Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Red, who's definitely not the business half of Red & Black, has heard over the years – especially from politicians and the media – that drug companies are the bad guys. Charging astronomical prices for drugs. Disclosing dangerous side effects or that it's potentially habit-forming. OK, they may be legally required to disclose that information but they do it at either the end of TV commercials in a way designed to make you "tune out" or, once you buy the drug, in the tiniest print. (OK, be honest, how many of you read the little pamphlet that comes with your medication? Red doesn't, and she was the straight-A student!)

Now, those same companies are spending millions and millions of dollars researching, developing, and testing drugs to prevent or treat Covid-19. Red, like many people, is thrilled at the news of seemingly successful vaccines rolling out any day now. However, at the risk of getting an unwanted business lesson on the drug industry, she comments to Black about all those previous conflicting impressions about the drug industry.

Black knows better than to try and explain to Red how you have to amortize R&D (research and development) expenses, or the fact that drug companies are businesses (not not-for-profit) so have a financial obligation to its shareholders. Not to mention, the issue of why manufacturing drugs has moved overseas. At this point, the bottom-line (pun intended) is that without more information you can't determine if drugs companies are going to be the good guys (although there's a financial implication, and accounting entry, for "goodwill") or the bad guys.

Time will tell … but meanwhile it provoked Black to ask:

Does doing good have to be mutually exclusive from doing well?

When Black came up with the idea of daily Banter Bites, Red thought it was conceptually great, but a bit unrealistic. At first glance, having to come up with a short comment from Red (ok, keeping it short might be a challenge), followed by a quick response from Black (no problem there), seemed like an easy task. But Red was concerned about keeping it current and relevant to readers – whether something happening in our lives, current events, or something that Black found in her non-stop reading and research, and told Black:

I'm not sure we'll have enough material to be able to post every day.

Rather than argue or debate, Black humored her sister, and suggested they do it a few days a week instead of every day. Meanwhile, she found it ironic that Red, the self-proclaimed queen of blah-blah-blah, was concerned about not having enough topics to discuss. But as with most things, when given a little time, Red often crosses to the "Black" side of things. We soon were coming up with more potential material than there were days to post and expanded Banter Bites to six days of the week (we believe Sundays shouldn't be spent on gizmos, although that doesn't stop Black from working).

We had gotten into a rhythm of daily Banter Bites, and then it was suggested to expand the posts as readers wanted to know more about the topic including what inspired or prompted it. Black immediately came up with the idea of adding a "Banter Bite Backstory" to each post.

So, how did Red react this time? Instead of being reluctant, Red embraced the idea:

It's so much fun being able to share with our readers the backstory of each Banter Bite. It's funny, because most times we're just spinning on a dime and reacting to things that happen – whether current events or in our lives. But isn't that what we all do every day? Add to the mix that Black and I usually see things very differently, and you end up with no shortage of things for us to say.
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I drafted this post weeks ago, but it seems fitting to post it today. Sometimes we need days to officially remind us to help others but for some people it seems to come naturally. Yes, today is National Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. But, that's not what I want to talk about.

This might not seem much to you. And I know it was truly nothing to Black. Just a quick reply on Twitter that she tossed off without a second thought. But to me it showed how, to some people, charity in the purest and best sense of the word just comes, well, naturally.

The details of where it started really isn't important, but it was a personal comment made in response to one of our "Words & Banter" posts and had a ripple effect as it ultimately involved a company mentioned in the post. The individual let us know that if replying to our post resulted in the company helping resolve their problem, then they'd send Black a bottle of red or white wine. (OK, I probably shouldn't disclose that Black's the one behind our tweets, but anyone who knows us would know that.) Most people, I suspect, would have thought, "Wow, that's a very nice offer" and then would have replied with their preference.

But not Black … she simply (and sincerely) replied:

Fingers crossed … but no gift necessary. Instead make a donation to a favorite charity.

It was like any other weekday morning, a tumbler of hot coffee on my desk and the morning news on the TV in the background, as I brace myself as I open Outlook. Computer issues? Nope, especially now that I have a new computer. Instead, it's the daily onslaught of emails generated by Black as she seems to do her best thinking while the rest of us are sleeping.

Well, the subject line of one of her emails, "Crazy idea?", stands out and I open it to find an image of a Good Humor truck and a leading question:

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