My First Real Camera: Nikon D750

Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than spending big $$. But spend I did, splurge I did, on a full frame DSLR camera and a constant aperture mid-range zoom lens.

My new photography gear.
AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR Lens mounted on a Nikon D750

Shopping for my camera was in and of itself an experience. A month long endeavor that included hours of online research, many conversations with friends, experts and multiple visits to the venerable New York institution - The B&H mega store. The B&H store is a gadget wonderland and a humongous one at that. Folks that work there are probably the most knowledgeable and the most helpful that you can find anywhere. The more specific you are, the more helpful they are. What I gleaned from my many conversations with them in person, online & on the phone could provide enough material for a full blown course in photography!


My own “Oprah at Hermes” moment

A cross-post from The Huffington Post

I am a long time resident of New York City. We live in Lower Manhattan with our two little children. Yesterday I had a rather appalling experience at one of the retail stores in the new Westfield shopping center - the Forever Flawless spa.

I decided to narrate the incident to a wider audience in an effort to keep such ugliness in check. Yesterday, on my way back home, I stopped at the “Forever Flawless” store to ask about the services they offer. The lady at the store refused to answer me and looked away. When I tried to engage her by asking more questions about the specific services, she made some hand gestures and once again looked away. Just as I was wondering if she had some speech difficulties, she sees a woman walking across the walkway, about 20 or more feet away, yells at her with a smile and offers her some samples saying “ma’am would you like to try our samples?”. The woman who was in a hurry, waved a “No” and briskly walked away while I was standing right in front of the store assistant getting ignored!


Why I am concerned about Trump

Some points to ponder for those who base their election choices mainly on how much their taxes will go up or down…

If (and I am hoping it is a very big “IF”) Mr. Trump becomes the President of the US, he is very likely to build roads, bridges, airports, big buildings and of course that beautiful tall wall. There is going to be some big time investment in public infrastructure. Where is he going to get the money for all of this? He cannot raise taxes or at least the expectation is that he won’t raise taxes like the Democrats would. Then where is the money going to come from?

The only other viable option is to issue bonds left, right and center. Given that there is a healthy demand for US bonds, it wouldn’t be surprising if he makes the most of it or even goes beyond making the most of it. It is very likely that the country will be buried in an untenable amount of debt.

While you and I may enjoy potentially lower taxes in the next year or two, during that period of lower taxes, the country is likely to end up in a bankruptcy and collapse. And when that happens, only his extended family and friends who are in the construction business would stand to benefit as their coffers would get a good chunk of the borrowed money for building those bridges, buildings and walls.

This scenario doesn’t seem that hypothetical when you look at Trump’s ego and instinct driven business track record. For instance,

  1. Trump borrowed $675MM to finance the $1B Atlantic City casino construction. The Trump Taj Mahal, in spite of being the highest grossing casino in Atlantic City, in spite of buzzing with activity, went bankrupt in just one year after it was opened in 1990.

  1. For the Plaza Hotel, another ego/instinct driven purchase that ended in a bankruptcy in ‘92, Trump actually borrowed $550MM when the purchase price was only $390MM.

  1. Twelve years later, after the two bankruptcies in 1991 & 1992, Trump got bigger and bolder and borrowed in billions instead of millions. In 2004, after loading Trump hotels and casino resorts with $1.8B debt, ran THCR (Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts) into bankruptcy.

  1. One year after that, THCR reemerged as TER (Trump Entertainment Resorts) after bondholders forgave $500MM debt as part of other restructuring measures such as selling some of the properties. But then the same story repeats. TER once again went bankrupt in 2009. It was saddled with roughly $1.8B in debt while the market cap in 2009 was $7.3MM! The debt was nearly 250 times the market cap. How does anyone get here, in this situation? Again and again and again...and again?!

While his businesses repeatedly suffered his magic touch, his personal fortunes and lifestyle never showed a dent. So perhaps there is a reason why he claims these bankruptcies are actually “not failures but successes”.

There are many stories on Trump’s bankruptcies. Most of them are colored by his personality, personal claims and catch phrases. Here is one that is mainly based on facts and figures - By the Numbers: Donald Trump’s $4.7Billion in Bankruptcies. Another recent one that hints at his debt proposal and ends with Trump saying, "I love debt. I love playing with it".

So next time you are tempted or swayed by lower taxes, please do consider the bigger picture.


I Defy Labels

Like many, I too am "exhausted by labels". I too am tired of being forced to identify who I am, what I do and where I stand. I don't want to be sorted and boxed into any category. Hence, I DefyLabels.

I get asked many questions...why, even I have asked many of them myself...and every time I end up or come up the with the same answer, "No. I am not."

For instance,

Are you a success? "No. I am not."
Are you a failure? "No. I am not."
Are you mediocre? "No. I am not."
Are you exceptional? "No. I am not."

Are you quitting because you are a woman? "No. I am not."
Are you staying home because you are the mom? "No. I am not."

Am you too old for certain things? And too young for some other things? "No. I am not."
Are you a feminist? Are you a liberal? Are you conservative? Are you progressive? "No. I am not."

I am simply me.
Be you. Defy Labels.

#defylabels #beyou #noiamnot