Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Serve

We are a day late this week, 95 grades to get in by yesterday threw a kink into our schedule.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. November 11 we honor those who serve and have served for their country.

I have a 25 year old nephew who attended a college prep high school, attended Occidental College and graduated from George Washington University. He could work in Wall Street or Main Street but he chose to serve in the Marine Corps. I have a good friend, the smartest man I know (and I know a few), a lawyer by trade, he could manage any major corporation instead he chose to serve a Catholic Charity. I know a woman, the most caring person I know, and who could manage any University or College instead she chooses to serve her community food banks, homeless, and children.

To serve, what does that mean? Yes we do and should recognized any man or woman who is or has been a member of our armed forces. Not on this day only but every day of the year.  I believe we should also recognize and encourage every citizen to serve their county, not only in uniform but as a citizen. There are countless ways of doing this – hire a veteran, teach a veteran, say thank you to a fireman, pick up trash, recycle, mentor an international student, volunteer at a senior citizens center, coach a sports team, clean up graffiti, smile to a stranger, learn a second language, there are hundreds of ways you can serve.

To show someone you care perhaps is the greatest service.

Try it, you will like it.

CONFERENCES – I was speaking to a business colleague this past week, he asked me if I was attending the annual conference this next month. Now it so happens, in my profession (like most), there is an annual conference every month of the year. As usual I explained to my learned colleague that I stopped going to conferences when Ronald Reagan was President, not that RR had anything to do with my decision.

Why should I spend hundreds even thousands of dollars to sit and listen to individuals who enjoy only hearing themselves speak. So called experts who are only experts because they wrote a dissertation about the mating habits of East Indian farmers. Conferences where middle age men, with dyed hair, get a chance to flirt with middle aged woman who think they are Heidi Klum. As I tell all my associates, how about staying home, at your business, and get to know your business; talk to your employees, every employee, understand your customers, and understand your competition. This is the “real world” of conferences we should concentrate on.

THE BEZOS POST - "Secret Amazon: An explosive new account will change everything you know about Jeff Bezos. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, out this past week from Little, Brown : To the amazement and irritation of employees, Bezos's criticisms are almost always on target. Bruce Jones, a former Amazon supply chain vice president, describes leading a five-engineer team figuring out ways to make the movement of workers in fulfillment centers more efficient. The group spent nine months on the task, then presented their work to Bezos. 'We had beautiful documents, and everyone was really prepared,' Jones says. Bezos read the paper, said, 'You're all wrong,' stood up, and started writing on the whiteboard. 'He had no background in control theory, no background in operating systems,' Jones says. 'He only had minimum experience in the distribution centers and never spent weeks and months out on the line.' But Bezos laid out his argument on the whiteboard, and 'every stinking thing he put down was correct and true,' Jones says. 'It would be easier to stomach if we could prove he was wrong, but we couldn't. That was a typical interaction with Jeff. He had this unbelievable ability to be incredibly intelligent about things he had nothing to do with, and he was totally ruthless about communicating it.' ...

"In 2002, Amazon changed the way it accounted for inventory, from the last-in first-out, or LIFO, system to first-in first-out, or FIFO. The change allowed Amazon to better distinguish between its own inventory and the inventory that was owned and stored in fulfillment centers by partners such as Toys 'R' Us and Target (TGT). Jones's supply chain team was in charge of this complicated effort, and its software, riddled with bugs, created a few difficult days during which Amazon's systems were unable to recognize any revenue. On the third day, Jones was giving an update on the transition when Bezos had a nutter. 'He called me a 'complete f------ idiot' and said he had no idea why he hired idiots like me at the company, and said, "I need you to clean up your organization,"' Jones recalls. 'It was brutal. I almost quit. I was a resource of his that failed. An hour later he would have been the same guy as always, and it would have been different. He can compartmentalize like no one I've ever seen.'

"Amazon has a clandestine group with a name worthy of a James Bond film: Competitive Intelligence. The team, which operated for years within the finance department under longtime executives Tim Stone and Jason Warnick, focuses in part on buying large volumes of merchandise from other online retailers and measuring the quality and speed of their services-how easy it is to buy, how fast the shipping is, and so forth. The mandate is to investigate whether any rival is doing a better job than Amazon and then present the data to a committee of Bezos and other senior executives, who ensure that the company addresses any emerging threat and catches up quickly. ... Bezos's Khrushchev-like willingness to use the thermonuclear option had had its intended effect."

JFK -- JILL ABRAMSON, executive editor of The New York Times "Kennedy: The Elusive President," on the cover of next week's N.Y. Times Book Review: "An estimated 40,000 books about him have been published since his death, and this [50th] anniversary year has loosed another vast outpouring. ... Readers can choose from many books but surprisingly few good ones, and not one really outstanding one. It is a curious state of affairs, and some of the nation's leading historians wonder about it. 'There is such fascination in the country about the anniversary, but there is no great book about Kennedy,' Robert Caro lamented when I spoke to him not long ago. The situation is all the stranger, he added, since Kennedy's life and death form 'one of the great American stories.' ... Robert Dallek, the author of 'An Unfinished Life,' probably the best single-volume Kennedy biography, suggests that the cultish atmosphere surrounding, and perhaps smothering, the actual man may be the reason for the deficit of good writing about him. 'The mass audience has turned Kennedy into a celebrity, so historians are not really impressed by him,' Dallek told me. ...

"Even during his lifetime , Kennedy defeated or outwitted the most powerfully analytic and intuitive minds. In 1960, Esquire magazine commissioned Norman Mailer's first major piece of political journalism, asking him to report on the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles that nominated Kennedy. Mailer's long virtuoso article, 'Superman Comes to the Supermarket,' came as close as any book or essay ever has to capturing Kennedy's essence, though that essence, Mailer candidly acknowledged, was enigmatic. Here was a 43-year-old man whose irony and grace were keyed to the national temper in 1960. Kennedy's presence, youthful and light, was at once soothing and disruptive, with a touch of brusqueness."

CHINA PREPARES FOR CRITICAL POLICY MEETING - "Addressing the mismatch in skills ... across China is a central issue facing the country's leaders as they gather on November 9 in Beijing. They will be convening for a four-day meeting, the Third Plenum, that is expected to set the tone for Chinese economic and political policy making for the next five years. They will discuss whether to cut consumption taxes, deregulate banking and currency markets, and break up state-owned monopolies ... The common theme of all the policies: how to create a consumer-led economy and arrest a steep increase in unemployment among young, educated Chinese.

"China has relied for the past three decades on unrelenting, even manic, construction of ever more factories, bridges, roads and apartment towers. But that is producing chronic overcapacity together with an acute shortage of blue-collar labor. ... Similar plenums in 2003 and 2008 produced calls for a shift to a more sustainable economy based on more consumption, more high-end services like finance and more high-tech jobs."

POLITICS - "Carter in race for governor: Senator hopes to follow footsteps of iconic grandfather. Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter will challenge Gov. Nathan Deal next year in a move that catapults the gubernatorial contest into the national spotlight and tests whether Georgia's changing demographics can loosen the Republican Party's 12-year grip on the ... office. Carter's decision ... is another step along the trail forged by his famous grandfather Jimmy Carter, who was elected to the state Senate and then the Governor's Mansion before winning the presidency. ...

"Carter, 38 [who went to Duke undergrad and University of Georgia law school], becomes the second high-profile Democratic scion to compete for a spot on Georgia's 2014 ticket. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, is her party's front-runner in the crowded contest to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Carter ... pitches himself as a fiscal conservative who will revamp an education funding system he derides as a 'shell game."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Prince Charles (65), Carrie Lewis ….famous community advocate, Gordon Lightfoot (75), Chris Noth (59), Condoleezza Rice (59), Richard Simpson …famous strategist, Sam Waterson (73).

SPORTS BLINK - Countdown for Rio Olympics reaches 1,000 days. The countdown to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics reached 1,000 days on Saturday, a major calendar milestone for the 2016 games. Cariocas -- as Rio residents are known -- celebrated the date with various activities scattered around several days and various cities. Games officials opened an observation platform at the Olympic Park, which will be the center of the games in three years. Construction has barely begun on many of the sports venues, and on Saturday the area was only a barren, 291-acre mud flat. The park is located in the west of Rio, a 45-minute drive from the city's famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/16, 8:00 PM ET, ABC: #4 Stanford Cardinal (8-1) at University of Southern California Trojans (7-3). Stanford rolls at the Coliseum, Cardinal 32 USC 17.  Season to date (8-3)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 11/16, 12:00 PM ET, NGTV; The Battle for Route 13 – Cortland State Dragons (5-4) visit #24 Ithaca College Bombers (8-1). They will be 5,000 strong at Butterfield Stadium in South Hill, The Bombers bomb 35 Cortland 10.  Season to date (8-1)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/17, 8:30 PM ET, NBC: THE game of the year thus far, Undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (9-0) visit Peyton Manning hurting Denver Broncos (8-1). The band wagon is over, Denver 24 KC 14.   Season to date (8-1)


(NCAA, Nov. 16)  #16 Michigan State Spartans (8-1) 38 at Nebraska Cornhuskers 28
(SCIAC Game of the Week, Nov. 16) Cal Lutheran Kingsmen (4-4) 14 at Chapman Panthers (7-1) 24
(NHL, Nov. 16) Tampa Bay Lightening (12-5-0) 2 at Phoenix Coyotes (12-4-2) 4
(NFL Upset of the Week, Nov. 17) San Francisco 49er’s (6-3) 24 at New Orleans Saints (7-2) 21  
Season to date (39-34)


Recently my wife made an old family chili recipe, the end result, a stomach that resembled Mount St. Helens. Any recommendations for a good chili?


Drop, drop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is

DEAR, Drop, drop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is –

Here you go, this is our favorite:

2 pounds ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup masa harina (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of many supermarkets)
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Shredded Cheddar, for serving
Chopped onions, for serving
Tortilla chips, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

Place the ground beef in a large pot and throw in the garlic. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off the excess fat, and then pour in the tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Stir together well, cover, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes overly dry, add 1/2 cup water at a time as needed.
After an hour, place the masa harina in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup water and stir together with a fork. Dump the masa mixture into the chili. Stir together well, and then taste and adjust the seasonings. Add more masa paste and /or water to get the chili to your preferred consistency, or to add more corn flavor. Add the beans and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with shredded Cheddar, chopped onions, tortilla chips and lime wedges.

Total Time: 1 hr 35 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 1 hr 20 min
Yield: 6 to 8 servings



MARKET WEEK - The Dow and the S&P 500 come off five straight weeks of gains, as investors look ahead to a relatively light week for economic numbers and earnings reports.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Janet Yellen faces a Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday and will field some hostile GOP questions on stimulus and banking regulation. However, barring some massive gaffe (not likely), Yellen should win quick approval from the committee ... Senate budget conferees hold their second public meeting on Wednesday ... CFPB Director Richard Cordray testifies before Senate Banking on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

Next week: Words of the month and look for the union label.

Until Next Monday, “Adios.”

Claremont, CA
November 12, 2013

#IV-30, 187

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