Industries That Are Exceling in Today’s Economic Climate

Regardless of what the economic indicators are saying, these are tough times.  Sure unemployment is back below 7%, but the labor participation rate is as low as it’s been in 3 decades.  Not since the Carter administration was in office have such a large percentage of working aged Americans been unemployed.  Not only unemployed, but not even looking for a job.  But there are some industries that are still performing well in today’s economy, so let’s take a look at a few.

Social Media

The social media business is difficult to assess from a standard earnings basis.  Much like the dot com bubble of the late 90′s have we seen stocks perform in a similar manner.  Most of the big names are making little to no money in terms of actual profits.  Twitter and Facebook in particular are worth billions of dollars, while not having any real income to speak of.

But that hasn’t stopped them from hiring.  Or from making big purchases. Facebook recently purchased Whatsapp for $16 billion dollars.  Whatsapp is a company of 50 people.  If that doesn’t sound a little crazy, then it’s hard to imagine what crazy means any more.  Here’s more on the story.

Essentially Facebook paid $50 per user of Whatsapp services.  Other players in the same industry have paid as little as $3 per user though.

Health Care

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been a complete disaster.  From the difficulties canceled insurance plans to the utter failure that is Healthcare.gov, it seems our governments attempts at taking over 1/6 of the U.S. economy has gone much like anything else the government takes over.  Poorly.  But the health care industry is still humming along.

There have been a surprising number of doctors that have opened concierge-style practices.  These doctors are paid on retainer and are available to their clients hen needed.  The clients pay the doctors in cash rather than through an insurance company.  It reduces the overhead for the doctors office, and reduces the overall cost of care to their patients.

Some examples of savings can be seen in everyday procedures.  Lab testing that would cost $500 if handled by an insurer can be done for as little as $79.  An MRI that might have cost several thousand dollars can be had for as little as $250.  This benefits not only doctors and patients, but the MRI technician as well.  He or she receives a larger portion of the overall fee than when an insurance company is involved.

Banking and Finance

The banking and finance sector, while nearly becoming wiped out during the financial crisis of 2008 is back and better than ever.  Banks in particular are doing extraordinarily well.  Thanks to a flood of liquidity from the Federal Reserve, all of the major stock market indices are up.  And the banks have positioned themselves to not only take advantage of these upwards moves, but to take advantage of them with taxpayer money.

It seems like only yesterday that we heard how so many of these ‘too big to fail’ banks had squandered their (clients) money on poor investments in the stock market and real estate.  Not to worry though.  The federal government quickly stepped in to make them whole again.

And as a result, the banking business is better than ever.

So while most of the economy may look like it’s faltering, there are bright spots out there if you know where to look.…

How Do You Listen To Music?

I’ve been seriously listening to music since I was about 11 years old.  My first cassette tape was Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi.  Some friends of mine told me about the album, and within a couple days I had my very own copy.  I was in the fourth grade.

Obviously many things have changed in the years since.  Walk-man’s were all the rage then, then CD Walk-mans.  Then hard drive based music systems came along.  I had something called the ‘Keg’ from Kennwood in my car at one point.  All I had to do was upload all my music to this piece located in my trunk, and it allowed me to take all my music with me in my car.  This came not a moment too soon, as I was sick and tired of shuffling through CD cases looking for a CD in order to listen to a couple of tracks.

Fast Forward to Today

Jumping forward in time about 15 years, things have become infinitely easier where music is concerned.  iPod’s are the ubiquitous music player of choice.  But I’m not huge fan of the iPod.  I can’t stand having to put together playlists, and it’s incredibly annoying to have to shuffle through songs looking for something you want to hear.

I’ve started using a Sonos music system at home.  It allows me to connect to a whole host of music services including familiar names such as Rhapsody and Pandora.

Pandora in particular is my favorite.  It doesn’t get any easier than typing in the name of a song or artist, and having this remarkable service create a station based around that songs genre.  The controls allowing you to fine tune your station are easy to use, and amazingly accurate.

The Sonos System

Coming from a background in whole house audio and home theater, I can tell you from experience that there is no better system than the Sonos music system.  It absolutely rocks.  Controlled from an iPad, iPod, iPhone, or any other smart phone platform, this system makes listening to your favorite music an absolute breeze.

On top of that, it’s easy to set up.  While most home audio systems require speakers located all over the house, the Sonos system can operate without wires.  Each speaker has it’s own wireless receiver built in, allowing it to connect over a mesh network to other units in the house.

There area a few models available, and some do require speaker wires.  These are perfect for homes that already have speakers in the walls or ceilings.

Another nice feature is that you can quickly and easily set up music throughout your entire house.  So if you’re having a party, you can choose your Pandora station and have hours of music playing with no work required of you.

There’s really no better way to listen to music.

You can also listen to multiple sources at the same time in different rooms of the house.  If you’re in the exercise room working out and your wife is in the bedroom, you can both listen to different sources simultaneously.

Our CrossFit gym uses this exact same setup.  Through 3 different Sonos zones we can listen to 3 different things, or the same thing.  It’s a pretty slick system.  Those on the rings and pullup bars can jam to whatever they want, while those burning up their CrossFit shoes on the Olympic lifts can listen to something else entirely.  They even have an outdoor zone, for when we’re outside the building.…

Survival Tips for the Great Outdoors

adirondacksNo matter how much you enjoy your job and the city, the human mind and body sometimes needs a break from all the hustle and bustle.  So even if you consider yourself a true city-dweller, it can sometimes be a good idea to get out into the woods.

While our minds and bodies have adapted amazingly well to the changes our world has undergone over the last 50 years, on the evolutionary timeline, this short amount of time is totally insignificant.  We are able to live in the fast-paced world of cities because of our unique ability to adapt.  But just because you’ve adapted doesn’t mean your thriving.

Every once in a while you need to take a break.  Get out.  Breath some fresh mountain air.  Enjoy silence for a change.

But before you go charging off into the wilderness, there are a few items you should consider taking with you.

Survival Tools

Even if you’re only going for a day-hike, having the basics of survival gear is a good idea.  You never know what you’re going to run into along the trail.  For this reason having a basic survival knife is a great idea.  Most people think of knives as some sort of weapon, and of course they can be.  But they are also immensely powerful tools.

Knives can be used to cut wood, light a fire, cut food, dig a fire pit and much much more.  It’s obviously not the kind of thing that’s going to help you in a bear attack, but it can help you cut down small tree to use as a makeshift crutch if you twist your ankle.

Keeping your knife sharp is also important.  For that reason, you should carry some sort of knife sharpener.  This is especially helpful if you’re in the woods for days at a time.  The best knife sharpening system is one that allows you to repair, sharpen, and hone a variety of blades.

Water Water Water

The human body can go for days and even weeks without food.  But it can only go 36-48 hours without water.  Water is essential to just about every function within our bodies.

Therefore, having clean water supply is a must.  There are any number of tablets you can add to water to make it drinkable.  There are also devices such as the Lifestraw that filter out microbes that are harmful, allowing you to drink directly from rivers and streams.

High Energy Food Source

For decades we’ve been taught that carbohydrates are the key to energy.  But as far as energy goes, fat contains twice as much as both carbohydrate and proteins.  For that reason, many outdoor enthusiasts are starting to turn to higher fat food sources when they are in the woods.

Saturated fats in particular (mostly from animal sources) are stable at even warmer temperatures.  While it may sound counter-intuitive, something like a paleo cookie can be a great fuel source when backpacking.  Check out gourmet-paleo.com for a wide selection of cookies that are perfect for a trip into the wilderness.  Low in carbs and high in natural fats, they’ll satiate your hunger, and give you long lasting energy.

While these tools are probably not necessary for a hike through Central Park, if you’re heading out into the woods they can be extremely handy, and maybe even save your life.  Yes, even the cookies! :-)

 

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