Monday, October 31, 2011


About the Madoffs:

Ruth is clueless. Had no idea what was going on.

The surviving son is telling the truth. He didn’t know about the old man’s Ponzi scheme.

Herman Cain’s denial of sexual misconduct is a lie. He is guilty – and more women will step forward to accuse him of behaving badly with them.

The U.S. carrot/stick approach to Pakistan aimed at convincing them to be more helpful in preventing terrorists on their side of the border from attacking Americans in Afghanistan – will fail.

Albert Pujols will be heavily wooed – and will stay in St. Louis.

Unfortunately – Stanford will not make it through the season undefeated.

Ed Lee will be elected Mayor in San Francisco.

The Occupy Wall Street protests won’t lead to a groundswell that will really make a difference. The anger and frustration are real and justified. But there is no compelling rallying cry and it is too easy for opportunists to put up tents and hang out.

Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” campaign is the best approach he’s come up with so far. And maybe too little too late.

The Congressional Super Committee will not reach an agreement by Nov. 23. Then it really gets interesting.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Movies Not Allowed!

The hottest new book of the season, Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson, will be released tomorrow. In the morning I can download it to my Kindle for $16.99 and start reading it.

Coldplay’s new album, “Mylo Xylot” will also be released tomorrow. In the morning I can download it on iTunes for $9.99 and listen to it.

But how about popular new movies that were released this weekend? Or released within the past month? Or released within the past six months? Can I pay a fee and see them at my leisure? No way!

They’re not available on DVD or Blue-Ray or on Pay-Per-View or streaming to my computer or iPad or streaming to my TV, even if I’ve got a set-top box or subscribe to NetFlix. Even if I’m willing to pay they’re not available.

Because the film distributors, exhibitors, studios and the rest think they must protect their products from people like me. I can see their films without waiting only if I go to the theaters in which they’re on display. Not a difficult process, they say. Just go to your nearest movie theater.

Simple. A half hour ride. A $10 parking fee. Waiting in line to pay $30 for tickets for the two of us. Another $15 if we want some greasy popcorn and a sugar-infused beverage. Finding a seat next to some text-crazy teenager who hasn’t bathed in a week. Staying away from the old lady with bronchitis. Putting distance between us and the squalling kids who won’t shut up. And getting a seat with an unobstructed view of the screen.

I’d gladly pay big bucks if the film dictators would only let me stay home and watch it on my HD TV set. In the end they won’t win. Like book publishers and music moguls they’ll realize that the world has changed and that they have to change with it. But in the meantime I’m frustrated and inconvenienced by their dinosaur-like mentality.

Very frustrating!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Who Woulda Thought?

Who woulda thought:

The Godfather Pizza guy would be leading the Republican polls? Don’t worry – it won’t last.

The Niners would be 5-1? Hope springs eternal.

We’d have boots on the ground to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army? OK, a moral stand.

They’d give Rajaratnam 11 years? You’ve been a bad boy.

Europe’s economic survival would depend on Slovakia? Don’t worry, it doesn’t.

Berlusconi would survive to play another day? I woulda thought that.

The Israelis would give back 1,000 bad guys to bring Schalit home? Go figure.

Iran would hire a Mexican drug guy/DEA informant to kill the Saudi ambassador? Not me.

The “Book of Mormon” would wow Broadway? Joseph Smith visits South Park.

Fois gras would be banned in California? Guess that figures. Vegans Rule!

Have a nice day.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


Can the legacy of Steve Jobs be explained and analyzed? No. Genius is inexplicable.

Three of the four first round baseball playoffs are going to a winner-take-all Game 5. That’s a good thing.

In the domain of lowered expectations given Obama’s troubles: Well, I guess the country will survive a Romney Presidency. As for the other Republican clowns – I’m not so sure.

Did you see the “60 Minutes” piece on Alex Honnold, the guy who climbs sheer rock faces thousands of feet high with no ropes or safety equipment – only his finger tips and toes? Impossible. Insane. Makes my stomach flip-flop just thinking about it.

Fleet Week starts today. In a little while the Blue Angels will be screaming overhead. Some people object to the noise. I love it.

I hear some people want to start a trade war with China. That’ll teach ‘em, right? Lower the value of your currency, China, or we’ll show you how tough we are.

There must be a viable third party hiding somewhere. Where are you when we really need you? Not a Perot or Nader. I said ‘viable.’

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Message #16 - Don't Fall Off the Balance Beam!

What I have to say here is a corollary to Message #15 – Take Time Out.

It’s easy to say, “You need balance in your life.” Easy to say, but not easy to do, right?

On the surface this dictum makes sense. After all, who wouldn’t agree that balance is a good thing? I must think so. If I didn’t, why would I send you a message saying Don’t Fall Off the Balance Beam?

When you think ‘balance,’ what image comes to mind? There is balance as in a scale, where what is on one end equals what is on the other end. So the scale is at peace with itself, nicely balanced, in the middle, not tilting one way or the other. Peaceful, but not too exciting.

There is balance as in accounting, to make sure the books are balanced. We want to be sure that the numbers on one side equal the numbers on the other side.

There is balance as in a watch’s balance wheel. Probably most of you have never seen a watch with a balance wheel, a mechanism that moves the hands forward accurately. Quartz watch movements pretty much put the balance wheel industry out of business. But for centuries they were important. Kept things ticking along, so to speak.

There is balance as in tire balance, making sure that the four tires on your car are in line, properly inflated and working properly. After all, you wouldn’t want to wobble down the highway in an unbalanced condition.

So clearly balance is good. Having things in a state of peaceful equilibrium is good.

There’s only one problem: life doesn’t work that way. Maybe in an alternative universe you’ll find it. Not in this one. We are out of balance all the time. Bouncing from one thing to the next, often wondering when we’ll be able to get it all together. And getting sage advice like, “You need balance in your life.”

Say you’re on vacation. You’re out of balance. All play and no work. In terms of balance it’s no different than if you’re working 18-hour days for weeks on end. You’re out of balance. All work and no play.

So what can you do? Obviously you’re doomed. You’ll always be out of balance, right? Wrong! Why wrong? Because it’s the totality of your life that you want to have balanced, not each individual part. Which brings me to ‘balancing.’

Your life is not static; it’s dynamic. You are bouncing from one thing to the next. Since you can’t stop your life, your challenge is to stay physically and mentally healthy while life is going on. Balancing helps you win this game.

I know what’s coming next: “OK, Dan, fine. If you’re so smart, tell me how to do balancing.”

Sorry. It’s like I said in “Taking Time Out.” You have to discover what works for you. I can’t give you an infallible method to achieve and maintain balance. What I can do is point you in a new direction.

First, stop saying it’s hopeless. Stop being a victim. “I’m a single mom. I’ve got kids to take care of, which is a full-time job. And I’ve got another full-time job that I need to pay the rent and put food on the table. And I’d like to exercise once in a while. And I’d like some kind of a social life. There aren’t enough hours in the day.”

You’re right. With that attitude it is hopeless. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that guarantees more of the same. Of course, changing your attitude won’t automatically give you a balanced life. What it will do is open up the possibility that it doesn’t have to be this way. At a minimum if will set you on a new path. You won’t be throwing in the towel before the fight begins.

Try balancing. Begin by asking yourself, “What would make me happy?” And then answer the question. I’m not talking about an abstract academic exercise here. Really answer the question. And then take action.

“A half hour a day when I could do whatever I want, like reading a book, would make me happy.” Good. Do it!

“An unplanned, quiet 15 minutes with my partner before we go to sleep would make me happy.” Good. Do it!

“Taking the kids out to the park at least once a week would make me happy.” Good. Do it!

“Talking to my sister once a week would make me happy.” Good. Do it!

Once you’ve tried balancing for a while do an honest assessment to see how well it’s working. Don’t be afraid to make changes. Reinforce what feels right. Cut out or modify what feels wrong or isn’t living up to your expectations.

You don’t need specific measures for determining how well you’re doing. You’ll know.

In Bhutan, their goal is well-being and happiness for their people. They call it Gross National Happiness (GNH). They say that subjective measures are more relevant than objective measures. So they don’t measure GNH directly, but instead focus on a set of indicators that are believed to enhance GNH. They are:

1. Economic Wellness

2. Environmental Wellness

3. Physical Wellness

4. Mental Wellness

5. Workplace Wellness

6. Social Wellness

7. Political Wellness

You don’t need to go to the Himalayas to improve the quality of your life (although I do recommend a visit to Bhutan, one of the treasures in this world.)

Just make sure you Don’t Fall Off the Balance Beam!