I see that NYC teachers have again refused to go back to class to teach. They say they are afraid to go back to unsafe conditions. (Of course, they say they are afraid for others/not for themselves. Uh, huh)

And I get fear. As I’ve mentioned, when this all started I happened to be reading the book about the blitzkrieg nightly bombings of London during world war 2. Imagine how horrifying that must be. And different folks reacted differently to it.

Some would go into the bunkers, while others would not even bother. But the ones who went into the bunkers would come out once the all-clear siren sounded. But, for others, that was not enough. They stayed scared to come out. (Some may never have come out?)

Isn’t it the same here?  In NYC there are virtually ZERO deaths/new cases down here for the past couple of months. Isn’t that enough of an all-clear siren?  These teachers all say/rally that they care about educating “their” kids. But, if they really believed that, wouldn’t they just face their fear and take the first steps and get back into the schools (yeah, wear masks, social distance, wash your hands, create pods).  How do they justify this when so many other schools have been open and their teachers back to work for weeks? (I’d think these parents here in NYC are seeing kids from all over the country going back to school and wondering “why not my kids?”)

Also, another, related thought: What if others (who were also afraid, I am sure—all through this deadly epidemic) stayed home?

Nurses? Doctors? Janitors? Truck drivers? Grocery store clerks? Warehouse workers?

People who DID THEIR JOB, even when scared and in WAY more danger back then than there is now. And—how dangerous is fighting these out of control forest fires? What if the tens of thousands of front line heroes fighting these west coast fires said, “Ah, it’s dangerous out there. I don’t feel safe going.”  Where would California and Oregon be? What kind of country would we be?

I don’t know. I hate to judge others. But, really, is going to school to teach kids who need it and miss it all THAT dangerous?  REALLY???

Here is the daily NYC chart of deaths from COVID-19.

Come on, folks!  Be smart. Be careful. But—

Do Your Job!  Just like so many millions of others have done through the months-long (and relatively successful) process of flattening this curve.

Just my 2 cents. Stay safe. But…


My Brother (Doug) and Bill Russell

This article first appeared in the Post Journal on October 28, 2007, days after my brother returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Las Vegas and a visit with his sports hero and a few other NBA legends.

The photograph below, which spans two pages in a hard-cover book entitled ”NBA at 50,” is of a man, who has his chin resting in his hands. The shot is taken from such a close range that one can read the inscriptions on the rings that he wears on each one of his fingers. Bill Russell, one of the NBA’s 50 all-time greatest players, knows all about rings and, more specifically, those of the championship variety. After all, between 1956 and 1969, the former Boston Celtics great led his team to 11 titles in 13 seasons.

Tack on two NCAA championships he won at the University of San Francisco and an Olympic gold medal and Russell is arguably the greatest winner in the history of team sports.

” … The only really important thing was to try and win every game,” Russell said in a quote accompanying the magnificent photograph, ”because when I got through no one could say, ‘Well, he was the best at this or that.’ The only thing that really mattered was who won. And there is nothing subjective about that.”

Powerful words.

Not surprising, at least to Doug Berlin.

The Jamestown resident has literally carried the book – and figuratively decades of memories – all the way to Las Vegas, hoping to have his dreams realized by rubbing elbows with Russell, his lifelong hero.

So as Berlin sits down to eat breakfast last week at the ultra-posh Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino – he was one of 30 campers to take part in the Bill Russell and His Legendary Friends Basketball Camp last week – he can’t believe what he’s seeing.

First, John Havlicek walks in, he the owner of eight championship rings and a former teammate of Russell’s. Sam Jones, another Celtic icon with 10 rings, soon follows and Berlin has to pinch himself to realize it isn’t all a dream.

At least he doesn’t think it is.

But then Russell makes his appearance. Berlin, a 53-year-old U.S. Postal worker who first saw the 6-foot-9 center at Madison Square Garden in the early 1960s, just about choked on his fresh fruit.

”He walked in front of me and I said, ‘It’s him, my hero,”’ Berlin recalled. ”It’s like I was watching him on a big-screen TV.”

Larger than life.

Berlin was finally snapped back to reality when he was tapped on the shoulder.

”Doug,” said a man known for his no-look passes, championship rings and ear-to-ear smiles,

”do you mind if I sit here?” Berlin’s new breakfast guest was none other than Magic Johnson.

Berlin was smitten with Russell upon seeing him for the first time during a visit to Madison Square Garden with his father Al more than 40 years ago.

”I saw the Celtics come out with those green shiny uniforms and then this guy came out and it was like there was a light on Bill Russell. … There were nine guys on the court and this vision.”

From that point on, Berlin emulated everything Russell did.

”I was the only Jewish kid on Long Island wearing low-cut black Chuck Taylor Converse shoes … and I was the only Jewish kid wearing the No. 6. … I could have gone any one of a million ways, but it just happened to be him. With my luck he was on a great team that won, which made it all the better.”

And even though his interest in the NBA isn’t nearly as great now as when the Celtics were piling up championships like cordwood, Berlin’s love for Russell has never waned.

”He’s been a hero all these years,” Berlin said.

Jim Berlin has been well aware of his younger brother’s love for the Hall-of-Famer, dating back to the days when the boys shared a bedroom in their Long Island home.

So a few weeks ago he decided to do something about it.

The website for Bill Russell and his Legendary Friends Adult Basketball Camp proclaims the four-day visit to Las Vegas as an ”incredible weekend filled with basketball skills and competition, fun and exciting games. Establishing acquaintances with this exceptional group will be the foundation for a most memorable event.”

Amazingly, there’s no embellishment in that description.

In addition to Russell, Johnson, Havlicek and Jones, the other ”legends” who appeared at the camp were Julius Erving, Clyde Drexler, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Charles Barkley and Ann Meyers-Drysdale.

In the middle of it all was Berlin, who read about Russell’s camp in The Boston Globe and thought it would be ”cool,” but never envisioned himself ever attending it.

That’s when Jim Berlin, the chief executive officer and founder of Logistics Plus in Erie, sprang into action.

”I got an email from my brother and he asked me if I’d seen the website,” Doug said. ”I wrote back to him and told him I had.”

Jim’s response?

”Pack your bags, you’re going.”

Despite initial reluctance, Doug was able to get the time off from work and finally agreed to take his brother up on the offer.

”He left me no wiggle room,” Doug said.

Added Jim: ”Once I heard Bill Russell was having his first fantasy camp, I said, ‘Doug needs to be there.’ ”

So on Oct. 17, Doug and his wife Maureen took a flight from Buffalo to Las Vegas.

They were eventually met by their daughter Erin, who flew in from Florida. Their sons, Matt and Mickey, received daily updates at home.

”I guess when Jim saw this,” Doug said as tears welled in his eyes, ”he knew it was made for me.”

The owner of a magnetic personality with the ability to carry on conversation with people in all walks of life, Doug was the only ”camper” who made the trip as the result of a ”gift.”

Still wired from the trip days later, Doug recalled a conversation with Russell’s daughter,

Karen, on the first day of the camp, during which he told her he was a mailman from Jamestown. When he mentioned that he was there courtesy of a gift from his brother, she was stunned, calling him the luckiest guy at the camp.

But Doug knew Ms. Russell wasn’t considering him fortunate only because he was in the company of these great players.

Rather, she realized how unusual it was for brothers to have the kind of relationship that the Berlins do, and that one brother was able to fulfill another’s lifelong dream.

”It’s not that he sent Maureen and I to Las Vegas, gave us ‘x’ amount of dollars and said, ‘Have a good time,’ ” Doug said, as he shook his head in disbelief. ”It’s that Bill Russell is my boyhood hero, who is doing this once-in- a-lifetime thing that Jim found out about and as soon as he heard about it, he said, ‘This would be great for my brother.’

”Here’s a guy who used to be a factory worker and really an ‘every man.’ He wrote scripts and he had a chance to go to Hollywood, but he had a family so he didn’t do it. So he worked at Red Star and it went under. He started his company on his own. In 10 years, he’s got hundreds of employees all over the world, and he hasn’t changed one bit.

”If you knew him 20 years ago, he’s exactly the same.”

Jim, meanwhile, said that sending his brother to Las Vegas ”made me feel great.”

”It’s so neat,” he said. ”He’s such a good guy, and he’s done so much for kids in the Jamestown community for 20 years, and he loves doing it. … It was kind of a way for me to give back.”

The legends and campers spent plenty of time together during their weekend in Las Vegas. Not only were there basketball games – Doug was on a team coached by West, Drexler and Meyers-Drysdale – but there were also ”mixers” and meals at the hotel, where Doug and Maureen had a suite on the 50th floor.

”The bathtub was the size of my bedroom at home,” Doug joked.

By the end of the weekend, Doug had managed to finish in fourth place in the hot-shot competition despite being hobbled by a pair of painful Achilles’ tendons. But, most importantly, he had had a chance to talk, to laugh and to sit down and have a meal with each of the basketball greats.

The autographs and photo opportunities were merely a bonus.

”They were all engaging and warm in their own way,” Doug said.

When it was time to say goodbye, the mailman from Jamestown sought out Russell one last time.

”I told him that he’s always been my hero and that he’d done nothing to diminish it,” Doug said.

A day later, back in Jamestown, he received a visit from another, more personal, hero – his brother.

”I told him the trip was the greatest,” Doug said. ”He just smiled.”

Summer In Long Island

Long Island NY

Photo 42814667 © | Dreamstime.com

I’ve been spending much of the summer down here in Long Island, where I grew up.  I’ve done this for many summers now and I enjoy getting “back to my roots” for a bit, and I feel I can still be PRETTY effective from here (though it’s nowhere near the same as actually being there—not a big fan of “remote” working having done it myself for a few years 🙂 )

Anyway, life here is pretty normal other than wearing masks – I hate it, but it’s better than not being able to do anything. The beach and the boardwalk are pretty normal and most people don’t wear masks there thank God 🙂 . Restaurants are also pretty open here. In the city, there is still no inside dining, which must suck for the restaurant owners. The city has tried to help offset that by allowing more creativity to create outside seating spaces. We went to a paella place on 2nd Ave one night and at 7 pm ALL the waiters, busboys, hostesses, the owners suddenly set up a half dozen tables, barricades, awnings, etc in the BUS LANE (new law allows that) to extend their 6 outside sidewalk tables to a total of 12. Not sure if they can make it with 12 tables, but better than six. Though I’m not sure what they will do when it rains or winter comes. Does not seem like many restaurants can survive here. That will be a shame.

That being said, it strikes me that in times like these it is those who are resourceful and creative and energetic and try to “find a way or make one” (my original thought for the day) who give themselves the best chance to survive this mess.  You don’t hide under your bed or throw your hands up. You figure things out. You control what you can control (none of us control the pandemic’s course). You keep plugging.

We saw a thing on CBS Sunday morning last week about a champion archer who has no arms. He has taken a situation that would have many people “disabled” for life and not only learned to shoot a bow and arrow with his legs/feet but has become an expert at it.  Here’s a guy who would have every reason to “hang it up” and think “woe is me” and feel sorry for himself and live a sad, unfulfilled life. But he didn’t. When I see stories like that, it reminds me of the resilience each of us has within ourselves (if only we can find it!) and that our species has to deal with hardships. We can do this!

I’m proud of how all of our folks have responded during this crisis. Staying strong, being on the job, finding a way or making one despite all the obstacles. In crises like this, some survive and some die. And while we can’t completely control what happens to us, we can surely have the right mindset and do EVERYTHING WE CAN to get through it and come out the other side even stronger/better.



Clearly Identify The Mission

It always seems wise to me to know exactly what we are all trying to accomplish.

The first clear mission was:

Flatten the curve so hospitals don’t get overwhelmed.

That made sense and after a probably too late/somewhat rocky start, seems that this part of the mission, at least, was accomplished. Hospitals are not overrun (actually many are near empty now, with staff having their hours cut back) and it seems, by and large, we are ready to handle the cases that are still to come. (The fact that we now realize that 80% of those who went on ventilators actually died, and “science” now recognizes that ventilators might NOT have been what they all needed—well that’s another story).

But can we all agree that the next overriding phase of this mission is:

Get the economy going so that the country does not fall apart.

Many have been saying from the beginning, and I believe now more are starting to see that this “cure” can, in fact, end up being worse than the disease. 36 million newly unemployed (think about that for a minute!). What will these people do, when their jobs don’t come back and millions of others’ jobs don’t come back, with businesses that don’t survive.

And can’t we also agree that we are “adult” enough to have a variable level of fear? If your restaurant does not allow anyone in without a mask, then people who feel everyone should be wearing a mask can eat there, and those who don’t believe in that, and won’t put a mask on, can’t. (To those who say that takes away my freedom, STFU, because even before the pandemic you couldn’t go into lots of places barefoot because of the sign, “No shirt, no shoes, no service”. That is the restaurant owner’s choice.

But if I own a restaurant and don’t feel you need a mask to come in, then those who feel the same will come to my restaurant. This way everyone can be comfortable in their own space, taking/avoiding the risks THEY perceive, without infringing on anyone else’s “rights”. Let people seek their OWN level of safety, comfort, and let society determine when we get back to a new normal, whatever that may turn out to be.

Our political leaders are not gods. They/no one knows for sure how this all turns out. Staying indoors til there is a cure (hell, the common cold has been around for a million years and there is still no cure for that) is NOT a successful solution. Viruses have been and will be with us forever. How we learn to coexist with them should be up to individuals/not to a government mandate that is always (as they say) “based on science and safety” (what jibberish!) when the data is incomplete and changes all the time. (Remember, people used “science” to justify slavery, the extermination of Jews, the dominance of men over women). My radar goes off when anyone hides behind that bullshit :). All the scientists who predicted that “blood would be on the hands of Governor Kemp of Georgia” because he reopened too soon. Where are they now? Have not heard from them lately.

Danger is real. No doubt. Fear is real. No doubt. But lots of Chicken Littles out there as well as big, bad wolves. People should be allowed to make their own determinations of how much risk they choose to take. Let them decide if their restaurant requires everyone wearing masks or not. They’ll be those who won’t go, but those that will. And that creates an economy again.

We flattened the curve. Now let’s get the economy going and society up and running again.

Just Sayin’


Hard to believe over 30,000,000 (thirty million!) Americans have become unemployed in the past 2 months.

Frigging devastating! And likely will be for a long time. Estimates are that 100,000 US businesses will NEVER come back. That’s unbelievable!

We are very lucky and grateful that we were all able to continue working throughout this. Great job, everyone, and a testament to our tenacity and willingness to do “whatever it takes”.

Thank you.

And not only that, the fact that we were able to provide such vital, essential services to our many good customers, as well as procuring and delivering millions of pieces of PPE all around the country and the world (when it was needed the most) will stand as yet another shining moment in LP’s long history.

Proud! 💪

Thank you all.


Some Thoughts On This

Check this video out:

That’s me on the left 🙂

I admit that I don’t know the difference between shit and Shinola about viruses or medicine. But…

Can’t we all agree that as bad as all this is, it is not what we thought it might be?

Not blaming anyone. No one’s fault. Assuming no one wanted this, and that everyone is trying their best. But…

The initial fears have not STATISTICALLY come to pass. Though every death is tragic (clearly) this is not the pandemic like the one in 1918 that killed FIFTY MILLION PEOPLE. This has killed way too many, but not statistically more than many other things THAT HAVE NOT GONE AWAY.

Think about all the sad stories we heard every day on the news before about the tragic effects of:

Heart Disease
Domestic Violence
Drug abuse

None of these went away when this new Coronavirus suddenly showed up. They are ALL still here with us. And many are exacerbated by living in this new “normal”. And it’s only just beginning. Millions of people out of work, unable to support their families, losing confidence, losing hope will lead to more of the above, I’m pretty sure. And those deaths will be just as tragic as are the 70,000+ Covid-19 deaths.

As with most things, I think there has to be a balance. This virus will be here, like all the other viruses, forever. Sure, good hygiene, common decency, common sense, are all good things that probably should have been here before and may likely be with us going forward. That’s a good thing. But this isolation and fear is NOT healthy and the results of that, though harder to measure perhaps, may very well be worse than the disease itself.

Short term isolation to help “flatten the curve” made sense. The idea being that it gives the various local health systems the time and ability not to get overwhelmed by a surge of critical patients so that anyone who needed it could help proper help. That has worked. Here is NYC’s daily death rate.


Awful. But clearly the surge has died down, and hospitals are now not even close to being overrun. The US Naval hospital ship has left (and was barely used). The “hospital” in Central Park is being taken down. Good. That job got done.

And here in Erie, there have been 2 COVID-19 deaths, both elderly (still sad) this entire time. But…

Does that require this destruction of our economy that will adversely affect (please see above list) in our community?

Can’t we just say, “Well, thank God, the direst estimates were wrong.”

And can’t we now “re-calibrate” and realize that for 99% of people this disease, even if contracted, is not a death sentence—not even close—and get back to the “normal” human job of providing for our family and being Actually connected to our friends?

Facts are facts. They can be interpreted in many ways. But let’s keep them in the proper perspective.

Balance. That is usually the best way.

Just my 2 cents, though I may not know the difference between shit and Shinola.

You should also read this: https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-woodstock-pandemic-1968-idUSKBN22J2MJ



With a little help from our friends (at Delta)

To All,

Well, Megan, Yuriy and I got to the Detroit airport yesterday evening just in time to meet our first Delta Cargo charter I mentioned yesterday, arriving with a full plane load of PPE masks and other items for various American customers we’re delivering for. Awesome!

We actually arrived at the Same Exact Time as the charter did. Thank you, John and Hallie 🙂 and we met it on the tarmac as it headed into the gate. (Logistics, baby! 😀)

Delta 01

Incredible effort by all—Eileen and her team in China, Russel in Houston, Kelly, Megan, G2 and others here in Erie.

Delta 02

The ground crew quickly jumped to work and the entire plane was unloaded in 45 minutes.

Colleen was a most delightful hostess and took us to watch the entire process, and then to the Delta warehouse where we met Mohammed, who runs it. They were glad for the business (Detroit airport looked like a ghost town—sad). Both were upbeat and hopeful, even in a hotspot like Detroit, that we are at least beginning to emerge from all this and will be getting back to more normal business soon.

Delta 03

This could not have been possible without the help/hopefully fledgling partnership with Delta Airlines.

Unless you have been intimately involved in trying to book these charters, as Eileen and Russell and Yuriy and Kelly and Megan and G2 have, you really cannot fully understand how impossibly crazy it’s been. And not just “business is harder now because of the pandemic” tough. This has been WAY beyond that.

—Trying to place orders for product in China, where the demand has soared
—Manufacturers canceling promised orders
—Quality control
—Varying, very specific certifications required by customers/governments
—Other parties buying out/stealing orders that were being produced for us.
—Russell dealing with new rules, changes, cancellations of flights
—Trucks waiting in lines MILES long trying to deliver product to the airport.
—Chinese customs changing their export rules.
—US customs changing our import rules.
—Ground crews in China overwhelmed with the volume of cargo and planes.
—China changing rules regarding planes/crews/quarantines
—Eileen spending 24 hours straight at the Shanghai airport to help make sure our cargo all got loaded onto the RIGHT airplane 🙂
—And on and on and on.

And, whatever issues that WE/LP have been dealing with—Delta and the other airlines, had to deal with them, and many, many more (they are the actual OPERATORS in this picture!) Total chaos and constant changing, sometimes by the hour. Total Wild West.

And that’s amidst this time when airlines are already getting economically crushed by this pandemic. Tough, tough, tough.

So, it’s been very heartening that we have been able to work so closely with Delta (my favorite airline) with a little help from many of their top leadership, from Ed Bastian, their CEO, through their corporate leadership, and right down to the front line troops like Mohammad and Colleen.

If you have ever flown Delta, you know of the superior customer service and attention they provide. It was no different here. They, like us, know that even in tough times, you need to treat each other right. You find the patience and the creativity and the mental toughness and the resilience to navigate through, and they did. (The old John Wooden quote: “Tough times does not build character, it reveals character”.

A good and positive experience for our LP team, and a terrific result for our customers who will today be getting the masks and other personal protective equipment they ordered through us delivered to them. Success!

So, thank you, Ed, Shawn, Eric, Arthur, Mohammad and Colleen. Thank you from me, from LP, from our customers and from those who will now be able to feel safer and more secure as “inch by inch” we/all of us, continue to get through this awful mess. Thank you.

Onward! with a little help from our friends… 🙂


Jim Berlin, CEO, Logistics Plus

Delta 04   Delta 05 Delta 06

(click any of the three photos above to see larger version)

Data Driven

You know how all the public officials like to say they want to be guided by the data?

“The data should guide our actions.”

“Data driven.”

“Listen to what the numbers are telling us.”

Okay. Fair enough.

Well, this morning I got up at 3:15, even earlier than usual 🙂 I just worked out and now I have an hour before I go wake Hallie up. So I got on google, grabbed my calculator and figured I’d actually LOOK at the data.

I looked at Erie, Crawford, and Warren County. That is an area around us of over 3,500 square miles. That’s a pretty big region. Bigger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

The population of these 3 counties is about 400,000 people (270k in Erie, 85k in Crawford and 40k in Warren)

To date:

Erie County has 62 confirmed cases and 0 deaths.
Crawford County has 17 confirmed cases and 0 deaths.
Warren County has 2 cases and 1 death. (An 82 year old woman; RIP)

This is what the actual DATA tells us about the pandemic’s toll in our region.

So, I wondered how that looked statistically. And, because this is not yet over (though, thankfully, it looks like we may be on the downside of it) I DOUBLED the numbers . IF it more than doubles, this analysis will be wrong.

So, even if we end up at TWICE the number of cases and deaths, your chances of getting COVID-19 in this tri-county area of NW PA is .0004. This means that 4 out of every 10,000 people (about the population of Edinboro and Northeast combined) will get the disease. And for many, getting the disease feels like a cold or flu, and MANY feel nothing at all—they don’t even know if they have/had the disease.

Your chances of dying from the disease have been. .0000025. If we double that it goes to .000005, meaning that 1 out of every 200,000 people would have died from this disease.

That is the actual data.

As with any data, you can analyze it however you like and put your own take to what it means and how we should deal with it. But, as they say, the numbers ARE the numbers.

I find that very interesting, especially in comparison to the harder hit areas.

Just an FYI.

-Jim Berlin, Founder and CEO

Words & Other Things

As many of you know, I’ve been reading Erik Larson’s book about Churchill during the German blitzkrieg of England in 1940-41, and have tried to glean lessons about leadership and how one faces death and destruction, and survives/even triumphs. Very interesting read. And Churchill’s speeches clearly rallied his people (and America), and are remembered even to this day: “We shall fight on the beaches…we shall never surrender…”

I was not around for Roosevelt’s famous “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (I know I’m old—but not THAT old 😊) that helped rally America out of the great depression and it, too, is still remembered and repeated to this day, nearly 100 years later.

The power of WORDS is impressive.

I do remember hearing John F. Kennedy’s words as a young kid, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”. Inspirational then and now.

And though I was never the #1 fan of George W. Bush or Barack Obama, I will NEVER forget when each of them won me over for good.

October 30, 2001, Game 3 of the World Series, and America still on edge from 9/11, George Bush strode to the mound at Yankee Stadium and delivered a perfect strike in the ceremonial “first pitch” even though millions of people (myself included) worried that he might be assassinated there, out in the open by himself in the middle of the diamond. Bush, who was never a great speaker, did with this action the same thing, though. Rallied the people and courageously showed that there was hope and a future. That day, I became a fan. (Funny side story—Derek Jeter, the Hall of Fame Yankee shortstop, told President Bush before he went out “Don’t bounce it. They’ll boo you”. New Yorkers are a tough crowd 😊).

And on June 26, 2015, when President Obama went to deliver the eulogy for the nine black parishioners mindlessly shot down in cold blood by a 21 year old white supremacist after praying with them at the Charleston, South Carolina Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, to deliver solace to the families, the community and the nation, and spoke about grace (many of the victims’ families had already displayed incredible grace in forgiving and praying for the shooter) he extemporaneously broke into song, singing Amazing Grace and lifting the spirits of those in the church and throughout America and the world, I became a fan.

I will never forget either of those moments and the strength and pride in humankind that they gave to me and millions of others.

It would be so timely today if something someone says/does in the near future will be one of the things that not only lifts our spirits and rallies our nation, but is remembered for generations to come as a symbol of the strength and the resilience of the human spirit.