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Arguments for the office and against Zoom. My best money-saving tips. How inflation is out of control. An explosion of ripoffs. How NOT to steal a bicycle.

Office buildings values are cratering. Two reasons: Soaring interest rates. Soaring vacancies because of Zoom and work-at-home.

Banks are trying work-outs. Some office owners are becoming workout artists. This puts them in the cats bird seat to buy the building cheap when the bank decides to sell — in maybe 12 to 18 months. That’s when we’ll see big bargains in office buildings.

Every publication and its uncle is writing about “work from home” (aka WFH). Some love it — e.g. he latest Economist. Some (like me) think it’s a fad and we’ll be back in our offices for at least four days week. Possibly five.

Most work from home (WFH) is enabled by Zoom calls. I believe strongly that  Zoom calls (and remote working) are not the way to run a successful business. I don’t make this stuff up. I’ve actually been interviewing business executives. and owners. They all think WFH sucks. They’re all close to issuing an ultimatum — four days a week or quit.

Here are the reasons they gave me:

 + You can’t float ideas in a zoom call. You can’t see those body and eye movements that show whether it’s a good idea or not. Hence you’ll probably drop the idea — though it may be really good. Zoom encourages mediocrity.

+  You can’t grow a team on zoom. Family. Jokes. Personal stuff. No camaraderie.

+ A company has culture — but not on zoom.

+ Customers get awful service from people working at home – children, pet noises, etc.

+ Many work-at-home employees say they have no idea what the company actually does. You can’t hire a kid, send them a laptop and a log-in address, a note “Welcome to our company” and expect something serious to happen.

+ Let’s say you have a great idea you want to float by your boss. You can’t grab him/her at the cooler, or pop into their office. You have to schedule a Zoom call. The agony of scheduling a Zoom call quickly kills all enthusiasm. You may have the idea at 10:00 AM. But you have to wait until 3 PM two days from now. for a Zoom appointment. Screw that.

+ Zoom calls go on and on forever. Everyone needs their say. It’s impossible to end a zoom call.

+ People on Zoom calls are also on a voice conference call and also checking texts on their phone. And reading a memo under their desk. And cutting their toenails. No one can multi-task.

+ Dumb things happen: The New Yorker magazine suspended reporter Jeffrey Toobin for masturbating on a Zoom video chat between members of the New Yorker and WNYC radio. Toobin, 61, said he did not realize his video was on. Personally I’d go for cutting my toenails.

In short, Zoom is a wonderful tool but but not a way to run a business.

I’d recommend shorting Zoom, but someone already beat me:

My recent best Money-Saving Tips

+ Reboot it. Everything works when it is  rebooted. Unplug it. Wait two minutes.  Plug it in. Bingo Heaven. Works with computers, phones, laptops, washing machines,  boilers, clothes dryers, cars, etc. Anything and everything. This is brilliant. I just “fixed” my boiler and my clothes dryer by rebooting them. My 20-year old clothes dryer. Trust me.

+ Get your rewards. You don’t automatically get your credit card or airline “rewards” — unless you ask for them.

You will fall down steps and hurt yourself. It’s an epidemic. Hold onto the hand rail. You also need night lights between your bedroom and your bathroom. Six for $9.99. Click here.

+ My X1 credit card is brilliant. Using its app, I can create “single use card.” It’s perfect for trial subscriptions that start at $5 for the month and then rise automatically to $45  the next month. With this card, the first trial payment of say $5  is all they get. Then the card is cancelled. And they don’t get nothing more. Repeat nothing more. No more surprises on my monthly credit card bill.

Inflation is heavy

My personal measures are very different to the Federal Reserve’s wimpy measures:

+ My 2024 school taxes up by 6.32%.
+ My statin pill refill 40%.
+ My favorite baguette by 17.6%.
+ My Amazon hearing aids up 15.1%
+ y favorite tennis balls are up 50%.
+ Tickets to the U.S. Open are up 4% to 6%. But the aftermarket is up about 25%.
+ Taylor Swift concert tickets are up 741% from her tour in 2018.
+ Insurance in the south is doubling, if you can get it.

Fantastical wishful thinking is the Fed’s aim of getting inflation to 2%.

Yup, you read right. Two percent.

Why can’t Intel do better?

Two years ago I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop. It had an Intel Core i7-1280P.  Today Lenovo is selling machines with slower processors, but nothing faster — though I’ve asked, begged and pleaded. Look at these comparisons. No wonder laptop sales are falling.

Look at Intel’s strange numbering system. A bigger number is slower! Go figure.

Here’s an unflattering chart showing Nvidia versus Intel over the last five years:

What is wrong with America’s biggest semi-conductor company?

An explosion of email ripoffs

Examples of ripoff emails I’ve received in the last few days:

+ United AirIines Is Giving You 2 Roundtrip Tickets & A $500 TraveI Voucher

+ United AirIines E-Receipt For Your Two CompIimentary Round-Trip Tickets

+ Thank You For Your Costco Purchase – Redeem Your Rewards Here Today

+ Ace Hardware Is Giving You $300 To Use At Any Of Our Locations

+ Your CompIimentary 90 Day NetfIix Membership Must Be Activated By Tonight

+ You Have $203.99 CVS Rewards That Are Expiring Soon – Redeem Them OnIine Today

+ Your Disney+ Membership Has Been Canceled, But We Are Giving You An Extra 90 Days On Us

+ You Have 2 Days Left To Get Your $250 WaImart Card

+ Required: Account Information for Pending EFT Payment

+ Your $150 Ace Hardware Card Is Expiring At Midnight

All this is rookery and crookery.

When in doubt, check the sender’s address. If it looks fishy, it is.

How art appreciates

An artist asked the gallery owner if there had been any interest in his paintings on display.

“I have good news and bad news,” the owner replied. “The good news is that a gentleman inquired about your work and wondered if it would appreciate in value after your death. When I told him it would, he bought all fifteen of your paintings.”

“That’s wonderful,” the artist exclaimed.

“What’s the bad news?”

“The guy was your doctor…”

How to steal a bicycle. Hysterical.

The U.S. Tennis Open continues.

The tennis is fantastic. ESPN. ESPN2. and The Tennis Channel.

More tomorrow, when the markets open. — Harry Newton