Paradox In the news: Carmelo Anthony, Tara Connor

Couple of half-interesting stories in the news lately:

A. Tara Connor almost hears, "you're fired" from the Donald. This goes under the heading of why it's better in business to forgive. First, the back story, for those living under a rock for the last week or so. Trump purchased the Miss America pageant a while ago. This year Tara Connor wins it. Then it comes out she has made some questionable decisions which might tarnish her crown. She fesses up and asks the Donald for forgiveness and offers to enter rehab.

My thoughts on the business decision: in many, if not most, business cases, it is better to forgive than to punish. Here's why this is a sound decision:

1. You communicate positive leadership values and fight the culture of blame that takes root in many organizations.

2. You gain the allegiance of the person you forgave and many other people through the ranks.

3. You free yourself to make an occasional mistake yourself, so you can explore different courses of action before selecting one. You enjoy that freedom because you have not set up yourself to be perfect.

B. Carmelo Anthony takes a sucker punch in a game a week or two ago, and gets a nice fine and suspension. He wasn't forgiven, unlike Miss America above. What's the difference? It's this: Anthony is in a place where he should know better - he's (supposedly) had enough life experience that he should know how to act and what is expected of him. But in fact he has shown on more than one occassion that he's just interested in himself. He recently threw a temper tantrum because the ball wasn't passed to him so he could take the last shot of the game.

He's supposedly a franchise player for the NBA. There has been a rash of selfish, destructive and violent behavior in the NBA, even very recently, but overall for a long time. He also gets paid a truck load of money to be one of the sport's spokespeople. He knows what's expected, what he's paid for, and he failed in one moment. Commissioner David Stern has taken a hard stance on this type of thing, as shown in some of this year's rule changes.

However, it's my view that he should also be fined heavily by the NBA players' union, and when his league suspension is over, if I were the team owner, I would sit him down for another 10 games as well. This would make the point that NO body of people involved in the NBA game are going to tolerate this sort of school yard, childish behavior, no matter what your name is, period.

The league has even taken the long-shot advertising ploy to make commercials that show players talking about being on a TEAM, and being part of a larger effort. In this case, it backfired, and the real crux of the players' mindset has come through. Again. Many of the league's players are not buying what Stern is selling, and when it is manifest in deed, it is painfully obvious.

Recently, another league bad-boy, Allen Iverson, was traded to Denver after refusing to play any more for the Sixers. He sat for a week or two before he was traded to the same team for which Anthony plays. For some time now, Iverson's Sixers jersey has been a league best-seller at $160, because the inner city bangers across the nation think he is their model. One has to wonder if there is enough oxygen in Denver to be able to hold both Carmelo AND Iverson (or "The Answer" as he likes to call himself). If he is The Answer, what, pray tell, is The Question?

I have a few.


I never get tired of this: Will Ferrell / Blue Oyster Cult

I get the giggles every time I watch this:

Ferrell is one of the very few on this earth who is 100% comfortable in his own skin. Mick Jagger is another. Freaking hilarious, man. I mean freakin.

I gotta get me one of these shirts:

James Brown

The world is a slightly more sane place with his passing... the Godfather Of Soul will be missed.

And yes, he was "On My Hard Drive."

Really, who else could pull off that outfit??

I'm Just Sayin.


On My HD: Moulin Rouge

This is another in an Occasional Series of junk that resides on my hard drive, but which you might also find interesting, entertaining, or otherwise generally offensive...

Actually, Moulin Rouge isn't quite it, but here's the rest of the story:

I was listening to The Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra's live recording at MCG. The third track caught my attention - again. It does every time I listen to it.

It's called Nature Boy, and if you know the movie Moulin Rouge, it is the main theme song from that movie. Incidentally, that movie is one of my favorite romantic movies of all time, and if you're not familiar with it, I would recommend a little Holiday time project for you. It's worth it. And if you're in my general age bracket, and like music, you'll get a real charge out of all the music. The challenge is to see if you can name all the original songs/artists that are excerpted in the movie. Fun stuff - love that movie.

But back to this recording. John Clayton, whom I've yacked about a lot on this site, is a MASTER of the upright bass. Not only is he an amazing jazz player, improviser, composer, and arranger, but he was a classical player before he was a jazz player. This makes him a far better bow player than most of his colleagues. On most of his albums and in almost every live concert he plays, he pulls out the bow and treats the audience to an amazingly beautiful classical-style bass solo. Most of the time, they make me all squishy inside, and this one is no exception. Get yourself onto the iTunes music store, spend your .99, and grab a copy of that song.

It'll make you all squishy inside too. I promise.


Remembering Odense, Denmark

23 years ago I was a missionary in Denmark. For the only Christmas I was there, I was in the city of Odense ("OH-dens-ah", for you pronunciation folks). Why am I thinking about this? Because I was browsing around this morning, and I came across a funny letter, appearing to be one of those letters read in sacrament meetings every once in a while, an edict coming down to the lay-folk, expressing some new policy or something. This letter was asking members to please forgo the use of live camels in sacrament meeting Christmas presentations. I had a bit of a chuckle at that.

When I was in Odense, the six of us missionaries were given the assignment to guard the LIFE-SIZE NATIVITY SET that was set up by the local ward on the church grounds. We are talking camels, sheep, donkey, wise men, Mary, Joseph, manger, baby Jesus, etc. The whole nine yards. We were told that, in the past, there was a problem with theft of some of the elements of the set.

So, we were tagged as the best way to protect the little plastic baby Jesus. Which was fine with us. Why? We were asked to sleep at the church for the entire month of December. The local members brought food and treats every day the entire time. And we did nothing but stay up all night playing Uno, eating too much, and then playing flag football with a Nerf ball all night long. Every hour we would make the rounds outside to count noses. What an easy job.

Until somebody stole a damn sheep. On our watch.

Then the shit hit the fan. And it wasn't fun anymore. Funny, the things one remembers with fondness.


Driving traffic to your blog

If you're like me, you started your blog one day, not really planning out what it would be, how you would drive traffic to it, or how much traffic you wanted, if you would address a "niche" space, or any of that other stuff. Or maybe to took a very calculated planned approach.

Then, once you got going, you started visiting other peoples' blogs, and wondering why YOUR blog isn't getting 3000 hits per day.

I've been through that thought process, and I came to the realization that on some days, I want big traffic, crave it, need it like a monkey needs nuts to scratch. Other days, it just doesn't matter all that much and it gets to be a bit of a weight, wondering if you're yelling into a vacuum, wondering if a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound, etc.

This whole idea of traffic comes from a couple of thoughts, I think. First, there are people who make money from their blog - I know you know some - there are some here in good old Salt Lake. Then, there are people who wish they were making money on their blogs, but don't really have a direction, or niche. Others just don't go by that motivation at all, and blog for other reasons altogether.

I think the bottom line for most bloggers is to write for people to read, to interact with people, to speak their mind, throw their opinion out there, etc. Some want to be columnists deep down inside, while others are fine with going the "online personal journal" route.

Whatever your desire, there is a cottage industry out there to maximize your desired results. Check this list of useful blog traffic tips.

If you're a blogger user, you can look at these:
Blogger for Dummies
Blogger tips and tricks

Whatever the original intention for your little slice of blog heaven, you gotta be honest and admit that it's funner when there are people who READ what you write.

Our little mini vacation

A few people have asked me about where we were last week on our mini-vacation...

here is where we were

There are pictures, I'll post them when I have a moment to breathe...

new junk at Mortgage Times

junk from my brain

Check it out - random thoughts on Utah's position going into the next 2 to 3 years of real estate/interest rate traffic.

Brought to you by your favorite Mortgage guy:

Barenaked Ladies concert

I mentioned about a month ago that we were taking the two youngest members of ThatOneFamily to this concert. ThatOneWife has seen these guys about 78 times, I've seen them a couple of times, and both these two like their music, and they enjoyed it a lot. It was the first "loud" concert (arena concert) for them both, although we did take the entire crew to see Tower of Power a couple of years ago at the SLC Arts Festival... that was a ROCKIN concert, if you like that kind of stuff. I once saw them in a small club in New York City, and they blew the lid off the joint - my ears rang for about two days. But I was also stunned by that horn section.

Here are a couple of pictures from the BNL concert last month:

There's proof that the younguns were with us... this was before the concert started...


Swift Meats employs Swift Illegals

News story is here:

Actually, it's not Swift's fault. They did everything they were supposed to do. They collected all the required documentation, they just didn't know that all the documentation was falsified.

It was interesting watching the news last night. The cameras were pretty keen to capture the one Mexican dude saying, "All we're trying to do is work. Have a little conscience in your soul."

A little conscience in your soul? Whose soul? My soul? Indeed, I have a conscience, and it is offended by people who steal other people's identities in order to earn pay from employment that is gained illegally.

It always amazes me how these people just don't understand that when you break the laws, you forfeit any rights you might otherwise have had. Being here illegally in the first place doesn't get you a whole lot of rights either, although more rights than SHOULD be guaranteed, in my view.

Imagine if you were one of the unfortunate people whose identities had been stolen to facilitate these illegals' getting employment. Say you work for a computer company making $60,000 per year. That's not a truck-load of money, but it's enough to get you by. You have to plan well, and be organized. Part of that organization is knowing what your tax burden is at the end of the year. You have to plan your W-9 deductions properly.

Then imagine when you get your W-2 in the mail at the end of the year. Great, look at that, I made $60,000 last year. Swell. Then, the next week you get a W-2 from some place like Swift Meats for another $30,000. Holy shit. WTF!!! I made $90,000 last year? But I only planned for $60,000. How am I going to pay the taxes on $90,000??? I'm ruined. Better go tell the wife.

You don't think that's how it goes? Think again. I've SEEN it.

People who steal other people's identities, including Social Security Numbers, SHOULD get a "Go directly to jail" card. They're getting off easy by being bussed back to the border and squirted back over the line. They should be in prison for 10 years, THEN dropped off at the border, and told that if they show up again, they'll be in the House for 20 years next time.

So, all you Mexicans wondering where the consciences are, look at yourselves first. Where is YOUR conscience? Why don't you immigrate to this country properly? Yes, the system is stupid right now. Because you have it overloaded with people AND raw emotions. Let us fix it. GO HOME until it is fixed. Take Tony Yapias with you, by the way. Then we're fine with having you here, as long as you integrate yourself to life here, and play by the rules.

Have a nice day.

As promised: LR remodel pics

Here are a couple of pictures from the project that has kept my wallet supressed and my back sore for the last couple of weeks:

Here is "before"

Here is "after"

Google Fun:

So, to feel old, if you need help with that, try this out for a giggle:

Go to google image search, type in "Christmas" and your birth year. Post the five pictures you like the best. Each picture must show the year somewhere in the picture.

Here are mine:


new item posted over at Mortgage Times

New item over at Mortgage Times.

EVERY day, Will Hertzberg owns a little less of his three-bedroom house in Corona.

Like hundreds of thousands of other homeowners around the state, Hertzberg has a mortgage that lets him choose how much he pays each month.....

Check it out. Brought to you by your very favorite mortgage professional.

Insert your clever pun here

Couple of funny, related items in the news in the last week... First we have Congressman Cannon, who claimed to have read the Baker-Hamilton report last week, and when asked what he got out of it, replied that it showed to him that not only is the Bush strategy the correct way to go in Iraq, but it showed that "Bush is also pretty smart".

Umm, yeah. Apparently, some wise-ass staffer changed out his copy of the report with the most recent edition of the Adventures of Archie, Jughead and Veronica.

Then the Deseret News announced that the new Managing Editor shall be.... Brother Joe. This is the same dude who is the former head of the State Repub Party, and whose lobbying tactics and general political activities are part of the reason that Congressman Cannon hit the list of the most corrupt politicians in Washington right now. Oh, and between the two of them, also put Geneva Steel into bankruptcy. His appointment as Editor was lauded by Board chairman.... Ellis Ivory. Yes, THAT Ivory.

Lest you think that the Utah Good Old Boys Club ends at either the state Capitol building, or even 50 East North Temple.

Just sayin.

It's this kind of blind provincialism that can easily make one feel like legislated, legalized regular adulthood is going to be a long time coming in this state. About two weeks I go I sent an email to one of my state legislators, complaining that responsible adults shouldn't have to go through the state to get wine. Where other states allow shipping of wine directly from a winery to consumers, Utah does not allow this in any form. The legislator sent me a response back and said that he agreed with me, and said that indeed adulthood should be legalized in Utah (his words), but changing that paradigm would be tantamount to parting the Red Sea. (ie: Good effing Luck.)


So here's a thing...

I had my car in for its yearly proctology exam earlier this week. When I called to check in on its progress, the dude at the shop replied that it was going to be fine, but that I NEEDED to tell him why the hell I have red badges on the car instead of the blue ones. He said that EVERY SINGLE person who had come into the garage had asked what's with the red badges, and he didn't know. It was driving him crazy, along with everybody else who asked. (It's a BMW-specific shop, too.)

I imagine my answer was quite unsatifying, given the big build-up: "ummm, because it looked cool."

"Oh, well, okay then."

This isn't the first time this has happened either, I have been asked the same question perhaps a dozen times, at stop lights, gas stations, parking lots, fast food drive throughs (no joke!), etc.


Been a little while

So, I've taken a little time away from the old site here... as if you couldn't notice. New title bar subheader though, for those keeping score at home. Besides being loaded down at work, we've also had a couple of house projects on the plate as well. The fifth wedding anniversary is heading down the road directly at us, and we're heading out of town next week to avoid the collision celebrate that without the interruptions of kids, work, house projects, etc., not necessarily in that order. Coitus Interuptus, if you know what I mean. Coitus Terminus, even.

I know, too much information.

So, to pass the time, and convince you that I haven't simply dropped off the face of the earth altogether, I offer a little post of Miscellaneaeaeaeaaaeeeee...

First, what has happened since I last posted something seriously entertaining. Some might argue that that has actually been quite a long time... but I digress.

We had the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. I know that because he was killed three months after I was born. Even though I was not born here in the US, my parents were compelled by it and kept the newspaper from that day. I remember seeing it when I was old enough to understand. I have had a fascination with the Kennedy murder since then.

We had the Pearl Harbor anniversary as well. Although this was also an horrific event, I never was really as compelled by it as much as the Kennedy thing. Maybe I'm just a conspiracy nut.

We had the confirmation of Nancy Pelosi as the new majority leadership. I like her idea of the "first 100 hours" - a take on the "first 100 days" as a measuring stick for new presidents. We are starting to hear the "I" word bandied about a bit more as well. Although I don't think it's overall a great idea to impeach a president, I can't think of a more deserving defendant. Sounds to me like the Democrats are trying to convince the repubs to make the first move, which will benefit both parties, because it will give the repubs distance from the now-obvious stupidity of the current WhiteHouse, and it will insulate the dems from the venom of the registered repubs who think the president is the greatest thing since sliced bread (still).

I have posted two or three newer articles/observations over at the Mortgage Times. I've also set up a WordPress version of it, hoping to move all that over there at some point at the first of the year, when I hopefully have the time. (hopefully is perhaps the most misused word in the English language...)

Mortgage rates have dropped through the FLOOR over the last 6 weeks, and the base rate for a 30 year fixed loan right now is, get this, 5.5%. That doesn't suck right now. There's speculation that the Fed will actually DROP the base rate in January, or at least in the first part of the year. I think not though, because there is too much external, international pressure on the value of the dollar, which is more important to the fed than domestic mortgage rates. They will keep it where it is, to shore up the value of the flagging dollar in international markets, in particular, China, Japan, and the Euro countries, all of whom have a HUGE vested interest in the value of the dollar, because they all own MAJOR positions in US currency compared to the rest of the currencies in their portfolios. When the dollar value drops in market trading, those countries LOSE money (value) IMMEDIATELY, which COULD spur a dollar currency sell-off. If you think times have been bad around here over the last five years, you ain't seen NOTHIN' yet, if our major dollar-holders want to dump their dollar positions. Very. Bad. Look for interest rates at the FED level to remain the same until at LEAST May of next year.

The good news is that mortgage rates are expected to stabilize over the next year and plateau generally where they are right now, or move only slightly higher. So that helps.

Utah Jazz off to their best start in franchise history, best in the league as well. When did THAT happen? You gotta love it baby.

I am currently VERY out of love with DirecTV. To the point I am almost ready for a divorce. Unfortunately I have a significant investment in their HD TIVO boxes, etc. GAAK. Dammitohell.

Let's see, what else....

Back to house projects for a moment. I laid hardwood at home over the weekend. Basic floor went awesome, but I thought the stairs would end me. Stairs, in and of themselves: not so bad. Stairs, when you have to cut around railing parts: SUCKAGE.

When you have to cut everything in the garage during a cold snap - also suckage.

Before/after pictures coming soon.

New countertops for the kitchen should hit right after we get back from vacation, cabinets in January. We were looking around the house a day or two ago, and couldn't find ANYTHING that would have been original to the house when it was built. Very little as well that is original to 6 or 7 years ago, even.

So, I think that is all for right now - sorry no pictures, one of the very few in a long time. Sorry to you visual types. I'll get back to it soon enough. On second thought, have a small picture of the entire family, taken in August, just before ThatOneSecondOldest left for his mission to New Caledonia. Don't worry, I don't know where that is either. But I do know that it costs $94 to send 20 pounds of Jello there. Just sayin. Pretty sure it's halfway to Mars. He can use the newly-discovered water there to mix it up. MMMMmmm, Jello.


Two Movies: One to see, and one, not so much

This is the one to see:

It's the best Bond movie in a good long time. The new Bond isn't afraid to get his shirt dirty, or drown some ass in a bathroom sink, for that matter. I've seen it twice, once in a "regular" theater, and once in a "digital" theater. Between the two, the picture is not discernibly different, but the digital sound will blow your little mind. The clarity and depth is astonishing, and quite noticeable.

This is the one not to see:


The kids made us do it. A few months ago, actually. We got it from the Netflix, so luckily didn't spend money on sitting in a theater to watch it. Although the music is catchy in a poppy kind of way, the production values of this film are absolutely atrocious. I could hardly make it through the thing. But I did make it - unlike Napoleon Dynamite - I didn't make it through that at all.

But back to High School Musical. The audio levels and syncing between music (singing) and speech were so bad I just about couldn't make it. Failing grade for the post-production crew. Speaks poorly for them, as they are from Utah.

Now I hear that Disney liked it so much they've contracted to do the sequel here in Utah as well. I hope they get it right this time.


In My Email Box This Morning: Buy Nothing Day

So, 10 minutes after I post the previous comment, into my email box this little item nonchalantly arrives:

....As it turns out, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States is historically one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year, and is considered by many to be the “official” start of the Christmas holiday season. There are more circulars and advertising inserts promoting purchases for this specific day than any other day of the year, according to Media Week. Stores like Wal-Mart and Kmart open at 5AM and many stores stay open later than any other day of the year.

In response, the day after Thanksgiving has also become known as “Buy Nothing Day”, which is an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. Participants refrain from purchasing anything for 24 hours in a concentrated display of consumer power. The event is intended to raise awareness of what some see as the wasteful consumption habits of First World countries. Canadian Mennonites have endorsed it as a springboard to reviving the original meaning of Christmas giving.

In many ways, Buy Nothing Day has gathered a diversity of causes under one banner. It is now observed in 65 countries. BND has simultaneously become about protesting opulence, the corruption of Christmas, ecologically unsustainable products, corporatacracy, anti-Americanism, anti-establishment, pro-socialism, pro-Earth. Some find Buy Nothing Day empowering while others see it as unpatriotic. It has been written off as another form of “slactivism”, while still other critics of consumerism wonder why more Christians aren’t rallying behind the cause.

In my experience, most Mormons don’t like being told what causes to support and are wary of who they are getting into bed with, when they do engage in social action. Similarly, I’ve seen plenty of acrimonious debate about the uses, dangers and benefits of wealth.

In the end, Buy Nothing Day is perhaps a complex cause but particularly after a day of feasting and excess, I can’t help but wonder if Mormons would do well to stay home, avoid the crowds and contemplate how to start the Christmas season in a different and less consumeristic way.

A friend of mine who is LDS sent it to me, knowing how I feel about Black Friday... I don't know who wrote it, but I echo the sentiment. (My emphasis added.)

Dear Black Friday Shoppers

Dear Black Friday shoppers,

Instead of heading out the door at 5 AM Friday to give millions of dollars to companies who thoughtlessly bear down on the American worker and their families, why don't you take a moment and educate yourself and take a stand.

What is the season about anyway? To making sure to get absolutely everything you could possibly want? About beating the next guy in line? Send a message to Black Friday retailers and let them know you are a thinking person, and not a sheep. There is a reason that DVD player only costs you $66. Ask yourself why that is.

If you are one of those who goes to stand in line somewhere, then races with elbows flying to the shelves as soon as the doors open, even running ahead of those who were in line before you, well, you should be embarrassed for yourself.

Just sayin.


One more fizzled post: CARS

I started a post about how the "Big-Three" automakers went to Washington to meet with President Sock Puppet a week or so ago. They claimed they weren't axing for a bailout, but mentioned in the next breath that they had collectively lost BILLIONS in the last operating quarter alone.

Guys, if you're going to complain about Japanese currency exchange rates, etc., while generally producing garbage

it's called axing for a bailout.

How bout you fellers get on the ball and make something worth buying. All that retro design crap doesn't count for any new creativity either. What have you made that's NEW in the last 5 years?

97 Ford Taurus

2006 Ford Taurus

But I didn't post that one either.

Fizzled Posts: Brett Favre, OJ Simpson, Nintendo Wii

I started a post about how Brett Favre needs to retire. Brett, we love you, you'll never be forgotten. Forget about the record book - you're one of the two or three true iron-men of the sport. Dan Marino doesn't have a ring. Your legacy is intact. They'll probably name a small town after you. Just. Be. Done.

I started a post about how OJ Simpson needs a cranial douche, and how obvious it was that Fox would be the only network to agree to be the shill for his book. But then even THEY cancelled the promo interview, and now the publisher has decided not to publish the book. OJ, go sit on a beach somewhere, and let the sun warm your bad knees. I have a feeling we already know how it was done. Just. Go. Away.

I started a post about how much I hate the holiday retail season. I hate the morons who think they need to get out there at 4 AM Friday morning to get 1 of only 11 products in a store. I hate that Sony would send out only 200,000 units of a game when they promised to send out 4,000,000. (They should have put them all online and be done with it - but THAT doesn't produce the kind of media attention they are after, does it?) Anyone with a brain realizes that they are just trying to create value based on the demand. And we, the loyal Pavlovian consumers we are, will stand in line for days to be the first. Others of us will take the easy way out and resort to violence to get it instead. Shame on all you people who succumb to that whole game!

I started a post about how this season has turned into one of "getting" instead of "giving". It brings out the vast divide between the "haves" and the "have-nots". Which is the opposite of its intention. I hate that. It makes me feel like an over-used ATM machine. It's. Not. Right.

But I didn't post any of them. I've been too busy.

Because there STILL aren't enough calories in this week:

If you live in or around Salt Lake, you know what Banbury is.

If you live in or around Salt Lake, and DON'T know what Banbury is, you probably also think "Shaking Hands With The President" is, well, shaking hands with the president.


My Netflix - or - My Mailman

Received without contents.

You're telling ME.

Wrinkled paper doesn't play in my DVD player... maybe I need one of them-thar newfangled ones.


So They Say:

"They say" that when the Brahms violin concerto is played correctly, the strings of the violin under the bow become hot enough to burn you if you touch them.

We had a chance to see that (although NOT to test the theory) last weekend with the Utah Symphony. The violinist was Sarah Chang.

She played very well, and we did sit on the fourth or fifth row. It was an excellent concert. We were close enough to hear her breathing with the music, and to be able to see her facial expressions as she played. Her violin growled and sang as the score pitched and reeled from simple melodies to the titanic rumblings of fury and sadness inside the score.

The piece is stirring and shows the divine ability of Brahms to bring out and complement the counterpoint of full orchestra versus solo violin. It was all-round very good.

That piece also contains one of the longest oboe solos in classical music, and it was played beautifully.

When you sit in the middle, and fairly close, the stereophonic experience that is presented at your ears is truly a wonder, and it was nothing less than terrific. Incidentally, a few years ago, a company called AKG developed a recording/microphone system called the AKG Harry, where two very sensitive microphones were placed at the appropriate spots on a fake head, similar in density to an actual human head, in an effort to capture a more true representation of that experience in a recorded format. It has become a common and accepted practice today in orchestral recordings, and presents a very real recording to disc.

Interesting stuff.

The Determined Emptiness of Mind...

No, that's not how I feel, it's a quote from the theater production of Pride And Prejudice we saw last night. Yes, I went and got some "culturization" at the theater.

For most of the night, there were five people on stage. This is a picture of what I saw:

Actually, the bucket-head in front of me left at intermission - I guess his GIANT HEAD absorbed more culture in less time than the rest of us, and he decided he was cultured enough for one night. Lucky for me.

And, before you need to say it - I KNOW I have awesome paint skillzz. Eat your heart out, Kurt.


Borat Fallout

This just in:

Okay, not really just in, but kinda funny nonetheless...

Seems the Borat movie release has some of the participants a bit cranky. The are claiming that they were spoofed into appearing, or booking "Borat" to appear somewhere, only to be lampooned inthe movie.

The frat boys who appear in the movie have launched a lawsuit, and the person who booked him to appear on a morning news show, which also appears in the movie, got herself fired for booking his appearance.

No word yet from the Pamela Anderson camp. She was totally punked at a book signing she was doing, where Borat showed up, asking her to marry him.

Frat Boy Lawsuit here

Fired TV Producer here

See some clips from the movie here - some of the tamer ones anyway...

Now, I have work to do.

The Key to Business Success

One of my first real jobs (ie: post-college) was as a technical writer for a music equipment company. I was in charge of writing and maintaining user manuals for all their various hardware and software based equipment. I was also to develop a version tracking system for all this. It was pretty fun for me, because I was a user and supporter of the particular brands I was in charge of. As I progressed in that position, I was also asked to write marketing copy for the same brands.

As I moved into the marketing department to handle the writing and later, the design of marketing materials, I was tutored by a smart man, to whom I have referred on this blog before.

One of my first experiences with him was a meeting where he set out his objectives for me to accomplish. To this day, his best advice to me was to always put myself in a customer service position in whatever I was working on, whether it was graphic design, or writing copy, or whatever... he said the that only question I needed to answer every day was, "what will it do for ME?"

This has become valuable advice to follow for me through my career. He was a task master, and was VERY demanding. Whenever he looked at anything I produced, his first question to me was "what does it do for ME?" He encouraged me to talk to the sales reps in the field who were selling the gear to dealers, and also to talk to dealers themselves to see if our design and marketing was keeping up with the needs of our brands versus the other competitive brands that were out there. He MADE me be accessible to these people all the time, and he always wanted to know how we were stacking up to the competition from a marketing perspective.

Today, many years later, I now have a business that I try to position and market against competitors in the marketplace. Although the fields are very different, the question I ALWAYS ask myself, is "what will it do for me?"

The easier way to pose the question, is "why should I care about what you have to offer me?"

Whenever I send out anything to potential clients/customers, I try to determine if I have answered that question with a valid, concise, accurate, and beneficial proposition. I have gone back to the drawing board from time to time, based on the answer to that very question. It has generally served me well.

Over the last several months, I have applied that question as I have looked at politics, and other things too.

This question is the genesis of success in the business world. And politics is business too.

From a customer service perspective, if you don't pay attention to your audience, or if you fail to answer that very important question, you run the risk of ending up talking to a room full of chairs with no butts in the seats.

Apply that thought, now, to others in leadership positions, both in business and politics. If you have failed to bridge the gap between what you are offering me, the customer, and whether it benefits me at all, you will not be in business for long. This involves LISTENING, to a great extent, which is why that old wise boss of mine made me call those people regularly to ASK them if we were doing the right things for them.

Sometimes companies' leaders and elected officials forget to ask the question, and more importantly, forget to listen for the answer.

How does this happen?

Its interesting to watch different CEOs of different companies and how they deal with the issue of making customers happy. You can tell the ones that don't trust their products or services. They travel with big groups of people. There are advance teams to make sure everything is perfect. They bring security to places where their customers are families and kids. They protect themselves from any possible interactions, whether direct, phone or email by having secretaries filter everything, and they respond with form letters or assistants, if at all.

So what's the point here? It's this, if you don't offer any value in your proposition to me, you won't be successful for long. You might be for a while, but these days, that's an even shorter period than it used to be.

So, business leaders, elected officials, anyone who wants to be successful in life, ask the question, listen to the answer, and most importantly, take actions to make sure the two are symbiotic.

And that old boss? He's moved on from that VP job too... He now owns a successful music equipment business in California too.

Don't be an ASSHOLE

Sorry. But really, don't. Life is too short. This is a new book - looks interesting.

The easiest way to identify one:

It’s called the Starbucks Test. It goes like this: If you hear someone at Starbucks order a “decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n’-Low and one NutraSweet,” you’re in the presence of an asshole. It’s unlikely that this petty combination is necessary—the person ordering is trying to flex her power because she’s an asshole.

I'm just sayin'.

Other than that, the top ten (plus two bonus) ways to identify a work-place asshole:

  1. Personal insults

  2. Invading one’s personal territory

  3. Uninvited personal contact

  4. Threats and intimidation, both verbal and non-verbal

  5. Sarcastic jokes and teasing used as insult delivery systems

  6. Withering email flames

  7. Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims

  8. Public shaming or status degradation rituals

  9. Rude interruptions

  10. Two-faced attacks

  11. Dirty looks

  12. Treating people as if they are invisible


Series: On My Hard Drive

Some of you know that I am a digger of the funky. This started several years ago when a co-worker introduced me to a "Funky Friday" radio show on a local access radio station. Back then is was full of this sort of stuff, but has since devolved into the host doing "shout-outs" sent in from people trying to make contact with loved ones in jail/prison. I kid you not. Too bad.

I have much funky on my hard drive. This is one of my favorites. Sly and the Family Stone were one of the best true funk bands, and Family Affair was one of their (many) bests. And you just can't help but move with the grove (baby).

The Paradox that is Utah, or, Let the Subpoenas Begin

Spending the last couple of weeks digesting the happenings on the nation-stage, as well as the local, I've noted (with a fair amount of disgust) that Utah has succeeded in further insulating itself from "mattering" again, and will probably remain so for a long time to come.

While the Grand Old Party got a national ass-kicking this week, we saw several Utah Republicans proclaiming it was "good to be a Republican in Utah today..."

Ummm, what planet are you people from, anyway???

While the GOP was given an eviction notice nationally, we sent the same crew back for another round. We sent a congressman, widely reported to be the third most corrupt politician in DC, back for another round of currying favor with friends, relatives, and general ne'r do wells. We endorsed (even to the endorser's chagrin) a Senator to go back to DC, ostensibly to take the Chairmanship of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, so he could "bring home the bacon for Utah." (which he now will not be doing, inspite of winning 2-1 over the challenger.)

More broadly, while the national spotlight fell on some who don't mind mixing Church and State, we swallowed it all as laise faire politics, and were happy to do it.

The vast majority of people in this state went to the polls and cast their votes and blindly signed up for more of the same. Without paying attention to the whole, their votes were even more useless than in the past, because they have now sent a bunch of cronies back there, but now in the minority seats. The only pork they'll pull from there is... well, ... (insert your own off-color punch line here).

At this point, Hatch's sole useful purpose is now as the GOP's ATM cash machine.

The only bright spot for Utah: the confirmed election (I don't say "re-election" here, because he was appointed) of State Senator Scott McCoy to the Utah house. That's a great show that even though somebody might not live their life the way some of the rest of us do, they still have a voice, and are fully capable of being the advocate for the entire group of people he represents. We have three openly "alternate lifestyle" state legislators. What a great realization that is. Too bad McCoy wasn't running head to head with that uber-bigot Sock Puppet Buttars.

And speaking of the state race issues, lest you think this state ISN'T run by big money Real Estate development, I draw your attention to the election of Lohra Miller over Sim Gill. Her comments on Channel 2 the other night were downright disengenuous and moreover, LIES. I said it here first: this is not going to go well.

And because I have neither the time nor the skill to do it myself, I draw your attention to the comments made by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), released yesterday and published over on Instapundit. This is how it should go, and if any republicans who DID manage to get their butts relected are paying attention, they will fall in line with this exact sentiment:

“Some have said that Republicans and Democrats now need to govern from the middle. I disagree. We do not need to govern from the center as much as we need to govern from conscience. When politicians have the courage to argue their convictions and lose their political lives in an honest battle of ideas the best policies will prevail."

You should go and read the entire statement. It is insightful, generally non-partisan, and shows a solid roadmap back to effective government and competent leadership.

Math in the Morning:


A x K = T(k)


A - Age, in years
K - Kids, as in, number of..

T - Thinned hair, to the power of K, number of kids.

I'm just sayin.