Comcast Finally Fixed My Cable Television Problem!

Everyone I now have a new cable television box in the living room. It works! That’s the good news. What did it take to get it? 1.5 hours on the phone, being “handcuffed to the house” for all of yesterday afternoon awaiting the tech, and a lot of frustration and stress. One tech arrived. He looked at the box and the wiring in the fuse box. I had to warn him to be careful because a prior tech had knocked out the business internet while working on the cable box. When it was decided that a new cable box was required, the local Comcast supervisor showed up. I know him from past calls. He is a super nice man whose family comes from Germany.Another Comcast truck arrived. It took all of this man power to install a new cable box. What’s that joke about how many people are needed to screw in a light bulb? Draw your own conclusions!

My Last Words On The Day Of My Retirement

A dear friend is having a retirement party this Saturday night. I can’t be there. I retired after 8 years with a company. In those 8 years I generated $13 million in sales and had one $4,400 write-off. I never once got a thank you or well done. My salary never went above $48,000 per year. I had to rely on my dear wife for medical insurance. On my final day I thought of a book written by a US Maine Corps lieutenant who survived a tour in Vietnam. The book is A Rumor of War by Phillip Caputo, by the way. After his last patrol he gets on the helicopter for the ride back to base and the trip home. The book ended with these words: “And I had survived…but that was all that I could say.” Those were my last words before I took my things and left to retire.

A Disaster With Comcast/Xfinity

On Tuesday afternoon our Xfinity HD channels crashed. When we tuned to the HD channels a message came on the screen telling us that they were free with a subscription. I called a very nice lady and stayed on the phone one hour. She sent signals to the box and we did all sorts of reboots. Nothing work. The Comcast rep came to the conclusion that the billing department had not told the cable television department that we had paid our bill (By the way, we always pay our bill right on time.) I got another call from this lady. Yesterday while I was talking to a dear friend of 50 years with a personal crisis, another person from Xfinity called five times to talk about the problem. It was annoying. He finally agreed to send out a technician. The earliest free slot was Friday afternoon between four and six PM. This is terrible service. If you want to discontinue cable television the billing system is rigged and your internet goes up astronomically in price.

If Someone Does You Wrong..Don’t Start Plotting Revenge

A person dear in my life was badly treated by an employer some years ago. She got a call yesterday from a lawyer asking questions about this unfair lady. She answered truthfully and honestly.

I explained to her some words of wisdom that my father had given me many decades ago as follows:

“Son if someone does you wrong and is bad to you, don’t get angry and start plotting revenge. Sit back and relax. They will always get their punishment.”

I am almost 66 years old. Those of you closest to me know that I keep a little notebook. I write my thoughts and observations each day. One day I made a list of all of the people in my over 6 decades who had been wonderful to me,helped me, and really gone out of their way to be nice. I’m happy to tell you that the handwritten list of names covered over three pages.

I then made a list of the people who had been really bad to me and done terrible things to me. That handwritten list of names covered only 75% of one page. Those negative people had not been able to destroy my spirit,life or hold me down.

There is a saying from my native state of Texas that I love as follows:

“You can’t keep a good man or a good woman down.”

If you are in despair or feeling that you are in a hopeless situation, never lose your faith or your confidence in yourself.

Forbe’s Magazine Talks About A Brilliant Brasilian Billionaire Who Turned Burger King Around

How Burger King’s Brilliant Brazilian Billionaire Turned $1.2B Into $22B
BY Antoine GaraFollow| 08/25/14 – 03:18 PM EDT

4 submit to reddit CommentLink
Find out if (BKW) is in Cramer’s Portfolio.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — 3G Capital may make more money in a single day on Burger King Worldwide’s (BKW_) possible acquisition of Tim Hortons (THI_) than it cost the Brazilian private equity firm to buy the burger chain from Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital and TPG Capital in 2010. That deal-making coup underscores the prowess of 3G Capital and its principal owner, Jorge Paulo Lemann, who became Brazil’s richest person in 2013.

Lemann and 3G only had to put up $1.2 billion in cash to buy Burger King in a 2010 leveraged buyout that relied on debt financing for roughly 70% of the acquisition price. In 2012, 3G sold 30% of its stake in Burger King to a special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC) run by Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman and billionaire Nicolas Berggruen for $1.4 billion, in a deal that was aimed at bringing the burger chain back to public stock markets.

Read More: Walgreens Investors Focus on Buybacks after Inversion Dies

Since listing on the New York Stock Exchange in mid-2012, Burger King has been a top performer as its young management team executed on a franchise-oriented strategy, a simplification of the burger chain’s menu and efforts to increase traffic in stores through new breakfast offering and coffee and non-coffee drinks.

On Friday, Burger King closed trading at $27.10, or a market capitalization of roughly $9.5 billion. News of the company’s planned acquisition of Tim Horton’s sent shares up over 20% on Monday morning, adding nearly $2 billion in market cap. 3G’s ownership stake (about 70%) has gained just under $1.4 billion in Monday trading, or a few hundred million more than it cost to buy the company a few years ago.

The Deal’s Jonathan Marino and Sarah Pringle take a closer look at the possible merger of Burger King and Tim Hortons:

WATCH: More market update videos on TheStreet TV

If 3G structures an acquisition of Tim Horton’s in a way that gives the firm majority control of the combined company, Lemann and his partners Marcel Herrmann Telles and Carlos Alberto Sicupira will have only needed $1.2 billion to assemble an ownership of one of the largest restaurant chains with about $22 billion in annual sales and over 18,000 restaurants globally.

Cashflow Is King

One common theme running through Lemann and 3G’s best deals such as the takeover of Burger King, the creation of AB InBev (BUD_) and the takeover of Heinz is Lemann’s use of leverage. Lemann’s payout on Burger King, perhaps, is also indicative of his skill relative to other peers in the financial sector.

A private equity consortium bought Burger King in 2002 for over $2 billion, but those investors struggled to manage the company’s bloated operations and its declining profit margins through the financial crisis. When 3G took over, however, a new strategy allowed Burger King to dramatically cut operational costs and increase profit margins.

That changing strategy has helped to juice Burger King’s financial metrics, putting the company in a position to take on large acquisitions. Burger King ended 2010 with debt of over six-times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). As of the last 12-months, Burger King had a debt ratio of just 4.75 times EBITDA.

Tim Hortons, meanwhile, currently has debt of just 1.75x trailing 12-month EBITDA, indicating that a merger may actually deleverage Burger King’s balance sheet.

The same themes hold true for Lemann’s largest investment, his $18.6 billion stake in AB InBev, according to calculations from Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. With a holding of Brahma, Lemann and his partner Marcel Telles backed Carlos Brito as he consolidated the Latin American beer market and then expanded internationally by merging with European giant Interbrew in 2004 and Budweiser 2008.

Prior to InBev’s acquisition of Budweiser, the company had debt of just 1.44x EBITDA. That leveraged ballooned to 7.7x EBITDA by the end of 2008 as AB InBev took on $50 billion in borrowing to acquire Budweiser. As of 2013, ABInBev’s debt was back down to a manageable 2.9x EBITDA, and annual interest expense fell to just $2 billion, a decline of over 40% from 2008 levels.

Strong Partnerships

Lemann and 3G appear to have partnered with the right Wall Street power brokers when cutting large deals in the U.S.

In the case of Burger King, 3G’s partnership with Pershing’s Bill Ackman pre-empted the company’s IPO and it appears to be the early genesis of a possible Tim Hortons merger.

Ackman led a charge in the mid-2000s to have Wendy’s (WEN_) spin off Tim Hortons as an independent company. Since Tim Hortons’ 2006 spin off, the company’s stock has risen over 170%, more than tripling the return of the S&P 500.

Pershing holds a 10% stake in Burger King and Ackman personally owns a stake amounting to just over 1% of the company’s outstanding shares. Martin Franklin, a longtime partner of Ackman’s on Pershing’s SPAC deals, sits on Burger King’s board of directors. It is hard to see a scenario where the hedge funder doesn’t have a role in the company’s possible acquisition of Tim Hortons.

Lemann also counted on Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK.A_) Warren Buffett to be a cornerstone investor in 3G’s $23 billion buyout of Heinz in early 2013. It is yet to be seen how well Lemann’s Heinz investment pays off. Berkshire expects to make about 12% annually on its $8 billion preferred stock investment in Heinz.

Perhaps, Lemann’s best skill is identifying companies with strong cash flow and investment partners to maximize those financial advantages when opportunity beckons.

Read More: Trian Management Key in Dollar General’s War with Family Dollar

Read More: Family Dollar’s Lost Way Leads to Peltz and Icahn

— Written by Antoine Gara in New York

Follow @AntoineGara

Big Picture Science-My Wonderful Mental Stimulation On A Monday Afternoon

Every one each Monday a big part of my day is listening to podcast Big Picture Science presented by Dr. Seth Shostak and Molly Bentley. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Molly in person. But I have known Dr. Seth Shostak for many years. He has his PhD. from California Institute of Technology. My friends this is the finest scientific and technology university on earth. If you get any kind of degree here, you are part of the elite of the elites in science. Dr. Shostak could have had an incredible career in science including Nobel Prizes (Multiple prizes), etc. But he realized that he also had an incredible talent for taking complex concepts in science and presenting them in terms that we non-technical mortals can understand. He developed this talent working with the SETI Institute. He has enriched the lives of so many people and taught them so much about science, life in the universe, etc. Seth thank you for giving me wonderful mental stimulation and a great post graduate education every Monday afternoon. Your fans appreciate you. Keep up the good work! Molly you’re doing a great job also!

A Disaster In The Kitchen

Yesterday I came home with my hands full. A chopping board tipped over and hit a bottle of olive oil. The bottle crashed to the floor. It smashed into many pieces. The kitchen floor was inundated with olive oil. I had a mess on my hands. I picked up all the pieces of glass. I got a big mop and cleaned up massive amounts of olive oil. After all of my work the kitchen floor was still slippery with olive oil. Luah made some constructive suggestions. I used other cleaners. But the floor stayed slippery. Elena came in. She solved the problem with a garden hose and copious amounts of soap and water. The floors are the cleanest that they have been in months.

Bring General Sherman Back To Life And Send Him To Gaza!

AUGUST 20, 2014 4:00 AM
Sherman in Gaza
His march through Georgia has been gravely misunderstood ― as has Israel’s strategy in Gaza.
By Victor Davis Hanson

The IDF’s 401st Armored Brigade in action near Gaza. (IDF via Flickr)

Print Text

Victor Davis Hanson
His brutal methods were aimed at instructing the civilian South that those who had precipitated the war surely deserved its harshest penalties. Only when the luminaries of the Confederacy saw that their bellicose rhetoric had brought them personal ruin would they be willing to curb their enthusiasm for secession: “It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.”


Sherman envisioned his wave of unapologetic ruin as dividing the populace and sowing dissension, and thus encouraging tax delinquency, desertion at the front, and loss of confidence among the elite. In all of these aims, he was largely successful.
The brutal Sherman way of war did not spare civilians from the general misery. Yet another purpose was to remind the Southern populace that because they had largely followed their privileged leaders into a hopeless war against a far larger, more industrial, and wealthier Union, they too could not escape the collateral damage that followed from the targeting of plantations and Confederate property.

Sherman accepted Southern hatred, but he assumed that after he left the Deep South, civilians would start to see a logic to his devastation: The homes and property of the middle classes and poor were largely spared, the infrastructure of the wealthy and of the state were not. That ruthless selectivity would spawn endless arguments among Southerners over who was to blame for such destruction — well beyond Sherman himself. Certainly, for all the popular hatred, Georgians and Carolinians were far more likely to be alive after Sherman left than Virginians were after Grant was finished.

The Israeli army was eerily Shermanesque when it went into Gaza. The IDF targeted the homes of the wealthy Hamas elite, the private sanctuaries of the tunnels, and the rocketry and other infrastructure of the Hamas terrorist state. The homes of civilians who did not have rockets in the backyard or tunnels in the basement were usually not hit, and that sent a telling Shermanesque lesson. Long after the international media’s cameras have left, Gazans will argue over why one man’s house was leveled and another’s was not, leading to the conclusion more often than not that one was being used by Hamas, either with or without its owner’s consent, while the other was not. But all Gazans suffered amid the selective targeting — as did all Georgians and Carolinians for their allegiance to a plantationist class whose own interests were not always the same as those of the non-slave-owning white poor. Fairly or not, the IDF was reminding the people of Gaza that while it tried to focus exclusively on Hamas, such selectivity was often impossible when Gazans followed such reckless leaders who deliberately shielded themselves among civilians.

The IDF taught the supposedly fearsome Islamic warriors of Hamas, who adopted the loud bells and whistles of primordial killers and who supposedly love death more than life, that nondescript Israeli conscripts, through hard training and with the help of sophisticated technology, were in fact far deadlier than a man in a suicide vest or an RPG-wielding masked bandit. The IDF, then, like Sherman, sought to dispel the romantic notion that a uniformed conscript army cannot fight a warrior culture, or that it becomes so baffled by insurgencies and asymmetrical warfare as to be rendered helpless. The IDF went into the heart of Gaza City and came out largely intact after defeating all those it encountered.

Sherman was obsessed with separating bellicose enemy rhetoric from facts on the ground. He believed that unless humiliation was a part of defeat, a tribal society of ranked hierarchies would always concoct myths to explain away failure. Southern newspapers boasted that Sherman was a Napoleon trapped deep in a Russia-like Georgia and about to be cut apart by Confederate Cossacks. Yet when his Army of the West sliced through the center of the state, Sherman smiled that some Southerners had suggested that he go instead over to South Carolina and attack those who “started” the war.

Again, once the IDF is out of Gaza, civilians will ask their leaders what the tunnels and rockets, the child tunnel-diggers, the use of human shields, and all the braggadocio were supposed to achieve. What will Hamas tell its donors, when it requests money for more cement and rebar? That it wishes to build schools and hotels and not more instruments of collective suicide?

Sherman welcomed the hatred he earned from the South. He understood well the dictum of Machiavelli that men hate far more those who destroy their patrimonies than those who kill their fathers. He accepted that humiliating the South was a far graver sin than destroying its manhood, as Grant had done from May to September 1864 in northern Virginia. Lee at least could say that brave Southerners had killed thousands of Grant’s troops in defense of their homeland; Sherman’s opponents, like Generals Hardee, Hood, and Johnson, could not brag that very few Northerners died marching through Georgia or the Carolinas.

Sherman’s rhetoric was bellicose, indeed uncouth — even as he avoided killing as many Southerners as he could. He left civilians as mad at their own leaders as at him. For all that and more, he remains a “terrorist,” while the bloodbaths at Cold Harbor and the Crater are not considered barbaric — and just as the world hates what the IDF did in Gaza far more than the abject butchery of the Islamic State, which at the same time was spreading savagery throughout Syria and Iraq, or than the Russians’ indiscriminate killing in Ukraine, or than what passes for an average day in the Congo.

Sherman got under our skin, and so does the IDF. Today we call not losing very many soldiers “disproportionate” warfare, and leaving an enemy’s territory a mess and yet without thousands of casualties “terrorism.” The lectures from the IDF about the cynical culpability of Hamas make the world as livid as did Sherman’s sermonizing about the cowardly pretensions of the plantationist class.

We tend to hate most deeply in war those who despoil us of our romance, especially when they humiliate rather than kill us — and teach us the lesson that the louder and more bellicose often prove the more craven and weak.

— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.

A Cook Book From A Small Town In South Africa

When I lived in South Africa many years ago I used to drive between major cities. Of course I saw things like African villages. After all, I was in Africa. But I saw something else. There were quite a number of small and charming towns. There was always the church steeple and everything looked so peaceful and nice. I often dreamed of forgetting all the pressures of life and going to a small town like that to live and get lost. I made an amazing discovery recently in South Africa. It was a cook book from one of those small and charming South African towns. It arrived today. It was full of excellent and high-quality recipes. It also had a good narrative about life in a small South African town. I gave it to Elena as a gift.

Governor Rick Perry Indicted

My dear Facebook friends the governor of Texas, Rick Perry was just indicted for abuse of power. It will be interesting to see how the case plays out. If he were a normal suspect, he would have been arrested on Friday and held in the Travis County jail over the weekend. On Monday he would have had his bail hearing. It would have been good for Perry to spend a weekend in jail. I doubt that he saw the inside of a jail. He surrendered with his attorney and was bailed out.

If “the gov” is found guilty and the jury decides that a prison sentence is called for, I have a recommendation for a job at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for him. He should be assigned to the death chamber and have the responsibility for taking the dead bodies of executed prisoner to the hearse for the final ride to the cemetery. After overseeing over 140 executions, he should see first-hand what it’s all about.

What’s that old saying? : “it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”