Time To Take A Deep Breath

 

My quadrennial contest is now closed.  Twenty-one of us have made ten guesses about 2020.  Guesses.  None of us know who will be the Democrats’ nominee.  No one could possibly know how many regular season games the Indians will win this summer.  It is our willingness to predict, in advance, these outcomes that separate us from those who will share their expertise, always perfect, after the fact.

Yes, there is a certain amount of snark in this enterprise.  The contest originated in 2003.  Tired of the retroactive expertise, I challenged a local know-it-all to predict the 2004 election eleven months before the polls closed.  He declined, but others saw the fun in this and a tradition was born.

There is a secret to winning the Everyone’s A Genius In Hindsight Contest – humility.  This is a general knowledge game.  The winner will claim first prize with only three or four correct answers.  Entering the contest is an admission that you aren’t an expert in everything.  And, you are willing to be human, flawed and imperfect.

I found myself getting agitated this year as I got closer to the deadline for entries.  Social media, particularly Facebook, has forced us to interact with an increasing number of know-it-alls.  I had personally invited a number of them to participate in this year’s contest.  Just to be clear, I am referring to the people who post lots of memes, most of them easily disproved, but little to no original content.  These experts are happy to repeat the craziest of conspiracy theories or their (mis)understanding of the innermost thoughts of Democrats or Liberals.  As you may have guessed, none of them even acknowledged the invitation.

And I was getting agitated.

It is not my job to fact-check someone’s Facebook posts.  G-d knows FB abrogated that responsibility in favor of the revenue BS memes generate.  I already knew that anyone capable of posting a video of Nancy Pelosi, obviously slowed-down and doctored to make her look impaired, lacked the humanity to express fallibility.  That is just one example of why some of my friends have walked away from Facebook.  Yet, I still held out hope.  I started to imagine that my little contest was a lifeline, a path back to balance.

That was stupid.  In truth, my reaction to a group of know-it-alls stubbornly working to retain their imagined status was really an accurate reflection of my status – Exhausted.

It is time for me to step back and take a deep breath.  I will be in Punta Cana for the next week or so.  Sally will get a tan.  I will get some needed rest.

These are my answers for the contest:

  1. The President of the United States December 30, 2020 ___Pence___________.
    2. The Democratic nominee will be_______Klobuchar__________________.
    3. The winner of the 2020 Presidential election will be____Klobuchar___________.
    4. There will be __9_ justices on the US Supreme Court on December 31, 2020.
    5. The winner of the February 2, 2020 Super Bowl will be ____49ers____________.
    6. The Cleveland Indians will win _93___ regular season games.
    7. The Cleveland Browns will win _8__ regular season games.
    8. The Academy Award for best picture will go to _Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood _.
    9. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will close December 31, 2020 at __23,500_______.
    10. A gallon of milk will be $3.79_ at Heinen’s Mayfield Village on June 30, 2020.

Tie Breaker: There is a song associated with every major city. For many of us, our favorite Cleveland song has our hero tell the story of how a decent model citizen is transformed by lust and thirst. Please name the song and artist __Skinny – Alex Bevan____.

Breathe!  It is a longtime till November.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – Ready! – David L Cunix

2020 Hindsight – Calling All Geniuses

This is it! Welcome to the 2020 I Told You So Contest. This is your opportunity to have your genius fully appreciated. All you need to do is predict 2020 before it happens. I host this contest every four years. There is no cost to enter and the game is open to anyone. Please share this with your friend who always knew Trump was going to win and be impeached or with your cousin who knows when Freddie Kitchens will be fired.

Though the contest is for fun, there are prizes.

1st Prize – $50 Gift Card to Shuhei or the restaurant of your choice.

2nd Prize – Lunch with me.

3rd Prize – Two lunches with me.

The Rules:

All entries must be submitted to me by January 6, 2020. The winner will be determined by the number of correct predictions. In lieu of exactly correct answers, the closest to the correct answer will be given credit. The decision of the judge (me) will be final. The second tie breaker is a coin toss.

Don’t be intimidated. No one will get them all right.

1. The President of the United States December 30, 2020 _______________________.
2. The Democratic nominee will be__________________________________.
3. The winner of the 2020 Presidential election will be________________________.
4. There will be ____ justices on the US Supreme Court on December 31, 2020.
5. The winner of the February 2, 2020 Super Bowl will be _______________________.
6. The Cleveland Indians will win ______ regular season games.
7. The Cleveland Browns will win _____ regular season games.
8. The Academy Award for best picture will go to _____________________________.
9. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will close December 31, 2020 at _____________.
10. A gallon of milk will be $_____ at Heinen’s Mayfield Village on June 30, 2020.

Tie Breaker: There is a song associated with every major city. For many of us, our favorite Cleveland song has our hero tell the story of how a decent model citizen is transformed by lust and thirst. Please name the song and artist __________________________________.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – A Little Chutzpah In The 216 – David L Cunix

Is YOUR Economy Booming?

It was quite a show. Whether the cocktail party reception was placed in a room that was just a bit too small for the number of guests might have been by accident or quite possibly by design. In the very center of the room was a table filled with oysters on the half-shell, impossibly large shrimp with cocktail sauce, cracked crab legs, and other delicacies. The wait staff scurried back and forth to the open bar for those who didn’t choose to partake from the wine displayed at the table by the door. There were only a few tables with seats. This wasn’t a party. The people in attendance were there to be seen, to PAY their respects to the guest of honor, and to leave as soon as possible. And into all of this we throw Dave Cunix, the world’s worst mingler.

I approached four people, all holding wine glasses, who were standing near the back of the room. We all introduced ourselves and then two of the group, a married couple, took the opportunity to break away. I wish I had done the same. I was left with a financial planner in need of new friends and the owner of a chemical company, equally capable of polluting a conversation or the water supply. I will spare you the majority of his opinions, his rehash of the worst of Hannity, or his unhappiness with arrogant people (read Jews) like Dr. Zeke Emmanuel. What I found particularly offensive was his lead issue with Obamacare – the previously uninsured will be flooding the system demanding health care.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provided front door access to people who had been shut out from the health care system due to finances or preexisting conditions. Some were met with open arm. Some were met with resentment. How dare the poor clog up the waiting room at MY doctor’s office?

Today is the last day of Open Enrollment. Health insurance premiums in Greater Cleveland went up around 10%. Some were less. Some were more. The Tax Credit Subsidy, the help people get to pay their premiums, didn’t go up 10%. And I know that my clients who don’t qualify for a subsidy, the people who pay 100% of their premium, didn’t see a 10% increase in their income.

So my question is – Is Your Economy Booming?

We hear, incessantly, that the US economy is booming. The stock market is booming. Unemployment is falling. But, how are you doing?

If you take a trip to the mall, yes there are still retail enclaves, you will see plenty of vacancies. Talk to the store employees and you will find people working two and three jobs. Their hourly pay rate virtually unchanged in the last 10 years. Adults, 45 – 70 years old, still making less than $12 an hour. No benefits. No stability.

While entering information into healthcare.gov I learn about the number of ways people work to make ends meet. Part-time real estate agents vie with future multi-level marketing executives for server positions at your favorite restaurants or to stock the shelves at your grocery store. Two jobs. Three jobs. Too busy to be successful. They are locked on a hamster wheel that takes all of their time and energy.

How frustrating it must be to be fighting to get by while the news touts our booming economy. When the national discussion turns to you getting a raise, alarms are sounded about the dangers of inflation and the fragility of American businesses.  And if you actually can afford to purchase insurance, because G-d knows you aren’t getting group health insurance at work, you encounter people who view you as an interloper.

I have heard from some how their 401K’s have grown in the last 10 years. Those more politically motivated will only tout the growth of the last three years. It is as if the stock market only goes up and never ever goes down. And, more importantly, the value of the Dow Jones doesn’t impact your  day to day ability to buy groceries. We really need to spend more time talking about the personal economies of average Americans.

The guest of honor kept his remarks to a minimum, working hard to say damn near nothing in three short paragraphs. I got my moment with him, trying not to be the first and certainly not the last, and then gave the valet my ticket to retrieve my car.

By the way, those shrimp really were huge. Someone’s economy is booming.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – Some Exclusions Apply – David L Cunix

Everything Will Get Done

 

My goal had been to take off by 3:30, 4 o’clock at the latest.  It was Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, and I was already over a month into the annual Open Enrollment season.  By the end of November I am long past tired and more than a little frazzled.  My plan was to leave early and to spend the evening in my kitchen.  I could hear the cranberries calling to me.  A pumpkin pie was in my immediate future.  And then it wasn’t.

I had an unexpected service issue that kept me in the office till a little after 4.  I left my office only to find a couple in my waiting room.  There had been a small mix-up.  Their appointment had been for 4 PM yesterday, Tuesday, but they were here now, Wednesday.  The couple, we’ll call them Bob and Judy, had been referred to me by one of their friends, one of my favorite clients, and were here to get organized.  It would be a month or more before we could possibly do business, if ever.  They were here.  It would be rude to reschedule them.  Lianesha got them bottles of water and I ushered them into my office.

G-d I didn’t want to be there.  From the other side of the room I could hear emails, messages, and the ringing of the phone.  Even if they left immediately, I was locked in for another hour or more before I could escape to my kitchen.  I was able to relax once I accepted the fact that I wasn’t leaving.  And that is when I realized that I really liked Bob and Judy.  We were all about the same age.  I had a real connection to Judy’s profession and her employer.  I could relate to the twists and turns of Bob’s career path.  My agitation, my stress, had nothing to do with Bob and Judy.  We had a nice conversation.  The hour or so that I spent focused on them was as good an appointment as any I had had that week.

The holiday season can be incredibly stressful, even if you aren’t an insurance agent.  There is still that woman in front of you in the Express Lane checkout, a cart full of groceries, talking loudly on her cellphone.  You’re going to get cut-off by the guy who couldn’t wait to get into the mall.  And yes, you will be stuck at an intersection behind a Buick, its driver never looking up from his phone to see that the light has changed.  The challenge is to let those moments go, to not let a source of irritation impact the rest of your day and the other people you encounter.  I’m not saying that it is always easy.  Maybe it can be a goal.

I answered the call of the cranberries Thursday morning.  The pie was done by noon.  Everything gets done.  It always gets done.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – The Colors Of Thanksgiving – David L Cunix

Time To Fold

 

My first trip to Las Vegas was in the mid-90’s.  I had been to casinos and had even been to Nevada.  But this was Vegas!  I was there for a B’nai B’rith convention.  About 10 o’clock, after my friends had gone to bed, it was time to hit the tables.  I found a seat at a $5 Blackjack table and started to play.  15 – 20 minutes later, I was up a little and I surveyed the table.  I was shocked to realize that no one was having a good time.  The middle-aged guy next to me had been consistently losing.  Neither he nor the bored over-dressed second wife/girlfriend/hooker by his side were having any fun.  One by one I looked at each of my tablemates and saw that none of them, not even the dealer, were enjoying themselves.  I understood that I wasn’t going to win enough money to retire and I didn’t see any reason to spend any more time with them.  I picked up my chips and left.  Why stay if you aren’t having fun?

Two of my friends invited me to their weekly poker game.  These guys have been playing in a low stakes game for years.  I had been asked to play before.  This time I said, “Yes”.   The first half of the evening was devoted to a $5 buy-in, like when we were in high school.  Unfortunately, the games were similar to the ones we played back then.  Everything was high/low, or had a wild card, or had names like “Stupid” and “Super Stupid”.  And with all of that, we still had several Poker Mavens.  One guy felt compelled to tell anyone who didn’t act immediately, “You know, you can fold”.  Another thought that he was the keeper of the rules, an expert on this collection of games.  I was surprised that I held my own.

The second half of the evening was a $5 buy-in Texas Hold’em Tournament.  POKER.  I was on firm ground.  Mr. You Know You Can Fold was overconfident.  He had knocked out several guys and was the big stack.  My hand came, but I simply called.  He raised, but I simply called.  He pushed All In.  Call!  I crippled him.  I busted him on the next hand.  And I enjoyed it.  And at that moment I realized that this was my last game with these guys.  Destroying someone isn’t fun and crushing him for $10 or $15 is ridiculous.

What I learned twenty-five years ago still applies today.  You don’t stay if you aren’t having fun.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – Gotta Love Aces – David L Cunix

Like Mayo On Pastrami

Senator Portman, President Trump just shot a man

   What do you mean, he shot a man?

The President got mad at a protestor at his Nashville rally. He walked over to the Secret Service agent who was removing the man, took the agent’s gun, and shot the protestor. On live TV.

Wow.

Well Senator, what do you have to say about that?

I sincerely wish President Trump wouldn’t have done that. I know that I wouldn’t do something like that.

Is that it? Are you still supporting him?

That doesn’t strike me as an impeachable offense. I’m sure the man he shot was a never-Trumper.

So you’re still going to vote for him?

Sure. I’m just happy he didn’t shoot someone in Dayton.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – The Official Portrait – David L Cunix

Rosh Hashanah 5780

The red Camry entered our parking lot the wrong way though the out driveway.   He saw me, standing outside of the synagogue, and he did not slow down.  I held my ground.  He spun around, quickly exited, and gunned his engine as he went up the nearby freeway ramp.  As I watched him I realized again that our first line of defense was me, an out-of-shape 64 year old.  And no, I was not wearing Kevlar underwear.

The first line of defense has always been the individual Jew.   We have not survived for thousands of years because of the strength of armies or the grace of governments.  We have not survived because of the quality of our armaments.  It is the individual Jew, one by one, who has chosen to be a part of the community, to teach his/her children, to have accepted the responsibility of being a Jew and all that that means to each of us.

Yes, there were armed policemen behind me.  Yes, we have practiced active shooter drills and taken Stop the Bleed training.  Yes, we have taken steps to be prepared.  It is our responsibility to be as prepared as possible for the unthinkable.  But in the end, it is still the individual Jew who serves as our first line of defense.

During the High Holy Days we reaffirm our participation in the community.  We are charged with the obligation to hear the sounding of the Shofar.  Some will spend long hours in synagogue.  Some will reflect privately in their homes, the Shofar courtesy of the internet or Alexa.  That effort is the first line of defense no less important than an old guy standing guard outside of the synagogue in the parking lot.

I wish for all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year, a year of peace.

L’Shana Tova!

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – Honey Cake – David L Cunix

Working Hard To See No Evil

 

There is a Chevrolet / GM dealership in South Shoeless, Ohio (population 6,437).  A new ownership group took over Dirt Road Chevy in 2015.  One of the changes they implemented was a focus on the service department, specifically brakes.  By March of 2016 Dirt Road Chevy had already exceeded their brake orders from all of 2015.  GM was thrilled.  Dirt Road Chevy moved more brakes than much larger dealerships in Columbus and Cleveland.  In December the manager of the regional distribution center, himself the recipient of a sales bonus, sent a special holiday dinner for the owners and employees of the dealership.  Everyone was happy except Jack, a fork-lift operator in the distribution center.  Jack thought it odd that a Chevy dealership in a tiny town could possibly sell and install so many brakes.  He brought this up to his supervisor who told him that his job didn’t include thinking.  In 2017 Dirt Road Chevy was #1.  No dealership in the country ordered more brakes.  GM was thrilled.  Jack was freaking out.  He contacted the FBI, who, it turned out, was already investigating Dirt Road Chevy.  Brakes were the last piece of the puzzle.  Local police, State of Ohio troopers, and the FBI raided Dirt Road Chevy on the morning of February 4, 2018 and uncovered one of the largest money laundering operations in the country.

There isn’t a Dirt Road Chevy or even a South Shoeless, Ohio, but there was a Unique Pain Management located in a real Wheelersburg, Ohio (population 6,437).  Dr. Margaret Temponeras opened the clinic in 2005.  According to the Plain Dealer, “In a span of less than four years, Temponeras ordered 1.66 million pain pills.  The Plain Dealer found that she ranked 18th out of the 64,252 practitioners nationwide who ordered oxycodone and hydrocodone from 2006 through 2012.”  Miami-Luken, the pharmaceutical distributor, and the drug manufacturers were thrilled.

Ohio is second only to West Virginia in the number of deaths from overdoses in this country.  There was a drugstore in Kermit, West Virginia (population 400) that sold almost 4 million opioid pills between 2008 and 2011.  How could this happen?  Was anyone paying attention or were the manufacturers and distributors simply pushing for more sales?   U.S. District Judge Dan Polster is overseeing a collection of over 2,000 lawsuits against the drug companies.  He wrote, “a fact finder could reasonable infer these failures were a substantial factor in producing the alleged harm suffered by Plaintiffs.”

A group of us were discussing the opioid epidemic, the recent Oklahoma Johnson & Johnson case, and the major case in Ohio.  One guy was hoping this would all end soon.  “These products are legal.  You need to remember that lots of people have 401 K’s.  Our money is invested in those companies.”

You have to work hard to see no evil.

I was at a celebration, a few hours later, in Solon.  Someone noted President Trump’s aberrant behavior.  While others were laughing about the doctored weather map, a Trump supporting friend weakly noted, “Yeah.  Yeah.  But I really like what he’s doing for my 401 K.”

I heard that twice in one day.  I wish that it required more effort to see no evil.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – See No Evil – David L Cunix

Stuck On The Wrong Side Of Liberty

 

I was having a beer with Eugene.  I have known Gene (name changed) for almost thirty years, back to a time when my hair was brown and he had some.  He does business with me and I do business with him.  We have never let our significant political differences impact either our business or our personal relationship.  Mutual respect allows us to disagree without attacking each other.

Eugene was only a teenager when he and his family came to the United States in the 1970’s with next to nothing but a dream.  They got an open door and little else.   They took their opportunities and were incredibly successful.  That success, and the equally big wins of a couple of his peers, informs Eugene’s politics.  He worked really hard, took some chances, and won.

As I said, Eugene and I were having a beer.  I told him about a new client, Mrs. J.  This is her story:

I received a call earlier today from a man who wanted to talk about his 50 year old daughter-in-law.  The woman is here in the United States legally and has her Green Card.  The Federal Marketplace sent her and her US-born husband to Medicaid.  Now, with Donald Trump and Steven Miller attacking legal immigration, the gentleman on the phone is afraid that having Medicaid could impact her future legal status.  This seems like a reasonable concern.  After some discussion, Mrs. J. contacted Medicaid, cancelled her coverage, and purchased the only health insurance she could, a short term major medical policy.

Eugene winced. “If you personalize this, if you know someone, this looks pretty bad.”  But I believe that we all know someone.  We have friends and/or relatives who were born elsewhere.  My parents were first generation Americans.  So were many of yours.  This should look bad to all of us.

Eugene recovered quickly.  He noted that too many people came to the United States and didn’t work hard within his own community.  He believes, he knows, that the American Dream is available to anyone.  So he is sympathetic to Mrs. J.’s plight, but he is much happier now that she will be paying for her own coverage, even if it is just short term.

What do you think?  Should legal immigrants fear for their permanent status if they accept any governmental aide for food, shelter, or health care?  I confess to mixed emotions.  I’m not as certain as my friend Gene.

Let me know.  We can always meet for a beer.

Dave

www.againreally.com

Picture – Stuck On The Wrong Side Of Liberty – David L Cunix

 

Too Bad Ted Was Such A Wimp

 

There is a car insurance commercial on television about a research center in Antarctica.  The scientists are stuck in this building, protected from the elements, and Carl, tone-deaf Carl, brought his karaoke machine.  His horrific singing is being piped into all of the rooms of his long-suffering compatriots.  Two of the scientists have to stop Kevin from just walking out of the building.  Here is the part I don’t understand.  Instead of leaving the center, why doesn’t Kevin just unplug the karaoke machine?  Hell, why doesn’t he destroy the karaoke machine?  And for good measure, why in the world doesn’t he not only destroy the source of the collective irritation, but while he’s at it, punch out Carl for good measure?

I don’t believe I had a particularly violent childhood, but I certainly remember throwing a punch or two (and being the recipient of a few, too).  There is no way in the world this behavior would have been tolerated in my neighborhood.  The fact that your friends wouldn’t put up with this level of selfishness was self-correcting.  Don’t want to be punched?  Don’t make everyone’s lives miserable.

We saw this in real life four years ago at the Republican debates.  It started with Donald Trump referring to Jeb Bush, a man of real accomplishments, as “Low Energy Jeb”.  That was nothing compared to what he did to Ted Cruz (R-TX).  At one point he linked Cruz’s father to Lee Harvey Oswald and the JFK assassination.  The final straw should have been when Trump insulted Cruz’s wife, twice!  Ted was insulted.  Ted called Donald a “New York Bully”.  Donald laughed, out loud, at both Ted, his wife, and Ted’s chances of becoming president.  Because we may not like a bully, but no one respects or votes for a wimp.

Didn’t you wish that one of those Senators or Governors would have gotten right into the face of this poseur and called him out?  And would you have popped him one for insulting your spouse?  I would like to hope that most of you would have, but it wasn’t you, it was Ted.  And because Ted was a wimp, Donald Trump is now president.  It is all Ted’s fault.  I can say that with impunity, because, you know, he really isn’t going to do anything about it.

DAVE

www.againreally.com

Picture – In Search Of A Nose – David L Cunix