For those that thought they were escaping the cold of the North to live in the South … think again.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We grew up on Long Island (which is an island over 100 miles long just east of New York City) and got to experience all four seasons.
So, we know all about cold weather and snow, as winter typically included multiple snowstorms, often canceling schools, with shoveling a foot or more of snow not uncommon. And whether you liked the cold weather or not, you were at least mentally prepared for it. Not to mention having appropriate clothing. After all, this was the northeast and just part of growing up, well, in the north.
As Red remembers it, Black always hated the cold. This may explain why after getting her M.B.A., Black went to work in New Orleans, and then Texas. Or, maybe that just happened because she decided to work in the oil and gas industry, but Red suspects Black would have found a way down south regardless. Red, on the other hand, always loved the cold and even dreamed of living in Vermont year-round. (Now, that's cold! Don't believe us? Ask Bernie Sanders.)
Anyway, decades later, after Red lived overseas for many years, including time in China and Hong Kong (which definitely don't get cold), she found herself in Houston. Once she realized she was staying here, she gave most of her cold weather clothing to charity, keeping only that which she'd need if she was traveling somewhere cold. She never asked Black about winter clothing, figuring since she was a life-long clothes horse probably had more than her fair share of winter clothing, even if she really didn't "need" it.
Well, fast forward to this week's unprecedented winter storm and Red was relieved she had the clothing she needed, although she chuckled to herself when she saw her UGGs …
I found the warm gloves and hat at the top of my closet in a box rarely opened, and the heavy scarves (not to be confused with the lightweight ones I wear all the time) were easy to find. My winter outwear was stashed in the back of an upstairs closet. And winter boots? Well, it may look silly, but I wear my beloved UGGS once it gets to the low 50s, not for warmth but just because they're comfortable (like bedroom slippers). So, now I was ready. To go outside? Yes. But earlier in the week, I needed all this just to try to keep warm in a house without power. In Texas. How crazy is that?!
Texans are tough. And independent. But that may not be enough to win the war against the coronavirus.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We were born and raised in New York, so although we both now live in Texas (Black got here with the oil and gas industry in the late 70s, whereas Red arrived in 2001 as her husband has a career that relocated them around the world), we sometimes struggle to understand the Texas way of doing things.
Case in point … trying to figure out Governor Greg Abbott's recent decision to end statewide mask mandates and allow all businesses to operate at full capacity. Red's first and foremost a mom, so it's not surprising she prefers a protective and overly cautious approach focused on keeping everyone safe, even if that means being inconvenienced for a little longer. And while she appreciated that the vaccines are now becoming more readily available, so few people have been vaccinated, which to her way of thinking is even more reason to "stay the course". Why rush into anything right now? And why not err on the side of caution?
Black, given her corporate background, combined with her pragmatism, has looked at the pandemic from a very different perspective, although she gets to the same conclusion. And she believes Red's "safety first" approach has important business implications as consumers will only go where they feel safe. And what was her reaction to the Governor's announcement? It initially featured some "colorful language" but was soon followed by one of her analogies, that while amusing Red, also made perfect sense to her,
I was just starting to feel better about going out into the world (masked, of course) but may continue to hide away as Texas is returning to its roots of the wild, wild, West. But instead of cowboys and masked bandits … we have unmasked, well, you decide what to call them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people wear masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. And many of Texas' largest cities have already announced they will keep requiring masks in municipal buildings after the mandate ends. So, Texas businesses, school districts, and individuals will have to decide for themselves what to do. And at the end of the day, all we can do is hope that everyone will make the right decisions.
We do not like racist images. We do not like them here or there. We do not like them anywhere.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When Black first emailed Red that six Dr. Seuss books would no longer be published because of racist and insensitive images, Red's reaction was quick and questioning,
I need to read those links, but my first reaction is … seriously? Is nothing sacred anymore?
Red's was concerned that the pendulum's swinging so far to one side of things and so fast, and wants to know that each case is truly being looked at on its own merits or, perhaps more accurately, faults.
Black, knowing her sister well, let her know that Dr. Seuss Enterprises proactively made the decision after working with a panel of experts, including educators. In fact, the decision was made last year, but they waited until Dr. Seuss's birthday to make the announcement. She also added, as the business half of Red & Black, that she didn't think these were any of their top-selling books, so would have minimal impact on their sales. However, she was confident any remaining copies would sell out fast and become collector's items.
Regardless, Red at that point understood the reasoning but still felt the same way that she feels about other similar decisions to "ban" things, such as the movie "Gone With The Wind" (they re-released it with a new introduction) or statues of Confederate leaders – you can't ignore history. And as a lover of history, she knows there's much to be learned, and on that we both agree.
To use one of Black's favorite words, we understand WHY these decisions are made, but think it's equally important that you consider using these things as teaching tools. You can't change how people saw things at the time, but you can change how you use them now. Acknowledging and discussing things, rather than just purging them, is the way to make lasting – and impactful – change.
Drug companies, typically competing against one another, are coming together in an amazing move to fight a common enemy … COVID.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: For those of you that might remember Monty Hall and the game show, "Let's Make A Deal," this latest news on the war against COVID may represent one of the best "deals" ever made – as it has the potential to vastly increase the availability of Johnson & Johnson's one-shot vaccine.
And for those of you who love history, it's often during wartime that American ingenuity and determination are at their best. There's no question that the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were developed in record time. Now the challenge's getting the vaccines produced and into the arms of Americans. The idea of drugs companies, who are typically so competitive and secretive, working together is both a unique and historic approach, and had Black reflecting on her corporate experience,
When I worked in the oil and gas industry we, of course, were competing against other companies. But there also were times when we would partner on projects for an assortment of reasons (profits and reducing risk were the most common) – but never anything like this. This alliance between Merck and Johnson & Johnson shows the power of corporate collaboration when we're focused on the good of the American people.