What better way to start off a post than with a tribute to Simon and Garfunkel, and in reference to my lack of posting anything of note…..

Speaking of baseball, it looks like the A’s need to wait another year; perhaps my prediction of an A’s vs Dodgers ’88 rematch was a year to soon.  I hope so.

The good news is, I’ll keep this post short. The bad news is, I’ll keep this post short.  I’ve decided to do a little catch up on my photo population, as trips come and go and the outdated cameras’ photos sit in a vault – my computer.  Not to worry moving forward as I finally hooked up a solid canon prior to my trip to Europe in February.

So…I’ve just posted shots from my World Cup 2011 trip to New Zealand and Australia. My next venture is to relive the extravaganza of South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, as well as me ending up lost in the streets of Pamplona for the 2010 finale between Spain and Holland, straight off the presses from South Africa.  I can’t think of a better way to cap my 2010 WC experience than being in my motherland of South Africa only to wind up in Pamplona during the running of the bulls which happily coincided with Spain finally winning the cup.  That’s a tall order for Brazil to fulfill next year – looking forward to that business trip as well.

Later (and I mean that metaphorically) I’ll add shots from my trip to Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany earlier this year, and the planned trip to Dubai and South Africa from November to December.

A big shout out to Brian Vinciguerra, one of my Club Treviso roommates and partner in crime on the trip (Snapdragon!), Mark Harvey Kenney and our friend Travis McCormick and his newly minted wife Jackie who reside in Australia – thanks for the hospitality Trav.  Good times!

Well, I’ve let the blog get stagnant as always, which is so bad for SEO, but I digress, the reason for the post – The Old Course.

The Old Course is everything a golf enthusiast would dream, and more.  I stumbled across a few photos on my Google Screen Saver and had figured why not give a shout out to the good ol’ course from Scotland, the origin of one of the greatest (and strongly misunderstood) reasons for living.

Enough talking-enjoy the snaps:


Old Course Clubhouse in St. Andrews Scotland


Don’t Worry I’m a Member


My New Peeps at the Old Course


JJ Standing on the Old Course Bridge in St. Andrews Scotland

As some may know, I read the LA Times cover to cover, just about every day, sometimes to a fault when the days’ news is done (hell it’s already a day late), but I refuse to take the chance of somehow missing something worth reading.

Which brings me to David Lazarus.  David is a business columnist that usually rights op-ed pieces.  While T.J. Simers and Bill Dwyre head the sports department, I usually turn to Lazarus when it comes to an op-ed piece in the biz section.

David Lazarus usually opines on relevant topics, but this is often accompanied with his perspective on the topic, and  I must admit I’m usually aligned with his take on the topic; whether a liberal or conservative in political slant is hard to tell, but I like to think he straddles the fence like most great political minds (although, isn’t the media always liberal, (-) Fox News of course.

Well, today I find a topic that no one can disagree with, unless that is you are part of the Restaurant Association, and more specifically the caterers. It turns out over 1.5 million tons of food a year gets thrown away by caterers, rather then passed on to those people that are homeless or food-starved, or even just hungry?  And the stats on the other side? There are over 1.3 million children going hungry daily — and this is just in California!

The biggest impediment?  Logistics (ie. not having the means, transportation and infrastructure, to deliver the throw-aways to hungry people). Otherwise, there does not seem to be another hurdle in this shear waste of perfectly good food – foods that vary from excess wedding functions (guess what, I drank more then I ate!?) to corporate shindigs, to A-list Hollywood parties. Boy, sounds like good eats.  The legal constraints? None, zip, nada, etc.  Donors are even covered by law for not being responsible for the food in the event it causes any liability to another (ie. spoiled or tainted goods).  The thinking being, food banks and homeless shelters can use common judgment to differentiate what’s good from bad–kind of like the salvation army, where everything seems to be used some way in the end.

So….there is all this food, it exempts donors from any legal concerns from the state of the food, and logistics are the problem?  In this case, logistics includes the California Restaurant Association, and their state lobbyists for caterers and event planners.  I don’t know how they (the CRA) have such pull, but they don’t have to disclose to people the foods can be donated to the needy, so they must have one hell of a lobbyist. One congress women, Jenny Oropeza, has tried to help bridge this gap, but her first bill was previously shot down, as 1.3 million kids go hungry a day (not to mention adults, even if those figures are skewed for whatever reason).

The government’s solution?  A new bill which tries to slowly pick away at small changes to the existing failure of a system.  One step at a time it seems, although that is the type of gridlock in the system which just exacerbates the problem, not to mention how it is probably getting worse as our economy and unemployment rate continue to languish.

I’m sorry, if people are hungry and excess food can be delivered to those in need, call me up and I’ll drop the rations off myself.

I was reading an LA Times the other day and ran across an articles on the state of Ireland’s economy, and what more of an appropriate time to discuss Ireland then on the brink of good old St. Paddy’s Day. So, I guess there’s a running joke among the Irish that goes something like this:  “What the difference between Iceland and Ireland?” One letter and six months, alluding to the similar paths of their banking woes.

The obvious: similar to the USA, and much of the rest of the world, the global economy is in a real state a funk. The reality: this funk is just the tip of the iceberg, and a real societal shift is in order to revive the world from these doldrums. We are currently in this crisis due to several factors, most of which lie in big government and big businesses’ ability to make so many wrong decisions in so short a time.  Big gov. begets big biz, and vice versa.  Big businesses’ pursuit of justifying the bottom line to their shareholders by any means possible, and Big government (ie. the Bush and to a lesser extent the administrations prior) with their inept ability to control such larceny, as well as feed it.  Case in point the debacle of invading Iraq, and the ensuing largess of money spent by the government, and subsequent abuse of this money as big business and big government “rebuilt” Iraq.  Another case:  the inability of the U.S. Government to intercede in the bilking of millions of soon-to-be-homeowners, who had no business buying a home.

This drives home another important factor driving our global economy south.  As they say, “it takes two to tango.” Citizens of the world, whether American, South African or Irish must consider their individual hand in this melt down.Whatever the cause of this global economic calamity, we are in this mess and need to right this ship before we spiral into a potential global Ice Age.  I believe an Irish lass summed it up best, speaking in relation to the frivolous over-consumption of goods (sound familiar) in their country:  “”As soon as we got a whiff of money, a lot of us ran ahead of ourselves,” said Lucey of Trinity College.  ” I think we need a period of pain and reflection. We need a period of frugality, of reality.”

We elect our government, we play into big business as we continue to buy, buy, buy “stuff”, with no thought to future  consequences; because, while we may be in a temporary lull financially, we are in store for an impending global dilemma that will make the current economic uncertainty seem trivial: The Destruction of the Planet, and the consequence of this on the generations to come.

Does this generation want to be known as the generation that failed the world miserably?  Time to buck up, make sacrifices, conserve, preserve, and help that neighbor you were once envious of ________.

I think not–both sport the Green and Gold and both teams are underdogs that come to play every day.  In fact, these two relatively obscure sides have delivered their fair share of championships, with the A’s the third all-time leading World Series winners, with 9, and the Bok’s with two World Cup Rugby titles under their belt, tied for the lead w/ a team not named the All Blacks.

So South Africa represents once again in World Baseball Classic.  I actually caught the team during Spring Training the first time round in 2006.  A special thanks to Alex Cox who was on hand this year to catch them  square off at Oakland’s Spring Training grounds in Mesa, AZ:

Cox aka Pimpy A –  Popping at the A’s Game and Catches a Noodle

South Africa Baseball Team vs Oakland A’s

Go A’s – Go South Africa!!

Well, the world finally came around:  World’s Greatest Business Mind.

Special thanks to Mike Simpson for alerting me to this historical achievement.

Yesterday marked the swearing in of our 44th president (well, 43rd if you don’t county Grover Cleveland twice):  Barak Hussein Obama.  I’ve mentioned before how I believe him to truly be a unifying figure for not only the United States, but the world as well.  Only time will tell how he will perform as commander-in-chief, but two things are certain:  1. He’s got a tough road ahead and 2. He will be a better president then the one he replaces, George W. Bush.

Concerning the tough road ahead, the stock market on Tuesday dropped to the lowest it’s been since the ‘so called bottom’ of the market on November 20, 2008.  I fell it pretty safe to assume, that the country has yet not reached the bottom, but with inauguration of the new president, I can only hope that we are near the nadir of this depression.  The last 4-8 years have clearly shown that our economic policies did not combat the evils of greed and in a large part corporate America.

A wise old friend’s father once reminded me that, similar to just about everything else, the real estate market is cyclical and what goes up must come down.  Now it seems difficult for me to understand how everyone couldn’t see this happening, but the bubble burst and many were burned. The real estate market may have been the trigger that resulted in the current state of depression in the United States, and to a larger part the whole world, but it was by no means the impetus that resulted in the dire straits the country is currently experiencing.  Big Insurance, Big Finance, and Big Banking can all join hands amongst many other under scrutinized areas of today’s economy and all share the blame at hand.

Now, back to the one person who has been asked to rectify this situation: Obama.  It would be completely ignorant to think that one man can change the world, but some expect him to do just that:  save their world.  I believe Obama hit some key points in his Inauguration Speech, that the solution didn’t rest on him or even the government, but every individual living in this country.

I would also be amiss if I didn’t publish in this post a couple of his most salient remarks, surely several of many, many more to come – nice deviations from the norm people complacently accepted from George Bush.

Concerning Religious Views and the Economy:
“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.  We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth, and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass, that the lines of tribes shall soon dissolve, that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself, and that American must plan its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”

He later explains that his term will be defined by peace and cooperation, whether Muslim or Conservative, such a fresh world view as opposed to what’s been driven in our heads in recent years.  It seems Obama won’t prey on fear and anxiety, but on goodwill and hope.

Historical Reference to a Better G.W.:
A second quote, invoking the words of George Washington at Valley Forge, “So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how we far we have traveled.  In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river.  The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.  At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: ‘Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.

“With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.  Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter, and…we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

This sounds like great words from a great man.  Let’s hope the country can rise to the challenge to help prove these words true.

Once again my boy Scott McCain recommended a book to me, and once again his recommendation was pure: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami. About a 1/4 of the way through the novel, I came across a great quote, which applies to both business and life in general:

“Maybe he really did have a magic touch, but he also had a talent for finding capable people to work for him. He paid them high salaries and treated them well, and they in turn worked hard for him.  When I know I’ve got the right guy, I put a wad of bills in his hand and let him do his thing, he once told me. You’ve go to spend your money for the things that money can buy, not worry about profit or loss. Save your energy for the things that money can’t buy.’

I believe the author really hits the hammer on the nail with this one, and any business professional can apply this to their trade. Also, this quote seems to have a more empirical meaning when applied to every-day-life. One really should focus his or her energy on the things that money can’t buy, and trust money to life’s unavoidable expenses, things that are not entirely meaningful in one’s existence. The meaningful things (eg. happiness, love, fulfillment) can only be obtained through energy, struggle and ultimately an uncompromising pursuit of one’s personal satisfaction in the life they lead.

To be or not to be….that really is the question these days for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The season is drawing to a close, and losses such as last night to Portland could only be forecast. Why do they have our number in the new dome?  These things happen, but what a great opportunity lost with the final four games of the season coming down to the wire with playoff seedings ever-so-present. Ultimately, the seedings are important, but as the Lakers have proven this year, and other champions in the past, winning on the road in the playoffs is how championship teams are made, and the season should prove not different.

he biggest unanswered question these days will be if Tanter’s baritone voice will be calling for the bright eyed, starlet-plucked Laker Girls in the NBA Finals this Year.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the Lakers can make it to the finals if they can stay relatively injury free and if Kobe plays a smart, unselfish , team oriented basketball. This much is certain: whichever team makes it to the finals, will more then likely be mopped up by the Celtics, or to a lesser degree the resilient Pistons.

That is unless Bynum comes back at 80%+ pre-injury and the team clicks. I’m not really worried about our offensive output, between the big three scorers, sharp shooting guards, and ever steady tandem of odom and fish, the Lakers will get theirs.

But will it be enough? Will we see those outstanding collective group of talent, the Laker Girls, on the big stage in ’08?  Will there be a parade in downtown LA?

Time will only tell…..Go LAKER$

This will likely become one of many posts concerning our beloved Los Angles Lakers. I have been a Lakers’ fan for as long as I can remember, dating back to early 80’s when Showtime redifined basketball as we now know it. In fact, it was a member of that incredible showtime cast that I proudly call my favorite player – Ervin Johnson, the one and only Magic man (I will obviously post another quote at another time, dedicated to the man).

Now for this season, let’s turn our attention. This has been the most pivotal season since the Lakers acquired Shaq and Kobe. The additions of Paul Gasol and Fish-stick (halleluja), the improved play of Farmar and Sasha, the trimming of fat (I praise the day Kawame was jetisoned to a far of place), and the emergence as what can perhaps be foreseen (dare I say it) as the second coming of the Captain – Andrew Bynum (who needs a new nickname since baby bynum no longer flies).

Of course, the nucleus of the team remains in Odom and of course Kobe. Kobe has taken so much criticism in his still young career, but has emerged the leader we know he can be. I have to many friends who still downplay the significance of this Wunderkind, who is exactly that, a once in a lifetime asset. I will elaborate on Kobe’s impact in another post).

This season is now at a critical juncture since the Lakers must integrate their injured players before the season ends so we can get a feeling for the playoffs of what units function best. Now, I’d like to assume the injured (including dear fish, with his play-through-pain tendon injury) will remain pain or injury free, but that is probably to optimistic of a slant. Chances are, during the course of the postseason, we will further feel the bite of the injury bug, and Phil will need to transform the make-up of the units that go to battle for Lakerdom.

However, as much as the injuries and Lakers’ on court alignment will come into play, I don’t think this is the most critical aspect of the current squad. The chemistry with whatever players we put on the court will be critical, and this starts with Phil, and to a larger extent Kobe. Kobe needs to shy away from those high scoring efforts that we all know he is capable of doing. Even if he shoots a great percentage, this seems to alienate some of the other teammates that are on the court. This is not entirely Kobe’s fault, since who would you rather having taking the bulk of the attempts during a Lakers game? Or is this in itself the key to this season? The Lakers need to involve their big men when they return to the lineup, and get away from the hoisting of 3-point shots. If you live and die by the 3 point shot, in a seven game series, you almost always end of going down.

So it is then a challenge to you, dear Kobe, to lead your Lakers (and it is your team) to the promised land by providing the oil to make the cogs work. Yes, you are the biggest cog in the machine, but it is your responsibility to recognize this and to enable this to run effectively and efficiently. At the end of the day, you will always fill up a stat’s sheet; I just feel, you need to focus on assists and above all Leadership as the season wanes, and the Post Season begins.

This will not be an easy post-season, and whatever team rises to the top will have an eagerly awaiting Boston Celtics team that will be a daunting task to say the least. I believe we can do it this year, even if the future holds even more promise. Kobe, get the team in gear and let’s win another title for your beloved fans!

    July 2024
    M T W T F S S
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      I woke up one night; I was not sweating, although I did decide it was time for me to put my creative mark on cyperspace. I previously had a useless, tired blog that pretty much stunk up the internet. But alas, no more; the day of reckoning is up on us, a new energy has bubbled from my loins, and with the bubbling will come additional useless “Juicy Morsels and Tidbits For All to Graze.”

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