Cliff Notes

Posted From Hobart,Tasmania


Cliff Notes. The savior of every self respecting underachieving student. You didn’t have to read the book but you had all the important features including a few well placed quotes to prove you had been hard at work. Who knew?


Is it just me or do the Village Idiots in Washington really seem to be playing out some sort of theater? Tragedy or comedy? Name your poison. Like Les Miserables it seems to go on forever. We all have known for the last 18 months the day was coming. Yet they all fiddled while the country was burning. Pick whomever you want to play Nero.


What am I thinking? I am enroute from Melbourne to Hobart, Tasmania. I should just sit back and join 99% of people on this cruise. Sip champagne on this New Year’s Eve. Finally, I am one of the 1% of something. It doesn’t feel that great.


A newfound cigar buddy and I were dwelling on the cosmic. I spoke of how we could make a real dent in this mess with a few simple steps. He was in the Army for twenty years and now works as a contractor to the government. He did not disagree. 


Let’s go to the spending side of the ledger. On a roll I want to start with Medicare. We could lop off billions with one stroke of the pen by repealing the one section of the Prescription Drug Bill that says we can’t bid out the drugs. The VA pays 1/2 of what Medicare does. Sorry former congressman Billy Tauzin and Mr Merk, Lily and the Johnson twins. You lose. We win.


Then let’s take fraud. There is approximately $80 billion of illegal billing by scam artists, docs and hospitals alike. We can’t hire more investigators because Congress does not want to be accused of spending money. This even though it can be proven that money spent on curbing fraud can return 12-20% return on investment. As in ROI all you corporate types. Rocket science at its best.


So let’s outsource. Put out a bounty on the crooks. Let’s say The Fraudbusters  get 20% of whatever we find. Let’s not get greedy. Twenty per cent of $10 billion is $2 billion and our operating costs should be around $100 million. Now we are talking some serious scratch TTG. 


Don’t stop there. Let’s take on my beloved Navy. Forty years ago as First Lieutenant on the Good Ship Lollipop, the supply officer showed up on deck. He said we needed new mooring lines and the ship’s boats refurbished. Okay, what’s up pork chop? It seems we had to spend $1 million by November 1 or we would lose the money for next year.


Now a mill was big dough forty odd years ago. I went back to my stateroom and tried to figure out what the multiplier was as one ship in the Atlantic Fleet, of a bigger US Navy, that was part of the Department of Defense, which in turn was a part of the US Government. 


Sorry kids my poor feeble brain fell short. But what I lacked in horsepower I hope I made up for in common sense.This budgetary nonsense  goes on each and every day of every year.Year in. Year out. 


 Just think of all the land owned by the Government. Incredible amounts of raw dirt and office buildings. If we sold off even a portion we could get a pretty penny and put a lot of land back on local tax rolls. Sorry big guy, what was I thinking? That’s way too easy


Now let’s talk about farm subsidies. We pay farmers not to grow things. We have quotas and taxes to protect sugar growers. Dairymen. Wheat farmers. We have pushed this little boondoggle called ethanol and presto changeo the price of corn has gone through the roof. 


The worst part is that there have been huge consolidations of every sort in the farming industry. So what we are really talking about is corporate welfare at its worst. But wait there is more. In the last twenty years the number of independent farms has fallen drastically but the Department of Agriculture has almost tripled in size. 


I don’t have an MBA. I was a poli sci major at Georgetown. But what I am talking about could clean up our act in a few easy steps. We are talking about saving money where it is being wasted. We are not even eliminating anything. That comes later. We are just talking about a different way of doing business. Not bookkeeping gimmicks. Real live savings. 


All right you conservative hacks don’t think you are escaping. Yes we do need higher taxes. The farce of cap gains on hedge fund managers has got to stop.  Tell your big mouthed champion, Liberal Chuck Schumer to knock off the BS. He bobs and weaves like Ali when asked the question. 


In addition all the argument about higher taxes on the wealthy could be solved by eliminating or putting caps on deductions. But all the higher receipts have to go towards  reducing the debt not creating some new agency.


What is beyond bizarre to me is this negotiating behind closed doors.What in God’s name could they be talking about? I suggest we put every meeting on CSPAN. That’ll fix em.


Look, I should be chilling by the pool but this is much more important to me. If anything I say surprises you then you are either not listening to what is going in the world or you don’t care. Either way that is shameful. Let’s take one thing like the repeal of parts of the prescription bill or the formation of the Fraud Squad and run with it. Let’s be our own pressure group. 


Okay. I have given you the Cliff Notes. You don’t even have to read the book. Just show up for class and make noise. Ask questions. Don’t take stock answers. It will be an easy A.


Happy New Year from your happy wanderer.


As always

Ted The Great.



Sorry.Can’t get things factual. My access to the internet is almost nil. If any of you are having difficulty receiving parts of Ted’s Head, my apologies. Lastly, thank you as always for your many comments. I will get back to you whenever I can.

Three Wise Men……

Posted from Freemantle, Australia

It’s like a dream. As I put pen to paper here in the Indian Ocean I really wonder how I got here. Not just this smooth sailing ship but all the things that have happened to me over the years. You like to think you worked hard. That you deserve it. That’s bull. We are all just members of the lucky sperm club and don’t forget it. We could have wound up in Siberia or Calcutta.


As the nautical miles peel away I think of the presents I received this year and in particular three. The best part is that they were all total surprises and distinct. Probably the gift givers were unaware of their effect. As usual life is good.


The first occurred on a Sunday in Denver. Waiting for the Broncos to do battle, the phone rang. It was my cousin Sean in the town of Boyle in Abbeytown, County Roscommon. It was beyond eerie that I had just gotten his number out that morning, vowing to call before I left on our journey. Great minds think alike. He’s the type of man that brings a smile to your face at the sound of his voice.


He and his beautiful wife Liz have what I guess is the family homestead of sorts. We surely have no title to it but they are kind enough to always have the door open so we can really understand what family is all about. The land is verdant and they have 70 cows that need to be milked and grazed twice a day. All this Sean handles quite ably with only his 6 year old grandson Glynn as a sidekick. 


My gift from him was simple. It was a reminder of goodness and gentility in the world. His quick Irish wit melds effortlessly into mine and the conversation is pure joy. He is gracious in his ways but oh so wise for his young years. Thank you my friend.


The next happened on my last shift at hospice. I knew it would be a miracle if I ever saw these sweet souls again so I wanted to linger and try to say something profound. I have found in working with the dying, unscripted works best. Just share thoughts in an honest and forthright way. It’s good for the soul. Both of ours. 


My friend Terry had fought a long battle. He attacked everything with almost scientific precision. That was the part that frustrated him. He didn’t know if it was going to happen in the next hour or next few days. We sat in front of the Christmas tree in the living room for what was well over an hour and a half. He talked. I listened. It’s the way it should be.


He believed in God but it was a journey. Most importantly he believed he was going join the Man Himself. That was not only comforting but elating. He had fought the good fight and he was ready to go home. It was more than courage. It was a shared moment that I hope I always remember. It was gift number two.


Last monday we arrived in Bali after 22 hours on several airplanes. This is a grind no matter how you look at it. Kathy and I were flying steerage because that’s what latecomers do. It was just fine. The blast of steamy humid air brought back memories of 40 years ago in a scary land a few kilometers north and west. 


We drove through streets clogged with scooters and dust. It could have been Saigon without the guns. We made a hard right and travelled down a lane that had Kathy and I looking at each other. Then out of nowhere we were inside a resort right out of a movie set. The cruise line was putting us up there to make connections. It was nothing short of idyllic.


Open air and large fans reeked of teak. Gardenias were all over the paths and crazy sounding birds screeched from hidden trees. Every one of the staff greeted you with a slight bow and hands raised in a praying motion. This was very cool for TTG and Kath. We had a couple of drinks and a light fare by the water and then off to get a decent night’s sleep.


I didn’t know what day or hour it was when I awoke but I have been through this drill before. You can always find a cup of Java in Java. Get It? I ran into this young man named Sebagio. He know where the coffee was and put me right up in front on the beach. The air was damp from a torrential rain and it smelled sweet.


I quickly became Mr. Ted and we shared a good hour of conversation before anyone else in the place was even stirring. At first we spoke of Bali and Jakarta. And then of his life. He was thirty and single but he was raising his brother’s two boys. His sibling had died of a heart attack five years ago. If you think I was being set up, think again. There is no tipping in Bali.


Our talk finally wound its way to Hinduism. A friend back home had asked me what is was like to be going to a totally Muslim country? Surprise. Although Bali is part of Indonesia it is 92% Hindu. So much for stereotypes. 


The Hindus continually try to make themselves a better person both intellectually and spiritually. There is this crazy thing called balance. They strive but don’t run people over. When they finally get it right it is karma and that’s it. They are a very warm and incredibly gentle people.


No, I am not going over to Hinduism. They neither drink nor smoke cigars. But it does give me pause. Peace, gentility, balance, harmony, happiness. I think my three wise men are trying to give me a message here. I hope I am perceptive enough to get it.


As Always and Merry Christmas

Ted The Great.



Get a cup of coffee or glass of something stronger. Take ten minutes and watch the enclosed. Then thank whatever God you praise.

The Perfect Storm

Posted From Taipei Taiwan

Kathy and I are once again demonstrating how nuts we are. I will begin in this post at Denver International Airport and will probably finish it some where over the Pacific on our way to Bali via Taipei.


About four weeks ago we received a brochure from a cruise line for a trip from Bali to Aukland,NZ with port calls in Tasmania/ Australia. It was on our bucket list and the price could not be beat and so here we are. 


I was actually going to place all sorts of witticisms in my epistle but events of the past few days called for a different course of action. Maybe 35,000 feet is the proper viewing port as I try to process the carnage. I have thought in so many ways as a dad, grandparent and resident of this place we call planet earth. Don’t take me for a moralist but rather an observer. And Houston we do have a problem.


I searched websites on human behavior for insight. To be sure it is framed by a multitude of forces such as family, events and to a large degree by social mores and customs. What seeds have we provided to grow as a people and a country?


We are enraptured by violence. We see it on our streets, TV’s, movies and laptops. As I watched events unfold I switched from channel to channel. I hit the wrong one and got Maury Povich. There were 6 participants all yelling and screaming at each other, cursing and all the time the audience was egging them on. Give us our daily bread.


Our gun fetish is beyond the pale. Go to a gun store and really get scared. You can buy all manner of mayhem. Background check? Concealed weapon permit? Not a problem. I have often wondered if my right to live trumps your right to bear arms. 


 Right now we are a nation of hate. It starts in downtown DC. Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell, Cantor. Ideologues have thrown away reason and we all suffer for it. We are pissed at the muslims, the immigrants, liberals, conservatives. Not just annoyance but bitter hatred. 


To this wonderful cocktail we add a healthy dose of mental instability. Years ago in the name of economy we shut state hospitals and cut back on local programs. We turned these poor souls out onto the street and today they are our homeless or kept by friends and family who are ill equipped to do so. Stigma prevents any treatment and without intervention,well you know how it ends.



We speak of rights and of A number one is the right to bear arms. We want free speech. We want the ability to do drugs or make the decision on life or death. I guess my real question is “Are we ready to take responsibility for those rights?” Is there any culpability or can you just go out and go nuts? Good Question.


We thrive on ambivalence and grey areas. The cloudier the issue the more it is open to personal interpretation.I am for improving the system just don’t let it rain on me. Everyone interprets things to their own ends. 


But then the crazies shoot up Aurora, Portland and even a sleepy Eden like Newtown. Rural and urban America are suffering the same destruction. Everyone says ,”How could this happen?” Just look around. We have all put the ingredients in this soup that tastes so bitter. We are worried about one person,ME.


I opened the classifieds in the Denver Post prior to last Friday. I was just running a trap. Lo and behold I came upon the firearms section. There listed for all to see were approximately 20 weapons of mass destruction of every description. Rugers and Lugers. AK’s. High capacity magazines. We now have 285 million firearms in the US for 325 million inhabitants. From my cold dead hands? You might get your wish.


Last Friday probably could not have been prevented. We can’t lock down everywhere. But we better change our way of doing business. We have to address mental illness that affects 30 million Americans. We better get real about guns that took the lives of over 10,000 of us last year. We have got to get away from this “anything goes” mentality. 

Despite this dire treatise I am by some strange reason optimistic. After 9/11 we were so together and we squandered it on vengeful wars and short memories. After every tragedy there is a brief  spurt of reformative energy. Then we tally up who we are going to piss off and the price becomes too high. Can’t afford to blow your political capital, you know.


If you like the way we have become then go for it. Let the cards fall where they may. If you are a hunter, have a gun. Leave it at that. If you can’t kill it with one shot, don’t shoot. If you think violence should be the norm you are quickly getting your wish. 


I hope and pray some one comes to their senses. That they have the guts to stand up and do what is right rather than politically expedient. We can start ending the hatred by striking a deal on the madness called the fiscal cliff. We can begin to allocate resources to get people better rather than filling up armories with superfluous weaponry. We can really understand we have to start treating one another as human beings and not just lines in a balance sheet. 


Me.? I am going to keep banging away. I am going to keep looking for a leader. A hope. I will look up not down. I will find a way. I just can’t let this all go on.I hope you can’t either.


As Always

Ted The Great



Google “Killer Games”. You will see a variety of games to be downloaded free. Anywhere from 75,000 to 150,000 hits per site

There were actually 14.612 murders in 2011. 66% (approximately 10,000 were attributable to guns. In Great Britain there were 58.

Approximately 30,000 deaths were attributable to suicide by firearms.


Positively Negative……

I was struck the other day by a crazy thought. How much of our day  is spent on negative energy? You know when you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off. You see an annoying big mouth on TV. Your spouse blisters you with an insensitive remark. Your stocks are dropping like rocks. Sometimes this ain’t fun.

More importantly it sucks the life out of your system. Depending how hard it rankles you, it might last for hours, even days. There is something visceral about negative vibes that far surpass feelings of euphoria. Is that innate or a learned talent? Dunno.

I looked over the newspaper this morning. Page after page of killings,hit and runs, wars all over, car bombings, tunnel collapses. It’s enough to get one depressed.

I was in Florida a few weeks ago. A good friend from the northeast laughed as I went around saying hello to people in the Publix supermarket. What were you thinking TTG? Some dude actually referenced that wonderful moniker for the Sunshine State, “God’s Waiting Room.” Oi Vey. An old lady glared me down in a parking lot for looking like I was going to invade her privileged position in a crosswalk. How do you say “Up yours” to an old lady? Sorry, I will have to try harder.

Think about how your day starts off? Does your spouse spit out a couple of nails and light up a Camel or is there a little more love in his or her heart? On your way to work is there traffic, red lights and some idiot who doesn’t know how to work the parking gate and the line behind is a block long? Then walk through the door to the office and Mr. or Mrs. Sunshine Boss is on a tear and your personna has a bullseye planted square in the middle. Nice.

I do remember years ago when we would come home to New Jersey from a couple of relaxing weeks in the Colorado Mountains. The first person to open my entry hatch Monday morning was the toll collector at the Holland Tunnel at 6:00 AM. Aaaargh! Next was the guy in the bagel shop who never looked up even though the emporium was empty and yelled “Next” What do you mean you don’t want a schmear or go easy on the butter? What are you a f…ing moron? Welcome back, Kotter.

Now some of these are just glancing blows and part of a thing called human nature. I have often wondered at the residual effects. There are some folks that can’t break a smile under any circumstances. There are some that just drive you crazy. Here’s a few you might recognize.

The Whiner. Nothing is ever right. Life sucks. He or she married the wrong person. If only is their mantra. Partly cloudy or sunny?Half empty or full? You know which.

The Wunderkind. Whatever your plan, theirs is better. Let me show you how to do it right. They have been everywhere,know everything. You are just okay. They are the best…and their kids too.

The Grump. Never says anything just always looks cranky. You constantly ask,WHAT? He is both non responsive and non committal.You don’t like kids. You don’t like dogs. Can’t be all bad.

The Gloater. Has never lost. His team is above the rest of the universe. We beat you but also let me take you through every play and nuance. Did you see how I hit that shot? 325 yards and I was only hitting a five wood. Usually hovers around the scorer’s table to ask everyone how they played…oh, you want to know my score?

The Patient. Can be man or woman. Don’t say how are you doing? They will tell you every last gross detail. You want to see my X-rays ? My scar? My abcess? They have been to the Mayo, Cleveland Clinic and Stanford….all in the last two weeks. This all gets exhausting for anyone in earshot.

The Head Patient. This one is really bad, especially after they have had a few drinks.You just have no idea what they have have been through. The life they have had. Look I feel for these people but not at a Broncos game or Christmas party.

So you see the road is fraught with danger. You can start your day off on a great note and then get derailed by any number of cannon balls. That is truly sad. But what if you are the villain? Perish the thought that you are not exactly a wonderful person to be around.

You run hot. You run cold. You go high. You hit low. Truth be told I speak from experience. At times I have been one of those dudes. Sometimes I think it is the curse of artistic or creative people. We get so wound up we expect everyone else to share the love.

But I also continually to fight the fight. I try to be the most optimistic person I can. Maybe it’s because it is just a hell of a lot more fun to be positive. My wife and kids have had to deal with both sides. Hopefully I have learned many lessons over the years. Maybe the best one is to just say thank you for sticking with me.

Most importantly I have learned your mood and demeanor is a learned talent. You and I can react to anything and I mean anything in one of two ways. You can be angry and wallow in self pity. You can be a genuine pain in the butt. Or you can choose to make any interaction you have with a loved one or stranger a positive experience.

It’s not always easy. But corny as it sounds if you take a deep breath and just pause you can realize just how very good life is. You will get it. Whatever is going on, you can survive. Most of the time you won’t remember what was so bad an hour or a week from now.

If you were struck by Sandy or have a loved one in harm’s way overseas you can cop an attitude. If you are homeless or dying you have my thoughts. But for most of us life is very good. Better yet let’s just call it POSITIVELY wonderful. I can drink to that. Hope you can too.

As always

Ted The Great


The human brain actually generates  25,000 to 75,000 thoughts per day. No wonder you are tired.

Cognitive therapy, which is very successful in treating depression, actually teaches you how to react differently to life’s situations. The event doesn’t change but you are taught to handle in much more positive ways. You’ve got the power.

The human brain weighs about three pounds. Einstein’s was actually about 2 1/2 pounds. I guess size doesn’t matter.

On that line of thought, the myth about men thinking about sex once every ten seconds is totally false. It’s once every twenty seconds! Just kidding. Lighten up. Get positive.

Old Farts As Entrepeneurs…..

Writer’s Note: sorry for the format. New Text Editor not working properly.

This is a special post because it was an exciting day a few weeks ago. I went to an all day forum at the University of Denver on Entrepreneurship After the Age 55. It was put on by the Center For Productive Longevity, headquartered where else but Boulder,CO. This entourage was headed by Bill Zinke, an 85 year young ball of fire and former Wall Street lawyer who formed this non profit several years ago.
At first I thought the rather odd name of a group that was perchance pushing cryogenics or hemlock as an alternative. Not so, mes amis. This gang of 6 or 7 were all stars and had played at BabsonCollege, the Kellogg School of Business, onto LA and then had Denver as its last stop. Here there were 150 attendees with another fifty on the waiting list!
The gist was twofold. It seems many of the older generation are not exactly content to sit around and watch soaps or replay their golf rounds several times over. These people were psyched and it was beyond infectious. They had ideas and dreams. Making money was fine but it was not the end all and be all. They were following aspirations they had held for a long time. They weren’t trying to improve the entire world. Just small parts of it.
The second goal was JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. They weren’t running for office and they sure as hell didn’t need another agency formed. It seems that more startups are accomplished by the silver hairs than any other portion of demographic map.
Allen Hall sat next to me at the continental breakfast. He was well dressed and seemed to be futzing with his IPhone as Bill introduced the team. He was going over a document which turned out to be the bullet points for his talk. He was amazing not so much for his powerful delivery but more for his passion for being in business.
He had failed five times in a row and was down to last straw while pursuing his sixth dark alley. His supportive wife said “OK this is it honey. Now or never.” I, of course have never heard that before. Well you can figure out the script. He now owns or is a major part of over 40 companies. He was even the president of a ballet company. If you saw him you knew pas de deux was not in the CV for this multi millionaire but business was.
Better yet he gives away $1 million a year. Not a grant. Not a stock option but monetary gifts to budding entrepreneurs of all ages and stripes. They of course have to make their pitch but he does it so that more Americans will be commercially viable and by nature hire more and more of their countrymen. This guy is good.
There is a group here in Denver of entrepreneurial doctors. They meet once a month and throw around ideas from everything to new types of procedures to truly groundbreaking instruments. The meetings are open to everyone and there are no secrets. It is headed by an ENT from the University of Colorado Med Center.
Well for me all this headiness was like giving guns to the indians. I went to a breakout session to plan out my next foray into business. The most difficult aspect? Describing your concept in two sentences.You know the elevator speech. I then got a chance to pitch my fledgling idea to the class. No, I am not going to tell you what it is but you can always guess. And they didn’t boo me.
I know it was basic stuff but the way people networked was incredible. People paired off into small groups at lunch. No less than three people came up to me to discuss my idea and provide many sources of information and contact. I am going to a follow up meeting this week.
I have been “pondering the imponderables” about my generation for awhile now. My thesis is: Boomers…Asset or Liability? This meeting tilted my bias towards potential rather than castigation. I spoke with a gent who was an aerospace engineer for Martin Marietta. I asked him why his profession, which will see a downturn as interplanetary travel is on somewhat of a back burner, couldn’t get involved in desalinization or exploration of the oceans? He said there was no reason at all. I’m loving these people.
Look, these meetings are not obvious but if you seek them out they are a wonderful outlet for ideas and even investment. I broached the whole concept with a great friend who is much younger. He is involved in a an organization of his peers. Not necessarily in the same business they were still part of higher management. They meet monthly and challenge each other. They voice problems and frustrations. But most importantly they discuss creativity and opportunity.
I had to share this with you. I had to try to convey in some small way the beauty of this place we call home. We have incredible opportunity whether you are a realtor or a rocket scientist. Don’t wait for government. Don’t wait for a handout. Most of all don’t sit on your ass and say “Sure Ted that’s admirable, but I am too busy.”Or worse yet,”I’ve done my share. Let someone else do it.”
Light you own fire or at least add logs to one that is underway. Think of all the executive talent that is lying fallow. You could help a city or school district with its finances. In our bandaid world we could really use some long range planning in states and municipalities. Just do it!
Listen, we all have to start acting like immigrants. We have to get back to building commerce and new ideas. We have to till the garden rather than just devouring the fruits. I would like to think we are an asset. How aboutyou?
As always
Ted The Great…Old Fart Extraordinaire
–There are currently 600,000 applications for new patents in the hopper in DC. If only 10% were viable and each one resulted in 10 jobs that would do more for the economy than the current effort.
–We live in a fabulous city and state in Denver Co. We are at the heart of start up central. It’s not geography as much as a mind set. We just had a city backed week long program for startups that was beyond successful. It’s in there!
–Over 55 crowd accounts for some 20% of all business startups. There are over 5 million selfemployed over 55