You may have had a pre-existing condition like diabetes, and now, by the stroke of a pen by your president, that coverage is gone and gone forever. You have diabetes, and you can’t get insurance that you can afford anymore.

Why? Because evil Obama made it so that wealthier Americans pay more taxes to fund shortfalls. Because insurance and pharma executives make millions of dollars a year and their companies are wildly profitable because their non-competitive practices are sanctioned by our laws and regulations. And because a significant percentage of our government is bought off by those individuals and organizations and they have a president who can’t think beyond soundbites on Fox News and will sign anything as long as it serves his aggrandizement.

This entire initiative to kill the Affordable Care Act is motivated not by making things right for the American people, but by political ambitions. The president has said that the Affordable Care Act is a disaster for the American people, and – by golly – many of the dumbed-down American people believe him.

Congress Republicans wanted to score a point, with the president, and with their paymasters. Now we have a White House that not only appears to have been put in place by the aid of an adversarial power, but it also actively sabotages one of the laws of the land – the Affordable Care Act. Rather than upholding the laws, the government is sabotaging the laws.

Trump says he wants to make America great again. By throwing 10% of the adult population off their healthcare? What kind of problem-solving is that? It’s oligarchy. It’s making himself and those in his orbit in debt rich. I do not understand how he can have 37% of the population is his support. A significant percentage of his own supporters would lose their healthcare coverage. Really? That’s a lot of people supporting Trump with no healthcare. Somebody help me understand that.

McCain understood that, and he listened to his constituents. Unlike dozens of his colleagues in the Senate, who also must know deep down how wrong all this is, he showed backbone and he did what is right for the American people. Too bad there isn’t going to be another opportunity to vote for McCain for president.

For more reading on McCain:

See my open letter, also sent to him in hardcopy: Here.

My book review on Faith of my Fathers. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand the man John McCain and the experiences of a prisoner of war. If you only read one chapter, read the one about “John McCain’s Towel.”

Here is an article about McCain and torture.

 

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One thing you can say about Trisha – she knows how to have fun. This afternoon, she treated me to a ride in a biplane over San Diego. What better thing is there to do for no particular reason at all?

Here is the plane. As in all photos in this post, you can click on it to enlarge. Everyone who lives in San Diego has seen this blue and red biplane in the sky at one time or another. The plane was built in 1927. It is thirty years older than I am, and by far the oldest plane I have ever been in. Think of it. The Wright Brothers first flew in 1903. This plane was built just 24 years after that!

We’re gonna fly!

Here we are over the ocean, looking back to the Torrey Pines glider port. The cliff was swarming with paragliders. We stayed offshore so we didn’t get too close to any of them. If you zoom in and carefully look by the red arrows, you see a couple of them.

Below at the blue arrow is the infamous San Diego Blacks Beach. Do you see any of the nude sunbathers? I looked, but they were too far away.

We turned around and headed for La Jolla. Here is a quick video looking over the hood.

Speaking of La Jolla, here is a good look down at the famous La Jolla cove. You can see all the people on the beach.

And here is a view of the little cove (upper right) where there is a lot of controversy because it’s been taken over by seals. Some want to ban the seals, because they pollute the beach. Others say it’s their beach. Leave them alone.

Looking back, you can see our pilot. How in the world he can see anything back there is beyond me! He pretty much flies the plane looking sideways and down. At one time he pointed out a school of dolphins in the water near the beach and pointed the wing down at them was we circled over the spot checking them out.

Heading back inland now, here is a great view of Mission Bay.

Here is one of the San Diego canyons, with downtown in the back on the left.

Snoopy was also busy taking pictures. All that was missing was her scarf flying behind her in the wind.

Finally, our approach back to the runway. The plan just dive bombed down for the approach. The landing took what seemed just a few seconds.

And that was a superb way to spend a Tuesday afternoon. It’s called an “Adventure.”

 

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When Joan Baez makes a song about you, you’ve got it made.

Or do you?

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you…..

— Carly Simon

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The Woman sent me this:

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Here is my kind of project.

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tweet-trump-1

Read the entire tirade here – this is priceless.

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There are 42 immigrants on the Forbes 400 list. That’s just over 10%. Most of them have a very high “self-made score.”

For instance, Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, is 40 years old and worth over $8.8 billion. That’s more than twice the net worth of Donald Trump, at $3.7 billion.

Koum immigrated from the Ukraine with his mother in 1992 due to the political and anti-Semitic environment there. His mom worked as a babysitter. Koum was 16 years old and he got a job as a cleaner in a grocery store. They got an apartment through government assistance, and bought groceries with food stamps. Then Koum went to San Jose State, definitely not ivy league, and then got a job at Yahoo! where he worked for nine years before he started WhatsApp.

The American system has supported this immigrant in the beginning, yes. Cynics will lament that our tax dollars paid for penniless immigrants. They did. However, Koum created American jobs and American wealth, for himself, and for many others. He made many people millionaires.

The fact that 10% of the Forbes 400 are immigrants, and that many of them came to this country with a single suitcase, no money, two hands to work menial jobs, and an indomitable belief in themselves and the American Dream, attests to the value of immigrants in America.

Nothing can be more misguided than the nonsense we’re hearing spouted every day now. Go get the Forbes 400 edition of 2016. It provides many inspiring stories.

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Last week, 10 protestors, 7 men and 3 women, chained themselves across the inbound lanes of the George Washington Bridge, yes, that George Washington Bridge that Chris Christie is accused of purposely closing down to cause traffic problems in Ft. Lee a couple of years ago.

The protesters wanted to draw attention to immigrant rights. Clearly, they got attention. Clearly, the attention was not good. Just check the YouTube comments and see for yourself. In America, you have a right to protest for your opinions, but you really do not have a right to impact thousands of innocent citizens trying to go to work in Manhattan. Travel across the bridge was delayed for up to 90 minutes.

Why am I interested in this? I happen to personally know one of the protesters – quite well. I will not reveal her identity here for her privacy and that of her family and friends. I have known her since she was born, and I have to say I have always respected her as I saw her grow up. I do not agree with how this act was carried out, since it did adversely affect innocent people, but I respect her initiative, and I believe she will learn from this and one day go far.

After all, we have images of Bernie Sanders doing pretty much the same thing back in 1963, and he made it pretty close to the presidency in 2016, didn’t he?

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The founder of the Chobani yoghurt company is Hamdi Ulukaya, a Muslim immigrant from Turkey. He came to upstate New York 10 years ago with nothing, bought an empty Kraft plant using an SBA loan, and started hiring employees. Ulukaya is now a billionaire. He just made some headlines recently:

The clip below shows how he got started:

This man is not even a United States citizen yet, but he has created jobs for over 2,000 people in the United States already, and growing. Yes, he is a Muslim immigrant.

When the interviewer asks him about how Obamacare affects his business, she is obviously expecting complaints. However, he says “I have bigger problems. I need to make more yoghurt.” I have to agree. Most business people are way less worried about their employees’ healthcare costs than they are about running the business. If the business is run well and is successful, healthcare costs are a footnote at best.

So here is an amazing success story created by an immigrant. To my dismay, I then saw somebody commenting with this under the YouTube video:

chobani-comments

This kind of sentiment in our country makes me sick and embarrassed about my countrymen. Let’s just get this straight:

A guy comes from Turkey 10 years ago, a son of a farmer, penniless. He decides to start a yoghurt company. He goes to the SBA and borrows $800,000 and with that he rescues a factory in upstate New York that was being shut down by Kraft, and he proceeds to turn that $800,000 loan into a billion-dollar company, creates 2,000 jobs, then gives away 10% of his company to his employees, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars EACH, and Jim Allen III, Col. Richard Hunter and Lauri DEAGUIAR have a problem with that?

One complains about veterans dying in the streets. Why, if an immigrant farm boy from Turkey can start a yoghurt company and create American jobs, why don’t the veterans in the streets start some companies?

Another complains that he is a lying pig because, presumably there was a Turkish refugee in Idaho who raped a poor 5-year-old girl? I don’t get the connection. Sorry.

Here we have a self-made billionaire, who used the system, and borrowed $800,000 from the SBA, and built a great company. That’s Ulukaya. He is demonized by comments like this because he is an immigrant, and he is a Muslim.

I know of another self-made billionaire, who used the system (his words), and borrowed a small loan of $14,000,000 from his father, and built a great company. That’s Trump.

Both created thousands of jobs. Both are billionaires. Both “used the system.” One has never filed bankruptcy. Since he never had a billion-dollar loss, he presumably pays federal income tax.

But one is an immigrant, a Muslim and a not yet a citizen.

And the other is Donald Trump. He is running for president.

A tale of two billionaires.

You choose!

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Much deserved by my favorite poet.

bob-dylan-1

See CNN article here.

Simple Twist of Fate – by Bob Dylan

They sat together in the park
As the evening sky grew dark
She looked at him and he felt a spark
Tingle to his bones
‘Twas then he felt alone
And wished that he’d gone straight
And watched out for a simple twist of fate

They walked along by the old canal
A little confused, I remember well
And stopped into a strange hotel
With a neon burnin’ bright
He felt the heat of the night
Hit him like a freight train
Moving with a simple twist of fate

A saxophone someplace far off played
As she was walkin’ by the arcade
As the light bust through a beat-up shade
Where he was wakin’ up
She dropped a coin into the cup
Of a blind man at the gate
And forgot about a simple twist of fate

He woke up, the room was bare
He didn’t see her anywhere
He told himself he didn’t care
Pushed the window open wide
Felt an emptiness inside
To which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate

He woke up, the room was bare
He didn’t see her anywhere
He told himself he didn’t care
Pushed the window open wide
Felt an emptiness inside
To which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate

He hears the ticking of the clocks
And walks along with a parrot that talks
Hunts her down by the waterfront docks
Where the sailers all come in
Maybe she’ll pick him out again
How long must he wait?
One more time for a simple twist of fate

People tell me it’s a sin
To know and feel too much within
I still believe she was my twin
But I lost the ring
She was born in spring
But I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate

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…was on my daughter’s wedding day – yesterday!

Wedding Day

If you want to know more about her, there is no better place to check than her own blog entry about herself on her and her husband Tyler’s business blog for SoundViz.

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From a Proud Dad

Virgin America

My daughter and her husband-to-be are flying in from San Francisco tonight. They’ll be staying with us for a few days before their wedding next week! The moms of the bride and groom leaked this to the airlines – and the happy couple got a free upgrade by Virgin America.

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