Between and My Site, We Average over 5 Million Visitors per Month

Today is the one year anniversary of the second World Statistics Day, and in honor of such a momentous occasion, I thought I’d share some of my blogging statistics with you (technically the date is only celebrated every five years, but I missed last year’s…)

I’ll start with the number of subscribers to my blog:


I know, that’s kind of sad after over a year and a half of blogging every day, for a total of more than 650 blog posts. I’ve got to learn how to market this thing. I am setting a goal of over 100 followers by August 31, 2017. If you are reading this, you can help by simply entering your email address in the box on the left and hitting subscribe. By doing so, you will get an email when I post my blog each day. Who knows, that email could be the highlight of your day; if it isn’t, you can just delete it…

Next is a listing of my most popular posts of all time:

I have no idea why the Coca-Cola Life post has had so many views; I still get a few views of that post now, even though the post was written in April, 2015.

Next are some summary stats about the blog:


The April 1 date is somewhat misleading, because part of my April Fools’ Day prank this year required my students to click on a link to one of my blog posts. It was sort of like having a captive audience. (By the way, the prank is actually quite timely now, since it talks about the movie The Accountant, which was just released last week).

And finally, here are the stats that provide evidence that my blog and the blog average over 5,000,000 views per month:

Monthly views of
monthly views of

As you can see, my blog averages about 1,650 views per month while averages over 10 million views per month. Averaged together, that works out to be a little over 5,000,000 views per month for our two blogs combined.

You gotta love statistics; you can probably use it to put a positive spin on anything. For example, between Seth Godin and myself, we average over 500,000 subscribers…

I could keep going, but you get the point. My blog is really bringing down the averages…

Alternative Ways to Control Gun Violence

I just listened to the presidential candidates offer their differing viewpoints on the Second Amendment, and while both state that they support the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton would also like to see some common sense gun control laws enacted.

I am very much on Clinton’s side on this issue, and would actually prefer even stronger gun control laws than she would promote.

Unfortunately, there is some strong opposition to gun control laws that will make it difficult for them to become enacted.

Fortunately, there is research that points to successful, alternative approaches to reducing gun violence.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that a dollar spent repairing abandoned buildings and vacant lots yields, respectively, a $5 and $26 return on investment (ROI) to taxpayers, and a $79 and $333 ROI to society at large through steps like installing working windows and doors in abandoned buildings, as well as removing trash and debris, and planting grass and trees. Renovated lots and homes may reduce neighborhood gun violence by as much as 39 percent as well.

Gun violence in the United States is higher than in any other developed nation, and the majority of fatal violence committed in the United States involves firearms. Every year about 100,000 people are shot in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Charles C. Branas, PhD, lead author of the Penn study and a professor of Epidemiology and director of the Penn Urban Health Lab, notes, “This study demonstrates sustainable, replicable strategies that successfully reduce firearm violence. They can transform communities across the country, save lives, and provide well more than a full return on investment to tax payers and their communities.”

Studying over 5,000 abandoned buildings and vacant lots, and their impact on firearm and nonfirearm violence in Philadelphia, the team found that firearm violence decreased 39 percent in and around areas where windows and doors were restored on abandoned buildings, and decreased 5 percent in and around vacant lots that had been well maintained – decreases sustained up to nearly four years after the intervention.

I find these results quite encouraging. The fact that a relatively low cost, simple investment such as installing windows and doors and cleaning up vacant lots and planting trees and grass has been associated with reduced gun violence should lead to more cities implementing such an approach.

I can’t imagine anyone would be against such common sense measures to reduce gun violence.

And it doesn’t even involve tinkering with the Second Amendment.


It’s a Miracle That Humans Ever Make the Right Decision

I married when I was 24 years old.

We had our first child before I was 25.

I quit my job when I was 25, and went  back to school for my PhD.

I opened a high-end personal training studio right before the economic crash of 2008.

All of the above represent key decisions I’ve made in my life (along with my wife), and they’ve all turned out quite well (well, most of them).

My wife and I have been happily married for 35 years, we’ve raised three outstanding young men, and I’ve enjoyed a wonderful career for the past 30 years as a college professor.

We won’t talk about how the personal training studio thing ended…

Whenever you make a decision, there’s always a risk that you make the wrong one. As a result, people often delay making decisions so that they can gather more information. Or they simply delay making a decision as a way to avoid the possibility of making a bad choice.

So making a decision is not always an easy task; one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes (actually the only one I know, who am I kidding) is “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” from Henry IV. This suggests that it’s not easy being the person in charge, the one who has to make key decisions.

And to make matters worse, as humans, we have certain biases, formally known as cognitive biases, that affect our decision making.

According to Wikipedia, cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgment.

Wikipedia lists 175 cognitive biases, with names such as Dunning-Kruger effectFundamental attribution errorIllusion of asymmetric insightMood-congruent memory bias, and Outgroup homogeneity bias.

Given that there are so many potential biases, it’s a miracle that anyone ever makes the right decision.

The list is overwhelming, to say the least. Fortunately, Buster Benson, a product manager at Slack, has put together a cognitive bias cheat sheet that attempts to classify the 175 biases into higher order categories. Benson notes that every cognitive bias is there for a reason — primarily to save our brains time or energy. By looking at the biases in terms of the problem they’re trying to solve, he was able to create four higher level categories: too much information, not enough meaning, need to at fast, what should we remember.

The diagram that accompanies this post was created by John Manoogian III, an internet entrepreneur, a couple days after having read Benson’s post, and does a nice job of taking those 175 cognitive biases and breaking them into the categories created by Benson.

My favorite quote from Benson’s article was this one-liner:

Since learning about confirmation bias, I keep seeing it everywhere.

Which to me, sounds like a case of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon

So I guess a key takeaway is that you shouldn’t let these biases get in the way of your decision making. Know that the biases exist, and that sometimes they are there to actually help us with the process.

I also believe that in the end, things usually have a way of working out.

Unless you are thinking about opening up a personal training studio…

What Your Passwords Say about You

I laugh every time I see it.

Southwest has just come out with a new commercial in its “Wanna Get Away” series, and I think it’s pretty funny.

The commercial is set in a war room, and apparently the “system” has been breached. A general has been called in, and he is required to reveal his password.

After revealing his embarrassing, but perhaps truthful password, the announcer cues to “Wanna Get Away?”

While searching for the video online, I came across a few sites that had the video, along with some comments.

Most people seemed to enjoy the video, but there were a few who thought it was insulting to the military. I didn’t pick up that at all, but I guess some people were upset enough to say that they would never fly Southwest again. Seems like those people need to Get Away.

Anyway, after watching this video, and having watched a couple of episodes of the show Mr. Robot, it seems like many people use passwords to share a little bit about themselves but at the same time want to keep private.

The “ihatemyjob1” password is a perfect example.

Another example is from the TV show Mr. Robot. In one scene, Eliot, the protagonist, phones one of his prey, pretending to be a bank officer (he’s already found out where the target banks), and asks, as part of a “security review,” for his address, favorite sports team, and pet’s name. From that information, Elliot pieces together the guy’s password.

From what I’ve read online, such an approach is often successful.

So you may want to think twice about what you use as your password, particularly if it reveals something about you that you would prefer to keep secret.

In fact, after writing this blog, I realized that I may need to change mine, “My_blog_only_has_13_subscribers”.

P.S. If you haven’t heard of the Mr. Robot show, here is a trailer from Season 1. Season 2 just ended, so there’s not much you would need to catch up on if you like it. It won the 2016 Golden Globe awards for Best Drama TV series, best actor, and best supporting actor.



I Stopped Tweeting for a Week, and This Is What Happened

For the past two years, six days a week, I have tweeted my favorite stories from the Wall Street Journal. I have found it to be an easy way for me to keep track of such stories, and when appropriate, incorporate those stories into my teaching. Many of those stories have also served as the basis for my blog posts.

So when I decided to take my first week off from such tweeting because of my recent trip to California, I was concerned what effect it might have on my nearly 2,000 followers who likely looked forward each day to see what my latest tweets were.

I was also concerned what would happen to the financial markets, since I assume that many Wall Street people use my tweets as their primary source of news as to what is going on in the business world, and without it, they may be hesitant to make any significant decisions.

As a result of such concerns, I thought my Twitter account would have been inundated with direct messages asking what was going on and if I was OK.

Well I’m here to report that this is what happened:

That’s right, nothing (and for a lot longer than 10 hours.)

Apparently the financial markets somehow managed to survive without my tweets, and my followers must have just assumed that I was OK.

But I want to let everyone know that I will be back at it bright and early tomorrow morning, sharing the greatness that is the Wall Street Journal with my Twitter tribe, and with the world.

And just in case you were wondering, I am, and was, OK.

P.S. The cricket video really is ten hours long, and that’s all it is, just that same image for 10 hours with the sounds of crickets. Why it has more than 500,000 views is beyond me. I barely get that many views for one of my better blog posts…

Back Home in Philadelphia

As our plane got closer and closer to Philly, I started thinking about how much I love the city.

It doesn’t have the 24/7 buzz of New York City or the bright lights of Los Angeles, but it’s a gritty town with more history than any other U.S. city. I also can’t imagine I’ll ever stop rooting for the Phillies, the Eagles, the 76ers, or the Flyers, no matter how much they struggle, or where I might retire.

It’s got the best location in the country, smack in the middle of New York and Washington, D.C. It’s got soft pretzels, Boathouse Row, cheesesteaks, and the Rocky statue; the Jersey shore and Pocono Mountains are less than two hours away.

It’s also well-known for its contributions to the world of music, including The Roots, Patti LaBelle, Hall and Oates, Chubby Checkers, Jim Croce, Teddy Pendergrass, and Boyz II Men, to name a few.

I then started thinking of all the great songs that mention Philly, so I thought I would share those songs here.

and one I don’t think I’ve ever heard, by Neil Young:

Philly, the City of Brotherly Love!


Checking Out of Hotel California

What a great week it has been, and the sunset above was the perfect way to end it.

I arrived in San Diego last Saturday with my son Pat and my Aunt Eileen and we headed to my Aunt Mary’s house north of San Diego. As I mentioned in a previous post, it has been 10 years since the two sisters had seen each other, and they have had a wonderful time catching up on what’s new as well as sharing old memories.

My Aunt Mary has been the perfect host, and it has been wonderful spending time with her and listening to her stories. I also had the chance to see her two daughters, my California cousins who I have not seen in 49 years. The two of them were kind enough to spend a good deal of time with us during the week as we tried to make up for lost time.

I’ve already posted updates about what I’ve done earlier in the week (here, here, here, here, and here), so I thought I would bring this blog up to date with what we’ve been up to the past couple of days.

Yesterday we went to the Valley View Casino and Hotel, where I played the penny slot machines. Despite the small wagers, it didn’t take long for me to lose the full $20 I had placed in the machine. That will satisfy my gambling desires for the next 25 years. The buffet was quite good, however, and seemed to be one of the major reasons people came to the casino.

Today my son and I went to the classic beach town of Oceanside and did a quick dip in the ocean. There was no way I was leaving California without diving into the waves of the Pacific. I had always heard that the Pacific was much colder than the Atlantic, but the temperature seemed about the same as what I remember from trips to the Jersey shore.


We had lunch at a beachside Mexican cantina, and while eating our tacos I remarked to my son that life doesn’t get much better than this.


We then went for a walk around town, and stopped in at a couple of the many surf shops that can be found in Oceanside. It was in one of them, Woody Resin Surf Products, that we had a chance to chat for a while with the owner, John Gundersen. John currently makes how own line of surfboards, Woody Resin. John was inducted into the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. He started and owned Atlantic Surfing Magazine from 1964-1969 and opened the First Surf Shop in NYC in 1965. John was also responsible for getting Surfing legalized in NYC in 1967.

Somehow I snuck Bruce Springsteen’s name into the conversation, and John knew Bruce when he was a teenager struggling to make ends meet, and working in a surfboard factory.

John has also met every surfing legend of the past 40 years, including Laird Hamilton, except for Kelly Slater. But he thinks that will be changing within a year or so.

It’s always fun and energizing to meet people who love what they are doing, and John is one of those people. If you ever happen to be in the Oceanside area, I’d recommend you stop by John’s shop at 111 S. Coast Hwy.

After leaving Oceanside, we went looking for a good pizza shop so that we could continue our Friday night pizza tradition. We found a few, but unfortunately the one I picked did not live up to expectations. We look forward to good old Conestoga Pizza next week.

So we will be flying back home tomorrow, but the words from Hotel California by The Eagles resonate with me.

You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave.

So while we will be checking out of my Aunt’s house, the memories will never leave us.

California – A State of Confusion

There are 17 ballot measures that Californians will vote on this year.

That’s right, s-e-v-e-n-t-e-e-n.

Some of these measures deal with critical issues such as repealing the death penalty, background checks for ammunition purchases, and funding for schools.

Fifteen measures were put on the November ballot by citizens through signature petitions, and two by the legislature. It’s great allowing ordinary citizens to put issues up for a vote (one they acquire the necessary signatures), but 17 just seems way too much. Who has the time to do more than just a cursory overview of the pros and cons of each measure, if they spend any time at all?

A California voter’s guide is available that looks at each of the ballot measures, but it is almost 100 pages in length.

Here is a summary of the 17 measures, and if you are interested, you can click on any of the propositions and find out more about the issue (post continued below table).

Type Title Subject Description
CISS Proposition 51 Education $9 billion in bonds for education and schools
CICA/SS Proposition 52 Healthcare Voter approval of changes to the hospital fee program
CICA Proposition 53 Elections Projects that cost more than $2 billion
CICA/SS Proposition 54 Accountability Conditions under which legislative bills can be passed
CICA Proposition 55 Taxes Personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000
CICA Proposition 56 Tobacco Increase the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack
CICA/SS Proposition 57 Trials Felons convicted of non-violent crimes
LRSS Proposition 58 Education Bilingual education in public schools
AQ Proposition 59 Campaign finance State’s position on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
CISS Proposition 60 Movies Require the use of condoms in pornographic films
CISS Proposition 61 Healthcare Prescription drug price regulations
CISS Proposition 62 Death penalty Repeal the death penalty
CISS Proposition 63 Firearms Background checks for ammunition purchases
CISS Proposition 64 Marijuana Legalization of marijuana and hemp
CISS Proposition 65 Environment Grocery and retail carry-out bags
CISS Proposition 66 Death penalty Death penalty procedures
VR Proposition 67 Business reg Prohibition on plastic single-use carryout bags

For comparison purposes, Florida has four ballot measures slated for the November 8 election, Pennsylvania and Illinois have one each, and New York and Texas have none.

If you are curious about what measures, if any, are on your state ballot, you can click here. The site that has this info, Ballotpedia, seems to be a very useful site when it comes to politics and elections. Here is another table, courtesy of Ballotpedia, that indicates the most popular referendums.

Topic On the ballot Approved Approved Defeated Defeated
Marijuana 10 0 0
Minimum wage 5 0 0
Healthcare 5 0 0
Gun laws 4 0 0
All[1] 163 7 1

The simple fact that these are the most popular measures says something about what the mood of the nation is at this point in time.

I wish the citizens of California the best with the upcoming election; I hope you find the time to research the issues that are important to you.

As interesting as the current election is, I am sure you are looking forward to no more commercials or yard signs dealing with politics.

Go Vote, November 8.

From the Hills to the Beach, Beverly to Venice That Is

Talk about going from one extreme to the other.

Our morning started at the Bourgeois Pig, an eclectic coffee shop known as the writers’ hangout in Hollywood – a place where screenwriters, bloggers and journalists alike all sit for hours on their laptops. I could feel my creative juices flowing just being there.

This is one of the work areas for writers...
This is one of the work areas for writers…

From there we drove through Burbank, passing by studios such as Disney and Warner Brothers.


Then it was on to Beverly Hills, via Mulholland Drive. We saw dozens, if not hundreds, of multi-million dollar homes, many situated dramatically on the side of a mountain.

We knew we had arrived at Beverly Hills after seeing our second Rolls Royce (before we would leave Beverly Hills, we would see a couple more Rolls; four Rolls Royce in less than two hours – we weren’t in Kansas anymore.)

It was fun browsing in some of the shops, as well as shocking. Tee shirts for $220 and a pair of adidas sneakers for $230. For the price of those two units combined, I could take care of my clothing needs for the next three to five years at Boscov’s and Target.

We were now ready for lunch, and we headed back into Hollywood. Dennis suggested Stella Barra pizzeria. My son and I agreed it was one of the best pizzas we ever had.

Right across the street from Stella Barra was Amoeba Music, a great movie and record store. We spent a few minutes here, but realized it would take at least an hour to fully appreciate such an amazing store, so we finally headed back to my friend’s house.

Once we got there, we packed up, said our goodbyes, and headed back to my Aunt’s, with stops at Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach.

Santa Monica Pier was a nice warmup for what we were to experience in Venice Beach. We got to see a couple of street performers, one who was singing some Neil Young, an the other was a small group of guys doing some break dancing type moves. We gladly paid all the artists to thank them for their efforts.

Finally, it was time to get in the car and drive the last mile right down the street to Venice Beach.

It was close to what I had imagined, Wildwood, NJ meets California. There were your classic boardwalk type shops, but then with  a Venice Beach twist.

There was a skateboard park, with many active, and talented, skateboarders. We then walked over to muscle beach where I was able to impress the crowd with my 60 pound bench press. There was also a guy playing a baby grand piano on the boardwalk.


But perhaps the most unique aspect of the boardwalk was the presence of multiple Green Doctors locations. The Green Doctors is where one can get a prescription for medical marijuana for just $40, and the prescription can cover a wide range of illnesses, including insomnia. Apparently the whole process takes less than five minutes.

When I tried to take a second picture, the guy out front started cursing at me about something, so I just kept moving on…

For some reason, Venice Beach had a different vibe than Beverly Hills, but they were both enjoyable. I’ll venture a guess that my son and I were the only people who visited both places today.

At this point, the sun was starting to set over Venice Beach, so it was time for us to head back to my Aunt’s.

During the drive home, my son and I reminisced about what a great 36 hour trip we just had. The highlight for each of was the opportunity to see friends of ours we hadn’t seen in a while. Beyond that,  hiking Griffith Park, strolling down Rodeo Drive, and people watching at Venice Beach provided us with memories we won’t forget.

And to top it all off, we still have a couple of days left to add to those memories.

Those Hollywood Hills

Another great day in sunny California.

My son and I headed up to L.A to visit Dennis, one of my college roommates. When I typed his address into Google Maps to get a sense of where he was located, it seemed like he was in a pretty good spot.

However, it wasn’t until we arrived, and he showed us the view from his house, that we realized how great a location it was. The picture above is from his kitchen window – yep, that’s the Hollywood sign in the background. That seems like a site you would never get tired of looking at.

Anyway, he suggested a hike up through Griffith Park where the Hollywood sign is located, and my son and I readily agreed. Dennis is an avid hiker, and knew all of the various trails through the park, so for the hike up he took us off the beaten path a little bit and we were treated to some incredible views of downtown L.A. on one side of the mountain, and Burbank on the other side.

Here’s a view from the “back” side of the mountain that overlooks Burbank. The picture below includes some of the movie studios.


Here’s the view from the top, where we are behind the sign, and you can see Hollywood Lake in the background and the ocean even further away. This is where we sat down for a few minutes and had our lunch. It will take some getting used to when I go back to work and eat lunch while sitting behind a desk.


Dennis was not only a great tour guide, he also regaled us with stories of what it’s like to be part of the entertainment industry. My son loved his sense of humor and was laughing almost the entire hike.


They drove walked for miles and miles
up those twisting turning roads
Higher and higher and higher they climbed

After our three-hour, eight mile long hike, we drove back to Dennis’s place. A shower never felt so good, and we then headed out to dinner at Diablo Tacos, which was an excellent choice. The tacos were incredible; in fact my son and I went back for thirds.

After dinner my son was able to make arrangements to see a friend of his from high school that he has not seen in over five years since he moved to L.A. After we dropped him off, Dennis drove the two of us around Hollywood, pointing out the famous sites along Hollywood Boulevard. Parts of the area reminded me of Times Square in NYC.

Seeing Hollywood at night was a great way to end another wonderful, action packed day on our California journey.

He spent all night staring down at the lights of LA
Wondering if he could ever go home

And those Hollywood nights
In those Hollywood hills

Thank you Dennis for being such a knowledgeable and entertaining host!