Saturday, December 29, 2012

Double Bubble

There are a lot of things about Wisconsin in general, and Green Bay in particular, in which the stereotype is very close to reality.  One of them is drinking alcohol.  A lot of alcohol.

Those that know me know that I'm no tea-toddler; far from it.  However, compared to my neighbors, I'm still in the minors.  The bars around town and Lambeau Field itself, well, that my friends are the drinking big leagues.

While "two for one" offers have gone by the wayside at many bars outside of Wisconsin, they're a standard here.  But it's not "two for one."  It's "double bubble."  If you say "two for one," they'll out you as a Minnesotan and start telling you how bad your football team is.

And it isn't any rinky-dink double bubble either; one where the price is inflated to compensate for the free drink.  No sir.  This is buy one for the already affordable regular price and the next one is on the house.

My local establishment has even gone so far as establishing a Double Bubble Club, where all one needs to do is flash the magic card (originally purchased for $20), and every other drink will be free with a prior paid one.  Here's my card, along with my libation of choice, and my upside down shot glass denoting that I'm owed a free one for my next drink:



My buddy, no tea-toddler either, and I have put this to good use.  In just a couple of visits we've wiped out our purchase fee, and we're now "playing with the house's money," so to speak.  In fact, we've run some numbers and we're pretty sure we're going to get the guy that originally thought of this fired before the promotion comes to an end.  

His loss is our gain.

Double bubble.  Your guidepost to drinking economy here in Packerland.

Just don't ever call it "two for one."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ten Things to Avoid When Arguing Against Guns


When conversing with anti-gun espousers, be they opinionated zealots or merely just shocked parents that feel a reactionary need to “do something,” there are a couple of themes that come up in conversation which show that they don’t know what they’re talking about.  This lack of knowledge can defeat one's argument as get things derailed.  Hence, if you’re arguing for the curtailing of our rights and you want to sound like you know what the hell you’re talking about, you may want to avoid these following errors:
  • Mentioning “automatic weapons” – Those weapons, which fire multiple times with a single pull of the trigger, are already highly regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.  For all intense and purposes, they are already outlawed and banned for sale to the general public.  What you likely mean are semi-automatic weapons; guns which expend one shot with each pull of the trigger.
  • Suggesting a ban of semi-automatic weapons – Note that pump action, revolver, and some lever action guns can be fired by proficient marksmen at a speed to rival semi-automatic fire.  Now what?
  • Mentioning “the ability to order online without any kind of background check” – This rumor, rampant on left-leaning sites, is completely untrue.  Firearms cannot be shipped, except to an actively licensed FFL holder, who will then conduct the proper background (NICS) check prior to handing off the firearm for possession.  Anything else is already highly illegal
  • Failure to understand clips vs. magazines – A clip feeds a magazine.  To someone familiar with firearms, saying “clip” when you mean “magazine” is an instant red flag that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.
  • Wanting to ban “high capacity” magazines – If you want to have the argument, you need to define “high capacity,” – exactly how many rounds, does it apply to all calibers, does it apply only to magazines or all feeder systems, etc.?  Note that there are pitfalls for each of these, depending on your definition.  Be prepared
  • Making the argument that, if turned down for a firearm purchase “all someone has to do is get a friend or relative to buy it for them” – That’s called a straw purchase, and is already highly illegal.  It is punishable by a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.  While someone could still do it if they wanted to, any person could commit any kind of other felony as well.
  • Suggesting banning of “military-style assault weapons” – There is no such thing as a “military-style assault weapon.”  It is a generic term that could mean anything.  Throwing the “assault weapons” catchphrase out there without any kind of specific definition is like suggesting a ban on “powerful vehicles.”  Do you mean cars and trucks alike?  Vehicles that have specific hardware, capabilities, or horsepower?  Vehicles with specific paint schemes?  You see where this is headed.  Hence, when a specific ban is requested, the espouser should be prepared to discuss specific things like features, calibers, components, and the like.
  • Suggesting a ban on future sale of specific firearms – Three things: 1) There are already 300 million guns in circulation in the US.  No matter what you want to ban, the cow is already outside the barn door.  Shutting it now does little good.  2) The drug trade in the US, an illegal enterprise, is over $300 billion.  The government can’t stop that (not even close), how could it stop guns? 3) The newly banned guns will only be made more attractive to exactly the type of element that society does not what to have them (e.g. criminals and the insane).  
  • Suggesting the 2nd Amendment applies only to muskets, militia, etc. and does not mean citizens can have guns – There is a wealth of information that goes back to the intent of the Founding Fathers on this one.  You may want to read up on it.  Regardless, District of Columbia vs. Heller put all of that conjecture to rest.  Until another Supreme Court case repeals that decision, private citizens maintain the right to arm themselves.  That’s our law, like it or not.
  • Suggesting confiscation of anything – This is the ultimate in folly.  There are north of 300 million guns in the hands of about 50 million US citizens.  Regardless of the law that gets written, a percentage of gun owners will not comply with any order to turn over their weapons.  If that number is 1% (which I’d argue is very low), that represents 500,000 armed folks that are not going down without a fight.  500,000.  Minimum.  Any idea what that would look like? 

By avoiding these landmines you'll look a lot more like you know what you're talking about and will have a better chance of influencing your rival.  Good luck out there!
   

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Family Shares Their FTLD Story

A family shares their Frontotemporal lobardegeneration story.  

It struck pretty close to home, and made me miss my Dad.  Even the sick version.



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The NRA and Me

I extended my membership with the NRA today.  

I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship with them in the past, yet I've been a member for over two decades now.  I've felt that the organization was too unyielding in its past, and its use of drama for member action gets tiresome.  But with the outrageous behavior of some in the wake of the NRA's press release yesterday, I felt I needed to push back.  So I did so by cutting them a check.

What exactly did they propose that was so terrible?

  • Armed security in schools - We have armed guards in armored cars protecting money.  But when kids need protection, people are up in arms.  Why?
  • The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun - Uh, exactly.  Next issue.
  • A person intent on mass killing will find a safe place to do it - You don't see many police stations shot up, that's for sure.
The wailing over these sensible comments show that the Left is again "never letting a good crisis go to waste" and is moving to ban guns.  It is game on.  Just ask the folks over at the Huffington Post:


A similar recap of drunk driving deaths last night or world deaths due to starvation yesterday or literally any other human malady would have more than eclipsed this list, so the story is not about saving lives.  It is about a political move to ban guns.  Period.

That is why I support the NRA.  Other reasons? Simple:

  • There are absolutely people that want to ban guns.  All of them.  I personally know plenty of these people.  I need to fight back, and the NRA is my best bet.
  • I demand the right to defend myself. Unlike politicians, my family lacks armed security.  Hence I need to take care of that myself.  Police?  It has been said before: When seconds count, police are minutes away.  I simply refuse to be a victim.
  • I believe in Constitution, including the second amendment.  The minute one right is legislated away without Constitutional ratification is the minute when all of the other rights contained in that document come into jeopardy.  
The overreaction to Wayne LaPierre is telling.  They hyperventilation about the NRA is illuminating.  The sides square off.  And the NRA gets my check.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

First Person Shooters - Mass Murder Training

In the debate coming in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, people are looking for answers.  While the easiest appears to be just banning guns, there is at least some talk about mental health and pop culture that is entering into the discussion.

Personally, as one that has played first person shooter video games, I'm amazed there isn't a lot more discussion going on about them.  These realistic games put the player in the role of a character behind a gun, and are designed to as closely resemble "being there" as possible.  And they do a damn good job.  

However, beyond the visual realism of the "first person" type engagement, there are multiple layers add to the realistic engagement.  Some examples of things players must master to gain proficiency in these games:

  • Targeting and shooting while on the move
  • The value of cover
  • Which types of shots inflict what kind of damage/death, and where to taget victims
  • Which types of weapons are effective in different shooting scenarios
  • How to reload on the move
  • The importance of reloading at every break 
  • The importance of knowing exactly how many rounds are left in the magazine
  • The importance of getting the gun back on target as quickly as possible after the recoil of the shot
  • Muzzle control
  • Sniping techniques
The list goes on and on.  But I left out the big one: body count.  In every game, the goal is to rack up as many kills as is possible.

This ain't Pac-Man, folks.  This is training ground for an "active shooter" scenario.  Short of actual range time and/or training, there is no better way for our kids to learn how to efficiently kill mass numbers of people. 

Don't believe me?  Ask your nearest teen to show you.  

Given how realistic these games are, the training they provide, and their popularity, it is frankly a miracle that we have not had more issues. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Changing Professional Goals

As I was coming up in my career, I had a very clear mindset of where I wanted to go and what paths I'd take to get me there.  While I've not achieved all that I want of my career - I would still very much like to make SVP or CMO before I'm done - I recognize that I don't want to be a CEO, and that I can stop worrying so much about the next step and fully concentrate on what I'm doing right here and now.

Hence, the strategic chess game that is the management of my career has changed.  No, not stopped, but changed.

While my aspirations for myself have tempered, new goals and objectives take their place.  However, those goals aren't solely about me anymore.  As I've matured, I've gained more and more satisfaction out of the achievements of those on my team, and have been focusing more of my energies on their success.

Beyond the fiduciary responsibilities I have to my employer, my primary objective has now shifted away from myself and to development of my people.  I have been fortunate enough to manage/coach at least two and possibly three folks that have the capacity to be CEOs some day.  In fact, one is well on her way, and will likely be leading her company within 8 years.  Hence, my goal is to arm these folks with what I can to make them as successful as they choose to be, then to sit back and smile at their achievements.

My ultimate goal - and while it is a long-term one it is one nonetheless - is to eventually be asked to go to work for one of the people that used to work "for" me.  I can think of no better achievement or compliment that could be bestowed upon me as a leader.  

Here's hoping it happens some day.   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snowmageddon

This morning in Green Bay the snow is coming down heavy, and the predictions on the day are for about a foot and a half of the white stuff, with winds gusting up to 40 MPH.  That means near white-out conditions.  

For a town that prides itself on its ability to handle what winter dishes out, folks are worried.  Schools are all closed, the governor has called a state of emergency, and people are deciding if they're going to work or not.

Me?  While I have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and new tires, I'm not going anywhere.  The beauty of a career in ecommerce is that it is all electronic.  I can basically work anywhere.  And today, with the snow falling heavily outside, the Christmas tree lit in the darkness, and the coffee pot full, I'm not going anywhere.

Call me a sissy.  But I bet I still get more done today than you do...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The XX Rocks "Last Christmas"

"Last Christmas" by Wham! is perhaps the worst Christmas song ever recorded.  It is horrible, and the stations that play it every year should be penalized by the FCC for attempting to injure their listeners.  

Leave it to the great XX (see my concert review of The XX here) to take such a horrid sound and make it something incredible:


Monday, December 17, 2012

Working the Grill Again

For a recent fundraising activity for our company's United Way efforts, the company department that achieved a specific fundraising goal first would be served a pancake breakfast by our senior executives.  

On the appointed morning I got there extra early to assure myself of the job I wanted, and that was working the grill.  One of my first jobs in junior high was working the grill at our local A&W root beer stand, and while it was tough, hot work, it was fun and provided enough funds to keep me able to buy new music and go on dates.

Despite my age and the manual labor involved, I always took my job at the grill seriously.  I wanted to make things for people that I'd want to eat myself, and, as such, I developed a couple of independent processes and procedures above what I had been taught.  A couple were adopted by my boss, and who knows, maybe are still at play today.

So when I got to the grill to make pancakes for our United Way winners, I was very much at home.  The normal restaurant crew that works our company cafeteria was there to offer help and instruction, but once I was armed with batter, I didn't need much of either.  I just went to cranking it out.

I worked for nearly an hour behind the grill.  I had forgotten how much heat they kicked out, and I had a pretty good sweat going.  The cafeteria crew was quick to compliment me on my productivity and quality.  It was fun, hard work.

What wasn't fun, though, were some of the comments made by my peers and others during the process.  "Hey, Yellowdog, you're doing a great job!  You got yourself a career if this whole Ecommerce thing doesn't work out!"

I didn't mind hearing it.  I minded like hell that it was said in front of folks that actually do that as THEIR career.  

It was elitist and insensitive.  While I was able to step in and make some pancakes, that didn't mean the job was easy.  In fact, if the kitchen were open that morning and the normal rush of breakfast order had come it, it would have been impossible for me to keep up.  Likewise, while I worked hard to get to my existing position, I recognize that had some bad breaks befallen me throughout my life, a career behind a grill might have been my path.  

Hard, honest work - be it behind a hot grill or a cluttered desk - is not a thing to be patronized.  It is a thing to be recognized and celebrated.  

Regardless of who is doing the work.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sandy Hook Massacre and Next Steps

Bodies weren't even cold when pundits, politicians, and website comments filled the media that "something" needed to be done to prevent another Sandy Hook.  The loudest message is around some type of gun restrictions, bans, or outlawing.  

There's one problem: America is awash in guns.  Approximately 300 million guns exist in the hands of her 311 citizens.  The barn door has been left open, and the cow is no longer in the barn.  

With that as the backdrop, here are some of what is being proposed:

  • Total ban on guns.  See the above!  The government may know that a specific citizen has a specific gun via the National Instant Criminal Background Check instituted in the '90's.  But that person might have given the gun as a gift, as my Dad did for me.  Or that person may have lost the gun, as my hunting partner did when his boat overturned.  Or that person may have had his ex-wife sell them in a nasty divorce, as what happened to my buddy.  Hence, the ONLY way we'll be able to ban all guns is via house-to-house search.  And with the numbers listed above, that means EVERY house.  Good luck with that; not only from a Constitutional standpoint, but also from an execution standpoint.
  • Ban on "automatic" weapons, large magazines, etc.  Let's make something very clear: automatic weapons (one that fires multiple rounds with a pull of the trigger) are already banned.  There are very few owned by private collectors, and the application process to own these is stringent.  Semi-automatic weapons (one where just one round is fired with each pull of the trigger) are legal, and have been since their invention in the late 1800's.  As for limiting magazines, there's that whole cow/barn thing as well as it pertains to magazines.  There are millions of high capacity magazines already in circulation.  Finally, the killer in the latest tragedy used guns that had 15 and 17 round magazines.  
  • Register guns with a forensic footprint so they can be tracked.  It is true that every gun has it's own "fingerprint" that gets left on the bullet it is firing.  And a person with about two minutes and a small file can forever alter that fingerprint in such a way as to make the whole process moot.
  • Tax guns and ammunition at an excessive rate.  While that will prevent future guns and ammunition to be sold, there's that troubling issue with the 300 million guns already in society.  As for ammunition, there are likely HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of rounds already in private hands.  Likewise, with reloading activity (the private construction of bullets and shotgun shells done by thousands if not millions of people), folks will be able to continue to crank out the production of ammunition, and subsequently launch a lucrative black market career, once factory manufactured ammunition is taxed to oblivion.  
  • Hold someone fiscally "accountable" for the shooting.  While this worked great against "big tobacco," how will it exactly work against firearms?  Is the gun manufacturer punished?  The ammunition manufacturer?  The retailer that sold the gun and/or the ammunition?  And once that is put into place, and all of those companies are driven out of business, what happens to that cow that is already outside of the barn?  Likewise, once this legislation passed, will we then be able to sue Apple for folks texting or talking while driving and get into an accident?  Ditto "big alcohol" and drunk drivers?  Once that camel's nose gets under the tent, where does it stop?
Want to crack down on gun shows?  Fine.  Want to limit magazine size?  Knock yourself out.  However, the bottom line to all of this is regardless of what gets done, it cannot address the amount of guns, magazines, and ammunition already in our society.

So what do we do?  

Let's start and end with a hard look at mental illness in this country.  The most vulnerable of us are going untreated, and are being plied by the most unsavory of communications.  From first person shooter video games that actively train mass murder techniques to hate sites that actively encourage mayhem from their readers, instead of getting help our mentally ill are just getting pushed toward explosion.  

The bottom line in all of these massacres is that they were not committed by sane individuals.  No sane person could commit mass murder, especially against children of all people.  Insanity is the common denominator in these massacres.  Not guns.

But guns are such an easy scapegoat!  To non-gun owners, they're scary, and only hillbillies, rednecks, preppers, and teabaggers own them.  Just "get rid of them" and things will be OK.  What folks don't want to do is address the real issue - mental illness - and look under the rugs of things like privacy, medial history, family issues, substance abuse, media consumption, free speech rights and the myriad other things that go along with it.  That's too hard.

So "doing something" about guns will continue to be demagogued up until, during, and after the next massacre committed by a mentally unstable individual.  And when they interview those who knew that individual, another chorus of "I'm not surprised," will crop up.  And so on...

Anyone with any solutions, please post up.   

   

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paul McCartney and Nirvana Video

As part of the Hurricane Sandy relief concert, the surviving members of Nirvana got together with the biggest still-living name in recording history and kicked out a little jam:




Some thoughts:

  • This sounded damn good.  Shades of "Helter Skelter"
  • Paul still has "it."  The guy is 70 years old, but looked the full part of a rock star with a group that could have been his children.  Hope I'm doing something that active when I'm 70.
  • What class for McCartney to play guitar, and leave Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic his instrument.  For perhaps the most iconic bassist in music history to opt for a different instrument (played very well, mind you) was classy.
This will be a sure download when it shows up on iTunes on the 18th.  In the meantime, enjoy this video. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rush to be Inducted in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!


Finally correcting an injustice over a decade in the making, the Rock and Roll Hall of fame will induct Rush into their 2013 class in April of the coming year.

Rush deserves to be in the Hall, and it is nice that the voters finally got it right.

When the inductees were announced, I made predictions on who would get in.  Let's see how I did:

  • Albert King - 2:1 An influential blues guitarist is the type of guy the Hall loves CORRECT
  • Chic - 10,000:1  Le Freak is French for I don't think so CORRECT
  • Deep Purple - 8:1 They wrote the 12 notes that are arguably one of the finest riffs in rock and roll history.  That alone gives them consideration  NOT IN, CORRECT
  • Donna Summer - 25:1 I just don't see the need for the Hall to recognize disco SHOCKED SHE'S IN - INCORRECT (and I don't get it at all)
  • Heart - 50:1 Heart should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame.  They won't be  INCORRECT, AND COULD NOT BE MORE HAPPY TO BE WRONG
  • Joan Jett - 10:1 If there were no Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, there would likely be no Joan Jett.  Think about that, and then consider how the Hall will treat these two acts CORRECT
  • Kraftwerk - 15:1 Massively influential, but given the Hall's hatred of prog rock and the more cerebral approach to music, I don't think this act gets in CORRECT
  • The Marvellettes 100:1 Mr. Postman won't have their invitation to the hall CORRECT
  • The Meters 100:1 Funk founders won't make it CORRECT
  • NWA 1:1 They'll get in.  And that makes me sick INCORRECT, BUT SEE BELOW
  • Paul Butterfield 1,000:1 The dude played Woodstock.  That will have to be enough CORRECT
  • Procol Harum 1,000:1 As stated earlier, the Hall hates prog rock CORRECT
  • Public Enemy 2:1 If NWA goes, Public Enemy might not go so as not to appear to be too rap heavy.  But it is only a matter of time before they make the Hall TAKES NWA'S PLACE - CORRECT
  • Randy Newman 1:5 Big lefty artist with a wide resume.  Slam dunk CORRECT
  • Rush 8:1 I'm betting the Hall does them wrong, as they have so many times before - INCORRECT
Overall, I went 11 for 15 on my predictions - not bad.  And on two that I got wrong, I'm pleased with the outcome.

I can't wait for the induction concert - rock on!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Vikings Playoff Picture

I was hopeful that with a strong win against the Bears yesterday that the Vikings may have propelled themselves into a strong playoff position.  However, after doing some research, I'm clearly wrong.  

I found a really robust site, www.playoffstatus.com, which shows the following (click for a larger image):


The site gives a very strong breakdown of each team, and their potential future fortunes.  And for my beloved Vikes, things are tough.  They're going to basically need to run the table (very tough to do with Houston still on the schedule) and even then they're going to need help.

It was a great season of improvement.  AP put up not only a Comeback Player of the Year effort, but is poised to be the league MVP as well.  Kalil is turning out just as he was projected as a #1 pick - as a steadfast lineman and outstanding athlete.  Chad Greenway is having a Pro Bowl season.  Harrison Smith has turned out to be the best Vikings Safety since Joey Browner.  However, Ponder's erratic play and Harvin's time lost to injury conspired to keep the guys from making the next step.  

This team is not that far away, and with another draft and perhaps a free agent move or two, they might finally be playoff-bound.

Unfortunately, as the data shows, this year is looking like it is not the year.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

3 Reasons Why Te'o Losing Heisman Shouldn't Matter

SEC fans and ESPN have been beating the drum for "Johnny Football" for weeks now, and I predict their campaign will result in the Texas A&M quarterback winning the Heisman Trophy.  And while I admit I have a bias, I think that's a wrong decision, although the case for Manziel can be made to be quite compelling.

Even if he loses the Heisman, while a shame, at the end of the day it should not matter to Manti Te'o for the following reasons:

  1. Te'o has already won five major awards for his accomplishments this year.  As the football community drills into his season of work, it is obvious that Te'o was a dominant force and is already being recognized as such.  The Heisman, with its hype and politics, has less objectivity to it, so things like an anti-Notre Dame bias can creep in.  Those are things Te'o can't control.  He's already been recognized as the best player on the field this year.  One more piece of hardware should not tip things one way or the other.
  2. Te'o is about as blue of a chip for a long and storied NFL career as they come.  While I recognize that the Heisman is not awarded based on the player most likely to be a stud in the NFL, Te'o has places to go.  His work ethic, demeanor, leadership, and athleticism will take him places well beyond where the Heisman will.  Te'o has a fantastic future, regardless if the trophy case is full or not.
  3. Te'o is about to embark on the grand conclusion of a storybook season.  He set aside financial gain and personal reward to come back to Notre Dame for his senior year, and he has been rewarded with an undefeated team and a chance to win the National Championship.  If Te'o were to win the Heisman, there would always be debate that politics, campaigning, or worse was the real reason behind it.  Folks would attempt to diminish the accomplishment for years and years.  However, a defeat of Alabama on college football's biggest stage and a resulting National Championship is something that cannot be tarnished or taken away.  It is as objective of a result as they come.  It would be the final cherry on top of a dreamy senior-season-sundae for Te'o, and ultimately more important to him
I hope Te'o wins.  I feel he deserves it.  But if he doesn't, it shouldn't matter to him.  His body of work speaks for itself, and he has places to go.  He should content with that, and should look forward at what is to come, because it is going to be awesome.

Speaking as a Manti Te'o fan, I can't wait to see what's next.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Retail Is a Bitch. But It's My Bitch

Sorry for the vulgarity.  There's no other way to put it.

The sprint that is the close to the 2012 retail year is coming to an end.  National Free Shipping day will be Monday, December 17 and after that point, the big stuff that is our year is basically over and the team can breathe again.

But it has been a hard haul.  Incredibly long days.  Incredibly difficult circumstances.  Incredibly intense competitive and economic pressures.  And the constant, constant pull to do clean out just a couple more emails, check financials and site metrics, and otherwise be "on."

The net result is I'm exhausted, and I'm not the only one - I'm confident that my entire team feels the same way.  A couple of impending non-pressure days are clearly marked on everybody's calendar.

Please don't misinterpret: I do love my job, my company, and most of all, my team.  I know that in this environment I'm damn lucky to have them.  However, in my sleep deprived state, being appropriately clear-minded enough to recognize how good I have it can be tough.

Retail is not for everyone.  It is long hours, missed friends and family, high stress, no free time and a never ending grind (we've already begun work on Black Friday 2013). 

And like a guy stuck in a really sick, dysfunctional relationship, I love it and I can't do much about it.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Meyers Leonard Reunites with Brother

We like to think of our athletes as tough guys.  Sometimes, they're a lot more simple than that.  Sometimes, they're just little brothers:


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Elevator Ghost Hoax is Cruel

The most popular video floating around on the interwebs right now, by a landslide, is this:




Most people think it is hilarious as the ghost scares the living wits out of folks riding in the elevator.  

Personally, I think it is cruel.

Is scaring people really that funny?  

The producers also got very lucky in pulling off the stunt without incident.  Think about it: what if one of the passengers had a heart attack?  Or decided the "ghost" presented a threat and attacked her?  

I'm likely just getting old, but I tire of us being crappy to each other.  Especially when we're videotaping it and sharing it for the sake of entertainment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What are You Most Proud Of?

In my position in the organization, I sit on a committee that interviews college students for entry into our advance training program.  The program is a robust year-long retail training experience, and participants come out the other side as merchandise or inventory managers; setting them on the path to a long and prosperous retail career.  

Since it is intensive and our expectations of graduates high, we want to select only the best of the best.  Hence our selection system is designed to weed out "B" players and below, and our interviewing criteria boils down to just one question: Would you fight to have this candidate on your team?

I meet a lot of students through this process, and am amazed, even after a very stringent weeding out process before they get to me, at what a wide spectrum there are in candidates.  Many (the majority!) have not taken the time to research our company.  There is a lot of talk on their end of what the candidate would  get from the job, as opposed to what we would get from the candidate.  There is a surprising, almost shocking amount of talk about what mom and dad think about the opportunity.  Thus, the interview process is pretty enlightening.

We have a script of questions that we ask our candidates so that we can get comparisons on an apples-to-apples basis, but we also have about half of our interview time dedicated to asking our own questions.  I have a full battery of these, and by and large they've served me well throughout my career at peeling away the layers and trying to get an understanding of how a candidate ticks.  

But my favorite question of all time: What are you most proud of?

I ask this because it's atypical and I want to see their reaction.  I purposefully leave it open ended - work or personal life - because that offers insights.  I also ask this because I want to see their motivations and their capability for introspection.  The answer to this question (or a total lack of an answer - I've had that) gives me perspective to how they're wired.

By and large, how this question gets answered serves as a harbinger to their overall performance.  Candidates that give good answers on this one tend to get my recommendation, and candidates that stumble don't.  Not because I put that much weight on one question, it just seems to fall that way. 

In a recent interview, I asked this question to a candidate.  Without a beat she looked me in the eye, lowered her voice, and said, "That's easy.  I'm first generation American.  My parents came here from Vietnam to provide me with an opportunity for a better life than they had.  They worked hard to put me through college, and my end of the bargain was to work hard and represent my entire family as the first person in it to ever go to college.  That came with a lot of responsibility, and I'm proud of how I handled that responsibility."

It is easy to get mired in the day to day, to lose perspective, and to take things for granted.  An answer like that puts one's feet back on the ground, and serves as a big double-shot of humility.  How much do we take for granted living here?  How often do we come up with excuses for not doing something, when there are so many people in the world just dying to get a shot?  How often do we complain over our daily irritations, when such irritations would be blessings to a majority people on the planet?

At the end, we did extend the candidate an offer, but she turned us down for a better offer.  And good for her.  She'll be going places, and if she has a path that gets her there more quickly, she's smart to take it.

Now, with that anecdote behind us, here's the $64,000 question: What are you most proud of?  Post up

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dog Update

The Yellow Dog made it though her night at the vet uneventfully.  Since her return home yesterday morning, she appears just fine.  

It appears that she has developed either some kind of epilepsy or perhaps a brain tumor.  Neither are very treatable at the cause level - the only thing we can treat are the seizures.  The cut off for starting treatment is two seizure episodes within six weeks.

We'll keep watch, but in the meantime it was really scary.  I worry now about duck hunting - if she had a seizure while swimming it would kill her - but I guess that is way down the line.

Ugh.  There's nothing better than a yellow dog.  And nothing worse than when they get sick. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Yellow Dog Troubles

Our drama dog did it to us again.

After last year's whole episode I was hopeful we'd be done with the whole sick dog thing for a while, but no...

Last night the Yellow Dog and I were watching TV when she started acting funny like she was having trouble moving.  She then collapsed into a convulsing seizure.  After about three minutes she stabilized, but then had another small one.

Needless to say, we scooped her up and took her to the emergency room.  Again.  

She's been there overnight and doing well.  We'll find out more when we go pick her up this morning.

Ugh.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dog Friend vs. Cat Friend

The whole dog vs. cat as a comedy routine is an old one.  However, this video is pretty good.  As an owner of each, this all struck very close to home:


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Me on TV

With Cyber Monday this past week the local media went looking for a story.  They found me.  Poor bastards...




How did I do?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I've Been Not Quite Everywhere

I was listening to the Johnny Cash song I've Been Everywhere, and it got me wondering how many places I've visited that were mentioned in the song.  

Here are the lyrics.  Places I've visited I've colored in red:


I was totin' my pack along the dusty Winnemucka road
When along came a semi, with a high and canvas covered load
If you're going to Winnemucka man, with me you can ride
So I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside
He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand
And I said "Listen Bud, I've traveled every road in this here land"

I've been everywhere man, I've been everywhere man
Crossed the deserts bare man, I've breathed the mountain air man
Of travel I've had my share man,
I've been everywhere

I've been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota,
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota,
Wichita, Tulsa, Ottowa, Oklahoma,
Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, LaPaloma,
Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo,
Tocopilla, Barranquilla, and Padilla, I'm a killer

I've been to Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana,
Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana,
Monterey, Ferriday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa,
Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Okaloosa,
Tennessee, Hennesey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake,
Grand Lake, Devils Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete's sake

Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika,
Shefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica,
Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport,
Hackensack, Cadillac, Fon-Du-Lac, Davenport,
Idaho, Jellocoe, Argentina, Diamondtina,
Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean

Pittsburgh, Parkersburgh, Gravelburg, Colorado,
Ellensburgh, Rexburgh, Vicksburg, Eldorado,
Larrimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chattanika,
Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika,
Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City,
Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity

Overall 91 different places are mentioned.  I've been to 28 - about a third.  Can anyone do better than that?  Post up

Monday, November 26, 2012

Manti Te'o and Leading by Example

Old news for some, but it is still amazing to see how remarkable this young man is.

How different our world would be if we could all be a little more like this:


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter Arrives in Green Bay

Yesterday I got out and golfed.  While it was only in the 30's, the course was open, and I was dressed for it.  I ended up shooting a 92, which tied my best round of the four I played over the past six days.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Golf in November in Green Bay.  What a concept.

That was all put to bed today, as we got 2 1/2" of the white stuff overnight:

  
I had to get out and snow blow for the first time all year, and while I got wet, it went OK:


The whole change in the weather created a unique scene in the garage, with the snow blower, once relegated to the corner, now taking a place of prominence, and the golf cart, the favored chariot of summer, now in second place:


I guess it needed to come to an end some time.  But what a golf season we had!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Fist Bump for a Big Brother

Context for thankfulness.  Hat tip to House Baby.

Get the Kleenex again...


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Golf!

Thanks to some incredibly wonderful fall weather, the golf season in Green Bay has extended well into November.  And the course is still quite beautiful:


So yesterday, on Thanksgiving-eve, my Mom, Aunt and I went and hit the links.  We had an awesome time, even though my photography was poor:


Here is a better shot of the ladies:


With a 12:30 tee time (the course was packed!) and the limited sunlight, we were able to barely finish our round.  Had we needed to play one more hole beyond 18, we likely would not have been able to due to darkness.

While the course is officially closed today, I'll be hopping on the cart here shortly for one last round of the season.  Temps here are going to plummet 30-40 degrees tonight as winter finally shows up, so this looks to be the last hurrah.  

In looking at the season, I shot my first round the day after St. Patrick's Day, and will shoot my last on Thanksgiving.  Not a bad year.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Man, A Dog, A Church, and A Miracle

Best story you'll hear all week.  

Get the Kleenex.  Trust me



Donations for the church can be sent to the following:

St. John's Chapel Fundraiser
Frandsen Bank & Trust
125 1st Street South
Montgomery, MN 56069 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gagliardi Retires

All good things must come to an end.

86 year old John Gagliardi, head coach of St. John's University, announced his retirement yesterday.  He retires with the most wins in college football history, and at 489 wins it is likely a record that will go unbeaten.

John (no disrespect in using that name - that's what he asked to be called, even by his players) was a unique coach.  No whistles, no screaming, no tackling in practice, no showboating, no practice if the weather or bugs were too bad.  His team would drill on things like "the walk away drill" where they would practice walking away after suffering an imaginary cheap-shot.

And that unorthodox philosophy, the antithesis of the cliche blood-and-guts college coach, led to 27 conference championships and 4 national titles.  

Today did a story on him from 10 years ago:



He coached at St. John's since before I was born.  He coached there 25 years after I graduated.  John was as much a part of St. John's as anything, and it is hard to imagine the team and the school without him.

St. John's will not be the same.  College football will not be the same.  But both are definitely left better because of the legacy and imprint left by John Gagliardi.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cards from My Uncle


A couple of months ago, I was at Mom's house, and we were going thorough a bunch of Dad's old stuff.  Some of it was throughout his life and some of it was from his time up at the Wellsted

One of the things we ran across was this:  


This is a stack of cards written from Dad's brother, my uncle, to Dad while Dad was sick.  

Take a good look at this stack.  It's huge.  And what I'm not showing you is what is inside the card.  It wasn't just some token "Love, Your Brother" sign off.  Each and every one contained a long, hand written note.  

Now, to those of you that know my Uncle that will come as no surprise, as he is a man with a fantastic gift of gab.  But what is remarkable is the quantity, quality and the care.  Remember: Dad was horribly sick for most of this period.  And that upon receiving a card, and perhaps reading it, he'd have no memory of it just seconds later.  And at the end, he wouldn't have been able to read it at all.  But that didn't matter to my Uncle - the cards just kept coming.  

And while Dad may not have been able to enjoy them, I can't convey how nice it was, when visiting Dad, to go through his "mail" and read and talk about what my Uncle had written.  It was such a nice thing to discuss, but more than that, it always lifted my heart to know that someone out there still remembered Dad was there and that somebody still cared.  In a very tangible way.  

As a big brother, I'd like to think that what my Uncle did was just the kind of thing that big brothers do.  But that would not be fair.  His kindness a love were extraordinary, and on behalf of the rest of the family, I'd like to thank him, albeit late.    

Sunday, November 18, 2012

College Football Craziness

Last night both #1 Oregon and #2 Kansas St. were upset and served their first respective losses on the year.  Earlier in the day, Notre Dame took care of its business by soundly defeating Wake Forrest during Senior Day, so once the dust settled on the day, the Irish sit atop the rankings as the #1 team in the nation.

Who would have thought it?  A team not even ranked by AP pre-season now the best team in the nation...

Notre Dame is not perfect.  They've shown when they take penalties and/or turn the ball over, that they can absolutely be beaten.  If they are sloppy, they can go down.

But when they put it all together, they absolutely are the best team in the nation.  Their defense is a monster, and their offense effective.  

The Irish have their work cut out for them.  Their next game, at USC, will be a tough one.  The Trojans have underachieved this year, and if they were to knock off the #1 Fighting Irish, they'd be able to salvage the season.  This will be USC's biggest game of the year, and I would expect that they'll play like it.

But in the meantime, after a crazy Saturday, the Irish stand atop the rankings.  Incredible.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lindsey Buckingham - One Man Show

Back in August I wrote a concert review for Lindsey Buckingham's one-man concert in Green Bay.  As stated previously, it was an outstanding show.

I'm happy to report that Lindsey has released a live album from the tour, and tracks exactly match his set list that he played in Green Bay.  While he recorded the album in Des Moines, it sounds exactly like the show that I remember.

You can download it here - definitely worth the listen

Friday, November 16, 2012

Images of Israel's Defense in Action

It is claimed that Israel's rocket defenses have wiped out over 90% of the missiles shot at it.  Here is a video of them in action.




This is quite a scene on how folks over there are living their lives.  As we reach our upcoming designated day of thanks, we may want to remember this.
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