Thursday, November 10, 2016

Make America Normal Again!

President Elect Trump,

I won't bore you with my feelings on your election victory. Suffice to say, I did not vote for you, and I don't plan on supporting you should you choose to seek a second term (no pressure, but wouldn't you rather play golf at one of your resorts?).

The reason for this note is that I think you have the opportunity to do something truly ground breaking that would actually make America Great Again (TM). No traditional President Elect from the typical party system would dare do this because it goes against their political self interest. You are not beholden to that line of thinking...right?

People are fed up with Washington D.C. (You may have heard or said this a few times).  It's funny that Congress always has extremely low approval numbers, but everyone thinks their congressperson is doing a bang up job! Why is that?

Also, you see more and more that congress, and by default Washington D.C., does not get anything done, and frequently finds itself playing politics more than governing for the betterment of all the people.

This is not new, our congress has a long history of partisanship and, sadly, fewer examples of cooperation for the common good.

We've heard a lot about Echo Chambers since you were elected, but that is not new, we have been falling deeper into these echo chambers for a long time (blame the internet and shoddy 24 hour news stations).  People seek out information that confirms their world view and shut out differing opinions. All of this is a topic for another day, but a symptom of the larger problem.

What is my one big thing that could help make Congress and the government more accountable to every one of their constituents and not just the donor class?

End Gerrymandering ASAP. Make this a core issue to your platform. Shake up the partisan districting that creates complacency and feeds stagnation at both the state and federal level. Push congress to enact legislation to end the gridlock (they will not want to do this FYI).

A great guide to gerrymandering is HERE

Gerrymandering, for those that don't click on links (from Wikipedia):
In the process of setting electoral districtsgerrymandering is a practice intended to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander(/ˈɛriˌmændər/); however, that word can also refer to the process. The term gerrymandering has negative connotations.
In addition to its use achieving desired electoral results for a particular party, gerrymandering may be used to help or hinder a particular demographic, such as a political, ethnic, racial, linguistic, religious, or class group, such as in U.S. federal voting district boundaries that produce a majority of constituents representative of African-American or other racial minorities, known as "majority-minority districts". Gerrymandering can also be used to protect incumbents.

Both sides do it (although the GOP controls more governors seats, so they have done it more lately), but it is a problem that has far reaching effects and creates the kind of disenfranchisement and apathy that propelled you to power (and that you said shows how the politicians don't care about the people who were left behind).

When you have congressional districts that look like this (not a rosharch test BTW), you get congresspersons who are "safe" and can focus on being extremely partisan in their approach (or do nothing at all).
They don't have to work with anyone to accomplish something because they know they will not pay a political price come election time for any of their actions or inaction (unless it conflicts with their highly partisan home districts).  They fear getting primaried by an even more extreme version of themselves...and thus the gridlock continues and people complain that Washington D.C. is broken.

Here is what the whole state of Pennsylvania looks like today, and what it would like if the population was divided much more equally and regardless of political party or ethnicity (you can see more examples of this HERE)


Would this be a cure-all for our country?  No, of course not.  Would it go a long way towards forcing the House of Representatives to function for the greater good of the country and not for the greater good of the party? I would certainly hope so.

You promised to make America Great Again (TM). Making our congress a true representative body, would go a long way towards helping stop the gridlock that partisanship has brought to us.  No more 8 year periods of refusing to work with the other branch of the legislature, or with the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania.

Remember that you are the President (Elect) of all the citizens of the United States, not just those that voted for you. Also, by doing this, you will remind the congresspeople that, they too, serve all of their constituents, not just those that they agree with.

If you want to make a lasting impression as a disruptive force that reshaped Washington...do it literally...reshape the districts that send these people to D.C. and make them accountable to the constituents they have left behind with their partisan political games.

I hope you agree with me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I LOVE Burgers

There...I said it....I like love burgers. There are 2 very awesome basic foods in this world...pizza and burgers.
I have spent the last 2 years diving into what makes a good burger, and have come to really appreciate one when it is done right. I owe a ton of gratitude to Rev (blogger at Burgerconquest) for his wisdom that I get to sponge up at a yearly Gentlemen's lunch I attend around Xmas in NYC every year.

 I now grill or pan fry burgers 1-2x a week at home and love experimenting with the process to produce incredibly delicious burgers. The best part is that this is SIMPLE.

Allow me to explain:

 1. Garbage in, Garbage out -- get good meat. Recommended is a solid 80/20 blend. I have played around with THIS BLEND from Schweid and Sons and it is excellent. If you can't find a funky blend, a solid 80/20 Chuck will do. Don't get something with a 95 or 93 lean content. Those lean cuts are going to be dry and not taste good. I also use the CostCo 85/15 Organic Grass Fed beef with good results.

 2. Salt -- use plenty of it, more than you think you should...you know that place with the awesome burgers you love? yeah...they use a ton of salt...it tastes really good. A dose of pepper and/or onion powder doesn't hurt.

 3. HOT HOT HOT -- You need a really hot grill surface. I bought a CharBroil grill for it's infrared heating technology and have been very pleased with the high even heat it delivers to the burger without any flame ups. I also use a classic cast iron pan on my stove top. They key is to get it as hot as you can. You want to sear the meat and seal in the juices. As the Onion pointed out -- Average Father Thinks About Sealing In Meat’s Juices 4 To 5 Hours A Day :)

 4. Once you put the meat on, you should only touch it 2 more times. Once to flip it after 4-5 minutes, and once to take it off the grill. For god's sake, do not ever press on the burger with your spatula...you might as well just eat a hockey puck you cretin. How long you cook it depends on many things...how thick it is, how hot the surface is, and how you like your burgers...experiment until you find the right answers. I do my burgers about 4-5 minutes a side for a nice Med-Rare burger.

 5. Cheese -- Personal choice/preferences here -- I like a sharp cheddar or classic yellow american. Put it on with about 90 seconds to go.

 6. Bun -- Again a personal preference here is to toast the bun to help ward off soggy buns from your juicy burger. Great Jones in NYC toasts their buns with the cheese on it...I do that some times.

 7. Let it sit for a minute or two after you take it off...it is still cooking and super juicy. 

8. Enjoy.

 Please let me know if you have some other techniques or advice as I am always looking to improve this simple pleasure.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Get that song our of your head!

It happens to all of us....you are peacefully going about your day...doing what you do...working, playing etc...

then it happens...somehow, someway...a catchy (usually horrible) song enters the environment.

Great...now you have "mmm bop" stuck in your head for the next hour!

Two things:

1. why does this happen?
2. how do you stop it?

On #1, please see my previous post about the power of music...when something engages so many parts of your brain to make sense of it, you are more likely to remember it.

As for #2? ...

Try This






Time for a new model?


Read this excellent piece in NY Mag on Time Inc's recent history and murky future.

....Other longtime editors worry the clock may have run out. “What the hell do you do?” says Okrent. “Corning was once a glassmaking company that didn’t see much future in making glass, so it became a fiber-optic-cable producer, and I don’t see Time Inc. getting into fiber-optics. As a magazine company, the future looks beyond grim.”

It is lengthy piece about the changes in the print industry and specifically the inner workings of the executive ranks at Time during this period.

I spent several years in the print world, and witnessed first hand the struggle to get the organization to embrace digital.  I like Joe Ripp's (CEO of Time Inc.) quote right after the one above:

You know the BuzzFeeds and Voxes are valued on the number of buzzes they get. Who gives a damn what that is? We have to make tough decisions, because what’s the alternative? Let it all die? The reality is, magazines as a print business will ultimately die. If we don’t transform this company, someone else will come in and do it.”


Print is just a vehicle for delivering content...we have better and cheaper ways to do that now.

I'll let Henry Blodget of Business Insider continue my point

Media consumers in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s grew up reading newspapers and magazines. Old habits die hard. Many of these consumers will never be as comfortable with digital as they are with paper, and they will keep reading newspapers and magazines until the day they die.
But media consumers in the 0s, 10s, 20s, and 30s have no such print habits or allegiances. To them, the idea of printing information on a dead tree and then trucking it to houses and newsstands seems ludicrous, old-fashioned, inconvenient, and wasteful. To these folks, paper-based publications are a pain to carry and search, easy to misplace, and hard to share, and the information in them is outdated the moment it appears. For those who weren't raised on paper, digital is superior in almost every way.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Billy Crystal's Tribute to Robin Williams

In case you missed this on the Emmy's ... as a fan and a father/son...I cried at the end...

If you are sad...call someone

Billy Crystal's Heartwarming Tribute To Robin Williams

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain (Marley)

(Ahhhh Chooooooo)   had to blow the dust of this place since I abandoned her a while back :)


Why am I back?...every now and then I get the urge to write...I haven't been indulging that urge, so I am back now and wanted to share some thoughts.

I work in the music space at a pretty cool company called Bandsintown (these ramblings are my own thoughts and in no way a reflection of my employer) ;)

Over the course of the past 4 months that I have been working here, it has allowed me to seriously dive into one of my long standing passions, music.

I read a lot about the scene (this bands played here, that band did this..etc.),  who is new, trends in marketing, but what has been occupying my mind is more on the psychological level, why is music so powerful?

I read this piece - What happens to your brain under the influence of music   - which dissects how music is not a left brain/right brain thing...but a WHOLE brain thing.  That certainly explains a lot.


From the perspective of neuroscience, listening to music is one of the most complex things you can do. Many parts of your brain have to work together to comprehend even the simplest tune. So what is music really doing to our minds?

Today I started reading this piece about the therapeutic value of a  Grateful Dead show (which can be applied to any fan base or live music experience IMHO)

Speaking about the lead up the actual show:
From the time that you hop in the car to drive to the concert, you and your show-buddies are already feeling better, singing tunes on the way up, and feeling fantastic with each other. When you get into the venue, you're dancing all the way in even before you reach stage and that’s before the euphoria of finally seeing the band themselves. Feeling at peace with your fellow concert-goers and munching a veggie burrito is a generally wonderful experience and all of a sudden you’ve forgotten the day’s aggravations, your systemic stress levels decrease, and your spiritual battery gets the chance to recharge from the frustrations of daily living.This experience of wellness—the inner peace, the positive sense-of-self, and the ability to shrug off stress—lasts in a person’s body even after the show is over.Perhaps this is what makes a Grateful Dead shows a form of medicine

Music is so primal, so deeply rooted in our DNA, that it has the ability to do so much more then make us tap our feet or hum a tune.




Remember that first time you heard or saw an amazing song/band...remember the exact moment? I can for several songs/bands..and I am instantly transported in time to that moment.  I can think of very few other activities with that kind of power.

Please share any other things you have read (or comments) on the psychological power of music...




Friday, March 4, 2011

I am a paper boy again! Paper.li is my new favorite toy!

One of my first jobs was in the 5th grade when I delivered the Detroit News after I got out of school. All my friends had paper routes...it took us an hour and gave us walking around money to blow on video games.  I later got a Free Press route and, thanks to my dad, survived those cold Michigan winter mornings delivering the Freep...

Lately, I have been watching a few people on twitter playing around with Paper.li and finally took the plunge and started creating my own dailies! All credit to @scottmonty as I have been reading his Daily

Quick run down on what Paper.li is (from Tech Crunch)

SmallRivers, a fledging Internet startup based out of Switzerland that has developed a Web app called Paper.li that basically lets you turn Twitter streams, tags and lists into daily online newspapers, has landed more cash after inking a $1 million seed funding deal back in 2008.

[snip]

Paper.li, launched in alpha mode last April, organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy-to-skim page that makes it look like an online newspaper’s homepage. Virtual, personalized newspapers can be created for any Twitter user (TechCrunch), list (Robert Scoble’s ‘most influential in tech’ list) or tag (#oilspill).

Ok...so I can use my Twitter or Facebook accounts to create daily newspapers based on links that are being shared by my friends or by the everyone...I like it..we wrestled with a similar problem at Digg (no time for that here)..

So I created a few to test:

let's see...I like wine!  Voila! (Wallah! for you 'merikens) The Wine Daily

How about Charlie Sheen (cliche..I know):  The Sheen Daily!

one more!

The iPad Daily!

What a great use of the Twitter API...I am looking forward to really learning how to use this to aggregate content for me

Sunday, January 23, 2011

YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!

I am convinced that John Mcenroe is forbidden from doing any TV commercial where he does not utter the words "you can't be serious" or throw a tantrum.  A quick survey of Youtube finds that he doesn't always do it, but I would say the ratio is more than 50% including the words and/or tantrum...

Commercial 1

Commercial 2

Jura -- I am a believer

My wife and two friends and  I had dinner at Ma Peche last night and had the distinct pleasure of sampling the unique and awesome wines of the Jura region of France.

Jura is located in Eastern France near the Swiss border..the grapes they grow are unique (Savignin, Ploussard, Trousseau etc...).

The wines are simply unlike any others I have tried...they exhibit a delicate balance of character and simplicity...We progressed from a White (Savignin) to a Trousseau (Red) to the wine of the evening, and one that the region is becoming famous for, Vin Jaune (Yellow wine).

(from wikipedia)

Vin jaune

Jura's most famous and distinguishable wine is the sherry-like vin jaune. The wine is produced by picking the Savagnin as ripe as possible, in some cases becoming a sort of late harvest wine, and after fermentation storing it in Burgundian aging barrels for over 6 years. The barrels are filled up to the top and allowed to evaporate, reducing the volume in the barrel and a creating an air pocket at the top of the barrel. During this time the wine oxidizes and grows a film of yeast that is similar, but not the same strain, as the Jerez region flor. The wine is then bottled in a signature clavelin wine bottle that holds 62 cL. Vin jaune is an intensely flavored wine that often requires decanting prior to drinking.

It was amazing, and I owe it to Colin Alevras for allowing us to experience it...

the food at Ma Peche was incredible and the pairing of the Jura wine's made this a fantastic way to spend Saturday night...

Friday, December 24, 2010

One Day (part) at a time

I was perusing my favorite sports sites and blogs this AM, when I came across a page with a Pizza Hut Ad on it...you know the one they are pushing now...the pizza with the mozzarella sticks as crust or something (USA! USA!)

I am not a Pizza Hut eater...I live in NYC...but it struck me how many impressions are wasted by not properly day-parting buys (it was 7:30 A.M when i saw the ad). Certainly a pizza ad is going to result in better metrics around lunch or dinner time.

Sure this creates a problem on the sell side, as you need a more effective yield management system to properly charge for the ads...but I bet that we could figure it out

Besides food ads...what other ads should be more concerned with day-parting?