Test, test, test

As our kids and friends come back and forth from the city to the beach, the protocol is simple, get a COVID-19 test and get the results before you come out. That is how it should be across the country. Not only should we all be able to get a test with ease, for a minimal cost, but we should also be able to get the results immediately.

This is not the case. Some people took a test over a week ago, locked themselves in waiting for the results from CityMD, and are still waiting. Others took the test from Urgent Care, the CityMD for Mt Sinai patients, and go their results in over 48 hours. Mt. Sinai’s customers pay an annual fee and CityMD is walk-in.

Long Island City’s Profundo pool and lounge, part of Ravel Hotel’s outdoor area has on-site testing. The hotel partnered with Vestibular Diagnostics to provide 5 Abbott Lab machines that process rapid-response tests. If you are good to go, you are let into the pool party going on. One waits for their results, properly spaced apart in the 10,000 square foot ballroom currently not being used. It cost $35 with insurance and $50 without it so you can think of it as the price for admission. You can get the antibody test too if you are curious.

We have to wonder how NY City’s medical testing facilities were so overwhelmed for the July 4th weekend that they were incapable of getting results back to people in less than 48 hours. Guarantee that disrupted many people’s plans including some of our own guests who couldn’t come out because they didn’t get their results in time.

Who is managing this mess? Why so unprepared? Why can’t all of these facilities get Abbott Lab machines? How do restaurants get those machines? Theaters? Concerts? Events? What is the cost?

Where is the Federal mandate putting capital behind this? If they are so concerned about getting the economy back on track then why aren’t they getting more testing for everyone on a constant basis?

Truth is I know all the answers why. It is just another addition to the anger and frustration I have with the Government at hand, the way so many businesses operate, how hospitals are under-equipped, and how fucked up our healthcare system is. I don’t need to go on. You get the point.

Missing Hugs

We are seeing people in different ways. We trust that they have been locked down and smart about navigating society. We can have dinner together at one of our homes, outside. We still don’t hug and kiss hello. I miss hugs and kisses.

I saw these gifs on my weekly email from California Sunday Magazine. It is one of the things I miss most. There is this awkwardness to start the convo when you see each other. Kissing and hugging or even shaking hands connects us before we start to talk, hang, or eat. That human touch is so important.

Creative Projects

I loved a good craft project as far back as I can remember. I was about 13 when I took home economics and made a dress. I actually wore it to school (just once) even though it was far from perfect. I have never been one for exactness but have got a bit better with age.

During that year I figured since I know knew how to sew that I should try my hand at other crafts. I taught myself to knit, crochet, needlepoint, rug pull, and embroider. Unclear how I did that considering YouTube didn’t exist. Each of these now obvious hidden talents had a project around them. None of them except the embroidered rainbow on the pocket of my favorite pair of cutoff jeans ever made it out of my bedroom.

Fast forward to my time home with two kids and then three, I returned to the crafts. It kept my mind semi-focused on something while I could focus on other things. We had no cash and I wanted to create bedrooms for the kids that felt warm, cozy, and their own so I took it on myself to decorate them. I made a twin-sized comforter made out of bandanas. I actually had to wash them, iron them, make the fabric by sewing them all together, and then cut into the pattern. It was quite the project. I also made decoupage tissue boxes, sewed curtains, painted furniture, made stencils from a fun animal book, and painted them on the kid’s bathroom wall. This doesn’t even include the amount of pickling and jelly making I did. Then I returned to the work world and my projects were put on hold.

At one point about 12 years ago I decided I should knit a blanket. I cut off way more than I could chew and the project is still in a box. Then COVID-19 showed up. I am spending time thinking about how I want my career life to look so projects just seemed like the natural addition to my day. You can only read so many books.

It has been a fascinating dive into the web as well. I have learned everything on YouTube. The videos and websites are endless. There are a bunch of stars in that world too who are building their sites, users, and status in the yarn world. My next project is an attempt to return to the sewing machine and make a quilt. I am excited to see the people, the websites, the tutorials that come out of the quilting world. It’s a whole different world.

An education in creative projects from bottom up.

New York, New York

The longer I am out of NYC the more I crave it. The more I read about the protests, the changes coming from restaurants to the opening of the streets, and changing of the liquor licenses so you can walk around, the more I crave it. I have a burning desire to bear witness to what is happening on the ground.

We have been out East since May 1. We are finally at the finish line of renovating our apartment and have nowhere right now to lie our heads so I will be watching from a far and living vicariously through our children and others who are there.

NYC is the epicenter of creativity, entrepreneurial spirits and hard working people who feel as lucky as I do to live there. Finally city streets are being closed to create that European vibe. The streets feel communal. People hanging out, having a drink, spread out and waiting for a table. Just seeing other humans out and about and feeling safe is a huge bonus. We should keep this for ever. The law should remain. It is transforming the city.

Just as we are seeing an onslaught of new faces and voices coming into New York politics (and the country) at light speed, we are getting the same shift in the restaurant hospitality world. It was time. We need that scrappiness back into our lives. Young chefs and restaurant owners with the edge and not as much cash are creating new ways to survive in the industry they know and love.

If you aren’t paying attention to what is happening in every city including the country, then you are going to wake up in a year and realize the next generation has taken over. What is happening now isn’t war, thank god, but it is a massive turning point. I am applauding the changes taking place. Old isn’t working anymore.

Calling all Investors

I am thrilled to see VCs come out and commit to putting capital behind women and Black entrepreneurs.  We can all hang our hats on this and champion change.  But here’s the thing.  Why do they need to create a separate fund for that?  Why aren’t they each making a conscious decision in their own funds to back women, Black, Brown, and Latino founders?   Why can’t they just look harder to find the founders who fit their thesis that are strong entrepreneurs with smart businesses?  Why does it have to be separate?

Many female VCs got on to the bandwagon of supporting women when the #MeToo movement became front and center.  Why weren’t they championing their funds to support these women in the first place?  Words are bullshit action is real.  We don’t need to read about everyone’s new actions on Twitter high-fiving each other when the work should have been being done all along. 

We are seeing the same thing again with Black Lives Matter.  Certainly, there will be new funds with new faces launching funds dedicated to Black founders just like we saw for Female founders but why are staid firms creating separate funds to show their commitments when they have millions under management?  

All institutional investors should be making a commitment on the funds they already have. Commit to putting a certain percentage of the fund to invest in females, Black, Brown, and Latino founders.  It isn’t that hard. They are out there. They might not be sitting at your front door so dig deeper. Many don’t feel so comfortable knocking on your door.

I didn’t see many women or Black investors making an all-out effort to write checks to women or Black founders until it became a front-page issue.  That has been the problem all along.  Every female and Black person I know is happy to see the separate capital and the organizations being built to highlight the need to change but come on.  They all want to be part of the regular everyday investments because they are sharp founders not because of their gender or skin color.  

VCs need to take a look at their funds where millions and sometimes billions of dollars have been raised and put a stake in the ground on the firms’ thesis that they will be active in finding those founders and make sure that a certain percentage of their funds capital will go to those founders and that includes LP’s expecting this commitment too.

In the end, it is the returns on those founders that will prove that diversity works. For what it is worth, the data is already there.

Learning and Listening

Life goes on even when everything goes upside down.

We are beginning to move forward into new phases of the virus wondering what is the new normal. I ran a bunch of errands yesterday donned in my mask of the moment and every time I do that I think how strange this all is.

Last night we social distanced with friends and talked about the times. It is the constant topic of the moment. We all hope that we will look back at this time as the point where everything changed. That our country began to go down a new path, one that makes amends for our history.

How do you change a history of racism and hate particularly when it comes to the foundations of how the police department was built. We need strong Government leadership across the board to make budget changes, to set expectations, and to toss the bad players out and send others to jail. We all need to go out and vote to get the people we believe can make those changes into office. Pressure for change must continue. Education on these issues must continue. Our history is just not that pretty but it is built on top of laws and a Government and through that is how change is made. We are at a seminal turning point and there is no going back. People want change.

In our companies, we can make diversity a priority. Diversity from the bottom up. That means every single company in this country including the boards that have fiduciary responsibilities must make those changes now. One change makes a difference and over time it all adds up.

What is important now more than ever is to learn and listen. Being in lockdown with our families has been amazing and also stressful. As my brother put it, we are all living through this time very much alone yet together. Each of us has our anxieties and thoughts about what is happening yet we are all living under one roof together. We have learned to more respectful of each other’s feelings and listen more. I know I am working on that myself.

We all must rise together.

Lemon Cake

Lemon cake is so good. This recipe is from Ina Garten. What I love about her recipes is nothing is too complicated just simple eating which is how I like to roll.

I made this in a pan that I bought years ago. You can use one 8×8 pan or two bread loafs.

Preheat the oven to 350.

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (it is about 8 lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (use the lemons from the zest)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (Ina also doesn’t skimp)
  • 6 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (play around with this it could be more or less but the glaze should be thin enough to pour but thick enough to stick)

Cream the butter and the sugar with an electric mixture until light and fluffy. Then add one egg at a time and the lemon zest.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl (I use a whisk). In another bowl combine 3/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. I realized that it was supposed to be 1/4 cup but I used the whole amount and it really works. Add the flour and buttermilk mixture alternately to the batter ending with the flour.

Pour into the pan of choice and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Mine was 55 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Let cool

When the cakes are completely cooled spoon the syrup over the top. Then whisk together the glaze until smooth and pour over the top and let the glaze drizzle down the sides.

The recipe used up about 12 lemons so have plenty on hand.

Serve with a little whipped cream and fruits or just solo. Delicious!

Nod to Baldor

Baldor is a family-owned business that began in 1918 with a pushcart. In 1946 the founder, Louis, opened Balducci’s in the west village. Louis and his wife had two children, Andy and Grace. Grace married their friend Joe. Andy and Joe created Baldor, a wholesale division. In 1991, Andy’s son-in-law Kevin separated Baldor from Balducci’s as a stand-alone importer and distributor of foods throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic from hotels to restaurants to hospitals to country clubs. Kevin’s son, T.J. is now the CEO of Baldor. Impressive family history of course dating back to Louis coming to America from Italy to find his fame and fortune.

In mid-March when we all began lockdown mode, Baldor began delivering to customers. At the beginning their site was torture. It was reminiscent of the dial-up internet of the early 90’s. It could take hours to place an hour and most of the products came in bulk. Good for a big group but tough for a family.

I am so impressed with how quickly they changed. Their home delivery program is excellent and so is their website. Over a period of less than three months they evolved into the ability to order food to your house pretty much every day of the week. You can edit your cart up until the night before your scheduled delivery. There is a minimum but it is not hard to get there. Their selection is fantastic from vegetables to olive oil to meats to local farm products. Once in awhile we have slipped up and ordered an entire box of cabbage but you live and learn and make a lot of cole slaw.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a company shift so quickly based on the world around them. They got the site moving effortlessly and are delivering everywhere every day. I am so impressed with Baldor and am now a customer for life. A huge nod to Baldor.

Playing with a New Audience

I love this picture. I read about this on Axios this morning. I might have to watch and listen this morning.

In Barcelona, Spain, this string quartet is rehearsing at the Gran Teatre del Liceu for the first concert since the lockdown.

  • Instead of people, the UceLi Quartet played Giacomo Puccini’s I Crisantemi (Chrysanthemums) for 2,292 plants.
  • The concert also livestreamed for humans to watch, AP reports.

Spanish artist Eugenio Ampudia said he was inspired by nature during the pandemic: “I heard many more birds singing. And the plants in my garden and outside growing faster. And, without a doubt, I thought that maybe I could now relate in a much intimate way with people and nature.”

  • At the end of the eight-minute concert, the sound of leaves and branches blowing in the wind resonated throughout the opera house like applause.

Where Are We Going?

There is so much change going on that it is hard to pinpoint where we are going? One thing is for sure, we are chartering new territories.

COVID-19 has pushed us all back on our feet and the numbers continue to rise, fall, and remain stable on different days in different locations around the country. New information comes out daily that confirms a lot is not really known about the virus or when it truly began. What is Phase 2, 3 and 4 going to look like? Bottom line, wear a mask.

Trump’s rally was a total bust. Trump fired Geoffrey Berman, a US State Attorney who appears to be uncovering information about the Trump family and his allies. Eventually, it will all come out but sitting on the sidelines watching is painful and makes me angry. Trump might think he is a dictator but that is not how our country works.

The protests continue forcing all politicians to rethink their policies. The people are speaking up loud and clear.

Facebook’s reaction to managing the lies on their platform just confirms how tone-deaf they are. Northface pulled all its ads from Facebook. Who is next?

NIH pulled the plug on hydroxychloroquine as a product that does not help people with COVID-19. It is Trump’s friend who owns that company which is why he touted it. How much money did that cost the taxpayers as NIH went through the process?

June 19th is finally acknowledged as a holiday that has been celebrated by the black community for decades.

Bolton’s book just shows how little has been uncovered and looked at during the impeachment process or perhaps Barr has just kept it under wraps. Regardless, very frightening on how things are being run on multiple levels.

Companies are announcing that voting day will be a holiday and their stores or offices will be closed. Finally.

The Senate continues to support an administration that is corrupt. More new faces are running in elections across the country and the numbers point to many of the old school politicians will be left in the dust. Change is afoot.

Healthcare for all is becoming more important as people are being hit with bills after having COVID-19 and are in need of long term care. It is time.

Consumption behavior has changed with COVID-19. Companies are not quickly returning to the office but remaining virtual. We have become a Zoom world. No camp this summer. What will education look like in the fall? There is not a solid foundation built for a quick change.

The protests and the anger all coupled with the incompetence around COVID-19 has not even peaked. There is no doubt we are living in a changing world but the bigger question is “where are we going”?