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PJMcK

Profile Information

Name: Paul McKibbins
Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 05:16 PM
Number of posts: 17,878

About Me

Lifelong Democrat

Journal Archives

Jared is a coward

He now claims his expression during the President’s phone call was a joke.

Oh, yeah, Jared? Then why did you blurt it out and then hang up? Your behavior was immature and akin to Howard Stern’s fans yelling, “Bobba buey!”

The stunt was childish and cowardly. If he wanted to express his frustrations, he had the President of the United States on the phone! He could have acted like an adult and had a (brief) conversation with the President. Instead, he blurted out a schoolyard taunt then figuratively ran away. Now he hides behind the idea that it was a joke. He doesn’t even have the conviction of thought to acknowledge his own political views. His attempts at damage control are amateurish and ineffective.

It was vulgar, stupid and cowardly. Not a great example for his family. Let me add that he probably ruined what could have been an awesome memory for his kids.

What an idiot.

Lots of ways

Trump has reduced the number of "friends" that I have. I cannot bear to be with anyone who supports that criminal. It's a deal-breaker for me. I'm finished with a good number of golf buddies and music acquaintances. Why bother with people I just cannot respect?

The pandemic forced my wife and me to retreat to our house in the Catskills. The house was never intended for full-time living but we've adapted and improved it. We've made good use of our time in the mountains. Some of these projects took quite a bit of work and some professional assistance but, in the end, the house is much improved. It's much quieter than in NYC. Colder, too. I suspect we've increased the net worth of our property so that's a side bonus.

Work hasn't changed much but I've been working remotely since before it was called that. My business is kind of free-wheeling and if I have internet and cellphone service, my clients don't really care where I am as long as I'm on top of their businesses. My little music cabin here in the woods is delightful and it's the most beautiful office I've ever had. Bonus: In spite of the pandemic, we've had a couple of really good years.

Silly things have become touchstones. Going to the dump twice a week, picking up the mail each day or so (I got a post office box), food shopping (there are many farms nearby and the fresh food is incredible!), taking a daily walk, chopping wood for the fireplaces and many other "mundane" chores have become important little moments in our lives.

Meals have become even more important moments of each day. We plan dinner while eating breakfast. We've tried a bunch of new recipes. Thankfully, we haven't gained the "Covid-19" poundage that many folks have but we continue to eat well. Tonight we're having escargots and boeuf Bourguignon.

I miss our previously active social life. I miss working with musicians and dancers in various studios around New York. I miss the theater and concerts; even though they've returned, the risks are too high for us. Although restaurants are doable, they're just another risk that we don't really need to take, (a colleague of mine just contracted the virus from eating in a restaurant).

We really miss traveling. We were scheduled for a 3-week trip to the Netherlands and Belgium just as the pandemic exploded. Those plans will probably never be fulfilled. To feed our wanderlust, we bought a small cruising sailboat and we can travel relatively safely in our floating mobile home. There are plenty of adventures to be found on the Eastern seaboard.

Will life ever return to our old normal? Who knows? A big aspect of life is being able to adapt when things changes. These past 4-5 years have forced all of us to face forces that are beyond our control. If one cannot deal with these powerful forces of change, one is plagued with what Alvin Toffler referred to as Future Shock. The most powerful symptom of this condition is an inability to adapt to changing circumstances. These people deny reality, dig in their heals and refuse to acknowledge the challenges in front of them. Sound familiar?

Don't forget the labels

During the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the record companies were bought by conglomerates that imposed strict corporate structures onto businesses that had been relatively free-wheeling. The labels had been able to use profits from their hit artists to develop stables of new talent to give opportunities for lots of different artists. That became a conflict once quarterly profits became the dominant goal over artistic diversity.

It all pretty much ended once superstar artists were given monstrous advances and/or signing bonuses. When Janet Jackson received $100 million, her label had nothing left to develop up-and-coming performers and writers. This structural change affected companies in different ways but fundamentally, it meant that the labels had to justify every dollar they spent. This is a big reason why niche areas have become neglected, (i.e., theatrical cast recordings, jazz, classical, etc.).

Here's another problem. Singers were convinced by their lawyers and agents that if they wrote their own songs, they could increase their profitability with larger royalties. Songwriting is a serious and difficult craft and art and not everyone can do it well. Look at the popular songs of the last 40 years and pick 10 that have become standards. It's difficult to do! Very few songs today get cover recordings and generally, the song is concretely cemented to the singer.

Thankfully, technology has come to the aid of new talent. With the advent of home and computer recording technologies as well as outlets on the internet, artists can build their careers without the major labels shepherding them into their cookie-cutter regimes. These artists are thus able to reach out to audiences and (hopefully) make some money to continue their ambitions.

We're going to learn something about Americans in the next few years

We'll learn if American voters care about their democracy or even if they understand it.

We'll learn if American voters have any memories of the atrocities and corruption of the Trump years.

We'll learn if American voters have any awareness of the atrocities and corruption of elected Republicans at all levels of government.

We'll learn if American voters have any empathy for anyone but themselves.

We'll learn if American voters understand that Republicans cannot govern nor do they want to.

We'll learn if the American voters desire an inclusive or an exclusive society.

We'll learn the future of our country.

Since 9/11 I've reconsidered flying whenever possible

The phony "security" measures introduced by W's administration took away the final vestiges of fun and comfort in air travel. To be clear, I think the majority of activities imposed by the TSA are intended to put money in the coffers of the sub-contractors and security equipment manufacturers who were supporters of W et al.

Nowadays, if I have to travel less than 800 miles, it's more efficient and way more comfortable for me to drive to my destination. Consider this scenario. I live in NYC and have to go to Chicago for 3-4 days. If I fly, here's my likely timetable:

1. One hour travel time to the NY airport, (plus cost of parking or cab fare)
2. I must arrive at least two hours before my flight (I'll have checked luggage)
3. Flight to Chicago, about two hours
4. One to two hours to collect luggage and get a rental car
5. One hour to drive to hotel, check in and get settled

Therefore, it's about 8-9 hours from door-to-door for my trip to Chicago. Conversely, If I drive, it's about 10-11 hours for the trip and I'll have the comfort of my own car, no crowds at the airport, nearly unlimited luggage and I'll arrive relaxed. Since the trip is essentially taking most of one day anyway, the extra couple of hours driving don't bother me and if I use them productively, I can catch up on phone calls and my music screening listening, (part of my job).

I used to love to fly but these days, it's no fun. I hate crowds to begin with and far too many passengers today are entitled pains in the ass.

Something for nothing

Humans are lazy and greedy. We want immediate gratification and rewards for little effort.

I don't gamble, except for tiny golf bets, because I work too hard for my money. Why would I piss it away on a game of chance where the odds are astronomically stacked against me? This goes for casinos, card and dice games, lottos, football pools and the like. I don't care if others want to participate, That's their choice and this is just the choice for me.

I do invest my money in the markets but the odds are generally deeply in the investor's favor, if they're patient. Without doing anything, my portfolio has increased almost 4% in the year-and-a-half of the pandemic. Imagine how things could be if Trump had handled Covid professionally and intelligently!

By the way, this is the single greatest illustration of how stupid Donald Trump has been in his life. Had he taken the $400 million he inherited from his father and invested it in an indexed fund, he would have several billion dollars today without having had to do anything. Instead, he pissed it away-- even on casinos where the odds were something like 95%-5% in his favor!-- on stupid "business" deals that all inevitably failed, including most of his prized golf courses. Trump's house of cards is completely built around debt and cash flow. It's an unsustainable balancing act. The collapse will be epic.

A conversation with an Austrian emigre

One of my mentors was a self-made success who brought his immediate family to the United States in 1938. He went to work in the mailroom of a large corporation and years later, bought the company and made it one of the finest in its industry. Sadly, he passed away about a dozen years ago but rarely do days go by that his guidance and counsel don't advise me (and many others) how to conduct our businesses.

Our conversations were fascinating, fun and insightful. Once, he told me about his decision to move to America. In brief, as an Austrian Jew, he recognized the dangers of the fascist Nazis and he and his brother made the monumental decision to move the the U.S. They struggled when they arrived but fortunately, they had a little money to smooth their transition. Once they were settled, his industriousness and savvy brought him tremendous success.

He made it clear that the dominance of the Anchluss and the nearly daily violent attacks on Jews motivated him. He didn't want his family to be trapped. He told me that the local reports of violence were always described as isolated events that were not connected to one another. Of course, he would be proven correct that the Nazis were stirring the pot to cause unrest and destabilize the societies.

He made a decision that he described as gut-wrenching and vaguely unbelievable. Yet he made the right choice.

I wonder if some of us are in similar circumstances to my friend. I wonder what he would advise me today.

That's disgusting!

First of all, who needs to eat that much food in 30 minutes?

Next, it's a totally unhealthy mix of foods.

The human body isn't designed to process that kind of gluttony.

In a country with so much hunger, how is the morally responsible?

I get it, it's an advertising campaign directed at certain men who find this amusing. This is fun? Meh. Texas.

Five pounds of ground meat could make 20-25 hamburgers. Gross.

The article doesn't give the cost of the "meal" (other than free, if you you finish it in time). A related website prices the plate at $54.95 and the joint's Facebook page has their menu listing a "normal" cheeseburger at $7.95 with a side of fries for $2.25.

There are similar "food challenges" even at higher-end restaurants. A steakhouse chain named for a famous football coach has an offer that if you eat an entire 48-ounce steak, they'll put a brass plaque with your name on it on the wall of the restaurant. There's apparently a fellow who has 11 plaques throughout the place.

Food is beautiful and necessary. This kind of behavior is revolting to me. But, to each their own.

The 79th Street Boat Basin in NYC

For many years, there has been a marina on Manhattan’s West Side in the Hudson River. Many of the boats there were live-aboards and some of them were in pretty rough shape. Regardless, it was a colorful Bohemian life style even if things could be difficult: Cold winters where one has to transport the propane tanks off Manhattan Island to get them re-filled; grocery stores are many blocks away; no easy parking; questionable legal status, etc.

A friend of mine had a 45-foot houseboat that he and his girlfriend shared. They removed the engine to gain storage space. The growth on the bottom of his boat was so thick that he thought he was attached to the river bed! That’s not really the kind of boating I like to do but to each their own.

The City recently condemned the marina and all the boats have to be gone by tomorrow. For the next two years, the marina will be rebuilt and modernized. It’ll probably be very expensive when completed, (it had been very reasonably priced and a mooring cost about $225 per month). The adjacent neighborhood is pretty upscale and expensive, (a friend pays $1,000 per month for indoor parking!). I’m sure that factors into the decision to rebuild.

Want a real feel good mini series?

“From The Earth To The Moon” is a 13-part series about the U.S. space program from President Kennedy’s speech calling for a successful round trip to the Moon through Apollo 17, our last visit to our celestial neighbor. Tom Hanks produced it for HBO and he introduces each episode. The writing, acting, special effects and music are superior.

I’ve watched it several times and I get chills every time I see Armstrong and Aldrin flying the Eagle over the barren face of the Moon. The program illustrates the many (sometimes conflicting) issues faced by NASA, the history of the program, the astronauts and their families.

The episode about Apollo One is poignantly told with many great insights. (There’s a fascinating sub-plot involving then-Senator Walter Mondale.) The Apollo 8 story begins with an exposition about the tensions our nation faced in 1968 and ends with the famous and inspiring “Earthrise” photo; a congratulatory telegram sent to those astronauts read, “Thanks for saving 1968.”

There’s lots of drama and tons of comedy, too. The music scores are some of the best!

Each episode had different production teams but they all fit together seamlessly.

The series may be available to stream online but it’s also available on DVD.
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