Dragon's Phoenix
Reflections that rise from the ashes


I love to read. My weekend errands start with a drive to a nearby bookstore, browsing the latest releases. Even in my extensive travels across the entire United States, the Far East and more, I’ve always located a bookstore and browsed to my heart’s content. At one time, paperback novels were priced around $5.99. Then they crept up to $7.49. Recently the big boy sized paperback appeared, carrying a price tag of $10 and change up to $12. The same thinking that carried over from $4.99 twelve inch record albums to CD’s. Does it really cost upwards of $13 to $20 each to produce a collection of music, mostly songs you play once and never add to rotation again? Cable hasn’t learned that lesson either. Subscribers are dropping each day, seeking alternatives that suit their preferences, not what is being forced upon them.

I didn’t mind $7 novels, but the print price has now reached the most expensive ebook novels. Armed with an iPad, MacBook Air, and if need be, an iPhone, there are more than enough software choices allowing me to transport a digital novel in a method of saving physical space. Can you say iBooks? Kindle for Mac/iPad/iPhone? Another advantage, saving and retrieving purchases through the cloud. Before the fear of technology bewilders you, claiming the unstableness of the cloud, that was the same argument I heard when I decided to cut the land line in the mid ’90’s and roll with a cell phone. ‘What about emergencies when the cell can’t make a call?’ Anyone still hear that excuse? The iPhone 4S broke sales records for a reason. (What? No iPhone 5? Waaah! Get over it.)

Another reason for the switch – why should I defer instant gratification, waiting up to a year for a paperback, when I can immediately download and enjoy a digital novel now, especially when the prices are about equal, or the digital edition is less expensive? Thank you, Barry Eisler. Add to the fact authors are reaping the financial benefits of the digital ebook route, compared to the huge bite print publishers demand. As an up and coming ebook author in 2012, I would prefer to have greater control over how and when my content is released, as well as price point and percentage of royalties. Plus the eternal ebook sales compared to  the life cycle of novels all the way down to out of print novels no longer in stock.

The advantages of the digital novel are far reaching, for the author and the reader.

Goodbye paperback novels, hello digital ebooks.

I am a convert.


Thankfully, it’s finally happened. Apple has finally revealed its next lineup of IOS software and Apple hardware, namely the iPhone 4S. And now that it’s over, the whining and complaining about the lack of an iPhone 5 has begun. But whose lap does that fault fall into? Is it Apple’s fault because they came out with a faster processor, more memory storage, a hands-free assistant by the name of Siri, higher video capabilities and other feature sets? Or should blame be placed squarely where it really belongs, at the so-called in the know writers, bloggers, tech pundits and others who supposedly had their ear to the ground and inside sources who told us the next revelation of iPhone had stellar capabilities including the cure of all communicable diseases and the ability to seek out new life and new civilizations.

It reached the level where I stopped reading about the different screen sizes and thinner shape of the next iPhone. I tired about reading what the phone was going to do. About the home button that was going to stretch across the width of the phone. About how the phone was going to attend work for us while we spent each day in perpetual weekend mode.

And now that all has been revealed, individuals who falsely raise their own hopes now complain the day after about how they were let down. Why not question those who imparted the false information. This is clearly one case where the messengers need to be shot, not the source. Gossip and rumors clearly hold their own position, which is far from the truth. If there is anything to be taken from this, journalism isn’t what it used to be. If it isn’t sexy or sensationalism, it doesn’t sell. The truth is flat, boring, and doesn’t raise expectations. For many, the truth can stare you right in the face and you refuse to accept it. Surely, there must be some other explanation.

Well, get used to it. Unless your information comes straight from the source, accept it with doubt and uncertainty. Instead of complaining about what you didn’t receive, look at the new feature sets and functionality that’s being given to you. The new cloud and streaming capabilities alone are worth their weight in gold. Stop being pessimistic, take what you are receiving and run with it.

It’s a lot more than what you had before.


Now that the air has become a bit cooler, even in parts of Florida, and Columbus Day is approaching, the final day of reckoning has arrived. Netflix finally carried out their agenda and raised their price structure!!

Heavens!! Where’s Anderson Cooper when you need him??

I do not need remind anyone of the singular point concerning the 60% increase, calculated only in the area where Netflix has split their DVD and streaming capabilities into separate entities. Thank God we have the media to beat us over the head in case our short attention spans wander. Everyone acts as if it was an increase across the board, choosing to stress that one instance to make it sound like the arrival of Fifth Sign of the Apocalypse. Still waiting for that dark horse of video vengeance to descend with a fiery purpose.

Reading the comments following an Internet article comes across as comical at best. One posted comment mentioned the economy and how everyone is already paying more for gas, groceries, utility rates, insurance (now that’s a rip off). How dare Netflix take advantage of the working class already stretched to the brink and beyond.

Another mentioned the Japanese way of sacrificing profit, working longer hours, the ‘all for one, one for all’ Musketeers mentality in order to create quality cheap products. It reminded me of Animal House, where Tim Matheson, in a latch ditch effort to save the frat house, mentioned the determination of the masses when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

The comment vitriol continued ad nauseam, with everyone providing their stance about the greed of Netflix. Mankind foregoing their differences, banding together to chase the four headed monstrosity out of the village, lest the pillaging and destruction continues unabated.

I did notice one thing. In the sampling of comments, only a very small number of astute individuals mentioned the studios who are asking for exorbitant fees and increases to lease their content. Starz, Sony, we see you. If you want to get mad at someone, get mad at them.

While the public venom continues, ask yourself how much people pay for satellite, only to have their reception disappear when it rains? $1500 to $2000 a year or more? How would you feel if your car failed every single time it rained? (don’t live in Florida or Seattle?)

How about cable. Hundreds of channels no one watches or cares about, the same movies that are continuously run until you can recite every line of every character, including the ending credits, only for the viewer to watch less than eight of those channels, and that includes local channels and the premium services. How much a year? When I had cable, my yearly cost was $1020, and that was extended basic cable only. Imagine how much you spend with the added cost of the premium channels, the Sunday NFL ticket, monthly DVR fees, taxes  and other fees and extras.

My Netflix subscription only increased $4. That’s right. Nowhere near the 60% that is continually hammered into everyone’s conscience. See what happens when a single particular instance coupled with math is used in a dangerous fashion? It’s grab the torches and pitchforks time!! By the way, if you rent movies and never watch them, that’s a ‘you’ problem.

Let’s look at some other creature comforts, otherwise known as vices. (didn’t The Doobie Brothers once mention what was once vices have now become habits?)

A carton of cigarettes costs upwards of $50 to $52. A pack to a pack or more a day smoker can kill that in a week. That’s an expenditure of over $2500 a year for a reward of declining health and an anchor on our health care system. Two packs a day? How much are you spending? Stop it, you’re killing me. Let’s move towards alcohol consumption. We won’t even include the cost of driving while intoxicated, leading to the financial and emotional loss due to a fatal accident. How much are watered down night club drinks these days? Let’s say a weekend of personal debauchery costs on average $75 (gas, cover charge, alcohol, tips, other recreational stimulants, junk food consumed, and I’m low-balling the money spent). We’re looking at a yearly cost of close to $4000.

And you’re bitching because you have to pay a separate $8 per month for door to door DVD’s and at-once streaming. Your ass doesn’t have to leave the couch. One movie at your local theatre without the concessions will set you back that much, per person. And you still have to drive your vehicle, and maybe pay for a baby sitter. Or pay for your date, who you know became hungry AND thirsty while walking from the car to the theatre entrance. (didn’t they just eat 30 minutes ago?)

It’s called perspective, people. Step back from the ledge. (How much do you pay for bottled water that arrives from the tap for free?) So thousands of people are fleeing Netflix to protest a rate increase, knowing they spend twice that much on a daily basis on items that decrease their health, add nothing to their forward motion in life, or purchase items for no other reason than someone else has one and they don’t want to be left behind.

Shouldn’t you become mad at yourself?



I came across this unfortunate piece and couldn’t help but think how this could have been avoided –



As a motorcycle rider, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Years ago, a friend of mine was riding his cycle on a clear, sunny day, when the driver of a car was in too much of a hurry to wait a few seconds, cut him off, and he took a very nasty spill onto the street. His arms covered with some pretty ugly scars, he also showed me his helmet. If it wasn’t for the protection, it would have been his head missing a significant part, from the trauma of scraping the pavement. To see the extensive damage on the helmet was all you needed, to know wearing one is a good thing. And smart.

Another incident I remember involved a woman who left a bar after a night of drinking, mounted her Harley and proceeded to drive straight into an oak tree. Without the benefit of a helmet. I remember her friends commenting, ‘She died doing what she loved best’. WTF?? As what, a guided missile against the proliferation of strong, solid, hundred year old trees?

There’s having principles, and there is being an idiot. By all means, hold onto principles when it means doing the right thing. Dying needlessly over something that could have been mitigated isn’t something to be proud of. There are enough people whining about motorcycles being dangerous, when they are the ones making it dangerous with their piss poor driving skills. They always seem to ignore the statistics citing the number of deaths due to cars or drinking and driving. Don’t give them more ammunition by not practicing safe cycle riding.

Wear a helmet, protective clothing, and use your brain cells to think of better ways of living. Don’t use them to clean a patch of road. It never ends well.


We live in an age where we are bombarded with events and circumstances that usurp our time, energy and resources. Working hours are extended, multitasking has become a staple in our lexicon, and somewhere we try to squeeze in family time, which shrinks by the day. Then there are the time stealers – other people who don’t have anything better to do, interruptions that add nothing constructive to our lives, and the constant influx of information, good or bad.

So it is a welcome relief when time is on your side. No fires to put out, no crises to resolve. A moment in life where you can actually plan and resume activities long put on hold. And no pressure to get a small slice when you can have it all. Time to be treasured and appreciated.

Of course it could be the calm before the storm. If so, take advantage while the opportunity is hot. Regret and recrimination already exist in great numbers. Why add to their numbers?


Read an article today that seemed to start with the virtues of the jump rope, and thought the article had hope. By the end of the article, it came across as if its only positive utilization was a substitute clothes line. And I should have expected that, coming from a writer who probably has never tried the sport made famous by little girls everywhere.


The writer brought up a quote about turning the rope at 150 revolutions a minute, which isn’t a difficult feat, as if someone was tasked with curing cancer and the common cold in one shot. Fitness expert Eric Cressey (whom I admire and frequently read his articles) mentioned strength training as a fine method of fat loss, strength development and mobility. All fine points. I was hoping the writer would encapsulate and summarize the article with – perform both activities! Instead, the article took a slant of joint damage and the disadvantages of the jump rope. Of course, the reader comments afterwards portrayed the jump rope as being the most evil invention created since the discovery of fire.

Boxers have used the jump rope extensively in their training without damage or complaint. Their primary concern is the pain caused from getting the snot beat out of them in the ring. Little girls jump rope, (or used to) and never complain about needing to suddenly visit a chiropractor. As someone who does jump 155 – 160 revolutions a minute, I can attest jumping rope is far less damaging to the lower back and joints than the treadmill. Yet health clubs everywhere are loaded with them, and are advocated by every club and trainer who has the ability to put their clients on one and leave them unattended while said trainer blathers away on the cell phone. (Yes, it has been witnessed a number of times. Twice I watched different clients fall off the treadmill while the trainer was gabbing with someone on the phone as if it was imperative satellites were immediately re-tasked overhead to their desires. The one client that fell off a Swiss ball after attempting some balancing act on their knees with dumbbells overhead, I don’t even want to discuss.)

Jumping rope isn’t the issue, and shouldn’t be. It is the proper tutelege and use of a jump rope that should be stressed. Watch a boxer. Or someone who fluidly jumps without effort. Poetry in motion. Feet barely leave the ground, body relaxed. A pleasure to observe. Most individuals leap high enough over a jump rope to clear three foot hurdles. Just watching that performance hurts. Any activity performed incorrectly brings about damage with very little rewards. Great benefits and positive results can be derived, as long as the proper instruction is provided first. Read Buddy Lee’s book, Jump Rope Training. World class athletes have utilized the jump rope for conditioning, timing, coordination and other benefits that improved their performances. If jumping rope was so vile, would boxers or elite athletes continue to utilize them extensively and praise its benefits? Don’t be so quick to vilify something because you don’t have the necessary skills to achieve a level of utilization. The ‘I can’t do it so it must be bad’ is a cop out.

Since we are talking about proper instruction, the directions and manuals that arrive with any purchased item? They accompany the item for a reason. Don’t blame the manufacturer or the item because you haven’t taken the time to read the booklet beforehand. I’m looking at you, John. Get over it. It’s a ‘you’ problem.

Scanning my junk mail bin for emails that were mistakenly flagged as bad, I came across a first for me. An email with a nice, neat 3D depiction of a sheet of a clean sheet of stationary paper, and the grey Apple logo strategically placed in the upper right hand corner, informed me my billing info was somehow out of date. (Oh, no!) It continued to explain failure to update said data would bring about termination of my account. (Horrors!!)

But – the sender of the email was so kind and thoughtful to include a link, that I may click and provide confirmation of all my personal and private data. (Thanks. I would never have located the Apple resource on my own.) Of course, this critical missive was supposed to come from Apple’s Customer Support.

While another less astute individual might have followed the directions to the letter, lest they miss out on the latest MP3 downloads, or a bypassed episode of ‘Glee’, I chose to hover the mouse pointer over the sender’s address, which clearly stated ‘Apple’, (one word only, like Madonna, Slash, Sting . . . cheeseburger) yet the popup box read a personal email address from ptd.net. WTF?? A day after Apple was named the world’s most valuable brand, surpassing Google, they decide to utilize an Internet email service located in Northeast Pennsylvania? The gang in Cupertino suddenly having email server issues?

At least the email was original in design, proper diction and wording. Graphics were understated and minimal. The pacing of the text was good, and did its best to come across as professional. It didn’t inform me Bill Gates chose me out of millions of individuals to reward me the Microsoft lottery (only Steve Ballmer has that power). And at long last, a couple other emails discovered the time to spell ‘Rolex’ with one ‘l’ instead of three. (You want me to take you seriously, use spell checker. Think about it.) The emails I’ve recently received from Amazone? You’re not fooling anyone. Stop it. You’re making email look bad in front of the Post Office.


Lately the cost of cable TV has frosted my Cheerios. There are about five shows I give my undivided attention, a total of ten through the year, with FX rotating a couple I enjoy (Justified, Sons of Anarchy) and USA (Burn Notice, In Plain Sight). Not to mention my cable provider doesn’t broadcast USA in HD. (Why are we charged extra for HD? Imagine being charged more for color over black and white.) I’m not one for staying up late to watch anything, preferring to record and view at my leisure the next day during a peaceful dinner.

I’m not a local news person. From the east coast to the west, it’s all the same. There’s the teasers, delivered with such weighty gravity to scare you into sacrificing sleep in order not to miss the expansion of their chilling message  – ‘Is the color of your car affecting your breathing? We have the scoop, at eleven! Are your feminine hygiene products responsible for attracting South American locusts? Find out . . . at eleven!’ Do I need to sit thru 35 minutes of negative late night blathering and flapdoodle delivered from plastic smiles, forced laughter and bad humor, ending with a story supposed to uplift us, about ‘Hazel, 149 years young, who tends to her garden everyday. Let’s watch.’  No wonder the average American consume on average nine to twelve prescriptions a day. They are tired and depressed from the constant barrage of late night sad woe. When I need to find out what’s going in the world, RSS feeds are the preferred medium. My choice of what to read at my convenience.

SportsCenter is pretty much one hour of original content and twenty three hours of re-runs. The three major sports leagues (OK, and hockey) become interesting only during playoff time. Really not attached to football where I have to watch a 3-10 team against a 2-11 team because I need my pigskin fix. If there is a game I desire to watch, I can view it online, or watch the event while I enjoy a plate of wings or couple slices of pizza at a sports bar or pizza shop.

So why am I paying $75 with fees on top of that each and every month for a sum greater than 400 channels, of only four or an occasional fifth I care to view? Twice I tried to ask for one channel out of a range of 200 I wanted to cancel, and charge me for that one. I am more than certain that became water cooler fodder, good for a few laughs at the company’s regular ‘who had the most ridiculous customer service call’ pep talk. When I called to cancel the service this week, I was asked why I was canceling. Of course I responded with the price point of cost versus actual usage. And if I paid only for the channels I desired, I would retain their services. Of course she responded with, ‘We can’t provide individual channels, we sell packages.’ (Translation: Heavens! We can’t allow customers to have what they want. Think of the freedom of choice and bad precedent that would immediately pervade the industry!! We would have our cable man-card revoked!)

That’s OK. Armed with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Roku, Hulu, Apple TV and all of the options and capabilities they present, I can have my a la carte cake and eat it too, with a huge smile on my face. Movies, shows and web content of my choosing.

And $1000 per year saved in my pocket.


Sometimes you can lead a horse to water. Other times, the horse is going to roam the plains against your will. You need to know when you are wasting time against a lost cause.

Once again I have learned my lesson. Being nice ends up in one of two categories. Either the receiver of my gentle and guiding kindness wastes my best efforts and time, or they suddenly latch onto me 24/7 and believe I have become their savior in everything within their lives. These are the moments I remember how I should have handled the situation – charge them!

Ah. Financial remuneration. The great divider between the serious, and others who drain you emotionally every chance they can.

I remember once reading someone else’s opinion about another personal trainer who should dispense free advice and assistance, in order to spread the knowledge and perhaps attain future business. I’ve always been the type of person to assist freely whenever possible, no matter how much of a detriment it may personally cause to me. I am now here to tell you those days are waning. Quickly.

Lending assistance to someone who wants to participate in an upcoming multi-day walkathon, I was glad to impart ideas of nutrition, training and other preparation issues to become acclimated to the event, pre and post. All of this for no cost.

Let the excuses begin.

“I don’t have time, it’s too hard, I don’t want to do this or that . . .” Every reason under the sun except “I have to prepare for December 12, 2012, it’s so close and I’m not ready!!” To their credit, they did purchase a resistance band to perform bicep and tricep movements because they want to lose the extra fat on their thighs. True. Word for word. I am not making this up.

The last time I heard the ‘no time and so busy’ exclamation, my rapier retort was, “Get up earlier.”

You could hear the crickets in the background. Imagine our military troops refusing to arise early because it may upset their chi. Truck drivers on strike because they can’t sleep in and roll out of slumber at noon or noon thirty.

Then, there’s the other direction. The ones who suddenly forgot how to rub two brain cells together and solve their own crisis. Expect a phone call whenever there is a cell provider available who can deliver their call. Expect to be interrupted the very moment your ass hits the chair, dinner piping hot, steam rising, fork in mid raise towards your awaiting lips. Watching a movie? Not today. Catching up on sleep? Maybe next week. Don’t bet the farm on it. At work? Suddenly their dilemma is much more important than your earning a wage.

How does their conversation begin?

What ‘cha doin?

Busy. You called for a reason. Get to the point. If I wanted to provide great detail of my activities, I’d make a request for Twitter API’s to allow for tweets as long as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and post them.

I want to know what ‘cha doin?

And it is never something as deep as inter-dimensional physics, and you are the only individual on the entire planet who can resolve the enigma. No, my friend, their personal brain twister lies in the area of “my computer says it needs to reboot” or “The batteries in my mouse are dying. What should I do?” The latest favorite? “There’s a job opening available at XYZ company. What does this mean?”

Once, very late at night, a request so ridiculous came across, the smartass in me took over (you wake me up, I am entitled to be a smartass) and I had to ask, “Why? Did Larry and Sergey take Google down for the day?” I went far over their heads with that one.

From now on, I charge for my personal training and informational services. Non-negotiable. Those who are serious, step forward, cash only. My time is valuable. Everyone else, Google wasn’t made for porn searches only. Start using it.


I can always see it coming before it arrives. Someone will always ask why I consume a 32oz bottle of water every day. And go back for a couple refills by the end of the day.

One, because I can. Two, it’s good for me. The the next part comes from the dim witted participant in the conversation, who proceeds to exclaim in the best whine they can muster – “I can’t stand the taste of water.” Meanwhile, they have supported the soda industry to the point they should be attending the shareholder’s meetings of Coke and Pepsi until the end of time. Secretly, they own key rings, T-shirts, caps, gym bags (like that visit ever occurs), and other swag  as a token of thanks for keeping the beverage manufacturers in levels of sustained profitability and a lifetime seat on the Stock Exchange.

Why would you put inferior fuel in a Ferrari F430 Spyder? You are only asking for trouble down the road. Think of your body as the same well oiled, finely tuned instrument it was at birth. Amazing how, over time, we neglect the polish, the tune-ups, the maintenance, and then complain when it’s time to pay the bill. “I don’t know how this could have happened, Doc. I’m eating from the four basic food groups. Beer, cigarettes, soda, and anything with ingredients that came from a chemistry set.” Really?


Next time you feel like crap, think about your last pit stop and fuel intake. You might find a few answers. OK, several. OK, a lot.

I’d write more, but my water bottle needs refilling.


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