Apple (AAPL) stock slid for the eighth straight trading session on Monday, as Wall Street analysts debated whether the consumer electronics giant has lost its mojo … Apple stock has fallen in 11 of the past 12 trading sessions

– Investor’s Business Daily, May 2, 2016


A bunch of llamas nearly ruined stage eight of the Tour de France as they blocked the road in Col du Tourmalet, the highest mountain pass used in the famous bicycle race.

–, July 9, 2016


Well, we’ve finally hit the halfway mark of 2016 – and what a year it’s been so far!  

The final jury is still out on this year, and we’ll need to see how it ends before we make any ultimate judgments. Because, of course, right now no one knows what the remaining months of 2016 will bring – utopia or apocalypse or something in between.

December will be here before we know it and we can check back then to see how everything finished up. But, in the meantime, we’ve certainly seen enough of 2016 already to discern a few of the clear winners and losers, those things that have been up or down in the new year.

Schools give out midterm reports so parents know where their kids stand halfway through, and, likewise, here’s your midterm report for the year that was, and still is, 2016 …


Way, Way Up. Alexander Hamilton. Man, is he up. In April, I wrote at length about him and his recent rise to fame despite being dead. We may as well already rename 2016 “The year of Alexander Hamilton.” Everywhere you turn in 2016, it’s just Hamilton this and Hamilton that and then Hamilton this again.

That’s an especially impressive accomplishment for Hamilton when you consider that this is a guy who died in 1804 – may he rest in peace. After his death, he was never heard from again for over 200 years other than to appear once in a while on a third grade history test here and there. Otherwise, nobody gave much thought to the man – but then, suddenly out of nowhere, in 2016, he won 11 Tony Awards after being dead for more than two centuries.

Now, every time you turn on the TV or the radio, the only thing you hear about is this dead guy from 200 years ago. So far this year, he takes the cake. Winner, winner.

Down. Apple. In March, my beloved Apple revealed in its spring earnings report that iPhone sales were on the decline for the first time ever, and the stock dropped like a rock in a tailspin. Analysts predicted doom and gloom for the once great company. CNBC ran with the headline, “Rotten Apple: Stock Plunges,” and many analysts spoke of the greatest fall of an apple since Newton or even Adam and Eve.

It’s easy to see why the death of Apple may be just around the corner when you look at the dismal numbers the company reported. Revenue for the three months was barely over $50 billion, iPhone sales plummeted to 51.2 million for the quarter, and worse, the company’s earning report showed that its cash holdings had dwindled to just $233 billion.

So, in other words, basically, as for Apple – well, you may as well stick a fork in it because it’s done. They might, in fact, based on those financials, be wise to change the company’s name from Apple to Toast. It looks now very much as though, in 2017, if you walk into a store and ask to buy an iPhone, the salesperson will look at you like you’re crazy, and, if they do have any idea what you’re talking about, they’ll probably say, “Oh, do you want me to wrap that in a beaver pelt for you so that it won’t get damaged on your horse and buggy ride back home?”

Down. Llamas. Nobody ever heard much at all out of llamas until 2015 when the magnificent Llama Drama skyrocketed the llama into national attention in what was by far the biggest news story of the year. Llamas, out of nowhere, were the number one trending topic on the internet and the darlings of the entire country – but my how the mighty have fallen. This year, in 2016, there’s been hardly a bleat from the llamas. The other day I googled recent news about llamas and the biggest story I could find in 2016 was that Tour de France officials were worried about the race because llama’s kept blocking the track. Slightly interesting, I guess, but it hardly holds a candle to the epic, electrifying, stop-and-go, catch-me-if-you-can Great Escape and Great Race lumped into one, perhaps the greatest chase in the history of all mankind. But the llama’s have, this year, basically fallen off a cliff.


Up. Transgender bathroom conversations. Until 2016, the State of North Carolina had a don’t ask, don’t tell policy on using public restrooms, and no one ever said a word about which bathroom to use, and now it’s “Katie bar the door” – but don’t dare bar the bathroom door to those of the other sex.


Down. Google Glasses. These high-tech spectacles were all the rage not long ago, but, this year, what has happened to what was supposed to be the next big thing? The nerds wearing them all got beat up, the glasses were smashed and, in 2016, these funky items are now an ancient relic.


Down. Bitcoin. This was supposed to be the next Gold Rush. Not long ago, Bitcoin was the center of attention and was flying high, hitting a peak in 2014, but now in 2016 it’s way, way down and you never hear about it. If you don’t know, Bitcoin is a new type of money that has the almost magical ability to evaporate overnight, which is an excellent ability for raindrops to have, but, it turns out, for money, not so much.

Down. The Old Guilford County Courthouse. Specifically: Falling down. 2016 is the year we learned that the iconic centerpiece of Guilford County government in downtown Greensboro was falling apart. Atrocious-looking scaffolding was put up to keep citizens from being crushed by falling objects as they went in and out of the building, and we learned that a giant cinderblock had fallen from the roof of the second floor bathroom and absolutely demolished a stall where many high-ranking county officials do their business.

If you thought London Bridge had problems, well, it has nothing on the spiritual home of Guilford County government.


Up. The Match Game. The Match Game? Are you kidding me? You mean that, in 2016, the game that premiered in 1962 hosted by Gene Rayburn with such talented and renowned guests as Charles Nelson Reilly and Richard Dawson?

Yes, that one. The original version of the show died in 1982 and, though there were a few later attempts to bring it back to life, basically it was never heard from again.

Or so we thought. Oh my goodness, please tell me the new version at least doesn’t have that tacky long thin microphone for the host. What? It does? Oh my. Please make it stop. If they bring back The Gong Show, I’m going to shoot myself.


Down. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. At the beginning of 2016, this team was absolutely – as their name indicates – golden, and they were winning like nobody’s business. Curry and company had people asking if there was really even any reason to go through the motions of playing the NBA Playoffs, but, in 2016, the Warriors performed like they were leaden rather than golden.


And while we’re on sports … Down. The Carolina Panthers. When we left the Panthers at the end of 2015, they were on top of the world and nearly undefeated. However, the new year was not kind to them at all.

What did we learn? That, in the fourth quarter of a tight Super Bowl, it’s probably a good idea to try to recover a fumble that’s sitting right there in front of your face.


Down. The City of Greensboro’s Guilford Cup Dreams. In 2014-2015, the city swept the county like it was nobody’s business in the three-sport athletic challenge between the City of Greensboro and Guilford County. The city won it 3-0, taking with authority the football, basketball and softball games. However, that was turned on its head this season when the city lost in football and basketball to such an extent that the city’s team didn’t even show up to play the softball game to finish out this year’s competition. At least when the county was down 2-0 in the previous season, the county had the decency to show up on the softball field to take another thank-you-may-I-have-another beating from the city.


Up. Taylor. Listen Tay-Tay is always up. It’s hard to say how something that is perfect to begin with can improve, but somehow Tay-Tay managed to do just that in 2016.


Up. PokÄmon. The new game Pokémon Go gave Nintendo stock its biggest price surge since 1983 and the number of daily Pokémon Go users has surpassed the number of Twitter users and, I’m not making this up, in an extremely impressive accomplishment, the term “Pokémon” became more searched than “porn.” Pokémon this year is a lot like Alexander Hamilton: dead for a long time and then suddenly back to life out of nowhere with a vengeance.

The craze has had some notable moments. For instance, one woman found a dead body while playing. And the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, has told people to stop catching Pokémen there, because museum officials did not think it was appropriate for people to be running around catching colorful virtual characters on their phones while others tried to honor those who died in Nazi death camps. I never heard the explanation of exactly what that objection was.

Anyway, I heard all about the game and saw how much people loved it, and I finally broke down and started playing too. And now, like everyone else on the planet, I always have my phone out and am walking into strange places to catch Pokémen, and I have to admit it is very addicting. I haven’t caught a Pokémon yet even though I’ve been playing for about a week now and have been going to places where everyone else seems to catch them. Somebody I met and talked to about the game said I need to put some sort of app on my phone and said that would help.