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Friday, January 30, 2015

Ever want to thank all the little people who helped you climb that ladder to the top? And other stuff too.

Ever want to thank 'all the little people' who have helped you get to the top? Well, here they are.

Thank you little people. And that takes care of that.

Super Bowl ad from 2012
Gonna watch Superbowl 49? (Looks a lot less important written that way, right?) The best parts of the 72 hour +/- telecast are, let's face it, the commercials and half-time. Oh, sometimes there is a football game or a scandal, but ads and half-time, now those are for real. And so is the reported price of a last-minute ticket: $8,000!

This year, a 30 second ad spot costs $4.5 mil--a mere $150,000 a second--and there are 15 new advertisers plus a waiting list. The ads, however, offer a solution to every problem, like Doritoto-itis or Budweiser Belly. Well, not EVERY problem... I'm still looking for a flat, brown 42-inch shoelace. Hard as one is to find, it is easier to find two for $3.95. So I want--and think I  DESERVE--a Superbowl shoelace commercial. And believing in advertising, Acme Shoelaces would only have to sell an estimated 4.5 million to come out even. But when you are building a brand like "Acme Shoelaces: the only laces with both a right and left for the discriminating tier," the big deal, of course, would be the repeat business. 

Pope Francis and God
Then I cleverly segue into this Pope Francis Joke:  

Pope Francis was a beloved cardinal in Argentina. He gave up all his worldly possessions. He gave up his house to live in a tiny apartment. He gave up his car to ride the bus. You know what that means? Right now every divorced guy is saying, "I could have been Pope." 

And if you ask me, Pope Francis looks an awfully lot like Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy and that classic dance they did. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

ABSOLUTE PROOF: Dogs go to heaven... but what about cats?

Dog in Heaven

As all good Catholics know,  Popes are infallible on matters of faith. If the Pope says it, God has a rubber stamp on His paperwork that says "OK by Me."

Ergo (I always wanted to use that word in a sentence), Pope Francis and Pope Paul VI both said dogs go to heaven. So they do.

“Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures," Pope Francis said.

“One day we will see our pets in the eternity of Christ,” Pope Paul VI told a disconsolate boy in 1978.

Billy Graham, when asked by a little girl whose dog had died that week whether her pet would be in Heaven, replied, “If it would make you any happier, then yes, he will be." He later explained "God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there."

"But, you say, "Is that all there is?" (From another fabulous song by Peggy Lee as in my last post. Do yourself a favor and watch her sing it.)

Oh, there is more, much more proof: Author Mitch Albom who has written a number of 'best sellers' including The Five People You Meet in Heaven and his latest, The First Phone Call from Heaven should know if anyone does... but don't take his word for it.

I got the SECOND phone call from heaven. Yes, it was from God.

"Hi Jerry. This is God."

"Oh, hi God. This is really a surprise."

"Well, if my guy, Pope Francis calls regular people, so can I. By the way Jerry..."

Then I heard all this barking in the background and could barely hear God.


And it became instantly quiet.

"Oh my God, God... oops, sorry... "

"No problemo, Jerry. If I can part the Red Sea, I can surely train these billions of dogs up here with a clicker. I will say though, it took longer than I thought. Where is Cesar Milan when I need him?"

"I thought he died just recently."

"Don't believe everything see on the internet, My son."

"So there ARE dogs in heaven, right?"

"Of course."

"May I say 'Hi' to Snert and Hagar and Gretchen and Alix?"

"You want to do it personally?

"Uh, not today God, OK?"

"Ha ha. Good one Jerry. OK, we'll save that for later."


"Hey Jerry, I gotta run now. It's my turn in Stratego. I'm playing Julius Caeser, Napoleon, McArther and Alexander the Great. Bonaparte is cheating, but we all know it and there is a lot of kidding going on. Just wanted to say 'Hi'."

"Wait God... are there cats in heaven too?"

"Oh, sure, but I gave them even free-er will so not even God knows... I mean I don't even know what goes on in that brain of theirs. See ya later, Jerry."

"You got it God... Oh, wait a second... God, when you say 'later,' what do you mean?

Click. bzzzzzzzz

"God? GOD?

So, straight from The Horse's mouth, so to speak, great news for those of you who have experienced one too many sad trips to the Rainbow Bridge, we'll all be together soon enough. Hmmm, I wonder if God lets Alix on His couch?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are you kidding me? I JUST WON $5,000 a week, for life... I think.

I can't believe it! I may already be a winner!

This incredibly important official letter (top) arrived one week ago alerting me of the probability that I won enough money to ask Bill and Melinda Gates to dinner next week so I can make a sizable donation. I'm really sorry if it seems I am rubbing it in, but how often does an above-average person like myself win so many millions of dollars for life?

The letter advised me to "Be on the lookout for a brown envelope with a red and white 'NOTICE RE: WINNING NUMBER FOUND REPORT label like this and a green star. It contains the documents neccessary [sic.] to win the 'Forever' Prize that will definitely be awarded on February 27th."

Well, I did. Most days I checked my mailbox three and four times just to make sure I didn't miss that brown envelope if it did come. A week had gone by and I had almost given up. Then, a miracle--IT CAME! What are the odds of that happening?

Brown Envelope: check
Green Star: check
Opportunity to win: check

Everything matched... my zip code, the correct spelling of my name  and my secret number which only I know. Now how DID they know my private number if I wasn't already a winner? 'They' even talked about people dumb enough not to check their number. "The conversation at one of our recent meetings," they said, "began to focus on what should we do about people who forfeit big Prizes?"


The brown envelope had my secret winning  number "8384 4901 8017" (number changed so as to not inadvertently give it away), "This number," they continued, "is eligible to WIN $5,000 A WEEK "FOREVER"

Then I spotted the ominous note on the brown envelope that I wasn't supposed to see: 'IGNORED PRIOR BULLETINS"

Yes, once... when I was almost near death from a bad case of athlete's feet, I did ignore a prior bulletin! But how did they know? And how many millions of dollars have I already lost? NOT THIS TIME CHARLIE!, I said to 'the wife,' even though that is not my name.

They say "No purchase necessary" in very small print, but who's kidding who (whom?) I stayed up all night ordering everything in the brown envelope to give me an edge and assure I was qualified to win. I got the Musk Cologne Spray by Jovan for 20 % off, the famous 'contour bottle' design Coca-Cola Salt & Pepper Shakers saving over 35%, the night view glasses that are virtually indestructible, for four easy payments of only $2.99 each, the 32-melody wireless doorbell (sold elsewhere at $29.95) for four easy payments of $3.99 each, and best of all, I'll be eating edible dessert bowls with the Brownie Bowl Molds set of two... but that's not all... you buy 2 and get 2 FREE! Yes, I'm pumped!

I filled out every form and stuck every stamp just as they told me to do, then to be sure, I had 'the little woman' double-check my work. Thank God, because we almost missed this important instruction that surely would have disqualified us. "Before you start thinking about how you would like to spend the money, make sure you transfer the red & white label from the other side to your official Entry-Order Form and mail at once!"

Yes, we did transfer the designated label to our entry-order form... and return it at once! as requested.


Now we are biding our time checking off the items in our left-over Christmas catalogs that we will buy. (The kids will never recognize me in that specially priced-to-sell Santa suit.) Darn, why did Sky Mall have to go out of business... they had so many great things?

Well, that's about it Suckers! Go cry in your milk. And if we see you and your wife and 7 kids in rags on the street selling pencils to make a few cents to buy rotting apples to keep your family from starving, I just might buy one or two... if you don't price them outrageously, like 25 cents apiece or something like that. Hey, don't be ashamed. I understand. I was poor once too.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My wife's hip replacement... which reminds me of a song

Wife's hip

Of all the major operations--everything from brain surgery to heart transplants to God knows what else modern medicine allows--perhaps hip and knee replacement surgery is on the more simple side. Violent but simple. (Here's a YouTube look at knee surgery if you have the stomach for it. There's one for hips too. )

What you learn as a caregiver to someone just home from the hospital is that it's a 25/8 proposition... not enough hours in the day to do it but a good try is had by all.

The upsides are many, of course. Care-giving is most often out of love and devotion. The duration is short as is, from time to time, the patience. By week two, improvement typically comes fast and you feel as if you have crested the hill and are coasting.

And the biggie... your patient is becoming a renewed person!

That said, I have a much keener appreciation for what it takes, from a male perspective, of course:

*I'm A Woman... as Peggy Lee would sing it.

I can wash out 44 pairs of socks and have 'em hangin out on the line
I can starch & iron 2 dozens shirts 'fore you can count from 1 to 9
I can scoop up a great big dipper full of lard from the drippin's can
Throw it in the skillet, go out & do my shopping, be back before it melts in the pan
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I'll say it again

I can rub & scrub this old house til it's shinin like a dime
Feed the baby, grease the car, & powder my face at the same time
Get all dressed up, go out and swing til 4 a.m. and then
Lay down at 5, jump up at 6, and start all over again
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I'll say it again

If you come to me sickly you know I'm gonna make you well
If you come to me all hexed up you know I'm gonna break the spell
If you come to me hungry you know I'm gonna fill you full of grits
If it's lovin you're likin, I'll kiss you and give you the shiverin' fits
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I'll say it again

I got a twenty-dollar gold piece says there ain't nothing I can't do
I can make a dress out of a feed bag and I can make a man out of you

'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, I'll say it again
'Cause I'm a woman! W-O-M-A-N, and that's all.

 Thanks, y'all, especially for the "shiverin' fits.

*Sung by my favorite, Peggy Lee. Songwriters: LEIBER, JERRY / STOLLER, MIKE
I'm A Woman lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Saturday, January 17, 2015

This ain't no Pixar Toy Story my friends... And other animal tales of note.

This is
... A lotta

He died recently at the age of 13. He was renowned as the grandest of the grand, the daddy of more that 500,000 of the best looking (really say those who have an eye for cows), milk producing Holsteins many dairy farmers have ever known.

To say he had great genes is an understatement. To say he had great stamina, drive, charisma, passion, devotion...well, maybe that's going a little too far. He also made the pages (center spread?) of the glossy monthly Holstein International three times. But what makes him truly amazing is that he remembered all their names and birthdays... believe it or not!

How good? He actually produced 2.415 million units of semen to inseminate cows in 50 countries, easily topping the old record of a mere 1.7 million. It is believed that Toystory's record will never be topped. If he was a major league baseball player, there might not be enough money to pay him... and God knows it needs it. The cost of birthday cards and postage alone would break an average bull.

So, Macho guys, if you've already figured out what 2.415 million divided by the number of days in the 11 years of Toystory's potency (602 including weekends), I have one thing to say: In your dreams! A Toystory T-shirt with 'TORAZO!" under his picture and/or a commemorative semen straw might be your speed.

It's Awards season again. And you know as well as I do that it wouldn't be complete without the World Dog awards. The 'Pawscars' has recognized other animals in the media... like the tarantula that won Best Supporting Arachnid a few years ago for its appearance in the movie, Salt when Angelina Jolie saw it and said "EEEK! A SPIDER!"

Fans vote online for The Most Pawpular Dog, The Most Influencial Dog in Social Media, the Happiest Reunion, well as the Most Dog-Like Cat. WHaaaat?

The key award, of course, goes to the dog voted Most Congenial because it probably means it doesn't bite. Good luck to all the animals, fish, arachnids, etc. And please, no long acceptance speeches for those dogs that 'talk,' like on America's Funniest Videos. Personally, I knew they were saying stuff but I just couldn't understand them because most dogs talk in French which they picked up from watching Lady and the Tramp subtitled

Want to hear something that sounds like a Baaaaad joke? One of the hottest Apps available for Iphone and android is called Goat Simulator. It lets you wreck havoc in a virtual town as an animated goat, says the WSJ. "There is even a jet pack for the goat to fly and land on a hang glider. Think Grand Theft Auto meets petting zoo."

Goats have almost become 'beloved' in today's lore, perhaps spurred on by Dorito's malevolent chip-chopping goat that was one of the most popular commercials airing in 2013's Super Bowl. "Once I saw one yell like a human," says one of the Apps' developers, "and I knew we were on to something."

"Goat-centric videos have been the rage... they are part of our culture," says another partner.

"In Goat Simulator, the goat uses its horned head to destroy furniture and make cars explode. It terrorizes pedestrians by throwing them up in the air or dragging them along" the asphalt wit its long, sticky tongue."

"Goats are headstrong and cheeky," says Dorothea Dapper, founder of the Institute for Systemic and Animal-Assisted Therapy in Germany. "Learning how to effectively deal with them can teach executives a lot about working with people too."

Important note for executives: Do not grow horns, do not make cars explode. Do not drag people on asphalt. Otherwise, go for it. If you don't yet have Goat Simulator, then you are probably too old or not-with-it enough to matter, but FYI, if you loved Donkey Kong, Pac-Man or Angry Birds, you just might love Goat Simulator... at your friendly App Store now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

There she is... Miss America... and other girl problems

Bess Myerson... with Salvidor Dali looking on
Bess Myerson died. She was the first... and still the only Jewish Miss America in 1945. And she was something. Who would have thought that someone born in 1924 could have looked this beautiful?

Well, she was more than that. She worked for two New York City mayors and was instrumental in Ed Koch's election. She ran for Senate, appeared regularly on three different TV game shows, survived cancer and was acquitted on conspiracy, mail fraud and obstruction of justice charges brought (some say revengefully) by Rudy Giuliani. She was admired for her chutzpah (courage, mettle or ardor), outspoken and sought after. She was clever and quick thinking. In other words, she was an admired woman and Jew at a time when not all women or Jews were.

The Miss America Pageant was big at the time. Given how we have grown in understanding and perspective, the Bess Myerson of that time would not have been involved in today's banal excuse for a television program.

Admiral Michelle Howard
On July 1, 2014, Michelle Howard became the first woman and the first African-American woman to become a four-star admiral.

In 1999 she became the first African-American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. In 2006, she was selected for the rank of rear admiral making her the first admiral selected from the U.S. Naval Academy class of 1982 and the first female graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy selected for flag rank. What do you think of those apples?

We may see our first woman President in 2016, but if not then, no doubt soon after.

Which begs the question: Why are we still latent in acknowledging the best man for the job could well be, and often should be, a woman?

In business, "companies with more women in leadership posts simply perform better," notes Joanne Lipman, former editor-in-chief of Portfolio magazine in the WSJ . Fortune 500 firms with the most female board members outperform those with the lowest by 26% on return on invested capital and 16% on return in sales. Yet, the number of women at the top is barely budging."

Lipman offers some observations as a guide for men: A male magazine editor may declare "We need a piece on the drop in gas prices!" Some woman making the same point might ask, "Has anyone noticed that gas prices are falling? Do we know why?"  It's the question mark that takes ownership away.

Some women apologize more often, says Lipman, and might attribute a compliment to "Just lucky." She may not ask for a deserved raise. Some may feel wrongly that men don't respect her. Some may consider "I've got a great girl in shipping that is..." as a compliment. Tears are often viewed as a weakness. Some may need a maternity leave or step back in her career to raise children. Some may be viewed as a mother figure rather than a boss.

So who's fault is that?

Surprise! It's yours, you male pig. (I just said that to get your attention men.) OK, it's hers a little too. But if a decision-making man is truly worthy of a leadership role, he most likely recognizes skill, talent, viewpoint, introspection, leadership, potential, etc. without sexual bias.

The world of yesterday was full of 'good old boy' networks and old ideas (like Miss America Pageants) that often still persist. Old stereotypes forget it was the women at home in World War II that allowed for victory to happen. Women have, sadly, not been appreciated anywhere near to what they may be able to contribute. We are equally good... or bad in every way except child bearing where they lead by a hundred miles.

Yes, we are better at appreciating quality regardless of sex or race, but we're really not there yet. And I do wish women, in their evolution, would stop using girl power or girl anything... sounds as bad as 'good old boys.' 'Women' is so much more powerful.

I guess I just had to get that off my chest.

For a good time, read Men are From Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray Page in 1992. Watch From Nine to Five with Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin dating back to 1980. Then go out and make the world a better place.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Who has the real poker face?

Poker Face

 I have a son-in-law who plays a mean 'Texas Hold 'em.' (That's a sophisticated poker game for you high-stake
wannabes who have 'TELL' written all over your bodies.)

Not Poker Face
But then does it make any difference anymore? Thankfully, no...not because
I don't like to see the other players sweat and squirm...
who wouldn't like that?... but because the answer to the unbeatable perfect-poker-playing probot (think Peter Piper... ) could be the key to saving the world. Really--sort of.  It's a 'greater good' kind of thing.

This could be THE break-through to better solutions in so many human applications. (For you 'robotophobes,' don't worry, this isn't artificial intelligence that thinks--YET... but don't hold your breath.)

This is a highly sophisticated algorithmic solution that does more than play unbeatable chess, perfect Scrabble and a mean Jeopardy. This bugger plays poker where so much information about state of play is hidden. The poker-playin' program should be called Tex... a solid poker-player name instead of some nerdy-sounding thing like Cephus (which it is now).

"Our goal," says Dr. Bowling of Canada's University of Alberta, "is to advance artificial intelligence. And poker is an ideal game to capture all kinds of uncertainty."

To learn all the nuances of bluff, bet, hole cards and luck of the draw, the algorithm ran on an array of 4,000 computers for 68 days, calculating the optimum outcomes for more than a trillion possibilities of play.

The program worked through six billion hands every second, more than ever played by all the people who have ever been on earth, and it refined itself to near perfection. If you played against it, no matter what you do, you still wouldn't be able to eke out any more than a tiny advantage over millions and millions of hands."

But, as any true gambler knows, "This could be my lucky day."

Wanna bet?

Researchers don't plan to commercialize the system but do plan on setting up a University-managed public website where you can try your skill against it for free.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The worst team EVER... and a fascinating tie to my historical trip down memory lane to learn a lesson in morality

 How do I begin to tell you about the worst team ever and how it
Brantley B2b
relates to my personal touch with historical infamy?

OK, first guess which team is the absolute worst ever. And no, it's not the Cubs. Hint: This team's record is 1-14,000 and still counting.

Ever hear of the Washington Generals--the perennial losers? The Washington Generals are the team that always plays the Harlem Globtrotters--the perennial winners. The Generals were created in 1952 and owned by Red Klotz who was also its manager, coach, mascot and chauffeur in his used green DeSoto. Oh, and he also started and played into his 60s. He and his team were good players but that was not their show biz role. The Generals lost wherever the Globetrotters played... in the Egyptian desert, on an aircraft carrier, in Attica Prison, in Hong Kong, in a "Simpson's" episode, in front of Nikita Khrushchev, the Pope and Barack Obama to name a few. Get the picture?

Oh, and they won once--by accident--and were booed by the fans.

In fact, the Generals' win over the 'never lose' Globetrotter at the height of their popularity in 1971 was so upsetting to everyone who knew about the fabulous showboats that one sports writer called it a blow to American confidence. The loss was, he wrote, on a par with Lt. William Calley's recent conviction for murder in the My Lai massacre when as many as 504 unarmed South Vietnamese villagers were brutilized and killed by American soldiers under Calley's command. (Google it and be amazed, greatly saddened and ashamed.)

Now the connection: At that time, I was publisher of a really good magazine called Rotor & Wing International. It was an influential business publication for all the commercial helicopter owners and operators in the world.

F. Lee Bailey, the flamboyant attorney who helped get O.J.Simpson off the hook bought a small helicopter company called Brantley which manufactured the helicopter shown above. He visited our offices to get editorial coverage for his new company and I visited his manufacturing facility. His operating manager was former army captain, Ernest Medina who was Lt. William Calley's superior in Viet Nam. Calley contended Medina gave him the order to massacre those civilians who were suspected of aiding the Viet Cong, the enemy. That was suspected but never proven.

I knew Medina and his flamboyant boss, Bailey. They didn't give me good vibes. Bailey was an egotist, a pompous showboat and womanizer. Medina was quiet and not warm. Bailey flew me in his helicopter to show me what he could do and he and Medina bought lots of advertising in our magazine.

Less than a year later, Medina and Bailey sold the company 'stiffing' our magazine with a very large advertising bill unpaid, the jerk. So sue me, he said.

The enormity and shame of the Viet Nam war massacre and the pomposity and gall of Bailey gave me a 'dirty' feeling. The loss of a game by the Harlem Globetrotters didn't affect me... or any of the My Lai survivors in the slightest by comparison, which goes to show that any analogy of life to sport is a vast and ridiculous overreach.

And any excuse of serious allegations against athletes we idolize as great football players or whatever, is crap. Life is for real. Sports are for money. Not the same. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for cutting any star athlete any moral slack so our team can win. There are enough examples in today's news to make you sick. Let's stop that. Oh, by the way, you too congressional abusers.