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At the end of last year, I set some goals for 2015.  One of those goals was to travel to the Bahamas to visit the Atlantis resort.  I still plan on doing that this Fall, but years ago, I was able to visit St. John, and I’m itching to get back there.

St. John is part of the US Virgin Islands, and isn’t exactly the easiest place to get to, but I have some friends that make sure they set aside time to go each year.  There isn’t a commercial airport on the island, so you have fly into St. Thomas.  From the St. Thomas airport, you have to grab your bags and hop on a taxi across the island for roughly 30-45 minutes.  If you weren’t feeling so hot from the four hour flight, don’t worry, the taxi will make you feel much worse in a hurry.  Not only to cars travel on the other side of the road in St. Thomas & St. John, but the islands are so hilly, and so many sharp turns, that even the seasoned riders tend to get car sick from time to time.  After arriving at the Red Hook ferry, you have a roughly 30 minute boat ride over to St. John.  All of that said, once that ferry docks in St. John, you quickly put that eight hour travel day behind you.

To give you some kind of idea, over 75% of the island of St. John is Virgin Islands National Park.  There aren’t huge high rises, and frankly only one major hotel, the Westin.  As a matter of fact, many of the people I know that visit St. John tend to go with several couples and rent a house.  Because of the beautiful forests, it isn’t a big deal to see wild chickens, goats, as well as giant iguanas as you peruse the island.

While the wildlife is great, I don’t know another place on the earth that compares with the beaches of St. John.  The incredibly clear blue water is not only something special to your eyes, but the place is known for its outstanding snorkeling.  When I was there, we not only saw gorgeous fish, but plenty of sting rays as well as sea turtles.

While on the island it is highly recommended to take a tour on a boat of the British Virgin Islands as well.  While it is a steep as well as strange fee (cash only), presently $45 a person to take a boat into the BVI, what you encounter is great.  My personal favorite is a bar/restaurant that is in the middle of a cove that looks as if it is an old abandoned pirate ship, called the Willy T.  Yes, the place tends to get a little crazy, but not sure you will ever see better water anywhere.

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All in all, if you have a solid four or five days for vacation, and can take the long couple of travel days, St. John is a great destination for you.  Just writing about it now, during this long and freezing winter, makes me want to get on a plane and head down there.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t expect to write back to back Alex Rodriguez posts, but after a couple of developments over the last week, I simply couldn’t resist.  On Tuesday, Alex released a rather bizarre hand written note in which apologized to Major League Baseball, the Steinbrenner family, the Yankees, the Players Association as well as the fans.  The crazy thing about the note, is during the note he doesn’t actually ever say what he is actually apologizing for.  He doesn’t admit to anything, and really just a vague strange letter.  Of course, his handwriting has now been analyzed and it is said that he ‘writes like a girl, and has a large ego‘.  It has been rumored that Rodriguez asked the Yankees to allow him to conduct a press conference at the Yankees Spring Training in Tampa, and they flat out rejected him, and instead he went with this strange yet cryptic letter.

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You would like to think that would be enough A-Rod news for the week, but no such luck.  ESPN put together a huge as well as mind blowing piece on what Alex Rodriguez has been up to since the suspension was handed down.  Here is a man that was so delusional that he thought he was not only going to get out of his suspension, but that Major League Baseball would issue an apology.  He was an 18 year old boy when drafted by the Seattle Mariners and never attended college.  According to the article, he now desperately seeks that education not only visiting 70 campuses on his own, but now taking classes at the University of Miami.  He constantly laments about how he could have had the perfect career and walked away just if he hadn’t made some ‘bad decisions’.  A-Rod constantly has intimate sessions with a therapist to attempt to turn over a new leaf in his life.  Its an amazing read, and highly recommended to anyone wanting to get at least a glimpse of what is going on in his head.

Coming out of the piece, I can’t help but feel that Alex Rodriguez is a complex man, who had too much, too soon.  While yes, he has made over a half a billion dollars playing a kids game, it has come at a price.  Its almost as if living in this world of fame and fortune has caused him to not develop as a person, as if he is a robot.  I can’t decide if this will help to get back into the good graces with Yankee fans, but I can tell you, at least from my standpoint, if be productive in the lineup, I’m all for Alex helping us try to get back to the World Series.

 

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“Pitchers and Catchers Report”.  That is the phrase that baseball fans love to hear.  For my New York Yankees that will be February 20 in Tampa, FL.  Its that time of year when every baseball fan can  be an extreme optimist.  The team hasn’t lost a game yet, they had a great off season, and this is going to be the year…

It should be that time of year for us Yankee fans, but instead it is being riddled with stories of A-Rod.  As most people know, Alex Rodriguez was suspended by Major League Baseball for all of the 2014 season due to his involvement in a steroid ring.  This hasn’t been the first time Alex has been in trouble, so this second time has caused more and more people to be disgusted with his antics.

That said, the problem isn’t that simple.  Alex Rodriguez is still owed $60M on his contract by the Yankees.  While they are allowing him to come back to the team, from everything I have read, it seems as if they are going to try to make his life a living hell.  They have told him that he has no chance of playing third base this year, and the only option will be as a designated hitter.  Doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive to trying to win baseball games?  If he is your best third basement, why not let him play if you have to pay him anyway?  The second issue is with some performance bonuses that were built into his contract.  If Rodriguez passes the immortal Willie Mays on the all time home run list (660), he is set to receive $6M from the Yankees.  Alex sits at 554 right now, so if he gets any playing time at all this year, it seems as if it is a lock that he will pass up the Say Hey Kid.  The Yankees are filing a grievance with Major League Baseball protesting that they shouldn’t have to pay out that bonus because it was done in good faith that they could use that milestone in marketing materials.  They understandably feel that trying to market a convicted steroid passing one of the most beloved players in baseball won’t exactly be easy.

If you were a baseball franchise struggling to get by, I could understand the hesitation.  However, we are talking about the New York Yankees here, they are the most storied franchise not just in baseball, but in all American sports, $6M is pocket change to them.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they are electing to handle the situation in this manner.  As far as I’m concerned, they have two choices.

1.  Buy $60M of goodwill with their fan base by simply cutting Rodriguez.  Of course they will still have to pay his salary, but they won’t have to deal with the endless distractions that they are dealing with now simply going into spring training.

2.  Embrace his talent.  Simply say that they don’t agree with the decisions that Alex has made, but they want to win another World Series, and if A-Rod gives them the best chance to do that, he is under contract with the team and they will do what is best for the team to win games.

There is no need for the petty fighting over the $6M bonus for passing Mays.  Its almost as if the Yankees want this distraction to continue.  I can tell you one thing, this Yankee fan wants to simply think about the new season and not the endless drama over A-Rod.

Mid-town Manhattan is pictured from the top of the United Nations building in New York

I now reside in Delaware, where our offices for ASAP Warranty are located, but I’m a New Yorker at heart.  Growing up and spending the vast majority of my life in Brooklyn, and most of my family still out there, I was closely following the ‘huge’ storm that was approaching this week.  It was being broadcasted that New York would receive up to three feet of snow.  It was so bad that a travel ban was set after 9:00 pm Monday night across many cities on the East Coast.  NBA games were canceled, heck even WWE’s Monday Night Raw was canceled in Connecticut, for the first time in over 1,100 episodes.

When it was all said and done, yes, Boston received plenty of snow, but New York City received six inches tops.  There are now estimates that this error by tons of meteorologists costs the North East over one billion dollars!!  Think about that, the fact that everyone buckled down for this ‘storm of the century’, and all cars and public transportation were closed down, Manhattan was at a standstill.  While that had to be quite eerie, to completely shut down the commerce of the biggest city in the United States is a big deal.  How these weather people miscalculated so badly is beyond me.  Of course the sophisticated models for predicting weather improve constantly with technology, but to be that far off on the forecast is hard to believe!

Its unfortunate that the weather men missed this one, because it makes you wonder if when the next “storm of the century” is forecasted for Manhattan if Mayor de Blasio and other authority figures won’t be as aggressive with transportation bans, thus putting lives in jeopardy.  I sure hope all of the meteorologists learn from their mistakes this time around, so that next time this happens people can be prepared properly, and not have what ended up being a false alarm and shutting down the greatest city in the world when it wasn’t necessary.

 

My New York Knicks are on a tear of a two game winning streak after losing 16, yes I said 16, games in a row.  When Carmello Anthony came to town, I think I can speak for all Knick fans in thinking that the franchise was about to move in the right direction.  We even lured in Phil Jackson for an astounding $10M a year to help out, but we seem to be going nowhere but down!

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the way that the NBA is structured.  If you aren’t going to be in the hunt for the NBA Championship, it makes sense to be very bad (just ask Philly) in order to attain a top draft pick.  Unlike football where you have 22 guys on the field for offense and defense, basketball has a grand total of 5.  If you pick up one exceptional player from the draft, it can change your franchise for years and years.  The problem I have is that New York is the biggest city and therefore biggest market in the United States.  To have a team that loses 16 games in row and is barely competitive is an embarrassment.

I long for the days where we had guys like Charles Oakley & Patrick Ewing taking up the paint.  I vividly remember where I was at when John Starks threw down what I believe still should be considered the greatest in game dunk in history.

Watching that clip again and seeing how bonkers Madison Square Garden went actually made me sad.  The Garden hasn’t gone crazy like that probably since ‘Linsanity’ a few years ago, and we still didn’t make the playoffs that year.

I really do have trust in Phil Jackson and know that he has his heart in the right place, and wants to put the pieces in place to turn the organization around.  Those things can’t happen overnight, but as a fan, its just so difficult to watch a proud team look the way they look right now.

There was a story earlier this month that spoke about Carmello Anthony speaking with Knicks brass as to potentially shutting it down for the rest of the season because of a sore knee.  My eyeballs about fell out of my head as I read that.  In what other profession can you make over one hundred million dollars and then be encouraged to not do your job, while you still get paid?  I understand the Knicks are looking for that draft pick, but what about all of those season ticket holders who pay their hard earned money to see the team play at home 41 times a year, and now their best players is just going to sit out the last half of the season because his knee is sore?

It seems as if the NBA needs to think long and hard about revamping their lottery rules.  Right now, it is undoubtedly encourages teams to lose.  What good could that possibly do, other than alienate your fan base?  I know it angers this long time once proud Knicks fan.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch a ton of college football, but was excited to see how the first College Football National Championship would play out.  I have to say, I thought it was outstanding.  First of all, it made for extremely exciting New Years Day games.  Since there were no teams from the North East, I had no rooting interest in the games, and just got to sit back and watch as a fan.

The Rose Bowl has always been a big deal, but has since lost a bit of its luster since coming in to the BCS era.  That was not the case when Florida State went up against Oregon.  It was great to see the sun setting in an old iconic stadium such as the Rose Bowl, and then see the amazing speed of Oregon simply take over Jameis Winston and the Seminoles.  After Oregon’s performance with their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Marcus Mariota, I didn’t see an way they could be stopped in the championship.

On the flip side, you had SEC powerhouse Alabama taking on Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.  On a personal note, I have a dear friend, who didn’t even attend Ohio State, but quite possibly might be the most passionate, yet obnoxious, Ohio State fan on the planet.  Therefore, I think my body was subconsciously rooting for the Crimson Tide.  Alabama jumped out to an early lead, and it looked like I wouldn’t have to hear from Bob all week, but Ohio State stormed back for a 42-35 victory.  What I heard from Bob via email that week, wasn’t anything compared to after the national championship game!

Having the finals at Cowboy stadium in Dallas was a great idea.  I was fortunate enough to take a tour of the stadium during a business trip, and it was unlike anything I had ever seen before in my life.  The sheer size and luxury of the stadium, not to mention the video boards, is something you have to see in person to believe.  Pictures do not do it justice.

Thus, it had to be special for both the players and fans of the two schools to have such an important game in an amazing stadium.  I barely made it home from work for the kickoff, but the game did not disappoint.  Also, since the game was on the ABC family of networks, one of my favorite comedians, Jimmy Kimmel appeared on the show picking out some of his favorite signs from the game, and selected a nice dig at Ohio State’s coach, Urban Meyer as his favorite.

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The spectacle of it all was quite exciting to watch.  I know there was much controversy as to whether a playoff would be good for college football, and you would have to think that this was a resounding success.  The only downside is, that I will have to listen to my friend Bob for a full year about the success of ‘his’ Ohio State Buckeyes.

Next year is going to be a big one for ASAP Warranty.  I wanted to put my goals in writing before the year ended so I can look back and see what we accomplished.

Our goal for 2015 is to double our staff and become an industry leader in offering vehicle protection plans to our loyal customers.  We have a lot of work ahead of us to make this happen.  We plan on working on an overhaul of the website, as well as some new product offerings.  I have all the confidence in the world in our staff to help us get to where we want to go.

While growing a business will create a bunch of work, I personally want to do a better job of separating my work and my personal life.  Yes, there are times when you have to deal with work issues at night, but I want to make a whole hearted effort to leave work behind at 8pm each night until the next morning.  I know that taking a stance like this will be difficult, but at the same time, it will not only lead to better health for me, but will cultivate the relationships I have with my family and friends.

I also would love to find time to visit the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas next year.

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From what I have seen online and read, the aquariums, waterslides, and grounds are some of the neatest things on earth.  I would love to try to get out there next year.  I’m hoping if I write it down now, I can make it a priority to make the trip next Fall.  I’ve been talking about it for years, and now just need to pull the trigger.

Lastly, I’d like to be a bit more healthy in 2015.  Whether it is just getting outside and going for a walk each day, getting back into jogging or playing basketball with my cousins, would be great to try to sweat at least once per day.  Life is too short, so we need to take care of ourselves while we are here.

2015 is going to be exciting, I can’t wait to see what happens and can’t wait to look back next year at this time and hopefully see that I have accomplished all of my goals.

My name is Michael Hakim, and I have decided to use this new site as a place to speak to both my work as well as some of of my hobbies.  I am currently the President of ASAP Warranty, here is Wilmington, Delaware.  When we came up with the name, ASAP stands for American Standard Auto Protection, and we provide service faster than about anyone in the space, so we felt ASAP fit the company ethos perfectly.  We are also among the industry leaders for providing the highest level of protection for your automobile while keeping competitive prices.  It has been an honor to grow ASAP over the last few years, and I couldn’t have done it without our incredible staff.

Even though I live now in Wilmington, I grew up in New York, and a huge Big Apple sports fan.  While it was sad to see Derek Jeter go this past season, it was an honor to follow him for the last 20 years, and a true representative of the great city of New York.  We’ve been through the bad times, the great times, and now back to the bad times with Derek, I hope he decides to stay on with the organization, and I look forward to the Yankees building back up to be on top of the baseball world.

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Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for my dreaded Knicks.  We had all hoped that when Phil Jackson agreed to come home, the franchise would be put back on the right track.  Unfortunately that didn’t take place right away, but I’m holding out hope  The only bright spot for the Giants this year has been the coming out party of Odell Beckham Jr., but of course we have to stay positive.

Besides being a huge sports fan, I also love comedy such as Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel.  Unfortunately, getting older, I’m not sure about staying up late enough each night to watch them, but I always enjoy a good laugh, and they are as good as anyone in the business.

Lastly, on the weekends, I love to spend time on the grill, or smoker, depending on my moods.  There is nothing like a perfectly cooked brisket, and I am constantly trying to accomplish just that.

Over the next months, I hope to be writing about each of these topics, and hope you come back often.