Right Time, Right Place – but Wrong Man

Last week I was driving the rural roads of upstate New York, going from Albany west on Route 20. My destination was the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, which had a special exhibition of Wyeth family figure drawings that I wanted to see.

I was scheduled for a work meeting at noon local time, and I planned to be in town by then and catch it on my computer using my Verizon hot spot for network access. Once I entered town about 20 minutes before my call, I drove down the main street and got lucky: In the middle of town, busy with people and cars all around, I found an empty parking space on the right side of the road that I was able to parallel-park into.

I left my engine running, since it was really hot outside, and got set up for my meeting with my laptop leaning against the steering wheel.

Then I looked up and out my side window, and this is what I saw:

This is the main entrance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. People save their money to take their kids on vacation to come here as a destination. And here I was parked across the street from it for a prosaic business meeting.

I have to explain here that I do not know anything about baseball. I have been to exactly one game in my life and I was bored. I do not know any names of any baseball players, except Babe Ruth, oh, and maybe Joe DiMaggio – that was another baseball player, right? Oh, and I also have to add that in 1982, I once got a private tour of their home stadium and facilities by the chief financial officer of the Chicago White Sox; I was working on the season billing program for the White Sox when I was working for Ticketmaster.

I didn’t go into the Hall of Fame after my meeting. Rather, I tried to find some lunch down the street at a diner, but the diner was closed, so I stopped at the sushi place next door. I was reading and eating my myself. At the table next to me there were a couple of old Italian-looking guys in their late 70ies, one of them with a cane, having their lunch. While I am sitting there, a family man with his teenage son comes up to the old guy with the cane and asks him for an autograph for his son. They are chatting it up for a while, the boy awestruck, quiet and just smiling.

So I was at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and didn’t go in, and I sat next to an old legend whose name I don’t know.

I was definitely at the right time, at the right place – but I was the wrong man.

International Approaches to Problems and their Solutions

This is hilarious. It makes me proud of my German heritage.

To make it easier, here is the key:

  1. Germany
  2. United States
  3. Russia
  4. China
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Ireland
  7. Spain
  8. Switzerland
  9. France
  10. Belgium
  11. Turkey
  12. Poland
  13. Italy


Featured Artist: Tatsuo Horiuchi

Tatsuo Horiuchi wanted to paint after he retired, but he didn’t want to spend money on supplies, and he didn’t want to buy a painting program. So he used what he already had: Microsoft Excel.

After using Excel for three decades myself, I didn’t know you could possibly use it to paint. I am amazed about the level of creativity and ingenuity this artist exhibits.

The Old Bank Vault

Today I went to the local locksmith shop to get a copy of a key. I saw this sitting in the middle of the shop:

I didn’t have a banana with me for scale, but the white paper on top is a normal sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper. The top of it reached about to the level of my belt.

We are looking at a bank vault from circa 1853. To put it in perspective, this was before Abraham Lincoln was president. The vault is made of solid manganese and weighs over 4,500 pounds. The design of the vault was to direct the shock of a dynamite blast away from the vault, thus ensuring anything inside would be protected. The inside of the vault is only about 12 by 12 inches, about enough room for a basketball.

Those cowboy bank robbers of the west must have had a hard time with a vault that weighed 4,500 pounds and couldn’t be blasted open with dynamite. Try to put that on the back of a horse!


Picture Credit: Joseph Wu

Joseph Wu makes a living doing origami. Here is his Facebook page: Link to Facebook.

I checked his website, but it is broken right now. Here is the link, maybe he’ll get it fixed now that he is going viral with the Berniegami: Link to Joseph Wu’s website (broken site).

Pandemic Gardening

During the pandemic, we have spent more time in the yard, and one of the fruits of our labor were bell peppers.

To put this in perspective:

The two peppers on the left we bought at the market for 99 cents.

The two peppers on the right we grew ourselves. Given the cost of the plants, the planter, the irrigation, they probably cost 99 dollars, and it took at least 3 months to grow them.

Time and money well-spent.

I won’t talk about our carrots. Not a single one succeeded. I think we planted too late, and we have to start again in the spring. Good thing we’re not dependent on living off the land.

How #DiaperDon Became Possible

Trump held a news conference on Thanksgiving sitting at an oddly small desk.

Not only did this make for strange optics, particularly with Trump being a big man, he made it worse by flying off the handle when he didn’t like some of the questions from reporters. At one point, he railed “I am the President of the United States! Don’t talk to me like that…..” which of course looked like a tantrum a school boy would throw when he didn’t get his way.

Social media went wild. Here is an example:

There seem to be thousands of images like this, framing Trump as a toddler, and #DiaperDon instantly rose to the top of Twitter trends.

After doing this to himself yesterday, he is piling on today coming after Twitter as if somehow it’s their fault that thousands of people thought it funny and started posting modified images.

Trump is obviously out of touch with reality. Nobody forced him to sit down at the tiny desk and act like a toddler. He did this to himself. Now he is throwing more tantrums because he does not like the outcome, making it yet worse, because if you didn’t check Twitter before this, you surely will now.

This is obviously what happens if you surround yourself only with sycophants. Somebody actually decided to use this tiny desk for a press conference. Perhaps it was a purposeful choice? But does it not strike you as odd that nobody in the White House thought it wise to tell him that this was probably not a good idea and he should not sit at a tiny desk?


Big Dispute in the Chicken Coop

This allegory was posted on Facebook by a Trump voter I have very high respect for, whom I will keep anonymous:

Big dispute in the chicken house about the latest vote on “which is better – white or brown eggs”–more votes than chickens and some are too young to vote-some votes came from stew pot chicken and biscuits. They were cooked several years ago – some mail in votes were received after the votes were being counted. The BIG ROOSTER invalidated all the votes and said only those who can validate their eligibility to vote can be counted. Those who oppose this ruling are marching in protest outside the coop with signs that says “WE WANT ALL VOTES TO COUNT”– Some votes were found under the chicken house and under the feed barrel. some were in the mail two days after the election and were counted–such a mess.

Here are my thoughts on the various subjects:

Chicken and biscuits voting: Occasionally such votes are found, but it is actually very rare. They find onesies and twosies coming into the coop from time to time. It turns out that the chicken and biscuits votes are as often from white meat chicken as they are from dark meat chicken. I don’t think any coop counsel would object to discarding chicken and biscuit ballots, when they are identified. But no coop counsel has ever, in the history of chickendom, found enough chicken and biscuit ballots to overturn any election. 

Some chickens are too young to vote: Same problem. Coops have occasionally found invalid ballots like this, but they are as often from white meat chicken as they are from dark meat chicken.

Some were in mail two days after the election: In those coops where ballots have to be mailed and postmarked by election day, nobody has a problem with discarding those ballots. Any coop counsel, when presented with this obviously illegal evidence, should and will discard those ballots.

Votes found under the chicken house and under the feed barrel: When you have to track 150 million pieces of paper in just a few days, sometimes stuff falls down the ladder, gets left in the barn, the yard or the feed barrel. This happens to ballots from white-egg chickens and brown-egg chickens alike. This does not mean that only the brown-egg chickens are dropping ballots.

Some mail in votes were received after the votes were being counted: Many coops legally allow mailing ballots to be received and counted after election day. Here is a chart that outlines the various coops and their rules. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s the law. 

The BIG ROOSTER has had four years to make sure that the election system works, and according to the lead cock in charge of safeguarding the elections, they have been the safest and most secure elections ever. The BIG ROOSTER however didn’t like that the lead cock did his job so well, because the numbers didn’t work out for the big rooster, and all the hens are cackling now. So the lead cock is now stew.


We now have four years of time to work out some of the remaining kinks with the ballots, not because there was widespread fraud, but because the crowing of the BIG ROOSTER that the election is rigged has confused half the chickens in all the coops.

Meanwhile, the hens are back to laying eggs, brown and white alike, all the roosters are crowing, and I no longer listen the the tweets of the BIG ROOSTER.

Let’s Make America Rake Again…

…at Four Seasons Total Landscaping Company in Philadelphia, where United States Presidential Administrations go to get buried.

Go buy your sticker now. 

I think I’ll go out into my yard and rake again.

I have earned it.

COVID à la Sesame Street

Here is Elmo with an umbrella.

When it rains outside, we can use an umbrella to stay dry.

If you don’t use an umbrella, and you go out in the rain, you get all wet.

Getting wet is not good.

Staying dry is good.

That’s why we use an umbrella in the rain.

Elmo is smart.

He uses an umbrella.



Donald Trump Cheating on a Poll – by Michael Cohen

I am reading Michael Cohen’s book right now, and one of the most revealing and interesting chapters to me what Chapter Ten – How to Fix a Poll. It’s not a widely known incident or story, but it tells more about Trump than many of the other stories and scandals that we have heard about.

In 2014, Trump was starting to get serious about running for office, and he wanted his image to be one of a highly respected and famous business man and real estate developer. Around that time, CNBC was celebrating its 25th anniversary as a network, and to do so it was conducting an online poll to determine the twenty-five most influential business people alive. The poll stated that “he or she should have altered business, commerce, management or human behavior – in other words, the person should be responsible for ushering meaningful change, with business being the primary sphere of influence.” Trump was one of the two hundred business people listed as contenders.

Inside the Trump organization, his secretary emailed everyone she could to click on the hyperlink to elevate the boss’ profile.

That is ludicrous to begin with. If I did that in my company, my employees would laugh at me.

But it seems to have been normal at the Trump Organization. They figured that if everyone “inside” were to vote on their computer, their phone, their tablets, the tablets of their kids, etc., it would be enough to get him into the top 10. When CNBC first started publishing results, Trump was near the very bottom, like 187 out of 200. Trump was reportedly pissed. He printed out the results grid, marked it up with a Sharpie and called Cohen: “What can we do about this poll? I am at the bottom of the fucking list. Check into this immediately and let me know.”

Cohen called an IT friend for help. His company knew what to do. They bought several batches of IP addresses to hide the fake polls, and inserted the votes to drive up Trump’s numbers. Their goal was to get him to number 9. Trump wanted number 1, but they thought nobody would believe it and it would create too much scrutiny. The IP addresses cost $7,500 for batches of 100,000, and they needed several. Trump approved the purchase.

They pulled it off, and Trump made number 9 on the list. He was all excited, had hundreds of copies of the list printed, sent it to all his friends and contacts to gloat, and distributed it to his visitors in his office.

Then CNBC completely removed him, no answers given. While Cohen never did find out what happened, CNBC had the right to do so. Being an IT guy myself, it’s obvious that CNBC figured out the fraud and without making much fanfare about it, which they could have, they simply removed him completely.

Trump was furious. He ended up not even paying the consulting firm that had pulled it off. He stiffed them for their services and for the purchases of the IP addresses. After all “they didn’t deliver the objective” so why should he pay them?

He was so incensed, he wanted Cohen to call the president of CNBC and tell him they’d sue him if they didn’t restore his rightful slot.

Think about that for a minute. Here is a business man that is so obsessed with his image that he is willing to openly cheat in a poll. Then he “wins” and is delighted. That’s like a boy scout stealing a trophy and showing it off as his own. Then, when the fraud is discovered, and the trophy is taken away, he is indignant, actually personally offended. The world has it out for him. He obviously believed himself that he “deserved” that award and it was taken away from him. Not only did he cheat, but he himself believed that he earned it.

If any school boy between age six and twelve did this, we would reprimand him.

But Donald Trump did this in 2014. That is the kind of man we elected for President of the United States.

The Mystery of Metal Credit Cards

I recently had my American Express card replaced. Rather than the customary plastic, I received a heavy card that felt like metal. Then, a few weeks later, I received my new Hilton Honors card, which definitely seems to be made out of metal. These cards feel heavy, so heavy, that I am not willing to put them into my wallet.

Here is a quick 5 second video that gives you a sense. I put the stickers on to obscure my card numbers, since this is a public post.

Did you hear the clanking, particularly of the Hilton card? Heavy metal all the way.

I brought out my postage scale and weighed a normal plastic credit card: it was between 0.10 and 0.15 ounces.

The American Express card was 0.50 ounces.

And the Hilton card — drumroll — was 0.60 ounces.

A few of those in my wallet would make the wallet noticeably heavier, which I don’t need. So I quickly decided to leave them at home in a drawer. I have hiker friends who do long-distance hikes. They cut off the handles of their plastic tooth brushes to save a few hundredth of an ounce of weight by not carrying the superfluous handles. They would be aghast if they saw these cards.

These cards, in a breast pocket, will stop a bullet. But I don’t expect to be in any gunfights, so I am leaving them at home. I am much happier carrying my old pastic Capital One card.

What’s in your wallet?