Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

Letter From the Train 04 06 2017 Thoughts through mist and fog…

April 6, 2017

It is dusty grey; mist and fog lay lightly on the Hudson River as I head south toward New York City and then on to Baltimore to visit Lionel and Pierre.  It will be a long weekend; I return on Monday.

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It had been my intent to drive but when I woke this morning to predictions of thunderstorms and tornadoes along my route, I opted for the train.

Last night, I sat down to begin a letter and could not find words.  Ennui swept over me and I wandered off to bed, watched an episode of “Grace and Frankie” and fell asleep, waking early to prepare to leave.

Yesterday was my first day as host of the Wednesday version of WGXC’s “Morning Show,” from 9 AM to 11 AM.  The night before, I had a night full of crazy dreams in which I got to the studio on Wednesday morning only to find they had changed all the controls and I had no idea on how to work them.  In another dream, I decided to sleep at the station the night before to make sure that I didn’t miss the program but did anyway.

No psychiatrist is needed to interpret these dreams.

And the program went well; there was much praise from friends and colleagues and I relaxed, thinking I can manage this.  It was fun and for my first guest, I had Alana Hauptman, who owns my beloved “Red Dot.”

Probably no one remembers Texas Guinan anymore; she ran the biggest, best, brassiest, funniest, speakeasy in New York during Prohibition.  She was loved and admired and imitated.  She was known for her big heart and saucy character.  Alana is all of that and is the Texas Guinan of Hudson.  The Red Dot has stood for nineteen years and been an anchor to the town and certainly my world.

There is a slew of people lined up to be guests on the show including the folks who run Bridge Street Theater in Catskill, world premiering a new play shortly and Jeff Cole, who is the CEO of the Center for the Digital Future at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication as well as Howard Bloom, who is a multi-published author and once press agent to every major rock group in the 1970’s and ‘80’s.  And Fayal Greene, who has lived in Hudson for a long time, civically active, and is leaving at the end of the month for Maine, where she and her husband will live in a retirement community near their summer home and many relatives.

The farewell party will, of course, be at the Red Dot.

All of this is very hygge.

And I roll around in the hygge-ness of my life as outside my bubble I am often stupefied by my world.

Politics has never been this raucous in my lifetime and perhaps not this much since the founding of the Republic, which, I understand, was a very raucous time.

As I was getting ready to board the train, Representative Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has now recused himself from the Russian investigation over ethics concerns.

In Syria, eighty plus people, including children, died in an apparent gas attack.  Trump says the incident crossed “a lot of lines for him.”  Tillerson has said that it was undoubtedly Assad’s regime.  Assad is saying bombs ignited a store of gas weapons in the attacked town.  Russia is demanding the US lay out its cards on how to solve the Syrian problem.

This all sounds like a lot like another replay of the last few years, with some new players and no new results.  In the meantime, Syrians continue to suffer; something like five million of them are refugees, many living in squalor with their only drinking water coming from septic tanks causing typhoid and a further circling down into this hell that has been created.

A radio report from a Syrian refugee camp yesterday may have been the cause of last night’s ennui.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is meeting with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago today and tomorrow.  It is a high stakes meeting reports say.  Wide chasms exist in trade with Trump the candidate picking on China through most of the campaign and the Chinese, unlike some Americans, have long memories and play a long game.

If this turns out to be the pivot point for the United States, future historians might look at our tendency to be focused on short term goals as a factor in creating this pivot.

And in this miasma of non-hygge news, is a report that Jeff Bezos, second richest man on the planet, is selling a billion dollars of Amazon stock a year to finance Blue Origin, his space venture.  That makes me smile.  Money at work on building the future.

 

 

Letter From New York 10 02 15 In rain and mourning…

October 2, 2015

Chill and damp in Baltimore. Oregon shooting. Papal denial. Syrian airstrikes. Allies demand of Russia. Amazon bans rivals. Weak jobs. Market panic?

It is chill and damp here in Baltimore, where I am today to celebrate Lionel’s birthday. It is grey and gloomy, a perfect background for a day which is filled with mourning.

Yesterday, as we all must know by now, a young man, 26, killed nine and wounded 20 before being killed by police. He targeted a Community College in Umpqua, Oregon. Authorities are trying to discern what, if any, connection he might have had to this particular school.

President Obama made a live appearance and was as angry as most had seen him, frustrated by the number of times in his Presidency he has gone on air to offer condolences after a mass shooting.   He warned that his comments would be described as “politicizing” the situation but that this was a situation that should be politicized. It has become routine, said the President, and it has. We have become inured to the tragedies that unfold before us when crazed gunmen slaughter men, women and children.

This young man engaged with others on social media about his intentions. Disgustingly, some respondents encouraged him and gave him tips. No one alerted authorities. Hearing this I was not surprised; my lack of surprise horrified me. I felt thoroughly ashamed of my fellowmen. Who would encourage murder? Are they not culpable?

The young man asked victims if they were Christians. If they said yes, he shot them in the head.

Another young man, a former soldier, Chris Mintz, launched himself at the shooter and was shot seven times.

As I write this, Mike Huckabee is on CNN talking about this tragedy. He has often said that more guns are needed to protect us rather than less. The network’s anchors are giving him a challenging time about his positions.

The Vatican is attempting to push back at the controversy that has bubbled up about Francis’ meeting with Kym Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who opposes gay marriage. The meeting tarnished the glow among liberals from the Pope’s trip to America. It had been described as a private meeting between the two, with the Pope giving her support and a rosary.

Now the Vatican is saying it was not a private meeting but she was part of a group.

Conservatives, including Huckabee, just now, deny the denial.

Both the U.S. led coalition and Russia are leading airstrikes in Syria. All of the U.S. Coalition’s strikes have been against IS. Russia has been targeting both anti-Assad groups and IS. They are using “dumb” bombs, which will cause indiscriminate damage.

Western nations are demanding that Russia only target IS. My sense is that Russia is shrugging its shoulders and is calling all rebel forces, terrorists.

Friction, of course, exists between Russia, and every one else fighting IS. It’s very messy.

Paris meetings today that were to focus on Ukraine probably will now shift to Syria.

Amazon has its own OTT devices and in a push to get them sold, it has pulled other OTT makers like Roku from its shelves. It will be interesting to see what this will do. Their Fire devices have not been particularly successful in the marketplace.

There was a weak jobs report today with only 141,000 jobs added this past month. It has sent the markets into a wobbly day. Credit Suisse is wondering if the markets are panicking.

They are certainly down.

However, despite the national mourning and the bad economic news I am feeling centered and upbeat today while acknowledging tragedy and grief.   I’m off to have my iPhone screen repaired; I shattered it yesterday. Then I am going to see if I can have my haircut.

Letter From Claverack 08 16 15 Thoughts as the sun sets…

August 17, 2015

It is moving toward six in the evening. The sun is beginning its slow set to the west; bright light glimmers through the trees and pools of sunlight litter the drive. I am sitting at my desk, looking out, keeping watch. A friend is coming over and I’m helping him think through his website, a first for him.

It has been a lovely weekend. Lionel and Pierre arrived on Friday evening, a bit ragged from a drive through heavy traffic from Baltimore. We ate at the Red Dot and then came home. Lionel and I had our traditional Friday night “cleansing vodka” and then I drifted off to a good night’s sleep.

Saturday was a lot of running around; neighbors came for cocktails and a visit with Lionel and Pierre.

This morning, I woke early. Heavy fog drifted above the creek, making the place look otherworldly, almost mystical. I prepared breakfast for the three of us and saw them off on their return trip to Baltimore. While I was doing all of these pleasant tasks, the world continued.

An Indonesian plane lost contact with air controllers and there have been reports it crashed into a mountainside. E’Dina Hines, step-granddaughter of Morgan Freeman, was stabbed to death last night in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan by a deranged man, thought to be her boyfriend, who was attempting to cast demons out of her.

Premier Li Keqiang of China visited the port city of Tianjin, the scene of a huge warehouse explosion that was so big it registered on seismic meters. The warehouse contained dangerous chemicals, including sodium cyanide. The warehouse was close by apartment complexes; at least 112 have died and 95, many of them firefighters, are missing. 721 are injured. There is a huge evacuation zone; protests are being held at the hotel used for press briefings.

Sadly, Julian Bond has passed away. He was a young firebrand in the 1960’s and went on to become a respected state legislator in Georgia and head of the NAACP for some years. He was a voice for civil rights and agitated against the Vietnam War, a man to be admired I always thought. And now he’s gone, after a short illness. I will miss knowing that he is alive.

Donald Trump is still leading the Republican polls; he is calling for an end to “birthright citizenship.” Hillary Clinton is trailing Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, which must be causing her some sleepless moments.

Sleepless in Syria are all kinds of people. Assad bombed a suburb of Damascus over the weekend. The war is going badly for him; Damascus is his nominal seat of power though he has long been rumored to have left the capital for the coast. His troops are being defeated and seem to be in slow retreat. Iran has sent ministers to Russia, seeking some kind of political solution.

Iraq, long riven by Shia/Sunni conflicts seems to be facing a Shia/Shia conflict too. I will need to do more reading to understand. I don’t right now. A few days ago, an American General stated that Iraq might have to be partitioned. And it is beginning to look like that might be a viable solution. Iraq was created a century ago by the Brits for their own reasons, mostly, one suspects, oil.

Amazon is one of my favorite suppliers. I don’t want to work there. Reports about the environment for employees indicate it’s a brutal, brutal, brutal place to work. I am, nor ever have been, up for brutal. I still use them, enormously. I am an Amazon Prime customer. Probably will be until the day I die. But not to work there. Oh my!

Apple is apparently building a self-driving car. As is Google. I will bet on Apple. Google’s devices…

Night has arrived. The floodlight on the fountain has turned on. Outside the cicadas are making noises. I am at the end of my day, about to step into yet another Steven Saylor book. I have been binge reading instead of binge watching. Actually, it feels good.

Letter From New York 06 23 15 Of Confederate Flags and Media moves…

June 23, 2015

I am sitting in an office in New York that I use once in a while. Outside there are streams of sunlight bouncing off the building across the street but my weather app has warned that severe thunderstorms have a strong chance of occurring this afternoon.

This will likely be a pretty short Letter as I am due at a reception being held by the Producer’s Guild here in New York for East Coast members and I’m heading there in a few minutes. It has been a bit of a solitary day as everyone in Todd’s office is out on a shoot and I’m the only one around so I’ve had the run of the place. Have had a couple of conference calls today but no real interpersonal reactions except for the doorman and the newsvendor.

There has been a fair amount of media news today.

Changes are starting to happen at 21st Century Fox as the company prepares for Rupert Murdoch to give way to his son James. David Hill, a major executive there, is leaving to form a production company, standard procedure in Hollywood when you are being exited from a big job.

Verizon has completed its purchase of AOL and my friend who works there will now receive a discount on his phone service as well as a small rebate on Verizon Fios plus a tablet. Now for the integration…

I spent some time today researching environmental issues out of curiosity after a friend sent me a response to one of my Letters. I have more of that to do tomorrow.

James Horner, who was an Academy Award winning composer, died yesterday in a small plane crash near Santa Barbara. He composed the music for “Titanic,” “Braveheart,” “Avatar” and many others.

Dick Van Patten, a Hollywood child star who grew up to play the beloved dad in “Eight is Enough” passed away. He also starred on “The Love Boat.” He always seemed a decent fellow.

Everyone involved in the Greek Debt Crisis is, of course, scrambling to avoid default at the end of the month. The Greeks put forward a plan that “needs work” according to Angela Merkel but there might be something here they could work with…

Amazon has decided it will no longer sell Confederate Flags as have some other retailers and Governors in three Southern states are working to remove the Confederate flag from their states’ license plates following the Charleston shootings.

I have a fondness for robots, at least conceptually, since I read Asimov’s “I Robot” years ago. Yesterday, a thousand robots were offered for sale at about $1600 in Japan and sold out in less than a minute. They are designed to be emotional companions.

My emotional companionship will come from attending the PGA reception so I must close and be off.

Have a good evening.

Letter From New York 05 29 15 Riding up the Hudson, ruminating on the world…

May 30, 2015

It is a stunningly beautiful day as I ride the train north, having slipped out of town early. To my left, the Hudson runs wide with sun glints coming off the silver grey surface of the water. It is sunny and warm, with a soft breeze blowing with low humidity. Saturday will probably be like this though there is rain in the forecast for Sunday with cooler temperatures.

My mood is better today; I feel less weighted by the world and its events. I feel more accepting that there is ONLY so much I can do individually and that as long as I feel I am doing that, I can breathe a little easier.

It is still a crazy world. In my home state of Minnesota, a Muslim couple was picking up their son at the home of one of his friends. While waiting for him in the car, they were approached by a woman with a rifle who forced them out of the car and marched them at gunpoint to the house where they told her their son was so that they could prove it to her.

The boy was there.

The woman is facing charges of assault, terroristic threats, terroristic threats-reckless endangerment and maybe some more.

This kind of occurrence just strikes me as so un-Minnesota like. You know, Minnesota nice, it’s baked into us.

She must have skipped that part of the cultural indoctrination.

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is being charged with lying to the FBI about cash withdrawals from banks that allegedly were going to “Individual A.” Apparently, Hastert was paying hush money to a man for inappropriate behavior years ago when he was a schoolteacher and a wrestling coach. Everyone who knows the Former Speaker is shocked as he always was a “stand-up” kind of guy.

He has made no statements but has resigned from his law firm and from the Board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

In reading about this I was reminded that the Speaker of the House is second in succession for the Presidency. The thought of John Boehner being two heartbeats away from the Presidency is sobering, at least to me.

In the midst of probably the worst sports scandal in the last century, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was re-elected. While it seems unbelievable to me, he had a lot of support from Africa and South America, enough to propel him back for another term. The aftershocks of this affair will continue for a long time and there may be more arrests.

Cuba has been taken off the list of states that sponsor terrorism, paving the way for the normalization of relations. Visiting Cuba is on my bucket list, has been since I read Hemingway who had a home there.

Dressed in a burka, an IS devotee blew himself up at a mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing four, including himself.

In Pakistan, gunmen hijacked buses and ended in a battle with security forces. Nineteen civilians were killed.

North Korea, widely suspected of the hack attack against Sony Pictures, has something called Bureau 121, a cadre of 6000 hackers devoted to discovering ways to create digital trouble. Apparently, many of them operate out of China, some in the basement of well-reviewed restaurant.

Not a happy thought.

Out in California Michael Jackson’s fantasyland named “Neverland“ is for sale for $100,000,000. But now it’s called Sycamore Valley Ranch. It’s a stunning place for those who have a spare hundred mil.

The rain ravaged states of Texas and Oklahoma are going to be receiving drinking water from the breweries of Anheuser-Busch, which halted production of beer at one plant in Georgia and switched to canning drinking water, which is desperately needed. At least thirty-seven are dead in the two states.

Amazon is planning to create its own private label for a variety of foods. Called Elements, its first products were diapers and baby wipes. It is also opening data centers in Ohio that will employ about a thousand people. Amazon just keeps on growing…

Ross Ulbricht, creator of Silk Road, a dark Internet site for the sale of drugs, was sentenced to life in prison today.

The train is rolling into Hudson and I need to gather my things up and make my way over to my car for the short drive home before dinner at the Dot!

Letter From New York December 6, 2014 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

December 6, 2014

Outside, a soft, chill rain falls on Claverack Cottage. The creek flows gently toward the pond – all seems to be soft shades of grey today. A fire burns in the Franklin Stove and the Metropolitan Opera is on the radio. It is warm and cozy in my world.

Tonight is Winter Walk down in Hudson, an annual transformation of Warren Street, the main thoroughfare, into a winter wonderland. Stores unveil their winter decorations, carolers in Victorian costumes stroll the street, pausing to sing classic Christmas carols. A human crèche scene dominates one end of the street and Santa’s Village dots the town square at the east end of Warren.

It is one of my favorite days of the year, all full of good cheer and light hearted folks, strolling down the street, entering shops and seeing their Holiday goods displayed. Reindeer reside in a petting pen while Santa strolls the street. One year he played a mean trombone for the crowds.

It runs from five to eight and I will go down early and do my wandering early, coming home to have dinner with neighbors who will wander with me, through the stores and shops.

It is the official Columbia County kick off for Christmas.

Vendors sell hot cider on the street. It is a great mingling of the county and some of my best memories of my time here are from Winter Walk. Some years were snowbound, some years were just cold and some years were snowbound and cold. This year will be damp. Rain and sleet are predicted for the night.

I’ll bundle up and go, not wanting to miss the evening’s festivities. I love running into friends and neighbors, love the laughter of the evening and, for once, enjoy the jostling crowds of people who come from miles around to soak in the wonders of Winter Walk.

As it ends at eight, people crowd into the restaurants for dinner and drinks and the evening winds down in communal pleasantries.

Packages have begun to find their way under my tree. Santa, in the form of Amazon, has been arriving regularly. I have at least three holiday stations programmed on Pandora, classic Christmas carols filling the rooms of the cottage and I am especially fond of this year’s Christmas tree, adorned with ornaments from various phases of my life.

Electric candles light the Cottage windows and winter lights festoon the cottage.

I love this time of year.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.