Saturday, June 28, 2008

This Bud's not for you

I don't like the Belgian-Brazilian brewery know as Inbev. After having offered $46 billion for America's heart and soul, Anheuser-Busch, and getting a straight up "hell no," they are trying a hostile takeover of an American icon. Here is an excerpt from the article I read the other day about it:

"InBev, the world’s largest brewer, said on Thursday it would launch a hostile bid for Anheuser-Busch as its US rival rejected its $46bn bid as “financially inadequate”.

In court documents filed in the Court of Chancery in Delaware, InBev said it was preparing to launch a proxy battle seeking the removal of Anheuser’s entire board, citing “delays and apparent plans to attempt to block the acquisition”.

Shortly after the filing, Anheuser formally rejected InBev’s offer. August Busch IV, Anheuser’s chief executive, suggested in a letter to Carlos Brito, InBev’s chief executive, that the Belgian-Brazilian group was seeking to take advantage of the low level of the dollar and subdued US stock markets with an offer that undervalued Anheuser’s earnings potential."

That's not all. Read this:

"InBev’s court filing said that it had been told by Mr Busch before launching the bid that he was opposed to any offer, and that Anheuser was “not for sale”. Mr Busch, according to InBev, also said he and his board were committed to the company’s independence."

I say, "Here, here, Mr Busch, this bud's for you." Let's keep Anheuser-Busch's 50% of the beer market share in control of
America, not some Belgian-Brazilian interlopers who are only taking advantage of a soft market and a weak dollar.

The funny part is, I don't drink beer. I don't drink - period. However, I would hate to see such an American icon get sold off to another Multinational Corporation without a soul. Remember the Budweiser Clydesdales? Remember all the commercials about Budweiser being the King of Beers, and American made? Well, guess what, giving the stockholders 10 bucks more a share isn't worth selling out on America and it's favorite beer. Don't worry shareholders, Anheuser-Busch has a plan to slim down and become very profitable in the next couple years. Give them a chance. Inbev is trying a hostile takeover against August Busch IV and his entire board. They don't care about American jobs, they just want a huge stake in the American beer market at a low price. Don't give in. We need at least 76% of you to hold firm.

Here's the full article.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Making mountains out of molehills

A new way to give yourself and your life a new boost and a new image of self-importance has arrived. The age old phrase of 'making a mountain out of a molehill' has come back in fashion. Whatever your schedule looks like - be it taking the kids to soccer practice, PTA meetings, violin lessons, board meetings, or trips to Hong Kong - make it sound like you are the President or Secretary of State to your friends. Or, if you prefer Warren Buffet.

By doing so your life will start to become worthwhile. You can run around like a chicken with its head cut off and feel fulfilled. Because, hey, you're CEO of your World. That's right, you sure are. Not only will you start feeling better about what you do and who you are, but other people will start to be impressed.

They'll mill around asking themselves questions like "How does he do it?" and "Where does she get the tenacity?" Well, you won't tell, and neither will I. So when they ask you questions like that just say, "It's in-born. You can't teach that kind of success. She learned how to walk on water before she knew how to ride a bicycle. That's life. It's not my place to explain why some of us are mortal demi-gods and you are an untouchable. Just admire and make 'oooo' and 'aaaa' sounds."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Technorati is suspect

Perhaps you have heard of this site called technorati. It supposedly collects and aggregates blogs and syndicated online media. And, after it collects, it supposedly keeps track of which blogs put links of other blogs on their blogs. Based on what blog has you on its blog roll, how many times you have been linked back to, or cited by a fellow blogger, they give you an authority rating.

Well, I'm going to come out with it. Technorati is suspect. I have several friends who I have put on my blog roll, and who have put me on theirs, yet technorati has yet to register that it happened. Oh, and when someone does that, technorati calls it a blog reaction. Supposedly the more times someone links your blog or mentions it the more powerful it is. So I've gotten a quite a few good reactions, but I know they are only a fraction of the reality. Perhaps we're asking too much of technorati. There are after all, bazillions (literally, of blogs and syndicated online media to keep track of), but stop spouting lies about my authority level. I've seen a bunch of people with the exact same authority and rating. Guess what technorati, 75 people cannot have the same blog authority ranking of 1,166,069th. That's not how rankings work.

And, another thing about technorati, it does not look very web 2.0 and crashes all the time. Weak sauce technorati. Weak sauce. Guess what?! My blog doesn't crash. That's right. Blogger and google have me covered. Eff you technoratpack.

Oh, but just to appease the morons over there, look at the top of this blog and click the link to add it as one of your technorati favorites. Oh, and remember, if you click on my ads, those weird people who sell lingerie and gay marriage packages make money (and so do I) so click on a few! (don't worry, it's not against my adsense contract to encourage you to click on the ads; it's an endorsement that increases revenue for everyone).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Foreign Service Officer Test

This July will be a busy month for me. As will August, but let's focus on July. For work I am researching and developing a good groundwork to present the Envision the World Project to investors, and that will consume my time until about mid-July. At around the mid-month mark I also am going to visit my family cabin (and of course continue working there on presentation and business related aspects of the ETW project). But, the big event that I'm going to be involved in will happen on the 14th. The Foreign Service Officer Test.

For those of you who have never heard about it, it is the most selective federal exam that exists in the US. It consists of two parts and is run by the same people who make the ACT. The first part is the written test, and 3 hours are allotted for its completion. The subject matter consists of grammar, writing, economics, world affairs, and vocabulary. The pass rate on the written portion is 30%. Not that encouraging. However, let's say that I pass hypothetically speaking, then, I have the opportunity to take the oral exam six months later. Now there aren't many ways you can study for the oral exam other than perhaps asking someone who has taken it. But here's the stunner: 10% of those who go on to take the oral exam pass it. So looking at the total percentage of people who pass the FSOT, the total is 3% of those who take it. So of course I have grown to have little sympathy for those who are preparing to take the GRE, GMAT, LSAT or any other standardized test. The FSOT is by far more intensive and difficult. But, for some strange reason I still am doing it. I am going to drive up to Sandy and from 10am-1pm at some community college, put my pencil to the paper and hope for the best. I mean, if you pass you're set for life as a career diplomat for the US government.

In preparation for the test I am reading the Economist religiously, and I ordered a little packet of sample questions from the State Department. Whether this preparation will do me any good remains to be seen. If it doesn't pan out, I'm pretty sure I've got back up options, and, even better, I can take the test as many times as I want (paying 50 bucks a pop) and can only take the oral exam in a select location 1 or 2 times a year. So...I'm crossing my fingers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Nina's Original

There is a little pizza place not from from my house. It sits right next to an oh so popular hot dog stand called J-Dawgs. The place is called Nina's Original. And believe me, it speaks volumes about the place.

Nina's Original is an escape. An escape to my true home, the east coast. In particular, at least in this case, New York. You see, Nina and her husband who run the place are New Yorkers, and so is the pizza. The pizzas are made right there just like you were eating a pie in Brooklyn. The diameter of each pie is at least 2 1/2 feet, the crust is thin and the toppings to choose from are many and distinct.

When I drop by I am greeted by my name, usually strike up a conversation about anything that's on my mind, and Nina makes me feel at home. I generally order by the slice, putting on sweet and hot sausage and onions with some pineapple, or some other great combination, and I finish it off with a smooth Chinotto.

True to their Italian form, Nina's carries San Pellegrino sodas. They have Aranciatta (an light orangish beverage), Limonata (a lemonade type beverage), and Chinotto (a slightly aged, cultured taste, orange beverage). My preference as of late has been the Chinotto, but I'd say it takes a bottle or two to acquire, and you have to shake it up first. But, believe me, it's well worth it.

In the back of Nina's Original they have a Projector and cable so you can watch movies and whatever game is on. And in fact on one of the nights during the NBA finals when my TV was missing the AV cables (thanks to a brother of mine), I went to get some pizza and share my plight with Nina and her husband. They were all too kind and first offered their projector and room after some people finished a movie, but then seeing that it might take a while, they tried to scrounge up some AV cables for me. After they couldn't find them in the restaurant they said they could run home and get them. I of course was grateful for their efforts, but declined. However, the story tells quite a bit about the character of Nina and her pizza place. They are courteous, down to earth, helpful, and my kind of people. And, even better, they serve great pizza.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shaun Barrowes

Hey, for all you music lovers out there, I have a free download for you. It comes from a very talented jazz/pop/rock musician named Shaun Barrowes. He has a very unique sound and is an exciting performer. He is a great pianist, composer, and singer. I've had the privilege of attending several of his concerts, interviewing him on three occasions for my podcast show, and know him to be a great human being. Here is the song:

Download. When I Take Your Hand

Brasil in lieu of a car

A couple of days ago I had a decision to make. It wasn't really all that pressing, but it was important that I make it. I had decided a few months ago that I would save some money to buy a car, then hopefully have enough to cover a trip to Brasil and save a bit in the bank. Well, recently I thought about how stupid buying a car right now would be. The only way I could make the original plan work would be to buy a POS car, which isn't really my cup of tea.

So the new dilemma was between purchasing a car or going to Brasil. On the one hand, a car would be nice to have because I could then go farther distances in a shorter amount of time. However, at the same time, gas is costing on average $4 a gallon and to be honest, I'd rather not have to pay another insurance bill and maintenance on an old clunker. And then I thought, "Wait a minute, I have a bike." Now, the bike is a BMX bike, not the all so popular mountain bike, but if I got it some new tubes, a new chain, cleaned the rust off and got a new comfy seat, it'd be fine for local travel. So that's exactly what I did. So all of a sudden, there was really no reason to get a car. I still have a little bit of school left, so I don't have a high-paying career yet, so the more I can put away the better.

This brings me to Brasil. The cost of my trip to Brasil would be only half that of buying a car, and I could pocket the rest. Not only that, but I've been telling my Brasilian friends for years now (3 as of yesterday) that I would come back down and visit them. So I thought it was about time to unravel the tapestry of excuses, hop on a plane for the first two weeks of August, and say hello. So the game plan is to work out in Provo until the 30th of July, get on a plane to DC (because if I leave from DC it costs me half as much in airfare), then on the 1st of August get on a plane bound for Sao Paulo, switch planes there and head to Maceio for the next two weeks. When I get back, my brother will just be getting back from Haiti, and we can either drive or fly up to Boston for a friend's wedding on the 23rd. Good plan? I think so. But certainly a busy one.