Iskaral Pust

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  1. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity for a midweek workout. So on Saturday I did shoulder press, pull-ups, etc and then today was squats, deadlifts, etc. Both sessions went really well. I had only a narrow window of opportunity this morning so I had to hit the gym only 30 minutes after breakfast (I couldn’t face squats with zero fuel in my system). Fortunately it went pretty well aside from some acid reflux and general discomfort that didn’t actually impair my lifts. I’m so much stronger on a weekend afternoon than a midweek evening or early morning. Nevertheless, I still want to include a midweek workout whenever possible. But the week ahead looks challenging again with work travel and family commitments after work.
  2. The $5bn debt load was undoubtedly a factor because it meant the company had less flexibility to weather the storm that hit their industry: - Walmart has waged a price war on toys for several years because their retail line is broad enough to absorb it, but not so for Toys’R’Us. - Parents buy (kids want) fewer toys now. Electronic games, apps, social media, etc claim a larger share of wallet and a larger share of time. Just take a look at Mattel’s stock price over the past decade — and nothing to do with private equity. - Toys’R’Us and Babies’R’Us were classic mid-level retail, but retail has significantly bifurcated in recent years into very cheap or else very expensive & frou-frou. The demand for mid-level has reduced a lot. - Toys’R’Us was excluded from some of the most successful/profitable toys over the past decade as LEGO, American Doll, Disney (Star Wars, Marvel, princesses, etc) and similar opened their own chains of stores to retail directly and deploy vertical integration. - A huge amount of toy shopping, especially around Christmas, shifted to Amazon. - Big box retail generally has seen a huge drop in foot traffic. Shopping habits have changed. Look at Sports Authority and Best Buy too. - Kids liked shopping at Toys’R’Us; a lot of parents were less enthused. It’s a lot of cheap, plastic, schlocky crap. Once a kid is in there, they see a million garish things they want that the parent knows they’ll play with for only a week. Parents preferred to shop online where they wouldn’t have kids acting like crack addicts, and where they could look for higher quality toys (in manufacture and content). I hate that private equity owners loot their companies for fees before there are profits (because the investors in the private equity fund are being looted too), and I hate that they use all the debt just to buy the company and milk it, not to invest in improving it. But Toys’R’Us would have been in steep decline anyway. Perhaps not bankrupt but definitely at risk. A lot of retail was bought out by private equity before the financial crisis, back when the ever-growing consumerism and the strength of underlying real estate assets made it seem like a sure thing. Several have collapsed already and many more will soon.
  3. Although Salah grabs the headlines, Mane had two assists and made the key pass to set up Robertson to cross for the second. Good to see him continuing to build his form.
  4. Salah with four goals. It’s Suarez-esque, but with a very different style. If we didn’t have an international break approaching, and I believe Egypt aren’t playing a match, then he’d have been rested after Firmino’s goal. Nice for him to pad his stats while he had a chance. A pity we can’t redistribute some of these goals to last Saturday. Ings seems to have moved ahead of Solanke. A bit unlucky not to score there.
  5. RB has been a relatively weak spot all season, which is why Mourinho targeted that position. Both TAA and Gomez are very young and inexperienced at this level. Gomez’ overall level of play really impresses me, but he still gets caught inattentive at times. And right now he’s coming back into the team very rusty with no football in the past two months. Trent has done very well for his age and experience, offers good crossing and has speed for recovery but he needs that speed for recovery because he gets caught out a lot. Both of them will improve and perhaps play other positions in the long run (CB and MF) but right now we’re getting by while being a bit weak there, especially since our right-sided CB is not Virg to compensate.
  6. A lot of that consistency comes from resolute tackling, forcing defensive turnovers and making the opposition work extremely hard for tries. On the flip side, the critical first and third tries came from enterprising kicks to change the dynamic of the attack (England had one like that too). It’s not a case of Ireland just being solid and resolute to grind the opposition. There’s some good variation there too.
  7. Cruising now. Good that Salah ended his goal drought.
  8. Comfortable start but getting a bit sloppy. And Can off injured.
  9. Well done Ireland. The Stockdale try right at the end of the first half was the highlight for me. They refused to settle for half time and forced a conclusive gap to reply to England’s try.
  10. Ireland are almost there. They’ve contained England’s attack pretty well but they need to see it out.
  11. Finished The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell, second in his Dublin trilogy. It’s a humorous crime fiction with a plot centered on an outpouring of rage over corrupt property developers who contributed to the big real estate crash in Ireland. So somewhat relatable in other regions too. Well written, quite funny again. This trilogy has been very good so far. The single prequel book wasn’t quite as good. I’ll finish the trilogy soon. Now reading GRRM’s Dreamsongs Volume 1. I was wary of reading a sophomoric back catalogue of early works, and the foreword description doesn’t assuage that fear, but the short stories stand up quite well. I’m not sure if I’ll read the entire collection consecutively or just revisit here and there between other books.
  12. I’m surprised he hasn’t received more backlash yet. On one hand he has a point that United haven’t had much pedigree in Europe in the past 5-6 years and are in a rebuild. On the other hand, how can Utd fans accept him trashing their “heritage” (toxic choice of words by him) and claiming that City have a better heritage? They’re a prideful bunch, even if most of their success was in domestic competition while they had a vast financial advantage. On the third hand, he was hired as a serial winner and has spent a lot of money to assemble a team that is less than the sum of its parts and got deservedly eliminated by a fragile Sevilla team. Rafa had barely finished his litany of “facts” before the media and pundits tore him down for cracking under pressure. Looks like a similar situation.
  13. He’s missed most of the season with injury and his initial return resulted in a further setback. To the extent he has played lately, there have been plenty of flicks and turns as usual but not in a good way: slowing down attacks, out of sync with team mates, ruining the rhythm. Lallana has been very good for England. He was very good for Liverpool for the first half of last season, but was hit and miss before and after that and is currently very far from his best.
  14. Agreed. A bit anti-climactic to get a domestic opponent. Oh well, we’ll just have to beat them to get a real glamour tie in the semis.
  15. Hart is a strange case but Lallana, Welbeck, Livermore and Rose look just as strange considering their lack of starts in recent months. Without Kane, it’s a good time to practice Plan B tactics and pick a team to sit deep and counter-attack at speed through Vardy.