The AUS Inc. conundrum

Fictional American United States (AUS) Inc an enterprise, formed over 240 years ago, is well known in its field. Over this period of time the enterprise, which has grown into a behemoth, has established a rich history of innovation, scaling and responding to the needs of its customer base. Thanks to its wide sphere of influence and its sometimes controversial methods, it has attracted, in equal measure, awe, respect, admiration, fear and hatred from friends, foes and competitors.

VxCine is the current flagship product of AUS Inc, designed to address the C-19 problem that has vexed researchers and people around the world in recent times. AUS Inc has two main divisions, GOP – responsible for sales and marketing and Dems – responsible for R&D, production and distribution. For Q4 2020 quarter AUS Inc, under stewardship of CEO from GOP division, reported $74 billion in sales and $81 billion in expenses. It’s the biggest loss in AUS history and under pressure from the public a new CEO, from Dems division, assumed leadership role as CEO in January’ 2021.

The unprecedented loss in Q4 2020 was attributed to quality issues with the VxCine product. The aggrieved GOP division has accused the Dems division of stealing a march and getting a raw deal. Per GOP division sources losses can be reversed quickly by budgeting more for sales and marketing and solving quality and production, distribution problems on the fly with emphasis on moving at warp speed. The Dems leadership, on the other hand, have advocated for a more deliberate approach by increasing investment in R&D, streamlining and standardizing production and distribution. Per Dems the problems with VxCine run deep and require both a short-term and long-term approach for restoring AUS to good health. For the short-term, the Dems want to target the highest priority VxCine problems with alacrity which they expect to act as a shot in the arm cutting down the losses and returning back to profitability relatively quickly. For the longer term the Dems’ fix will require a overhaul of production and distribution processes and more spending on R&D to strengthen the offering and ensure consistently high quality product. The Dems contend GOP approach will result in more problems getting reported and resources getting diverted from more important tasks and their own approach will be better for long term health of AUS Inc.

Both approaches have their own merits and drawbacks. Continuing with GOP approach would probably improve the top line while addressing the existing problems could act as a drag on the bottom line. The Dems proposal comes with a hefty price tag involving transformational change with risk of falling short if the plan does not work as expected. Dems say that’s needed for the long term viability and stability of the enterprise. AUS Inc finds itself at the crossroads of history. Remains to be seen how it all works out. The world is watching πŸ™

Cookie Points!

Living in Wisconsin means snow in winter is a given! There are some fringe benefits though. For example, you can earn cookie points. Lost? Let me explain!

When I blow snow from my driveway and sidewalk I clear snow for my next door neighbor too. My reasoning is simple: I get some physical exercise and if I can get undue credit for snow blower doing the hard work, why not? πŸ˜‰ Neighbor is a good person and feels guilty I do it for free. So, sometimes I get paid in kind. Neighbor knows I have sweet tooth and offers to make home-baked cookies for me in return. Of course it’s an offer I can’t refuse. Who says no to fresh, home-baked cookies, right? πŸ˜„

Couple of weeks ago I cleared snow and got a choice of 2 types of cookies: Peanut butter cookie with a little chocolate on top OR Chocolate chip cookies. Greedy me wanted to say “Make it a double order, I will have them both” πŸ˜‚ but sometimes even I feel shame. 😒 So, I asked my son what he would prefer. With a rueful look he replied “I will adjust with chocolate chip cookies” . I was enraged. 😑 No, not for any good reason. I immediately shot back in mock rage “Hey, that’s my line!” Γ  la that Seinfeld series episode where the main characters utter that line in a humorous way. 😊 Three dozen fresh, home-baked cookies were ready for dad and son to tuck teeth into by the time snow was cleared!

Today I was offered some more fresh, home-baked cookies as reward for clearing the snow. We still have some cookies left that we got as reward for our previous effort. Even though it was heartbreaking to say no I politely declined the offer and took a rain check instead. With the temps below freezing all week and for the next few days and a cup of joe always welcome in such weather the twisted side of me felt tempted to encourage the neighbor to become a barista. Another opportunity for neighbor to creatively express food and beverage art, what say? 🀣 Ultimately I convinced myself not to push my luck too far and be satisfied with cookies rain check.

Bottom line: My simple ambition in life is to do one good deed a day and crack one good joke a day. πŸ™
Snowfall sometimes helps with the deed part. πŸ‘
As for good joke, I still have some ways to go πŸ˜†

R-R-R-Raj and the naan pizza!

Hey kids, are you hungry?
Raj is putting it all together, cooking something
That’s been known to perk up the mood
Especially when it’s cold weather
He’ll kill it when it’s done, so stick around
You’re gonna witness something special
Encased in dough walls of round!

Say, Candy and Ronnie, have you seen it yet?
Ooh, the veggies are well spaced out
Oh it’s quite weird but wonderful
It’s got the cheese and tomatoes
It’s got the olives and bell peppers
You know you saw it here first, ohh-oh
R-R-R-Raj and his naan pizza creation! πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘πŸ˜‚

– Lyrics sliced from Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” πŸ™

Face mask dilemma!

Let me start with a confession. I have a face mask problem!
Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with wearing face masks for protection. Hey, I say screw the mask on to my face for safety reasons if it protects more. My problem is different. Let me explain.

Few months ago went for grocery shopping at local supermarket. Normally either me or wife go alone to shop to reduce risk of infection and follow social distancing guidelines. This time we went together in fully masked glory, probably due to a long shopping list and thinking a divide and conquer approach would reduce time spent in the shop. We head to the produce section. I stop to take a look at some vegetable. Have a question for my wife. Assuming she is nearby I absentmindedly turn in her direction and ask her what I wanted to. Imagine my surprise on discovering it was a different lady, with a jacket and similar face mask on, I was talking to. πŸ˜„ My wife had moved on to a different aisle. Told my wife about what happened. She laughed and said “You sure are going to get thrashed one of these days” πŸ˜‚

Having learned my lesson I decided no more shopping trips together after this one. πŸ™ Made some other adjustments too. To avoid mistaken identity in future shopping, shopped with head strictly down focusing intently on produce or whatever product I was buying. To further avoid identity mishaps if I noticed someone with face mask who looked even remotely familiar I would move my shopping cart to a different aisle. Seemed to work fine a few times as I avoided bumping into anyone who I might know even a bit. I don’t want to appear rude by turning away from someone I might know. But I would rather avoid the mishap of thinking the stranger in front of me is someone I know. Running away to a different aisle is not a foolproof solution though. What if I am moving the cart in an aisle and find myself smack in front of someone I seemingly know. Well, that’s what happened couple of weeks ago. I saw a person who, behind her face mask, winter cap, winter coat and physical structure resembled a family friend. Feeling confident I waved my hand from a distance. To my horror she did not respond by waving back. Apparently was not the person I thought I knew. I beat a hasty retreat to the other end of the shop, as far away as possible from that aisle. 😒

I now find myself facing a face mask dilemma: to wave in recognition or not when I am out shopping once or max twice a week. Look, it could be a case of me thinking everyone with a face mask on looking the same. But what if the other person is also having the same problem of not being sure who the person in front of them is. When this thought occurred I had an eureka moment: The problem is not with face masks per se but the fact the material they are made of is opaque! πŸ’‘So, I thought how to solve this problem that might be affecting more people that we might imagine. I outline my solution below.

Those tasked with health safety measures should issue a “face mask transparency” mandate. πŸ‘ What will that entail? While covering the nose and mouth fully the face masks should be made of transparent material so that face is visible for the most part, including the nose and mouth, only hiding the face along the contours of face mask. You might say “Well, so what? I don’t see it as a big deal”. You couldn’t be more wrong. Issuing a transparency mandate will do wonders to our image of transparency around the world. But that’s not all! It will spur innovation and create more local jobs for the new standard for face masks while promoting safe practices. πŸ‘Œ And for those single, lonely ladies who are looking for that right someone they can be sure that the person they are meeting during these lonely times is the right man-date. 😊 In one fell swoop correct identification, safety, innovation, local production and employment issues will be addressed. πŸ‘
What more can one ask for? πŸ˜‰

As Shelby Ford v Ferrari so shall be India v Australia!

The Indian cricket team recorded one of the most remarkable come-from-behind victories in sports by beating Australia in the recently concluded Test Match series. πŸ‘ Made all the more memorable by the fact Indian team was playing away, with Australian team having the advantage of home conditions and crowd support, and by the time the last match started the Indian cricket team had lost more than half their starting eleven to injuries sustained in games played during the tour or in training! With injuries mounting Team India was akin to an undersized Joe Frazier taking on much bigger and much more fancied Ali in “Thrilla in Manila” and fighting the last few rounds virtually blind due to his eyes closing from Ali punches in earlier rounds. Under the circumstances it would have been expected that the Indian management might throw in the towel to prevent more serious injuries like the Foreman team did then. Instead the Indian cricket team rose up after each knockdown and took the fight to the Australians till the end, emerging bruised and battered but not broken and eventually victorious πŸ‘Œ (Trivia: If Frazier corner had let him fight as he wanted to he would have won Thrilla in Manila as Ali was so drained out he could barely stand up and fell down in the ring after the 14th round when he was announced as the victor πŸ˜“)

The series victory would be akin to a Porsche getting lapped in NΓΌrburgring, no less, by a car barely put together with whatever spare parts were available! Or, the real life equivalent of Shelby Ford emerging victorious over much more fancied Ferrari in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. As in that race the underdog team, the Indian cricket team, started the tour disastrously and still found enough strength and resolve to defeat the Aussies confidently and convincingly. It was as if God ordained “As Shelby Ford v Ferrari in 1966 so shall be India v Australia in 2021”! πŸ™‚

The quality of cricket itself was far from perfect, yet the battles to gain supremacy were riveting and thrilling throughout. So much so that the series went full distance with the final battle still being fought till the last fifteen minutes of a four-month long tour. The ebbs and flows add to the beauty of 5-day cricket Test matches when the two sides keep trading blows and battle fair and hard to force a result. The Aussies are great front runners and play aggressive cricket. They deserve credit for playing fast cricket and taking risks in pursuit of victory. The times when 5 days of cricket were producing dull draws are pretty much gone, save for a few when weather curtails play. The cricketing world can thank the trash-talking (they call it sledging Down Under), sports-crazy Aussies for possibly saving the longer form of cricket. The way the Aussies play their cricket their Plan A-Z all involve aggression. This is also their Achilles’ heel as they find it hard to adapt and change to a more defensive play during the course of a game when things don’t go their way. This trend has become more noticeable in recent times. I have maintained, past few years, the Australian cricket team are very much beatable at home. What it requires is a mix of caution (to frustrate) and aggression (to prevent them from getting on top). The way they play their cricket and the Indian team does too plus the dry conditions which swings the cricket ball less gives India a chance to stay competitive if they combine caution and aggression and maintain discipline. Not easy but doable if maintained consistently at a very high level even though results are not guaranteed. That’s what the Indian cricket team managed to do in this tour and fortune favors the brave. πŸ‘

Ultimately it’s just a sport, albeit being a glorious sport, and sporting achievement is about teams and individuals getting sporting glory which is theirs primarily. πŸ‘ Doesn’t solve any major problems or save lives but what it does is expand our understanding of possibilities for individuals and teams in terms of what is achievable. During these turbulent times that’s priceless πŸ™

PrezEl Corp Audited Results

PrezEl Corp audited results for the years 2016 and 2020 have been published. According to information available to the public at this time the results for the two years compare as follows:
1) For the year 2016, total revenue from core business was ~ $62.9 million. After announcement of results PrezEl Corp stock experienced a bump despite a loss of ~ $2.8 million. This was attributed to the better than expected revenue and mention about steps to cut down expenses in the earnings call. Per PrezEl management the full benefit of the measures would be visible in the years ahead with profit being forecast from 2020 onwards
2) For the year 2020, total revenue from core business was ~ $74.2 million. Per guidance in earlier earnings call/s, profit was expected for the year 2020. Even though revenue increased ~ $11.3 million from 2016, losses widened to ~ $7 million instead. This was attributed to unexpected adverse market conditions by PrezEl management. PrezEl stock slumped after the announcement of 2020 result as the market was disappointed by PrezEl management inability to adapt to changing market conditions. The company had projected profit as recently as the 3Q earnings call just a few months earlier.
Substitute the above fictional PrezEl Corp with Presidential Election. Total revenue represent the actual total votes cast for Republican Party Presidential candidate and Total expense represent the actual total votes cast for Democratic Party Presidential candidate, for the years 2016 and 2020. It’s clear as day Republican Party has been hemorrhaging votes to the benefit of Democratic Party. Gain of 11.3 million votes in 2020 is illusory as it masks the greater shift in support to Democratic Party in 2020. It’s the equivalent of brick-and-mortar stores seeing more foot traffic but still losing shoppers to online retailers. With no available evidence of widespread fraud there was no chance to boost other income (line item# 5) to totally offset the difference. If at least a few of the party leaders had forcefully stated, publicly and firmly, to stop the baseless election fraud allegations even as late as last weekend the mess that was witnessed in US Capitol earlier this week could have been avoided. The question then becomes why were they either silent or supporting the effort? Based on what we have seen over the past few years fear of career destruction trumped the acceptance of reality, I can think of no other explanation πŸ™

Three Cheers!

2020 is firmly in the rear view mirror now. As difficult and challenging a year as any many have seen or experienced in their lifetime. This piece is not about the difficulties and miseries that were witnessed throughout the year. It’s about my positive, uplifting experience on the last day of 2020. Three to be specific and one more later in the afternoon yesterday that was like chocolate on top of cookie! πŸ‘

Wikipedia is my go to website when I seek information about people, process, events etc in one place. When I think of Wikipedia I feel it must be one of the foremost agile projects of all time. Self-organized and highly motivated volunteers add information all the time. Remarkably most of the information is accurate and if there is something incorrect or erroneous governance kicks in and corrections are made based on feedback received. For the past weeks when I landed on a Wikipedia page after a search I was greeted by plea from Wikimedia foundation to donate to their cause for keeping the effort running and available for free for the general public. Finally I donated a nominal amount yesterday.πŸ™

Then my thoughts turned to United Way, another not-for-profit organization for good causes. Mea culpa: I have got more out of United Way than I have contributed. Let me explain. I keep getting calls repeatedly from folks claiming to be from organizations representing cops and asking for money. I am appreciative of the good work by cops to ensure safety and security of citizens. But the calls I get appear to be from individuals of dubious value. In times past whenever I got a call my usual response went something polite like “We donate to United Way and would prefer to continue with it” before hanging up. Nowadays I just go “We are not interested. Thank you”. As I checked my Email it appears United Way read my thoughts about donating to their cause: Sure enough there was an Email! I donated a nominal amount. πŸ™‚

In earlier posts I have lauded PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) as a favorite place for information and news. πŸ‘ I consider PBS as equivalent of comfort food. When shows in other TV channels offer fare that is not appealing I check out PBS and many a times I have learned something from the documentaries and other shows they have on. I was thinking about PBS after donating to United Way. When I checked my personal Email lo and behold! there was Email from PBS too. Donated a nominal amount to PBS. πŸ™

Hip hip hooray! Three cheers for Wikipedia, United Way and PBS. Three organizations that do good work and share useful information. πŸ‘

Later in the afternoon I got a text from next door neighbor who is a nice, retired lady. When there is a heavy snow I sometimes help out by blowing away snow from her driveway and sidewalk. Not a big deal and it’s the snowblower doing the hard work. Mind you she has helped out a few times by lending her lawn mower when has behaved like a recalcitrant teen and refused to start. I checked my text and she thanked me for taking care of her snow the day before. She is profusely thankful when I help and feels guilty that I do it for free. If not cash there are other ways of paying and she has found out the right one! On Christmas eve she gave us fresh, home-baked cookies that were just delicious. πŸ‘Œ She offered to bake some more of the goodies and gave it to us. While that offer was like chocolate on top of a cookie and kinda unrefusable I wanted her not to go through the effort of making them just for us. That’s when “the wise one”, my wife, offered her take. Neighbor is thankful and wants to express her thanks, don’t refuse it. That’s all a sugar-craving dude, yours truly, needed to say yes. 🀣
For wisdom there is always wife! πŸ‘πŸ™

P.S. Sorry for not donating to other good causes my friends and other organizations may have reached out for. I wish I were more generous and had donated to all. This year the focus has been on food banks πŸ™

The year 2020

It’s the final weekend of 2020. Boy oh boy, the year of COVID has been incredible. This is the year we all learned to value some of the things below that may be taken for granted during good times
1) Food
2) Home
3) Togetherness
4) Privacy
5) Work
6) Health
7) Vote
At the start of the year if that was the prediction of what we would learn the consensus reaction would have been “Deal!”. Little did we know learning the value for many would come from loss of food security/home/job/health/life of a family member or through forced separation/forced time together at home or with the risk of their vote not counting. 😒
2020 has not been real, it’s been surreal. Nothing illustrates this better than long lines of people outside food banks contrasting with booming fortunes of a few at the same time. Misery and prosperity coexisting together. Yes, that’s how it’s been.
Even 20/20 now sounds like a dystopian vision, not perfect vision.With all the pain and general misery the year is coming to an end with hopes of glimmer. πŸ‘All the folks in their lab coats, the scientists, doctors and nurses have been simply magnificent. πŸ‘Œ
People have been generous donating their time, money and food to those in need. This time of crisis has brought out the best in many. πŸ‘
Hopefully 2021 will witness humans reaching Olympian heights in their achievements and at the same time it’s a safer and gentler world.
Three qualities, with all their connotations, will be needed most for that:
Hope, Faith, Resolve πŸ™