Max

IMG_0009Last night, Max received his new sports wheelchair. He’s the 16th recipient of chairs donated by funds that were raised specifically to change the lives of disabled athletes and give them a new outlook and opportunity to participate in sports and other activities that an otherwise normal wheelchair wouldn’t allow. Max is a really special kid. I’ve known him for several years and have watched him grow up into a superb athlete and fierce competitor. Here’s a little about Max.

Max is a local 12-year-old who has been participating in Wheels on Fire for 4 years. Wheels on Fire is a sports program in San Jose CA for children and youth with physical disabilities that is held each Sunday afternoon from September through June. A recent day involved learning field events, including shot put, discus, and javelin.

 

Max’s favorite participation sport is power soccer. He is currently taking part in the power soccer skills development program and is a member of the San Jose Rockets. He hopes to become a member of the San Jose Steamrollers and be able to travel and compete in Nationals (the Rockets only compete locally). He also hopes that one day he can represent Team USA in the Paralympics for power soccer.

 

Max’s favorite spectator sport is basketball and his favorite team is the Warriors – #DUBNATION!

His favorite color is lime green

His favorite food is fried chicken with the bones so he can eat it with his hands

His least favorite foods are eggs and cheese

His favorite move is The Avengers (the first one)

His favorite subject in school is P.E. (naturally)

 

When he grows up Max wants to have some sort of career relating to sports. And with this wheelchair donation, Max is now firmly on his way to achieving his goal. His chair was donated by funds raised on behalf of my Great Nephew, Issac Maxwell Brodie, who died in February of this year, surviving only two short weeks after birth. Isaac had a rare and inoperable brain tumor that eventually shut off his ability to breath on his own. His legacy, set up by his parents Rachel and Steven Brodie, was to raise money to help others. With their blessing, some of the funds raised for this cause were donated to purchase a chair for Max, (coincidently name similarities are astounding), and so today Max is a new man courtesy of Issac Maxwell. Quite fitting!

You too can help disabled athletes by donating at FWWAA.org or by simply shopping at Smile.Amazon.com and nominating FWWAA as your charity of choice. A portion of anything you spend will go to a great cause. As I mentioned, this is my 16th chair donation in the last 7 years and there are now many young athletes out there who have a new perspective on life and a great ability to enhance the opportunities to partake in sports, something that seemed only a pipe dream for all of them not too long ago.

Max, enjoy your chair and keep your dreams alive, always! You’re a special person and your excitement and enthusiasm are incredibly infectious.IMG_0006

 

Andy, Ya Wee Beauty!

Scotland-flagsAndy, I’ve often doubted you son, but today you came through. Well done and congratulations! You made Scotland proud once again. You destroyed that Canadian and sent him packing. Let’s hope you give us even more to shout about in the coming years!

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For All You Liberals Out There

Branco-Trump-and-HillaryHere’s why neither THE Donald or Hillary is going to be the next US President, other than they fact they are both morons. And why you and I, the public, must stop them from ever taking office.

With only 16 weeks left until we all vote and with Hillary in deep shit because of all the lies she’s told, THE Donald, no closer to being Presidential than Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse, who on earth is going to take this country forward and in a direction that makes any sense? Not me, not you and hopefully not either of the aforementioned candidates. We are in real trouble here people and no one seems to care. Or perhaps they do and I just can’t locate them. For all you Liberals out there, we are totally fucked! All you want to do is give money away, give equality to those who do not deserve it and give freedom to some who take it completely for granted. To all you Conservatives out there, well you’re all so fucked up with your religious ‘ holier than though’ attitude that you’re all just disappearing up your own proverbial arseholes. There’s no compromise, no middle ground with any of you and certainly no common sense in any of your politics, no matter what color of blue or red you happen to be.

Fiscal responsibility alongside social acceptability, that’s what this country requires to get back on its feet. But does that combination exist? Did it EVER exist? No I don’t believe it did and I certainly don’t think it ever will unless we do the following.

Instead of going to mass rallies for either Hillary or THE Donald, all contrived BTW, and certainly all made for TV, why don’t you stop, have a think and wake up! Wake up to the facts. America is full of bullshitters. America is the most fake county on the planet. America has lost the plot and America has more idiots in government than any other country in the world. Take last week for example. What the fuck was Nancy Pelosi, a 74-year-old grandmother and a woman who’s had more Botox that last months Playboy Bunny, doing sitting on the floor of congress in her Zebra stripped cat suit, hoping to change a gun law that will do little to reduce the death toll of over 20,000 civilians (yes, Google it, that’s an accurate figure) in the United States each year. Come on Nancy, go home and attend to your grandchildren and leave politics to the young and not the old and decrepit.

And it’s not just Nancy that’s the issue, it the other side too, with their pot-bellied elderly statesmen, spreadeagled all over the news papers and TV, looking like muppets, looking stupid and ridiculous as they try to figure out how to speak and address our nation with forked tongues, whilst surrounded by those up and comers who want on camera to get their 15 minutes of fame. Nuts, all of them, and us too for watching!

Turn it all off, don’t vote, or if you do, vote independent. Do you want Hillary taking more money from you and giving it to those who you don’t know? Do you want to be under THE Donald’s control and sit home every night wondering when he’ll put the button to annihilate us all? Do you think that Hillary will make life any better for anyone other than herself? Do you believe that THE Donald can really build his wall? All of this and so much more will be in YOUR hand come November. Don’t let yourself down, don’t let the rest of us down. Go out and tell Hillary and THE Donald that they’re incredibly useless and tell them to get fucked. Give us someone who has some common sense, some sympathy for us, the people. Give us a normal person, not a politician or a TV personality. Give us hope!

Why China is Still a Shithole

download (3)I walked into a room, a very nice room, a room that was as large as my home in the UK, a room that was square, but one that seemed crooked, I walked in, I walked in slowly, and my heart just sank. This room, this extraordinary remnant of the bourgeoisie that used to be Mao. This little piece of decadence in the middle of what I could only describe as a ‘paddy field’, prepared, ready and waiting for my arrival and the arrival of this entourage who by no choice of mine, were my newest buddies on the planet. We’d only met 2 hours prior to our pending lunch time drama and we’d met under the most precious of circumstance. Me, young, full of energy, perhaps naive, determined to succeed. Them, toothless, smelling of stale cigarette smoke, dirty and certainly not odor free. A unique combination and certainly an eyesore in 1980’s Southern China, where white people, black people and anyone not Chinese, was looked upon as an alien, a martian, ET and perhaps a combination of all 3 wrapped up into one moving and quite amusing anomaly.  Mud, red as the surface of that Martian planet they believed me to have descended from, made up the basis of a ‘so called’ road we’d just driven on for the past 45 minutes. Rule of law being, if you could pass, no matter what direction you were traveling, you passed and if you believed you were going to hit an on coming car or bike or van, you went for it, with the firm belief that they, the other driver, would crap out of a head on collision before you did. Well it wasn’t me who was driving, but local drivers, my drivers, were all graduates of the James Bond F1 motor school, where ‘cahones’ were a gifted extra at birth. No fear, no hesitation and never a dent to be seen anywhere on any of their vehicles.

In this room, this very nice room, lay a table, a very long table, adorned with the most exquisite of lace table cloths, the best silverware that China could manufacture and the prettiest plates I’d ever seen, outside of those the Queen would use in Buckingham palace. I was directed to a seat, a very large table topping seat, and that’s when the fun began. I call it fun, but it really wasn’t. It was Hell.

Boiled and now stone cold mushrooms, soggy peanuts, chopped up pork (also cold) and crackling, and 1000 year old eggs. This was the beginning and it would be three hours later before we reached the best part of that dreadful ‘feast’, a watermelon and apple desert. In between came shark fin soup, oysters that reeked of ammonia, stuffed crab and lobster, all alive when presented on their platter, all dead and consumed within 2 minutes of their demise, which played out live and in person right before our eyes. A blood bath then followed as a live 4 foot long snake was dragged into the room. Black, wet, and ready to die, the snake that is, and hoisted up into the air by a 4ft 11″ young lady, like a trophy would be hoisted had she won the cup, this poor snake was about to die. The knife came out, the conversation ceased and the barbarism began. Slit from top to bottom while still alive, blood drained into several shot glasses, and then, that final blow as the poor snake, obviously in pain, was relieved of his head. That very same head bounced twice on a tiled floor and ended up right in front of my right leather shoe. My face was white, or should I say whiter than it had been ten minutes earlier, my stomach wanted to heave and my mind was in complete turmoil. My hosts however began to blurt out meaningless phrases in Mandarin. It seemed to me like they were trying hard to outbid one another, and indeed that’s exactly what was happening. The snake blood, seen as an aphrodisiac, was being auctioned, and little did I know that they were doing all of this on my behalf. Once the bidding ended, I was handed a shot glass full of blood and invited to drink. I thought it was a joke and I immediately made light of their not so kind offer. The snake head was still firmly entrenched beneath my right show and here I was, with the poor buggers blood in my hands, looking right into his eye on the ground wanting to vomit and faint at the same time. They cajoled, they encouraged, they insisted and then eventually, as puke left my mouth and covered that exquisite table-cloth, they gave up and drank the blood themselves. Greedy bastards! After snake it was time for chicken, undercooked, perhaps boiled again and served hung drawn and quartered, though not headless. I now had the snake head at my right foot and the chicken head, eyeballs in tact, at the end of my left arm. Delightful!

Although memorable for all the wrong reasons and although my stomach remained empty for many days after this luncheon, the most incredible part of that day had yet to occur. You see while we’d been inside that restaurant, the heavens had opened and a deluge of rain had washed away any semblance of what was in those days, something you’d call a road. China was in the midst of building it’s freeway system, and investment that initially took all of 800 billion US dollars and 25 million workers. (Well it seemed like 25 million, it could have been less, or even more, the problem being that everywhere I travelled there were tens of thousands of the buggers laying road surface by hand. Yes, by hand. They were turning red clay into tarmac by hand, and it just made sense in my mind that do do this across such a vast country from scratch, an army of tens of millions of participants would be required.) Our journey back took 6 hours. Yes, 6 hours. A 45 minute jaunt without roads was turned into a 6 hour nightmare, with no where to stop, nowhere to pee, no place to pull over to get a drink and certainly no way to do anything other than sit and wait and wait and wait, until finally we would move three or four yards, then stop again. I was sitting in the back of a Mitsubishi Outlander with 5 smelly and half drunk Chinese men, all filled to brimming with snake blood. It wasn’t a party, it was a scene from a horror movie. I remember when we finally arrived back at the factory, I was so exhausted that it took me about an hour to empty my bladder and then 2 days to get over the shock of what had happened. After I left that factory to go back to the border, a journey that should have taken 30 minutes, but which in essence took another 2 hours, I was left to reflect on a day that might of been instead of a day that was. I was consumed by how brutal this culture were towards their ambition to join the 20th century. How non plus they were to eating anything that walked or flew and how indifferent they had been to my puking all over lunch, spending all day with them, buying nothing from them and eating nothing at all that they’d offered up. My conclusion was instantaneous. China is and always will be a shithole, life was cheap there and still is today. Although very friendly and hospitable as a race, they can stick their chickens and their snakes right back up the orifice that they eventually eject them from. Sadly even though the roads are now kind of ‘world class’, some 35 years later, the food is still crap and life is still pretty worthless. I don’t have to make these needless journey’s into the depths of the ‘jungle’ to eat things that should only be eaten by other animals and not by human beings, and I certainly don’t have to tolerate factories that are meaningless to my business development, but and it’s a huge but, when one experience vanishes, another appears, and that’s just what China remains. It’s an experience wrapped up inside a shitty memory with every step.

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Chinese New Year

download When I first went to China in 1979, Their New Year celebrations lasted all of 2 days. As time passed, into the 1980’s, that celebration was extended to 4 days, and in some places, should it fall over a weekend, 5 days at the most. This meant that as far as purchasing items for my clients was concerned, there really didn’t seem to be much of an interruption to normality over that period of time. In the late 80’s and then into the early 90;s however, when migration from the North of China to the South was at its peak and 150 million workers were trying hard to find employment in the South, New Year was extended to 10 days and then to 2 weeks, allowing travel time for the largest migration in human history to travel too and from their place of employment and back to the home they’d probably not seen for 11 long months.

And now we find ourselves in 2016. Chinese New Year is coming to an end this week and most of the factories I’ve been dealing with have been closed for the past two and a half weeks and some longer than that. It’s become standard practice to close the week before the Lunar New Year and re open 2 weeks after it’s over. Not only that, but some of the workers take another 2 to 3 weeks to return from their journeys north, ending up with over 6 weeks of vacations time. Mind blowing when you think about it, but if you are actually there to experience it, and I’ve had the pleasure a couple of times, you’d understand fully what it takes to shift that number of people vast distances over a short period of time. Just think about it. 150 million people, all with someplace to go and someplace that’s thousands of miles from where they’re based throughout the year. Train stations are full to bursting, airports are worse and there’s a complete industry based around the chaos that this event has now become.

Some years ago I had to be in Shanghai the week before New Year for a factory inspection. I don’t quite remember the items that were being manufactured, but I do recall it was some kind of medical device that had to arrive in the USA by March 1st, so shipping prior to CYN was imperative. I was based in Shanghai but the facility that I needed to get to was a 6 hour drive from the city itself, and that was 6 hours in the freezing cold and without the freeway system that exists today. Total chaos, are the only two words that could sum up that week. My hotel, the Crown Plaza, was a few blocks from the main railway station in Shanghai. A week before CYN, a full week, there was a line I estimated at 200,000 people, stretching more than 2 miles, waiting to get into that station for trains that weren’t going to leave for 4 to 5 days. Running up and down that line were wee boys and girls and grown men and women selling newspapers, candies, medicines, and a ‘scalping’ team selling tickets for earlier trains that cost 4 to 5 times face value. This sea of humanity was camped out in the cold, very few had protection from that cold and almost none of them had any place to go other than the spot in which they lay. It was ridiculous, yet it was amazingly peaceful, because each person lined up knew they were going home, not that day perhaps, but they knew they’d get there that week. Imagine that happening in Europe or in the USA? Then at the airport, similar scenes, obviously compounded by the absence of any security, (this was prior to 9/11), but chaotic with a sense of calm all the same. Some of those who waited for their flights were there more than 5 days, and some, the rich, walked right by those who were not too rich, waiving their tickets with a sense of purpose and with some shame as they juggled their bodies towards check in and then security, dodging that same elite group of entrepreneurial Chinamen, selling food, and newspapers and believe it or not, tickets for earlier flights!

And so, as my clients began calling me again this morning, all desperate to learn pricing, delivery status and sampling possibilities, I am reminded of those scenes all those years ago, and compelled to remind them that sometimes, vacation time is a time that cannot be calculated, especially when you have to share it with hundreds of millions of people. “Wait another couple of days” are the words of advice I pass on to those in need, “and then maybe, just maybe, my factory will come back to life, as it did last year and in the 35 years before that” Patience is a virtue, Chinese patience is beyond virtuous, it is principled and exemplary, well, most of the time!

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Black or White

imagesWith the hullabaloo surrounding Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith’s accusations that the Oscars are ‘too white’, isn’t it time we all got over this black and white ideal that seems to exist only in America? It’s so sad that people all over this country have race as an agenda, black or white, it doesn’t matter, and play that card to its fullest potential on a daily basis. Who cares what color you are? Who cares who wins an Oscar and more importantly, who cares that Spike Lee cares? It’s mind-boggling nonsense. We are all human beings, we are all breathing the same not so fresh air, and we are all going to die on this planet, like it or not. Why can’t we put our dislikes, out prejudices and our bad behavior to one side, even just for a day, and get along with one another. And it’s not just the Oscars, it’s all walks of life where minorities, not just blacks, are suffering. It’s homelessness, drug abuse, the Presidential campaign, soccer, basketball, high school, and it goes on and on and on. It will never stop unless someone, anyone, picks up the baton and says,”enough is enough”, and reminds us, as the human race, that is exactly what we are, a race. We are one, we are or at least should be, all together.

Black people, white people, yellow people, brown people and all other’s in between, led aimlessly by fanatics, troublemakers with nothing better to do than gripe. We all love a gripe or two, but come on, it’s the Oscars, and it’s not life or death. What pisses me off royally is that after Spike you get the usual suspects, those who know they need to make a move, the George Clooney’s of this world, who having listened to Spike and Jada, then jump on that showbiz bandwagon adding voice, an unwanted one in my opinion, to an already ‘out of control’ situation. Why can’t they either lead by example or just shut the fuck up? It’s all just so Hollywood and it has so little relevance, although I know they’d all disagree, to what goes on daily around the globe. There’s injustice in all walks of life. There always has been and probably always will be. I remember when I was 17 and I was in front of two buyers at a company in Aberdeen Scotland, trying to sell them packaging tape, and neither of them wanted to deal with me because they both hated Jews, and even though they didn’t know I was Jewish, they had heard that my company was owned by a Jew. Did I go screaming to the press? Did I heck. Did I call the Rev Al Sharpton or the Chief Rabbi? No of course not. I just moved on.

Change needs to happen, change should happen, and equality as well, but show me change where it’s well deserved not just because of necessity or embarrassment or color or creed. If there were any great acting performances by black actors this year, surely they would have been rewarded? Perhaps there were none, but that’s just a whole other conversation.

What Happens When Trump Is Elected?

downloadFirst of all I would like to thank each and every one of you who read my blog in 2015. I just received the figures and I had an average of 8,000 people a week logging on. Not too shabby considering I don’t publicize it, don’t subscribe to Facebook or any other social medial that might promote it and make it more popular. So, once again, thank you!
I watched the news tonight and then sat back and thought, “What happens if Trump actually gets elected?” Stranger things have taken place, right? Look at Hitler, Mugabe, Charles Taylor and even Obama. All unexpected, all elected, some dictators, some tyrants and some just plain old boring and ineffective. Trump however poses a conundrum. So far all he’s done is bully his way into the headlines, some of his rhetoric so unimaginable crass that even I, who cares little for political BS and more for telling it as it is, have been unimpressed and perhaps a little frightened by the manner in which Trump has become so popular. Slander is an easy way to make a name for yourself, but hate is another thing. Trump is hateful. Yes, he might tell it like it is, he might say what some of us think and are unable to say, but he’s a dangerous political phenom, and someone we should all take heed of when we decide where to place our vote in the coming months. I’ve read a lot and watched a lot about Hitler and his rise to power, and without wanting to compare the two (there are similarities, but I hope I’m wrong) Trump’s march to the White House has me skeptical to say the least when it comes to his actual intentions. He hates women, muslims, Mexicans and every news reporter who doesn’t say something positive to him or about him. He hates all his opponents, he hates his two ex wives and perhaps he even hates himself, but the thing that stands out for me is the way his followers and his political entourage are lapping all of this up and sensing their candidate actually has a chance to win! Are they just mind-blowingly stupid or has he promised them all some of his billions?

If Trump wins, and it’s a distinct possibility, what will happen to this country? What will become of free speech, immigration, the free practice of religion outside of Christianity? It’ll be just like his stupid TV show, the Apprentice. He’ll probably sit behind his desk with his son and daughter, looking all high and mighty, and start world war 3 by calling Putin a poosie and the Ayatollahs rag heads. He’s got that kind of mentality. Believe it! He’s the catalyst to nuclear Armageddon, to the End of Days predicted by ISIS, to yet another Holocaust, and to the end of civilization, if that’s what we have in todays society, debatable, I know! Yes, Mr Donald Trump is scary, he’s definitely different and he should not be elected unless you, the voting public, have a death wish. Again, let me be very clear, I think all politicians are liars and cheats, I’ve always believed that, and I also think that in a weird and wonderful way if Trump had tempered his verbiage and beliefs, speaking plainly and clearly without the continual insults that come spewing daily from his confused brain, he might have made a great leader and taken the USA from the quagmire that Obama has left us all in, back to where it belongs, which is the best place on the planet to live and work.

So think twice when you listen to him and three times before you vote for him or you might just end up regretting that you didn’t fire him before he got the job!