Sunday, November 26, 2023

Slightly Blackened Sunday

 If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The most commonly repeated story behind the Thanksgiving shopping-related Black Friday tradition links it to retailers. As the story goes, after an entire year of operating at a loss (“in the red”) stores would supposedly earn a profit (“went into the black”) on the day after Thanksgiving, because holiday shoppers blew so much money on discounted merchandise. Though it’s true that retail companies used to record losses in red and profits in black when doing their accounting, this version of Black Friday’s origin is the officially sanctioned—but inaccurate—story behind the tradition.

The real history behind Black Friday, however, is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only were Philly cops not able to take the day off, but they had to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters also took advantage of the bedlam in stores and made off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.

By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on in Philadelphia, to the extent that the city’s merchants and boosters tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. The term didn’t spread to the rest of the country until much later, however, and as recently as 1985 it wasn’t in common use nationwide. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the “red to black” concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit. 

The Black Friday story stuck, and pretty soon the term’s darker roots in Philadelphia were largely forgotten. Since then, the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event, and spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal.

OK, the above AI generated History Lesson of Black Friday is now over. Did you buy anything on Black Friday? Did you watch the Amazon Prime NFL Black Friday game, full of QR codes? How many Black Friday Deals have now been EXTENDED, making the sense of urgency to spend $$$ on THAT DAY and at THAT TIME moot?

What is the opposite of Black Friday?

In North America, the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden, Buy Nothing Day is held the day after U.S. Thanksgiving, concurrent with Black Friday; elsewhere, it is held the following day, which is the last Saturday in November. How about the Buy Nothing Coat Exchange: Four states, including Utah, hold winter coat exchange programs as an alternative to Black Friday shopping.

I write this Sunday Blog sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Cyber Monday is a marketing term for e-commerce transactions on the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It was created by retailers to encourage people to shop online. The term was coined by Ellen Davis of the National Retail Federation and Scott Silverman, and made its debut on November 28, 2005, in a press release entitled "'Cyber Monday' Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year". Cyber Monday takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving; the date falls between November 26 and December 2, depending on the year.

Cyber Monday has become the online equivalent to Black Friday and offers a way for smaller retail websites to compete with larger chains. Since its inception, it has become an international marketing term used by online retailers around the world.

It was not too many years ago, that my two sons would go to Best Buy on Black Friday at the crack of dawn (with my credit card) and I would say "Bring back something good!" And then, it became "We're off to Best Buy..." ON THANKSGIVING DAY, right after the Pumpkin Pie was served. 

Well, whatever "Holiday" you celebrate (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, EXTENDED BLACK FRIDAY...) my only tip to you is this: never buy the extended warranty. That's for chumps. 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Would you like fries with that 5G?

 If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

McDonald's sold its 100 millionth burger in 1958 and surpassed 400 million two years later. It hit 700 million burgers by 1962, and the billionth burger was served in 1963 on the Art Linkletter TV show.

When did McDonald's change from millions to billions?

“Over 99 Billion Sold.” That's been McDonald's line since April 1994, when it stopped updating the number. History Of The Number: Ray Kroc Began posting the number of total hamburgers sold on their signs in 1955 when Ray Kroc bought his first McDonald's franchise in Des Plaines Illinois. At that time the number on the sign was Over 1 Million Served.

McDonald's Sign Milestones

1955 - 1 million (Ray Kroc's first McDonald's opens in Illinois)

1956 - 5 million

1960 - 400 million

1963 - 1 Billion (served by Ray Kroc himself on National TV)

1969 - 5 Billion

1976 - 20 Billion

1984 - 50 Billion

1987 - 65 Billion

1990 - 80 Billion

April 15, 1994 - 100 Billion! McDonald's executives announced at the annual owner operator convention that they stopped counting hamburgers served because the count has surpassed the 99 Billion Hamburger mark so all the operators should change their signs to say "BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SERVED" and the signs have remained that way since.

Where you going with this Tom?

Today, it's estimated that McDonald's has served billions and billions of burgers, with the Wall Street Journal estimating the chain sold its 300 billionth burger around 2013. USA Today reported that the company sold roughly 75 burgers every second in 2013, or 4,500 burgers every minute. It is now believed to be triple that number, over 200 burgers every second. 

The "billions served" number became so big, that it lost its power. It went from being newsworthy, it went from making it entertaining enough to be announced on National TV, to just not even mentioning it at all. Yeah, 300 billionth in 2013, whatever. The number got so big, so fast, that it is not even worth using in marketing or in advertising. 

OK, Google: how many people are born a day?

385,000 babies.

The UN estimates that around 385,000 babies are born each day around the world (140 million a year). This number will remain relatively stable in the 50 years from 2020 to 2070. From 2070 to 2100, the number will decline to around 356,000 (130 million a year). Death is an inevitable part of life, and it occurs all around the world every day. The global number of deaths per day is around 150,000 deaths. 

Of the people who die each day across the globe, about two thirds (100,000 per day) die of age-related causes. In industrialized nations, the proportion is much higher, reaching 90%.

So, I am no math major, but it seems pretty obvious that there are way more births than deaths around the world, every day. And people are living longer. And people are reading less. Did you know that 1 in 8 adults are illiterate?

According to shocking figures from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), around 774 million people worldwide are illiterate. To many of us, these statistics may be surprising. But more than one in eight adults across the globe are unable to read and write!

Do we take literacy for granted?

What would your life be like if you couldn’t read or write? Would you have been able to get your current job? Or even any job? Living in a country where school attendance is mandatory and adult illiteracy is rare, we’ve probably never considered what our lives would be like if we couldn’t read or write.

For someone who is illiterate and living in poverty, it is extremely difficult to get a job that pays well enough to escape these living conditions. However, learning to read and write can open up job opportunities and help to get people away from poverty.

Without literacy, many people are stuck in dead end jobs which barely support them financially. These jobs offer no area for progression and only add to the levels of poverty in any given country. But, learning to read and write and thriving on the opportunities it can provide can help individuals get better jobs and earn enough money to improve their lives.

What about COMPUTER literacy? What about the world we all live in - now - with Audible books, and social media, and YouTube videos, and AI that now does the reading and the research FOR US? How long will it be before AI replaces (or partners with) our LIVE human teachers in High School, College, even in our Medical Schools? Or Engineering Schools?  

The big buzz in the world today is all about AI and how AI is going to change everything. From anywhere in the world. North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe. High Speed Wireless Internet will (one day) connect the world, truly, from anywhere - to anywhere. We are already saying how "AI is not going to take your job, but someone who has MASTERED AI will take your job." Again, from ANYWHERE in the world. 

OK, land the plane, Tom...

Just how McDonald's used to BRAG on the millions and millions (and then) billions and billions served - the number became so big, so fast, that it lost its marketing power. The number became so big, so fast, it went from being impressive to ordinary. The number became so big, it became "normal". 

Because I have super fast wireless Internet at my home, I can see on that net population growth today is 50,529. Make that 50,553. No make that 50,595.... Well, you get the point. 

I run the Distance Learning Association. Born in New York City 100 years ago (pre-Internet) we are now active with thriving chapters in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. All in less than 100 years. 

And as we watched Distance Learning morphing into DIGITAL Learning, today it's all just DIGITAL LIVING. Just like McDonald's we are quickly getting to the point where the BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of global Internet Users "served" is now so obvious, that we don't even say the actual number out loud.  

Ah yes, the number of global Internet Users is growing so big so fast, it went from being impressive to ordinary

Normal, even.

^^^ check it out ^^^
[ Snapshot at 6:54 AM EST 11/12/2023 ]

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Word of the Day

 If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

I love the Word of the Day. No matter what I am doing, no matter where I am in the world, this little "boop" into my inbox makes me pause, and stop and read. What It Means... did you ever stop to think how clean and crisp and clear such a short sentence could be?

What it means... did you already know? Was this a word that you were already familiar with - or did you just - LEARN something new?

I write this Sunday Blog in November, 2023. I've been in business since 1983, but always in and around telecom or technology. Before there was the Internet, before there was smartphones, before there was anything like Ecommerce or "the cloud" or anything remote, there was wireless. The closest thing to "remote" back then was someone carrying a beeper - there were no cellular phones until NYNEX went LIVE in the New York CGSA. Chicago was "the first" in 1983, with AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service) but the New York Metro region was the first release of commercial cellular service. And I was there, selling Car Phones in 1983.

Yes, in 1978 and 1979, AT&T tested the first major public cellular network coined AMPS. But Martin Cooper of Motorola made the first call. 

The first handheld cellular phone call was made on April 3, 1973, by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper from Sixth Avenue in New York while walking between 53rd and 54th streets. Cooper hoisted the 2 1/2-pound prototype to his ear and called a rival, Joel Engel of Bell Laboratories at AT&T, to declare that his Motorola team had devised a functional portable phone. “There was silence at the other end of the line,” Cooper recalled. “To this day, Joel doesn’t remember that call, and I’m not sure I blame him.”


In 1983 I found myself walking the streets of New York City, SELLING cellular phones and service. And now in 2023 I find myself walking the streets of New York City, selling Distance Learning. Well actually selling DIGITAL Learning. Ah, let's make that DIGITAL LIVING

In the 80s that clunky “shoe” phone (almost as big as a shoebox) allowed a user to talk for 35 minutes and required 10 hours to recharge. Motorola spent 10 years overcoming technical and regulatory hurdles, and began commercial service in 1983 using a slimmer 16-ounce model that cost between $3,500 and $4,000. Yes, the early phones were too big and expensive to suit most consumers, but they set a precedent for today’s sleek and lightweight models that have become standard equipment for just about everybody.

The ability to deliver Broadband - High Speed WIRELESS Internet to anywhere in the world has changed the world. FROM ANY TIME ZONE, from any latitude and longitude you can learn, work, play, teach, train, coach, mentor as if you are LIVING in New York City. Technically, Distance Learning has been around since the phonograph. But now, today, 5G (high speed wireless Internet) has changed the world. 

Many (many) years ago, the New York Metro Distance Learning Association ( serviced the 5 boroughs of New York City. It expanded to cover the 55M+ people living in the "New York Megalopolis" (Maine to Virginia) as Broadband Internet in the Northeast region of the USA became affordable. During COVID, it once again expanded to cover all of North America, the home of 579M+ people.  Ah, but now 5G is available anywhere in the world


There are 1.4B+ people living in Africa, and around 4.5B+ people are living in Asia. And only 742M+ living in Europe (according to Google).  Ha, only 742M+ 

Distance Learning indeed became DIGITAL Learning, but it is truly now just DIGITAL LIVING. Home, work (and school) is now "where the Wi-Fi is". And thanks to 5G (and I'm sure 6G is coming soon...) anyone from anywhere can "be" in The Big Apple - just like Martin Cooper. Check out - from Africa. 

Ah yes, High Speed Wireless Internet is indeed a requisite for all of us - and I mean ALL OF US on planet earth. 

Oh, and don't even get me started on AI... 

The first handheld cellular phone call was made on April 3, 1973, by Motorola engineer Martin Cooper from Sixth Avenue in New York while walking between 53rd and 54th streets.