Saturday News Chum: Retirees, Dues, Ethnic Markets, Death, and More

userpic=observationsIt’s Saturday, and that means it is time to clear out the links. I’m doing it a little earlier than usual today, as I’ve got a Bat Mitzvah service at 9 AM and the party afterwards that will take up much of the day:

  • What is this word, “Retirement?”. This article is here because it has some interesting things to say about my place of employment. It is about “boomerang” workers: people who retire, and then come back to the company to continue working on a part-time basis. This is something vitally important at the ranch: we depend on the corporate memory and deep skills of these workers; newbies don’t often break the depth of experience and familiarity with lessons learned required. I should note that the ranch was also ancillarily (if that’s a work) related to another article in the news: an article about a firebombing in Manhattan Beach. The mom in that family is our general counsel. I am appalled that in this day and age incidents like this happen; I am grateful that her family is safe.
  • Doing Away with Dues. One big distinction between synagogues and churches has always been how they are funded. Churches are truly faith based: they rely on big donors and “pass the plate” weekly — there are no membership dues. Synagogues have traditionally been dues based, which resulted in their being treated as fee for service. A few congregations are experimenting with doing away with that, and moving to a “pay what you want model”. It is unknown whether it will work — we’re in our second year of trying it with our men’s organization at TAS. This builds on the earlier question of what synagogues can learn from megachurches.
  • Mexican Markets. Alas, the secret is out. Shopping at ethnic markets is where it is at. Here’s an interesting article looking at the 5 things you learn shopping at Mexican markets. I’ll say that they are true — I regularly like to shop at the two Asian markets near us, and we love to get our tea at some of the Russian and Armenian markets. We rarely shop at the majors (SuperValu == Vons == Safeway == Albertsons, Kroger == Ralphs) anymore.
  • Restaurants and Death. Here’s an article that I found interesting: What happens when a restaurant dies? I’ve never quite understood the restaurant business: how you estimate food, how you deal with the waste, how you optimize cooking times, and such. This article explores what happens when a restaurant closes: the impact on employees, where all the equipment goes, where all the food goes.
  • Guys and Dolls 2. If you recall, when I posted on the Colony season, I mentioned they were doing a new Frank Loesser musical based on the Damon Runyon stories. Here are more details on that show courtesy of Playbill. It’s not quite a sequel; it is set in the same universe but uses other short stories by Runyon in a series of scenes. It also recycles other Loesser music as well as songs cut from Guys and Dolls.
  • Losing Weight. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been struggling with weight. Although I don’t formally diet, I try to stay away from junk. I try to exercise, but time often doesn’t permit it; plus when I do, I don’t see much loss. As you get older, the weight gain is stubborn. Here’s an interesting article about a new pill under development. It tricks your body into thinking you’ve eaten, and thus adjust your metabolism to burn the bad fat and transform it into the good kind. It will be interesting to see if this pans out in studies.
  • iPod Alternatives Update. Just a quickie one here. The Pono Player is out. The opinion on it is meh. The reality is that most people are satisfied with MP3s and can’t hear the difference. I’m more concerned about the criticisms of the Pono’s form factor and interface. After all, the Pono allows one to go up to 192GB of storage.  I’m not sure it is worth the interface problems. Please, Apple, please: come out with an iPod Touch or equivalent with significant storage or support for microSD memory cards. You’ll get back the iPod Classic market if you have that Touch with 256GB.
  • Anthem Hack. I’ve been watching the news on this with interest, primarily because I’m an Anthem subscriber. As with any of these hacks, there’s not much I can do about it other than watch and wait — how corporations protect our data is often beyond our control. I did note a couple of articles of interest. The first provides a bit more detail, and demonstrates how this was a targeted attack against Anthem. I’m sure there was social engineering involved as well. These are the hardest types of attacks to prevent. I think a big fallout of this will be calls to encrypt the data at rest, forgetting the fact that you have to decrypt the data if you are going to operate on it, and it is at this point that data is vulnerable. The second attempts to say how to protect yourself, but IMHO gets much wrong: Anthem has indicated they didn’t go after medical data, meaning they didn’t go after website accounts or patient records or stuff like that. The advice that she gives are generally useful and good to do; they are just unrelated to Anthem. Her first advice is most useful — enacting a credit freeze. However, if you do it now you have to pay for it. Anthem is determining who was affected, and if you were, they will pay for the monitoring and freeze. I’d rather let them pay for it (as long as they don’t raise rates to cover it, but I’ve got a feeling that they have insurance in place to cover it).