My imaginary dream Jeopardy! show appearance 😉

(Tribute to Alex Trebek below in the form of an imaginary appearance by me in Jeopardy! trivia game show)

Alex: Last clue of Double Jeopardy! round and…’s a Daily Double! in the category “Game show champions”. Raj, you buzzed first! How much of the $45542 that you have earned you want to wager?
Raj: I have always dreamed of saying this: Let’s make it a true Daily Double, Alex!
Alex: Wow, that’s a brave bet. Fortune favors the brave. Good luck! The clue is : “These are the winningest champions in Jeopardy!”
Raj: Who are Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter?
Alex: You got that right! You double your score to 91,084. Way to go! Incidentally 9/10/84 is the date I started hosting this show in its current format!
Raj: That’s cool! 😎

Final Jeopardy! round coming up after a break. The category is “Game show hosts”.

Funny Geico ad plays during the break. 😂

Alex: We could potentially have a winner with over $100,000 today. The clue is “This Canada born game show host has hosted more than 8,000 episodes of a show, spread over 36 years”
First 2 contestants give correct answer and their final score is < $25,000 each.
Alex: Raj had the most money to wager. Let’s see his response and how much he wagered
Raj: “Who is Alex Trebek? (You are the best! 🙏)”. Wager is $11,620!
Alex: That’s the right response and I see the amount you wagered is today’s date (11/6/20). Nice! The final winning amount is $102,704! Congratulations, Raj! That was a great game. So long, folks, hope you join us next time!

P.S. I guess some dreams are meant to remain unfulfilled 😭
But it was fun as long as the dream lasted 👍

The Bellwether Corp story

About 250 years ago The Bellwether Corp (TBC) was formed with the charter to create products that bring happiness, produce them in adundance and in an unabashed manner. Over the years TBC products reached all countries of the world making TBC well-known and expanding its reach. TBC’s success was built on high R&D spending, innovation, stable management, ability to attract good talent and willingness to make big bets on new products and innovations. In short, TBC was both admired and feared, loved and hated in equal measure. The one undisputed fact was the impact of TBC on many lives across the world. The charter of TBC called for 4-year contracts at a time for the CEO of the company and another 4-year term, if approved by majority of stakeholders, for a maximum of 8 years.

Around the turn of the last century the leadership changed hands when a scion of a previous CEO of TBC assumed charge. The scion’s plan called for aggressive expansion of business overseas and mergers and acquisitions (M&As) within the country to fuel growth. The ambitious plan called for lot of money investment. While business grew for TBC its debt grew faster. Overseas investments got mired in low returns and internal M&As got bogged down due to the cost and complexity involved in integrating different products and cultures. This resulted in some of the divisions being shed and turmoil of the market due to the uncertainties and losses that ensued. After 8 years under the scion CEO it was time for change of leadership.

TBC’s next CEO came from within. A relative unknown and young person was heralded as the next big hope (NBH). NBH’s first priority was to bring calm and restore market faith in TBC and then fuel sustainable growth. NBH succeeded in the first priority but results were mixed in the growth aspect. There were notable successes accompanied by areas of frustration as the task involved a cultural shift which TBC was not fully prepared for or ready to embrace fully. TBC’s workers were also expecting more prosperity for the fruits of their labor and under NBH many felt it was not fully delivered. NBH’s 8-year contract ended with TBC more stable and secure and on a path of growth but with the dreams not fully realized.

For the next leader TBC looked outward for someone to spark more explosive growth. In came an outsider (OUTS), without a cultural connection to TBC, promising to change the way of conducting business by shattering established norms and doing away with what OUTS considered old shibboleths that were holding back TBC from fully realizing its greatness. Per OUTs the new approach would result in upgrading of infrastructure in a big way, usher in high growth, make TBC more safe and secure, reduce the debt burden of the company and increase the happiness and prosperity of TBC workers within the first few months itself. A tall order to achieve it all even in one full 4-year term but that’s what OUTS insisted would happen. For making it happen OUTS demanded absolute power and total fealty from all stakeholders of TBC. The first couple of years saw TBC grow at a rapid pace. TBC workers and other stakeholders saw their net worth grow. This was happening in the context of old, established structures for safety and governance being torn down and aggressive deals being negotiated with TBC suppliers and other 3rd party service providers and amidst whispers of malfeasance and ad-hoc decision making. Company debt also grew to alarming levels. Whistleblowers were silenced strongly and all competitive threats were dealt with lot of force. Disaster struck in the 4th year of OUTS’ first 4-year contract. A mystery illness swept through TBC affecting TBC workers. What first appeared as something minor soon spread like wildfire causing serious sickness and sometimes causing worker deaths. This caused consternation within TBC, prompting safety officials to sound the alarm about the likely far-reaching impact this could have on TBC workforce and potentially impact this could have on others doing business with TBC. The measures suggested to mitigate and contain the risk included shutting down TBC plants initially along with strict monitoring and putting additional safety plans in place to contain the fallout and reduce prolonged pain. This did not go well with OUTS who was daunted by the cost and consumed by renewal of a second 4-year contract due later in the year. With safety plans not implemented per experts’ recommendation the pain and economic impact spread far and wide. Loss of jobs and lives followed. When time came for considering whether to extend the contract of CEO for another four years, a majority of stakeholders, albeit small, voted against it and seem to have approved going forward with a TBC veteran (VET) insider steeped in company culture instead.

OUTs would appear to be on the way out but is not leaving without a fight. OUTS has filed lawsuit/s alleging sabotage from within and claiming to have majority support for another 4-year term. Will the courts step in and make a ruling or let TBC company board of directors and other stakeholders work it out? Like all stakeholders impacted directly or indirectly by the turn of events I am watching too, with concern.

The above fictional story could very well be a tale of real companies or even real countries 🙏

Main street is hurting. Is anyone listening?

It was a cool, sunny, dry Saturday yesterday. Perfect fall day for raking the leaves and mowing the lawn before wet weather predicted to kick in late Sunday and couple of days later. After helping the retired lady next door get her lawn mower started (just assisted by pumping the primer a few times and pulling the cord. Of course she was very thankful and made me feel like I saved her life 😃) I set about mowing the lawn. My mower behaved well long enough to get the lawn done after couple of sessions. The gap was to allow the heated gasoline powered engine to cool down when it stopped. A good afternoon siesta followed. Then it was time to step out for the one constant bit of outside activity during these times: weekend grocery shopping.

As I drove away after shopping from the grocery store I looked at the nearby strip mall. It has an Indian grocery shop and couple of doors away an Indian fast food restaurant. This day something appeared different. I looked closely and noticed that the fast food place was no longer there and in its place a different business was operating. The sign of the recently shuttered Indian fast food shop was still visible even though the new business had its name on. We used to get food-to-go from the fast food shop occasionally. They had also started delivering food after the pandemic hit. Don’t know if it had shuttered its business in the past week or earlier and I just failed to notice it. Another casualty of the pandemic 😢. Businesses big and small have tried to adapt to the tough times to keep themselves going and unfortunately many have bitten the dust. Felt bad for the folks who were running the shop. For the owners and the workers in those shops the experience must be akin to a manager announcing to an employee about their being laid off, both sides feeling miserable about it. One business serving a need shuttered.

Returned home and after taking care of the groceries checked the news online. If I was hoping to read something good no such luck. Record # of COVID-19 cases nationwide with no signs of slowdown on the horizon. I read that the Motorcoach industry has seen a 80% drop in business and one of them, Georgia Coach Tours, is praying they are able to stay afloat at least till the end of this year. Another news item is a similar depressing story. Brooklyn Roasting Company, a popular coffee chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the wake of the pandemic. A year ago many of the businesses were not doing bad and some had borrowed, to expand, expecting good times to continue. Now they are running low on money and customers even if they received any assistance from the Government to support them earlier in the year.

Meanwhile the Dems and the Republicans are still wrangling about another stimulus to support the businesses 😡. I get it the Dems don’t want to agree to anything that might help the other side in the upcoming elections. The Republicans want to parade something as achievement before the elections to boost their chances. The Speaker and the POTUS haven’t spoken in a year it appears. They have proven they are good at trading insults. While politics as usual goes on people in the real world are suffering, wondering how to pay their rent or mortgages , how to put food on their table, how to pay for other expenses. Main street is suffering, the people who can make decisions to help don’t appear to be listening 😭.

I switched on the TV to check if there is something I can watch that brightens up the mood. Not much appears to be appealing there either. The sports that I follow are either done for the season or do not have anything going on at the time. Before I switch off the TV I decided to check the channel guide using the DVR. And then something looks promising. It’s what’s on PBS! Interested in knowing what happened next? Follow the next post 🙂

The missing ingredient: Respect

This morning I was reflecting on all the incredible events that have unfolded in this year 2020. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to state that the situation is almost war-like with a raging pandemic, social unrest and natural calamities like fierce wildfires and record number of hurricanes. More than 200,000 lives lost, millions of jobs gone and countless lives upended by all the happenings. One common aspect in all the tragedies we have seen this year is lack of respect. During earlier times there used to be respect for the opponent one was fighting. In filmed TV series of Hindu epics like Mahabharatha and Ramayana both sides used to abide by the rules of war and respect the opponent’s strengths. Start and cessation of hostilities were marked by blowing conch shell. Battles were fought between sunrise and sunset and the true warriors did not celebrate their victory by dancing over the graves of the fallen. Even the Cold War period was remarkable for both sides showing restraint in trying to prevent situations escalating to war. Sign of respect (for the other side’s strength and capability) and fear of mutual assured destruction (MAD) in the event conflicts spiraled out of control.

Fast forward to the present. In business we have seen well established companies paying the price for disregarding the competition of smaller, nimbler startups and struggling to stay relevant. In sports when champions have not taken their challengers seriously and instead indulged in trash talk they have fallen from their perch. Politics too has been marred by politicians belittling their opponents and making false allegations against them. Hubris in human beings forces some to assume showing any respect is a signal of weakness. Sadly it’s not limited to behavior towards other human beings. Lack of respect has extended to nature too. The effect of wanton destruction of forests, merciless killing of animals and unchecked pollution of environment in the name of development is evidenced by raging wildfires, frequent once in a century type floods, vanishing species and poor air and water quality. Unfortunately the same lack of respect has afflicted the fight against the ongoing pandemic. While there were lot of unknowns at the start of the pandemic there has been unmistakable evidence in the past few months of the extreme infectious and destructive capability of novel coronavirus. The virus is an equal opportunity offender in that it doesn’t care for a person’s wealth, power, social status, gender, race etc. Any person deliberately ignoring the safety guidelines or accidentally dropping their guard risk getting infected. Be it sports, business, politics, natural disasters or pandemic some level of respect is required while fighting an opponent, along with preparation. Will the humans rise to the occasion? I hope so 🙏

Billionaire who wanted to die broke 🙏

“Only in America” type feel-good story. 👏
Donating big for good causes and preferring to be anonymous is rare.
Amazing and inspiring! 👍🙏

And now, ladies and gentlemen,…

…presenting the cheeky chipmunk!
Chipmunk “thoughtfully” ate the ripe part of tomato and left the rest to me 😂
Yes, I got a raw deal 😭
Yet I am thankful for the life lesson learned: Late to a party means making do with the leftovers.
Welcome to the real world 🙏

Video link:

I am doing my job, you do yours!

As I looked out the window this morning my heart sank. The rose plant in the backyard had a trimmed look, dreams appearing to be nipped in the bud 😭
The culprit: Rabbit of course 😡
Tried to reason with the rabbit. This is how the conversation went.

Me: Hey rabbit, what have you done to my rose plant? Do you have an explanation for your action?
Rabbit: I did what I normally do!
Me: Which is?
Rabbit: Doing my job!
Me: And what is your job?
Rabbit: What you see!
Me: Eating whatever is in sight?
Rabbit: Listen, you are doing your job, I am doing mine. You are trying to put food on the table, I am trying to put food into my mouth. We are both doing our jobs. Do I complain to you about how you do your job?
Me: Can we work out a solution where you do your job part-time so that the plants can survive too, you still have your job and I can stay in the business of growing plants? 🙂 The rabbit ran away before I finished what I was saying 😠

I learned my lesson the hard away though. The great outdoors belong to the flora and fauna of that place. We are probably lucky to get a lease on something that doesn’t really belong to us 🙏

Had to happen. It did!

Of great concern for me has been my forgetfulness. When I go shopping I sometimes forget to collect all the bags if there are multiple bags. Receipts I have not always remembered to collect. If I pay cash and there is a person helping at the counter at times I forget to collect change from the person. If paying by cash at a self serve counter on occasions I have forgotten to collect the change given out by the machine. While all the above are signs of an absentmindedness that has concerned me it’s not been a big worry. My biggest fear has been shopping and walking out absentmindedly without paying.

Yesterday that fear played out in real time. I went to a shop, bought couple of things. One item was a just in case buy to avoid a repeat trip to the shop. After the purchase I went to the car and realized I did not have the receipt that would be needed for return. I was thinking “Dang, I forgot to collect the receipt” 😡 From the parking lot I walked back to the shop. There was a person ahead of me in the line at the counter I “paid” for the goods I bought. After that person was done I was about to ask for the receipt for my purchase. Turns out person at the counter had been frantically looking for me earlier as I had collected my couple of items of purchase without forgetting 👍 but had not paid for them 😦 👎 I remember using my credit card earlier. In a hurry I must have removed the card without noticing card authorization was still in progress 😀
Went back out again, got the items to re-scan and this time waited till the purchase was authorized, remembered to collect the items and the receipt. Apologized to the person at the counter too. Well done, Raj! 🤣
Phew, that could have been worse 🙏