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|Monday, May 11th, 2015|
|Thoughts about everything from the World's Greatest Job to running for Congress
: I've been busy with work (traveling around the country from Idaho to Illinois and all points in-between), have had a lot of luck settling TCPA lawsuits against telemarketers, and have been trying to de-clutter my house. It's easy to get bogged down in details, but I need to keep on keeping on. Searching for work
: Maybe it's just me, but I'd be really, really pissed off at the company that organized video interviews for a Fake Job
. It seems like the majority of interviewers take that attitude that prospective employees time has no value whatsoever. While there's a clever message in this stunt, it still really rubs me the wrong way.
Do you use cover letters with your applications? Here are some clever notes from <a href=">historical figures about writing cover letters</a>. I also appreciate the chutzpah of this super honest cover letter
If you've been sending off job applications & not getting any response, this list of reasons that employers don't call
might be handy. Also, it seems that some people haven't gotten the memo about how Body Odor hurts career prospects
Finally, are you aiming high in your career goals? I'm pretty sure that this is a joke, but if the health and safety inspector job with the topless women's trampoline organization
opens up soon, are you ready to apply for the World's Greatest Job? Advertising developments
: After watching this over-elaborate Smirnoff commercial
, I'm pretty sure that one of the crazy guys or gals I had classes with must be behind it. I was also struck by the choice InBev made about getting rid of the Clydesdales
. I think this is going to backfire in a big way (accelerating their decline), so if you have an idea of how to undo the damage while appealing to both existing customers and the younger crowd, InBev will be eager to hire you in about 6 months. Also, BudLight had to really dial back the misogyny
on their new slogan. How hard is it to avoid advertising date rape as a product benefit?
Google is bringing online metrics to TV ads
. This accountability & flexibility could have a huge impact on TV advertising.
This Diane Kruger is one heck of an interesting woman
: and I can totally see why a brand would want to hitch their horse to her wagon. Finally, ads you can order from
don't seem like that big of a deal to me. Am I missing something? In Other News
: I may have gone a little crazy and bought some gold
. I also apparently won a 1927 $20 Saint Gaudens yesterday. Apparently, having some positive cash flow went straight to my head? Guilty admission of the month
: I recently went to San Diego, and did all the usual touristy things: toured the Midway, checked out pandas at the San Diego Zoo, visited 6 or 7 breweries, and, oh, yeah, went to Goldfinger
. By myself! For shame on my buddies - I know how to do a guy's weekend right even if they're going to sit it out nursing hangovers / wives with morning sickness / nearly broken bodyparts. Tough it out! The Strangest Thing I've Seen On eBay Recently
: has to be this Creepy as all get-out steampunk doll
. Activism ideas
: I'm serious about running for Congress in the Tx 3rd. There hasn't been a Democrat in my district since 1968, and the incumbent has held the seat since 1991 (14 years, during which Congressional approval ratings have fallen into the toilet). In the last election, he was opposed only by a Green party candidate - who still managed to take 18% of the vote.
In order to get on the ballot, I can either pay a $2,500 filing fee, or get a petition signed by <3,000 residents of my district (the petition requirement is set at a number equal to 2% of the people who voted in the last gubernatorial election in my district, so low voter turnout actually makes it quite attainable). Now, I'm not saying victory is assured. Far from it. But, this is a good fight where someone should step up and take the punches. And you miss 100% of the shots you choose not to take. IMO, the Democrats should have candidates in almost every race - even if they're not competitive. Whose to say that a scandal wont knock the incumbent out a week before the election? Or that tectonic shifts in voting never happen? Even more important: every district without any competition is one where the Republicans are sure to be fundraising for use elsewhere. Rant of the month
: Does Google hate creatives? No, Google just loves money If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: the Baja peninsula & try some fresh Baja Kumos
. I'm not usually an oyster guy, but when I do indulge I'm not a fan of the big carbon footprint / less than fresh approach that some oyster bars promote. Why not eat at the source? If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1962 & take a swim in the JFK swimming pool
(now the Press Room at the White House). The Caribbean mural looks beautiful, & I'm sure the pool was very relaxing & invigorating. Weight Watch: 220 lbs.
Tracking everything I eat on MyFitnessPal actually seems to be paying off (knowing the caloric / fat / sodium values of some foods has really changed my consumption of them). Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
- Mystery Woman: Sing Me A Murder
- The Last Seduction
- Seven Wonders of the Wild West
- Goya's Ghost
- F for Fake
- Vampires: Los Muertos
- Black Plague
- Defying Gravity: Disc 1
- The Fifth Estate (aka The 5ifth Estate) A Quote to leave you with
: "Once, when we were trying to come up with the particular perfect, horrible, swear-y thing to say in 'Veep,' I said, 'You do realize that if we were 12, we would get in big trouble for this conversation. That was not part of the curriculum in high school, and the fact that it is now a part of the curriculum of my life is a pleasure, which is the understatement of the universe." -Julia Louis-Dreyfus Current Mood: Acquisitive
|Monday, April 7th, 2014|
|What is your dream job?
: I'm happy to report that my part-time job is picking back up after nearly 3 months of complete inactivity. It was a very lean winter & early spring, as the crazy weather patterns led to a lot of cancelled events. I have a new-found respect for some of my friends who work in the teaching industry, although I understand that many school districts now issue paychecks on a year-round schedule rather than the old 9-month system. On the flipside, I was able to get a lot of work done on some telemarketer lawsuits, the RecCenter classes I teach have been steadily building up, and I finished writing a second play with my friend Joel. We're working on a marketing plan to get it staged next, and I would appreciate any advice you may have on how to pull that off. Searching for work
: I have this problem
every time someone asks me to "describe my dream job in an interview". Chief bikini waxer at the Playboy Mansion generally ends the interview early. The question (like many far stranger oddball questions
) is popular among interviewers because it is supposed to get applicants thinking on their feet and giving more than just rehearsed answers.
That said, what is my dream job? For me, and for many others in America's lost generation
, the answer is a part-to-full-time job that gives me a base level of income while I pursue my own entrepreneurial endeavors. Ideally, it would be a job that has 20-80 flexible hours a week, develops my skills, rewards both success and hard work (which are not necessarily paired), presents leadership opportunities, and has clear goals. If I'm really dreaming, it would have benefits such as paid travel, unemployment coverage, and positive feedback from doing work that helps other people, as well as doing physical work that improves my health, while not having to dog anything unethical/illegal. And, if I'm deliriously dreaming, it would also have high pay, health benefits, co-workers who I can have rewarding/entertaining conversations with, clients who can be easily pleased, chocolate / beer / wine sampling, and take place surrounded by redheads who look great in yoga pants/tank tops/bikinis/nurses outfits/or nothing at all.
I haven't quite found that delirium position yet, but I'm still looking.
Here's a list of some of the most common interview questions
. Do you have answers ready for each, and are your answers tailored to the company you're interviewing with?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- How do you handle pressure?
- Why are you interested in working for this company?
- Why do you want to leave your current company?
- Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
- Why should we hire you?
- What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- Are you willing to travel?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
- Why was there a gap in your employment?
- What can you offer us that someone else can not?
- Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
- What is your dream job?
- How did you hear about this position?
- What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
- Discuss your resume.
- Are you a leader or a follower?
- Discuss your educational background
- Describe yourself.
- What gets you up in the morning?
- What would your direct reports say about you?
- What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
- Why are you looking for a new job?
- Would you work holidays/weekends?
- How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
- What are your salary requirements?
- Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
- Who are our competitors?
- What was your biggest failure?
- What motivates you?
- What’s your availability?
- Who’s your mentor?
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
- What is the name of our CEO?
- What are your career goals?
- If I called your boss & asked her what is an area that you could improve on, what would she say?
- What are some of your leadership experiences?
- What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
- What are your co-worker pet peeves?
- What are your hobbies?
- What is your favorite website?
- What makes you uncomfortable?
- How would you fire someone?
- What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
- Would you work more than 40 hours a week?
- What questions haven’t I asked you?
- What questions do you have for me?
Also, here's another question to get you thinking outside the box: How are Job Searching and Online Dating
alike? There's a surprising number of ways. Advertising developments
: I love this copy driven TV ad campaign for the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas Hotel
. The tags just come rolling in, with "Misfit right in" standing out most to me. What was your favorite?
I also found a great example of using underutilized media in new ways. Did you hear how DHL punked UPS & FedEx
. Thermally activated ink on the outside of packages is simple, elegant, and a great way to generate free press. On a related note - MarijuanaDoctors.com punked major news outlets into running stories about the "first" pot ads aired on National outlets
. What's really messed up about this is that not only didn't the spots air, but they wouldn't have been the first pot ads to air if they had done so.
Pictures DO NOT make a statement more truthful, although they do apparently make it more believable: This is what I hear anytime I see a questionable "factoid"
posted on Facebook. But, this does say something powerful about how mental encoding works, and I'm fascinated by how it parodies and disembowels the old Hypodermic theory of mass communication at the same time.
Do you think this Australian Snickers ad
challenges or reinforces stereotypes? Also, the Do it for Denmark!
travel ad campaign made me think of the Vikings TV show I'm watching. Maybe this explains why the Brits have so many Viking genes? In Other News
: This Missing American Adventurer
seems like just the kind of crazy guy I'd like to buy a beer. Can you imagine just blowing everything off & going globetrotting fearlessly? Guilty admission of the month
: I still haven't done my taxes. In fact, I'm working on this while I should be typing up my spending log. Bad George! Rant of the month
: I can't decide if this letter from a playwright to their cast members
is thoughtful and clever or passive aggressive and controlling. What do you think? If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: the Bonin islands
. I'm reading The rare silver dollars dated 1804 and the exciting adventures of Edmund Roberts
by Q. David Bowers, and they make a brief appearance. I'd also like to go see the ruined palaces of the Sultan of Muscat that are mentioned in much greater detail. Mtoni Palace
seems like it would be an amazing place to see a concert of spend the night under the stars (courtesy of British cannon that blew the roof off). If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1902 for the maiden cruise of the yacht Celt before it was converted into the USS Phenakite
(it was twice converted into a US Navy warship - once for each war & spent the times before, in-between, and after as a luxury yacht... only to be abandoned as a ghost ship on the Ohio river from about 1984-2013
). Weight Watch: 236 lbs (and I am 21.2% fat / 54.6% water according to my oddball digital scale)
. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
- Knights of Badassdom
- Ender's Game
- Kick Ass 2
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Blue Crush
- The Time Traveller's Wife
- Guilty As Charged
- Death to the Supermodels
- The Dive From Clausen's Pier A Quote to leave you with
: "Why go from Ice to steam? Don't be a miser: does that mean Live like some good-for-nothing, waste it all? There's always a middle road. Find it. There are limits to everything, right and Wrong are never wholly relative." -Horace Current Mood: Procrastinating
|Sunday, February 2nd, 2014|
|The Superbowl was a Superbust... what else has disappointed you this week?
: I just noticed that LiveJournal has a "top journal" ranking. I'm more than a little disheartened by my standings: "realberserker, your current position in the Top Journals is: 3,313,796". Are there really more than 3 million LiveJournals? And how can that many be 'ahead' of me (however that's calculated)? Searching for work
: Be mindful of the Glow Effect
. If you look good, don't be afraid to own your handsomeness/beauty. If you don't have movie star looks, you should still express self-confidence in everything from the way you carry yourself to the way that you carry a conversation. This is a corollary to the old expression "fake it until you make it".
Are you on LinkedIn? Here's a list of common mistakes people make in configuring their social network profiles for optimum job search results
. Also, how short is your LinkedIn html? Mine is http://www.linkedin.com/in/georgemorris
. Advertising developments
: Apparently, women object to objectification less when the products being sold are high-end/luxury goods
. The study had a rather small & subjective size (less than 50 women, all of approximately the same age and in college together), but it has interesting implications. I wonder if the reactions are linear or exponential though - that is, is the average female consumer half as offended by a $500 product objectifying women as a $250 product doing the same?
On the side of male objectification - have liquor ads decided to roll-back-the-clock on masculinity? Several different spirit ad campaigns have embraced the cad as spokesman
. From Kiefer Sutherland to Ray Liotta & Michael Imperioli, we're seeing a range of Don Draper wannabes shilling hooch. Or, maybe sophistication really is all about overpaying for booze by buying name brands while staring down people who are different from you & pursuing lonely alcoholism. Chicks dig failing livers & salt & pepper beards, right?
I can understand why Ford didn't run these ads in India
, but they got the backlash for them anyway. The ads do a pretty good job of getting the idea across that Ford's have plenty of trunk space, but I think it's a good thing that most people's reaction is "Ah, so that's the vehicle of choice for rapey misogynists." My takeaway from this - whoever mocked up those ads should NEVER have released them. While they may have generated free publicity, PT Barnum was wrong.
On the other hand, Raunchy Christmas ads
seem to have scored well with consumers. It seems that an appreciation for the type of dark humor that has been popular in the UK for years is finally making its way onto our shores. Also, I think the clutter that defines most Christmas commercial breaks tends to be very similar (puffy holiday cheer without any substance rooted in truthful holiday angst), so this type of ad will stand out... until everyone starts copying the tone.
I quite enjoyed this viral marketing prank - I want my own remote control demon baby stroller
!!! On a similar note - these are some really creepy vintage ads
Also, what was your favorite Superbowl ad this year? I'm watching as I write this entry, and only the Chrysler commercial with Bob Dylan has really stood out to me
One last advertising observation - I'm not the only one who thinks Profile Marketing is annoying & counterproductive
. What's your perspective on it? In Other News
: Now that the memories of the government shutdown are fading, it's a good time to assess the cost of 16 days of stupidity and gridlock
. Guilty admission of the month
: I'm getting more and more negative about health care reform. It feels selfish to say this, but it keeps sending me strong signals that I'm not in the target demographic. First off, when the rule allowing children to stay on their parents policies up until they turned 27 went into effect, I had just turned 28. Now, the rule allowing "catastrophic" policies to be ACA compliant for people 30 or younger is about to go into effect, and I'm 31. Also, since Republicans managed to screw up the Medicare expansion to lower income workers, it looks like I'm going to fall right into the gap between the poor who qualify for assistance and the lower-middle income who qualify for subsidies on their policies
. I can't really blame the ACA for that as much as I can blame the reactionaries who control Texas, but WTF?
The reasoning here should be simple - if we want to bring healthcare costs down by eliminating the free rider problem, then the goal should be to get more young/low-income citizens enrolled in health insurance programs. That will spread out the risk over a larger group, decreasing the average medical costs per person. Yet, for this to work, we have to offer low cost health insurance options to the people who didn't have them before.
What's going on instead is that I'm being told I'll face a $95 tax penalty for keeping my current $67/month plan (which is going up to ~$75/month next year), or that I can sign up for a $330 ACA compliant plan (with lower deductibles, co-insurance, and co-pays that I don't use already). This isn't helping. Seriously. It does look like there's potential to dodge the non-compliance tax though
- as long as you don't plan on getting a tax refund in the next decade. Or, you can apply for a Hardship Exemption
. I have, based on the grounds that the website wasn't working during the open enrollment period for coverage through my wife's job (and my plan is going up this year).
The people running the program don't seem to understand how cost can be a hardship though. The exemption request form had a category for "My insurance policy was cancelled this year" but not one for "The premium on my policy went up a substantial amount". The last time anyone was this tone deaf about how cost can be prohibitive, I think they were immortalized as saying "Let them eat cake"
. Activism ideas
: I was really looking forward to the Big Block of Cheese Day (#BigBlockOfCheeseDay) event that White House staffers took part in. It left me almost completely disappointed though - rather than responding to tweets in a lively & interactive manner, it felt like the staffers started with the topics they wanted to talk about, and then cherrypicked tweets that let them say what they wanted to before the start of the session. Isn't that the exact opposite of what the day was supposed to be about?
Here are my tweets from the event (starting the night before, right after the State of the Union address):
What's being done to bring down the cost of insurance premiums for Gen Y? $150-350 premiums simply aren't affordable @ <$30k/year #AsktheWH.
The B612 Foundation is working on a Sentinel satellite that will identify all asteroids that might impact Earth... #AsktheWH.
...so that we could be forewarned of a major disaster & possibly nudge threats away. Why is this being undertaken... #AsktheWH.
...by the non-profit sector rather than as a government project with international support? What is NASA doing on this issue? #AsktheWH.
#3) In the 30's, WPA programs not only put people to work but also gave us enduring infrastructure & artistic works... #AsktheWH.
#3) Why haven't we seen similar programs during the Great Recession? #AsktheWH.
#4) The Federal Gas Tax hasn't been raised since 1993. Since then, inflation has driven up the cost of road maintenance... #AsktheWH
#4)...& improved fuel efficiency means that more miles are driven for each gallon of gas purchased. #AsktheWH
#4)...Why are we allowing the construction of toll roads & the collapse of overpasses rather than pegging gas taxes to inflation? #AsktheWH
#5) In #Texas, UI centers don't have any training classes/programs. How about subsidized skill training as part of a UI deal? #AsktheWH
#6) Why aren't ISPs classified as common carriers to ensure #NetNeutrality? The FCC has the power. #AsktheWH
#7) Who would win in a blindfolded fist fight; Biden or Boehner? How about a Wet T-Shirt contest? #AsktheWH
#8) The US incarcerates 716/10k of population - the highest worldwide. How will we reduce the size of the US prison population? #AsktheWH
#9) Why does Boehner look like someone shit in his cereal? #AskthWH
10) When we talk about Immigration Reform, why is there rarely any discussion about the injustice of our country-quota system? #AsktheWH
#11) Landfills & sewers offgas #methane w/ 20x more climate impact than CO2. Why aren't we harvesting it for domestic energy? #AsktheWH
@jearnest44 & @PAniskoff44v - I posted 11 questions tagged #AsktheWH last night - are there any you'd like to comment on?
@jearnest44 & @PAniskoff44 - I posted 11 questions tagged #AsktheWH last night - are there any you'd like to comment on?
@Brundage44 & @CEABetsey - I posted 11 questions tagged #AsktheWH last night - are there any you'd like to comment on?
@Vargas44 @LaCasaBlanca @GinaEPA @Utech44 - I posted 11 questions tagged #AsktheWH last night - are there any you'd like to comment on?
@farrauto re: the proposed MyRA http://tinyurl.com/kzy4may
Retweeted by George Morris
Erin Lindsay @Erin44 Live in the @WhiteHouse #BigBlockOfCheeseDay War Room: @jearnest44 & @PAniskoff44 are anwering your Q's. Use #AtTheWH pic.twitter.com/Qii1RnVMC7
Retweeted by George Morris
Immigration,Politics @24AheadDotCom Picture your dream immigration reform bill. Under that, what happens to businesses that had knowingly employed illegal aliens? #AskTheWH
Retweeted by George Morris
Michael Moore @abluemoe Appreciate that the #AsktheWH conversation is civil and mostly policy-based.
12) The TSP G-fund has been tapped by Treasury dept to provide temp $ for gov operation during periods gridlock. Is #myRA same? #AsktheWH
Retweeted by George Morris
Ashley Elizabeth @ashleylizdc @PAniskoff44 How is the WH concretely supporting expansion in the states of mass transit options like high-speed rail and BRT? #AsktheWH
Retweeted by George Morris
Becky Nunn Johnson @Becknujo #AsktheWH What is the US doing to lead global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change?
@Lehrich44 "Plus the WH chicken tenders are awesome." For a second there, I pictured hens being wrangled on the WH lawn... #AsktheWH
#AsktheWH #BigBlockOfCheeseDay was a bust. Not a conversation - it felt just like being broadcast at. pic.twitter.com/DkqHvACv9N Rant of the month
: I haven't given enough love to Bill Maher - he totally nails the fidiots who have an existential objection to a minimum wage
"When it comes to raising the minimum wage Conservatives always say it is a non-starter because it cuts into profits. … You might think that paying people enough to live is so self-evident that even crazy people could understand it. But you would be wrong. …
Michele Bachmann is not only against raising the minimum wage, she is against having one at all. She once said “… if we took away the minimum wage … we could … virtually wipe out unemployment … because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.” …
And naturally Ted Cruz agrees. Ted Cruz thinks it’s a good thing that when his Cuban father came to America he was paid fifty cents an hour to work as a dishwasher. …
When did the American dream become this pathway to indentured servitude, this economic death spiral where workers get paid next to nothing, so they can only afford to buy next to nothing, so businesses are forced to sell cheaper and cheaper shit?
Consider the fact that most fast food workers whose average age by the way is 29 … are on some form of public assistance which is not surprising. When even working people can’t make enough to live they take money from the government.
This is the question the Right has to answer. Do you want smaller government with less handouts or do you want a low minimum wage because you cannot have both. If Colonel Sanders isn’t going to pay the lady behind the counter enough to live on, then Uncle Sam has to. And I for one is getting a little tired of helping highly profitable companies pay their workers." If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: Tahiti. I hear it's a magical place
. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1979 & check out Kowloon before the 'outlaw city' was razed
. Weight Watch: 238 lbs (and I am 11% fat / 56% water according to my oddball digital scale)
. I really slacked off over the holidays, dangit. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Fannie Hill Unrated
Covert Affairs: Season 3 Disc 3
The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!
Grimm: Season 2 - Disc 1
Hustle: Season 1 - Disc 2
House at the End of the Street
A Girl Walks Into A Bar
The Watch A Quote to leave you with
"Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word, before you let it fall," -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr Current Mood: Under the weather. And, oh what crazy weather.
|Friday, October 25th, 2013|
|Musings ranging from Dallas Texas to Sheridan Wyoming
: I just got back from trips to Kansas for my cousin Corey's wedding and Sheridan, Wyoming for work. It seems like fall weather followed me back - maybe I just need to travel to more places that have the weather I want at home? Next summer, when the thermometers are pushing triple digits, feel free to buy me some tickets to Alaska and we'll test this theory. Searching for work
: I've noticed something counter-intuitive about the Rec Center classes that I'm running. I thought that the first couple of classes would have the highest enrollment, and then, as student's unmet needs were filled, that my enrollments would taper off. Instead, the opposite seems to be happening. I started with a few low enrollment classes, and am getting higher numbers in subsequent seminars.
I think what's going on is that people who read the course catalog dog-ear pages or circle classes they want to take, but rarely sign up the first time they see them offered. The listing itself creates an unmet desire, which simmers away until they have an opportunity to sign up in the future. Since the schedules will almost always conflict with something, this unmet desire will always be created at some level. Anyway, I don't mind. It was going to be exhausting to keep writing / creating new class ideas and pitching them. I've got 8 different classes I'm running now (some of which haven't 'made' their minimums even once yet).
Also, I'm working as a Team Leader with Laser Battle
now. So, that means better pay and greater responsibilities. I'm enjoying the travel opportunities - on one trip, we went to Stillwater, Oklahoma, St. George, Utah, and Laramie, Wyoming in one big flying leap. There are some really desolate stretches of i-70! I've also been through Kansas & Colorado a ton - it's amazing how much of a crossroads they are for reaching almost anywhere from Texas.
If you're looking for work, you'll probably find a lot to agree with on this List of the 6 Worst Things To Say To An Unemployed Friend
. I think that the unemployment/underemployment crisis is being ignored by politicians and I can't understand why. We had the US government shutdown over an issue that was settled years ago, and yet no one in Washington is talking about the 6 million young people who have finished school but still haven't started jobs
. That's a generation out of work - and it's the same group that's having a finger wagged at them for not paying $300+ a month to be part of an insurance risk pool to lighten the costs for retiring baby boomers. Despite the patronizing tone of this British piece
(it's titled "Putting Millenials in Their Place" for fuck's sake), this is an interesting overview of how the Great Recession has deferred dreams and delivered a lost decade for millions of people around the world. While I disagree with the (presumably over-the-hill) author
's biases, I can't fault the facts in his article. In Other News
: I got a letter from my health insurance company offering me a choice. I can keep my current, non-ACA compliant plan for $78 a month (a relatively modest 7% increase) or I can accept auto enrollment in a $330/month plan with lowered deductibles and co-pays. If I understand correctly, that means the IRS will stick me with a $95 penalty for keeping my insurance on top of the premium hike. Screw that.
I've tried logging onto the HealthCare.gov
site to find out what my other options are, but it's still not working 3 weeks after it launched. The site also seems to be designed around a stupid assumption - why do I need to verify my identity with Experian just to get a quote? I am frightened that anyone would be willing to put their SSN & other personal identifying information into a security nightmare that is probably at the crosshairs of every hacker around the world. So, I used my PO Box (which isn't affiliated with my other info in the Experian database) and now they're refusing to verify my account until I mail in documents with the very information that I'm refusing to provide. Double tap that.
Here are some of the questions I haven't been able to find answers for:
1) How are the premium discounts / subsidies calculated? Are they based on personal income or on family income?
2) If coverage is available through my wife's employer (even if it's terrible / overpriced), how does that affect my ability to shop on the exchanges?
3) How can I qualify to purchase a catastrophic plan?
4) What waivers are available to let me keep my current ("catastrophic") coverage without paying a penalty?
Also, on top of all that, there's a worldwide cocoa shortage
. That's the last thing I needed to find out (especially when my "How to Make Chocolate Truffles" classes are booking up so nicely, and ingredients costs are already 75% of the price of the class).
Oh, and this is a really interesting article about how the foods that animals eat affect how they taste to us
. It's got a lot of detail about how grass fed beef differs from corn fed beef, if you're technically minded.
Stepping away from Foodie topics, what do you make of this study finding that paying organ donors could reduce the organ shortage
? I think that offering incentives would definitely be a good idea, but I see potential for abuse (for people being coerced into giving up a kidney to pay off gambling debts, for example) and that it could compromise the safety of organs in the organ banks (think of the type of people who have nothing left to lose and ask yourself whether you really want one of their lungs).
I'm reminded of the Freakonomics anecdote about how incentives can often lead to unintended consequences - do you remember the story of the Israeli Daycare that instituted tardiness fines and saw a spike in late parents
? If the value of organs is set too low, there's a risk of people deciding that donation isn't really that valuable (counteracting the strong non-monetary rewards of satisfaction and civic pride that now drive the system). Alternately, a high value for organs may deter people from just "giving them away" as they currently do. Advertising developments
: I've been working with my friend Ann to build a website for her business (Hair Dimensions). She decided to print some fliers to promote her new location, and I helped her bang some out. This isn't the most polished thing I've ever made
, but fingers crossed that it brings some new customers to her door. And, I'm not letting my skills get completely rusted over. Guilty admission of the month
: I screwed up a court case. After a few months of work, I'm going to have to start all over with an appeal - all because I didn't subpoena the documents I needed to prove my account of events. I'm taking this as a lesson - even when a defendant admits to doing something (in writing! in documents submitted to the court!), judges require an extra degree of certainty from third-party evidence. Activism ideas
: Did you know that it's 'impossible' to sexually harass an intern in 49 states
? It seems to me like we should do something about that (beyond ending unpaid internships, that is).
It also seems objectionable to me that construction companies are quietly holding onto mineral rights for many of the new homes that have been built recently
. This seems like a recipe for dystopia, as the homeowners will have no power to reject mining/drilling/fracking under their property. It also seems like an abuse of asymmetrical power, and I don't see it being fixed without government intervention. Rant of the month
: Fareed Zakaria pretty much nails it here
: "For some tacticians and consultants, extreme rhetoric is just a way to keep the troops fired up. But rhetoric gives meaning and shape to a political movement. Over the past six decades, conservatism’s language of decay, despair and decline have created a powerful group of Americans who believe fervently in this dark narrative and are determined to stop the country from plunging into imminent oblivion. They aren’t going to give up just yet.
The era of crises could end, but only when this group of conservatives makes its peace with today’s America. They are misty-eyed in their devotion to a distant republic of myth and memory yet passionate in their dislike of the messy, multiracial, quasi-capitalist democracy that has been around for half a century — a fifth of our country’s history. At some point, will they come to recognize that you cannot love America in theory and hate it in fact?" If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: Grant, Colorado and go metal detecting around the ghost town's ruins. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: December 22nd, 1941 & pull 3 people out of storeroom A-111 of the West Virginia (and leave behind 3 dead clones or 3 bodies pulled from the water outside to avoid any tampering with the timeline). Did you know that 3 immediate survivors of Pearl Harbor (Ronald Endicott, Clifford Olds, and Louis "Buddy" Costin) held out, trapped in a watertight compartment of the sunken warship for 16 days
or more? They weren't pulled out until the warship was floated 6 months later, but a calendar found with them was marked up through Dec 23rd. Even today, if we knew exactly where they were and had the right gear on scene, day one, there's very little chance we could have rescued them in time
My other thought was 1989, to get a lap dance from Catherine Zeta Jones
. But, then it occurred to me, while that would be amazing, it would still probably be more than I could handle even without a time machine involved. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Fannie Hill Unrated
Covert Affairs: Season 3 Disc 3
The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!
Grimm: Season 1 - Disc 4
Hustle: Season 1 - Disc 2
House at the End of the Street
A Girl Walks Into A Bar
The Watch A Quote to leave you with
: "...you can't wait around for someone else to act. I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act." -Edward Snowden Current Mood: frustrated
|Sunday, May 5th, 2013|
|So, I started a new job & am also teaching Rec Center classes
: I have a new job, working with an events company that does laser gunfights
on college campuses, corporate retreats, birthday parties, etc. Two days after I interviewed, I was on my way driving to Colorado and Oklahoma for my first two events. I like the travel, the pay is decent, and I'm just waiting to see how regular of a gig it really is. Searching for work
: I found my latest job through Craigslist (which makes #4 that I've found that way). I've also been doing some intense searching on Monster.com, Indeed.com, and CareerBuilder.com, but Craigslist seems to be the most reliable. Advertising developments
: You'll never guess who was an advertising major in college
... In other news
: I've also gotten serious about teaching Rec Center classes on a variety of topics. I've even presented to a sold out class ("eBay Powerselling" - an intro to the world's largest online auction house). I'm such a procrastinator that I actually wrote the outline on the same day that I gave the class. Today I pitched the 4 classes that I've got going on at the Plano Rec Center to 2 other nearby Rec facilities (Allen & Frisco). The deadline for Fall classes is coming up soon, so if you have any ideas that you'd like to pitch to your local Rec Facility, now is the time to do it. Guilty admission of the month
: My trusty dandelion slaying implement
has bitten the dust. Either I was too rough on it, or we had let the weeds get a little too well entrenched. I may be able to fix Bradbury, but I'll have to make a replacement pin that sheared off. The Strangest Thing I've Seen On eBay Recently
: has to be this NSFW collection of polaroids
. They apparently chronicle the sexcapades of a man who photographed 5 different prostitutes each time he slept with them over a series of years. From the description:
"HUGE BIG LOT OLD VTG ESTATE FOUND POLAROID PHOTO AMATEUR NUDE GIRL WOMAN AMAZING > 500+ Photos! One Full Sociological Collection- Bondage+
This is an INCREDIBLE collection of photographs taken by one man documenting his sex life before he died. Apparently these were purchased in a storage auction years ago and the man is now dead, making this one of the most singular collections of photos you will ever find. The collection prominently features 5 women and they were shot over a period of multiple years, which is evident because the women change before your eyes. I believe that many of these women were prostitutes and also drug addicts, as their health deteriorates from the earliest to the last photos.
The collection is worthy of a museum and is a true sociological find. I contacted the Kinsey Institute and was told they were interested in having it but couldn't commit to the purchase due to a lack of funding for their collections at this time. I am a photographer who wants to focus on my own work and thus I'm willing to sell this lot in order to be able to purchase additional equipment and to shoot the things I'm passionate about." Activism ideas
: Gun control legislation seems to be completely stalled. Maybe there's a way to turn some jujitsu on the "let's have an arsenal in every home" guys? I mean, the NRA proposed putting an armed guard in every school. How about we put a $0.50 tax on every bullet sold and a $10 tax on every high capacity magazine and do just that? Put 80% of the funds raised towards school security guards, 10% towards improving the efficiency of current background checks / enforcing existing laws, and the last 10% towards fine arts education funding for any school that accepts the security guards. Rant of the month
: I don't understand why people aren't more worked up about Congress engaging in insider trading
. The STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act
should have been a no-brainer to pass when it was first proposed in 2006. 7 years later, Congress is finally getting around to policing themselves. Even so, it doesn't have any teeth because there are laws that would prevent building a case against a Congressmember and the SEC is funded by Congress and unlikely to bite the hand that feeds it. I think every Senator and member of Congress should be required to disclose every stock, bond, & other investment that they make within 2 weeks of making the transaction. While they may not end up in prison for insider trading, I think we can count on their election opponents to hammer them over any improper behavior. If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: Purgatory, Colorado
. I've always wanted to go mountain biking on a ski slope in the summer. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1952 and play roulette in a prerevolutionary Cuban casino. (Put it all on red!) The strangest YouTube video I've seen lately: Weight Watch:
228 lbs (yeah, I've moved significantly backwards this month. I was down below 210!) Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Grimm: Season 1 - Disc 4
Hustle: Season 1 - Disc 2
Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season 2 - Disc 4
House at the End of the Street
A Girl Walks Into A Bar
The Three Musketeers
Breastford Wives A Quote to leave you with
: "A free man can't live in the termite existence of the cities. If you're gonna rebel, you need wilderness." -Travis (Christopher Ketcham's friend and co-conspirator on the 'Ghosts of the Outlaw Trail'
article in Men's Journal, September 2012) Current Mood: Overworked
|Saturday, May 4th, 2013|
|My (5/3/2013) updated Bucket List
It's been over 2 years since I revisited my bucket list, and that's a ridiculous length of time. I haven't been completely wasting those years, so it's time to celebrate a few things. Here are some of the things that I hope to accomplish before they throw dirt over me, and I've barely scratched the surface.
Are there any things on here that you've done and I haven't? If so, I'd appreciate your advice on how to achieve them. Also, are there any things on this list that you would never do, even if someone paid you thousands of dollars?Here's my list (in no particular order):
Travel to all 7 continents (North America: 1982, South America: 2010, Europe: 2001, Australia: ?, Antartica: ?, Asia: ?, Africa: ?)
Learn to sail a boat
Win a fencing competition
Go to the Olympics
Get ranked in the top 10 in the state in my Tennis age division
Attend a World's Fair / Expo
Tame a wild horse
Go hang gliding
Soar in a human flying squirrel suit
Walk on the moon (or an asteroid in a pinch)
Get more than 10 people at a Meetup event that I organize
Eat a Chicken Fried Steak in all 50 states
Eat a Chicken Fried Steak in 10 countries
Get a Gold NASTAR skiing medal (or at least another silver)
Build a lifesized snowman
Enter a sandcastle sculpting contest
Make a whole meal out of food I grew or caught
Vote for someone I believe without reservations
Write a piece of legislation to be proud of
Win a mint design contest
Make an ice sculpture
Sell an artwork for more than the cost of materials
Ski down a double black diamond trail
Sell a book manuscript for publication
Get my name onto movie credits
Earn enough income to file a return in the top tax bracket
Fly in a zeppelin or self propelled blimp
Commission a painting
Win a disc golf tournament
Beat Yang and Tim both by double digits in a round of disc golf
Win a photo contest prize
Win more than $5 on a lottery ticket
Shake the hand of someone who's been to the moon
Win a writing contest
Go to more than 100 countries
Get my motorcycle license
Earn a fellowship
Crash a party
Earn a certification
Learn to play the guitar
Brew Mead that's drinkable
Win a beer brewing prize
Forge a sword
Grow a third generation plant
Discover (or rediscover) an unknown plant or animal
Spend a week in the Louvre (sleeping elsewhere if necessary)
Visit the Eagle River Ice Palace
Go bungee jumping (bonus: strapped to a jetpack)
Find an undiscovered shipwreck / ID an unknown wreck
Shoot a deer (but only if it deserves it and looks tasty)
Author a neologism into Webster's dictionary (I'm partial to "Fidiot")
Appear on TV (preferably not on COPS or America's Most Wanted)
Enter the Olympic Team Trials in Epee
Take a whitewater rafting trip
Go to the Olympics in some unknown sport
Learn to surf & windsurf
Scuba dive again (I hurt my ears during an emergency assent, but it's past time to get back on that horse)
Walk under Kapoloa Falls
Design and mint a medal
Name a planet
Adopt a pet from a shelter
Grow myself a spice rack
Run for office (losing spectacularly builds character!)
Fly first class
Volunteer at an archaeological dig
Pillow fight in zero-g
Get on the cover of Wired
Attend the MIT Time Travelers Convention: May 7th, 2005, 10:00 EDT (42:21:36.025 degrees N, 71:05:16.332 degrees W)
Correspond with a WWI vet (only about 4 are left in the US, so I need to get cracking on this)
Visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama
Buy a package at a USPS auction
Scuba dive on White Crane Ridge (China)
Attend Bergkirchweih (beer festival in Germany)
Some things I've checked off the list:
Start a blog -- Done on: 12/2/2005
Fly in a helicopter -- Done on: 8/16/2003
Pet a tiger/lion/leopard/bear/cheetah/bobcat -- Done on: 11/6/2004 (a dead bobcat; not really what I had in mind)
Shoot a bullseye at 100 yards -- Done on: 11/8/2004
Publish something for pay -- Done on: 9/2005 (in the spring 2006 issue of Texas Highway Patrol Magazine)
Get a post greenlit on Fark -- Done on: 7/13/2008
Get married without going into debt -- 4/11/2009, with everything paid off by the end of the next month
Win a sweepstakes drawing -- 1/4/2010; I won a $5,000 contest sponsored by the Cheeses of France for a trip to Napa, a 2 day stay in the Auberge de Soleil ($1400 a night rooms), a private culinary lesson, breakfast champagne toast, and hot air balloon ride at dawn.
Ride in a hot air balloon -- 4/2010 (as part of the above)
Teach a class as a guest speaker -- Rec Center classes (numerous, starting in 2/2013)
Win a court case & Collect -- Numerous (I've been suing telemarketers... first case 9/2005?)
Call-in to a radio show (NPR - I called in to Think on 2012-10-4 "Sandel: Moral Limits of Markets")----------------------------------------------------------------I'm also gradually working on the list in the book 101 Things To Do Before You Die. The things I've done are marked in bold.)
[1. Write a best seller]
[2. Swim with the scariest, biggest, and most colorful creatures in the sea]
[3. Win an award, trophy or prize]
[4. Catch a fish with your bare hands]
[5. Make a discovery][6. Throw a house party]
[7. Be part of a threesome]
[8. Realize your childhood dream]
[9. Learn that instrument]
[10. Leave your mark in graffiti]
[11. Storm chase a tornado]
[12. Get a piece of art into an exhibition]
[13. Meet someone with your own name]
[14. Ride the world's biggest roller coasters]
[15. Stage dive or crowd surf][16. Get into the Guinness book of world records]
[17. Own a pointless collection]
[18. Study the Kama Sutra and put theory into practice][19. Master poker and win big in casino]
[20. Get backstage and get off with a rock god][21. Be a human guinea pig]
[22. Go up in a hot air balloon]
[23. Get arrested]
[24. See a space shuttle launch]
[25. Capture the moment in an award-winning photograph]
[26. Bungee jump]
[27. See an erupting volcano]
[28. Sky dive]
[29. Meet your idol][30. Stay in the best suite in a five star hotel]
[31. Experience weightlessness]
[32. See the Aurora Borealis]
[33. Score a hole in one]
[34. Design your own cocktail]
The Dirty Susan: 1 part vodka, 1 part amaretto, 1 part peach schnapps, 3 parts sprite or lemonade, garnish with a lime.
[35. Play a part of your favorite TV show]
[36. Visit every country]
[37. Make fire without matches]
[38. See these animals in the wild...]
[39. Go to the dogs]
[40. Get a free upgrade on a plane][41. Be friends with your ex]
[42. Hit your targets]
[43. Throw a dart into a map and travel where it lands]
[44. Attend a film premiere]
[45. Do a runner from a fancy restaurant][46. Scuba Dive]
[47. Milk a cow]
[48. Be present when your country wins the world cup]
[49. See both the solar and lunar eclipses]
[50. Write your name over a star on the walk of fame]
[51. Learn another language]
[52. Read the greatest books ever written] I've read 7 out of 85. Kinda sad, really.
[53. Complete a coast to coast road trip across America][54. Make at least one huge purchase you can't afford]
- I bought a painting by Gail Perrazini titled Cio Cio San's Wedding at Cottonwood Art Festival (around 8/2008?) for $325. Had no idea how I was going to pay for it, and haven't regretted it once since. [55. Score the winning goal/try/basket]
- Fencing epee against A&M back in 2003. It was epic!
[56. Gatecrash a fancy party][57. See the All-time greatest films]
I've seen 63 out of 132
[58. Live in a place you love][59. Leave a job you hate]
I'm not going to elaborate too much here. And, I not only left with my head held high, but was able to get unemployment benefits afteerwards.
[60. Take a part in a police line-up]
[61. Get away with the perfect practical joke or hoax]
[62. Join the mile high club]
[63. Make the front page of a national paper]
[64. Drive a car a top speed]
[65. Shout "Drinks are on me" in a pub or bar]
[66. Be part of a flash mob]
[67. Visit the new Wonders of the World]
[68. Save someone's life]
[69. In various language learn to say... ]
[70. Invent a word that makes it into a dictionary][71. Have adventurous sex]
8/1997. And I'm not even a big golf fan...
[72. Have enough money to do all the things in the list]
[73. Stand on the international date line]
[74. Learn to fly a plane]
[75. Get a tattoo and/or a piercing] (not sure if I'll do this one)
[76. Invent something]
[77. Learn astronomy and read the night sky][78. Drink a vintage wine]
[79. Answer a personal ad]
[80. Spend christmas on the beach]
[81. Get barred from a pub or a bar]
[82. Build your own house]
[83. Skinny dip at midnight][84. Sell all your junk on eBay and make a profit]
Well, not all. But I've turned some junk into money over the years...
[85. Visit the world's tallest buildings]
[86. Run a marathon]
[87. Conquer your fear][88. Get married unusually]
Outdoor wedding at a country club: 4/11/2009
[89. Throw away the instant noodles]
[90. Join the 16-Mile high club]
[91. Publish a cult website][92. Own an original work of art]
[93. Complete the monopoly pub crawl]
[94. Get something named after you][95. Get revenge]
I've made more than $10,000 suing illegal telemarketers. Does that count?
[96. Be an extra in a film]
[97. Live out of a van]
[98. Go on a demonstration]
[100. Reach 100 years of age]
[101. Continue your gene pool] Current Mood: Reflective
|Sunday, February 17th, 2013|
|What changes will 2013 bring?
: My year is starting off well. I'm in a play called Fools & Kings
at Lakeside Community Theater in the Colony
. I'm also signed up to teach a handful of Rec Center classes on topics from Precious Metals Investing to Selling on eBay & Disc Golf for Beginners. I'm working on expanding those class offerings and writing up a small business incorporation plan for a teaching seminar / bachelor party event planning company. Also, in just the last 3 weeks, I've had two telemarketers settle lawsuits about their TCPA violations to the tune of a few thousand dollars. Searching for work
: I just read an interesting list of the 10 greatest mistakes people make in job interviews
- 10. Over-explaining why you lost your last job
- 9. Conveying that you're not over having lost your last job
- 8. Lacking humor, warmth or personality
- 7. Not showing enthusiasm or interest in the job
- 6. Inadequate research about the position or company
- 5. Concentrating on what you want rather than what the company needs
- 4. Trying to be all things to everyone
- 3. Winging the interview
- 2. Failing to set yourself apart from other candidates
- 1. Not asking for the job
What do you think is missing from the list? I'd include:
- 11. Not arriving early (or at least on-time)
- 12. Appearing unkempt or with odor (too much perfume/too little deodorant/failure to brush teeth) Advertising developments
: Have you seen the Heineken promotional trailer for Skyfall? They also have an interactive 'game' that pulls user info from linked Facebook accounts
. It's rather cleverly done. In other news
: I'm thinking about getting a gun. Not for any particularly paranoid reason, but because I'd like to learn how to shoot. Any suggestions on a good pistol to start with? I'm especially interested in something that uses a low priced ammo & is easy to clean / maintain if I put a few thousand rounds through it while working on my aim. Guilty admission of the month
: I bought Lacey chocolate/almond cookies for my Valentine because I was craving them. Strangest Thing I've Seen On eBay Recently
: Want to grab some silverware from King Edward VII
? Activism ideas
: I wonder if there are any Native American sovereign nations that would be interested in opening medicinal marijuana dispensaries. That would be an interesting way to do an end-run around the whole Federal vs. State dominance issues. Rant of the month
: Lewis Black
has a great bit that covers a wide range of cell phones, carriers, and their attendant frustrations. If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: the Phoenix Islands
in the South Pacific, which include some of the wildest coral reefs that we haven't completely wrecked yet. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: December of 1847, near Sutter's Mill in California and do some serious gold panning before anyone else got wise. Weight Watch:
227 lbs (and I am 10% fat / 57.2% water according to my oddball digital scale). Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
The Closer: Season 7 - Disc 4
Hustle: Season 1 - Disc 1
Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season 2 - Disc 3
Homeland: Season 1 - Disc 2
Grimm: Season 1 - Disc 4
A Girl Walks Into A Bar
The Three Musketeers
The Tall Man A Quote to leave you with
: "...ideals are the main business of writers, and ...people will respond to ideals far beyond the anticipations of their nominal leaders..." -Norman Cousins (Saturday Review
|Thursday, September 27th, 2012|
|Fapple, Olympic advertisers, and standing around under a nuclear bomb test
: Why are corporations getting hit with fines for fraud
, rather than their officers being slapped in prison for criminal charges? IMO, handing out jail time for laws that were broken (not for the laws that were written after the meltdown, but laws that were already on the books) is the best way to ensure another financial meltdown doesn't occur. Searching for work
: I was looking for a job before looking for a job became retro! Or something like that.
What is the toughest interview question
you've ever been asked? I never know how to answer the "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" question. "Working with one of your competitors and making 10 times what you're offering for this position" doesn't seem like the most tactful thing to say.
And here's another sign that companies see no problem with abusing employees: Sysco apparently fired a worker because he was approved for a Kidney transplant
, thereby cancelling his insurance and knocking him off the transplant list. If that's the full story, then I hope Sysco gets taken to the cleaners. IMO, this type of BS is a sign that employees no longer have any rights in the workplace and the balance of power has shifted completely out of their hands. Advertising developments
: Mountain Dew demonstrated the wrong way to use social media
with a contest to name their new drink. Do you know the pitfalls of crowdsourcing content generation? In a word: "4Chan". That's how you end up with unsuspecting mainstream customers voting on brand names such as Diabeetus, Moist Nugget, Fapple, Gushing Granny, and Meany Greeny.
Also, I need to up my blogging game. Have you heard about the swag wars where bloggers are getting freebies for product placement
on their sites? Me either.
Advertising on blogs seems to be here to stay (shocker), but what about good old Skinvertising
. A decade later, this ad trend is looking positively retro. Complete with long-dead brands, fading colors, and sagging...
I've been working on this post since before the Olympics, so please pardon this 'old' news. Did you catch the conflict between official sponsors and gate crashers? Olympic brand police are fighting 'unofficial' sponsors and ambient media
. There was also a bit of a problem with brands that have iconic shapes and colors
In another sign of the times, many skinflint cities are apparently selling naming rights to manholes and fire trucks
New ad skipping technology
is putting different CEOs at each other's throats. But, this technology has been widely available for years in the form of the Fast-Forward button on DVRs. Companies that rely on ad sales have simply been pretending that most consumers don't skip commercials. In other news
: The drought is going to cause some sharp food price increases
(ie $9 a bushel corn), but is causing meat prices to fall now. Wonder why? It seems that ranchers are making long term decisions about what they can afford to pay to feed their animals and are opting to send them to the slaughter house now instead. So, there will be a glut followed by higher prices. If you've got freezer space, now is the time to go feast on this famine. Guilty admission of the month
: I don't see what's wrong with selling porn DVDs at a garage sale. Based on the responses of others, that must make me a horrible excuse for a human being. Strangest Thing I've Seen On eBay Recently
: Want to pick up a sturdy Shillelagh
? Activism ideas
: I think the Occupy Dallas movement is getting active again. The first year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street passed without much going on, and maybe it's time to take a more active role in the local chapter. Thoughts? If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: Siberia and go hunting for mammoth ivory in the tundra
. I'd love to collect some of this "white gold" and get scrimshaw jewelry and sword handles made from it. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1885, to attend a gala at the Japanese Rokumeikan
. The strangest YouTube video I've seen lately: Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Supernatural: Season 7 - Disc 1
The Closer: : Season 7 - Disc 1
Grimm: : Season 1 - Disc 1
Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season 2 - Disc 1
Haven: Season 2 - Disc 1
Bedlam: Season 1 - Disc 2
Battle Royale 2
My Mom's New Boyfriend
Loot A Quote to leave you with
: "I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead." - William Lloyd Harrison Current Mood: jubilant
|Tuesday, June 5th, 2012|
|Job Hunting and the summer blues
: Have you found that spending more time on Facebook
makes you less likely to update your blog? It seems like the amount of time I budget for social media is finite, no matter how many sites want to put me on the hamster wheel.
In the last year, not a lot has changed in my life. I've spent down more of my savings, but managed to keep my head above water with a combination of UI and odd jobs. I've acted in another play at the Pocket Sandwich Theater
, and I've managed to make a windfall or two suing telemarketers for violations of the TCPA
(I've got another 6 cases pending right now and am on track to catch this guy's totals
by the end of the year). Heck, I'm even taking the time to fill out apps for the Nutella
and Ben & Jerry's Class Action Settlements
(which are a joke).
Unfortunately, if the job market is improving, I haven't seen many signs of it. There are more positions posted, but at far lower wages (forget benefits). And, when I apply to these numerous postings, I either get come-on's from scam artists or the same lack of response I've been getting for the last year or so. Searching for work
: To top things off, I found out 2 weeks ago that I have completely exhausted my Unemployment Insurance. Needless to say, that discovery didn't exactly make my day. Since the unemployment numbers (in all their manipulated glory
) have dipped below 8%, that means Texas is no longer eligible for Federal "High Unemployment" funding
. Great! Unemployment numbers have dropped! But, where are the jobs?
So, I'm kicking up my searches to even higher gear. In the first 5 months of this year, I did a little over 200 job searches. But, I'm lowering my standards, adding part-time jobs to my list, and looking for other ways to supplement my income. I've done more screeners for marketing focus groups and even signed up for a medical research study in July
. I've also sunk more time and resources into listing books and magazines for sale on Amazon, going so far as to convert most of my attic into a drop-shipping storage area. But, selling 2-5 books a week isn't going to make any serious difference in my finances and I know it.
I've thought about teaching classes at the local rec center, putting up ads for tennis lessons at the local (gated) courts, and franchising my TCPA lawsuits. I really need to sit down and write out a business model for a food truck or cart. What novel things are you doing to turn up cash in these tough times? In other news
: I joined a group of buddies to put together a podcast and some blog posts at PolitricksNation.com
. We've done 3 podcasts so far, and are about almost 2 months behind on doing our 4th. Guilty admission of the month
: I started brewing again, and while I'm trying to love my rye IPA, it really didn't come out as I hoped. Strangest Thing I've Seen On eBay Recently
: A bat skull pendant that claims to be a haunted charm
. Seriously. The dark chanting music that plays when the page loads is over-the-top too! While you're at it, why not grab a ring with a sex crazed Djinn imprisoned inside
? What could possibly go wrong? An honorable mention also goes out to this customized segway
and what is either a prototype rocket engine or a spare part to a steampunk vacuum cleaner
. Activism ideas
: I'm feeling very Sarah Jaffe
right now. My latest bits of entrepreneurial activism have involved writing letters on longshots. I sent a letter to Kim Jong Un urging him to seek a peace settlement and end the Korean War. I sent a letter to the NBA & another to the Maverick's urging them to send Kim Jong Un signed jersey's and encourage him to sponsor basketball programs throughout the country (it beats building long-range missiles & if he went all Yeltsin on the sport, it would be an inexpensive way for them to get big results in the emerging sports markets of China, S. Korea, and N. Korea all in one go).
I also wrote a letter to President Obama asking why I (& other unemployed college grads who voted for him in 2008 & are worse off now) should vote for him again in 2012. The basic thrust of the letter was "you campaigned on these issues... so stop wasting time and inspire me by doing something to achieve the things that inspired me 4 years ago." So far, I haven't gotten a boring form letter back, so there's a chance it will end up on his reading list. I'm not holding my breath, but if I got a real response, that would make my day, my Week, my MONTH. Rant of the month
: There's something wrong with the idea that Obesity is the AIDS of America
. I mean, isn't AIDS the AIDS of America? Just sayin'. If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: London and go check out the Olympics / Olympic prep work. How on earth did my life go so wrong that I'm not competing for a medal in London? I mean, for crying out loud, LONDON! I'd love to even nab a participants medal for those Olympics. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1864 and go have some Olly oysters in San Francisco with Mark Twain
. He and I would have been the same age, which makes me feel marginally better, because he hadn't hit his stride and gotten famous yet either. Weight Watch: 222 lbs (and I am 9.7% fat / 53% water according to my oddball digital scale)
. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season 2 - Disc 1
Haven: Season 1 - Disc 3
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
American Pie Presents - The Naked Mile
Battle Royale 2
Mountain of the Cannibal God
Bedlam: Season 1 - Disc 2
A Cold Day In Hell
Ever Since The World Ended A Quote to leave you with
: “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club” – Jack London Current Mood: rushed
|Sunday, November 13th, 2011|
|Finding an old, uncompleted journal entry is like taking a trip back in time
If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: I'd love to go down to the Yucatan and see the annual migration of whale sharks
. Believe it or not, the largest fish in the world are almost a complete mystery. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1873, to check out the 400 person dining hall in Lick House and meet James Lick
before his stroke. Weight Watch: 220
. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Burn Notice: S2: D2
Three Sheets: S4: D2
The True Story of Marion Davies
No Strings Attached
The Man Who Would Be King
Scream 4 A Quote to leave you with
: from Edward M. Kennedy’s eulogy for his brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy: “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” Current Mood: nostalgic
|Saturday, September 10th, 2011|
|Is Green Monster a Scam?
: I'm doing some active freelancing work and still searching for a full-time position (or even a part-time job that could lead to something long-term). If you have any suggestions, no matter how oddball, please drop me a line. Advertising developments
: It looks like Saatchi & Saatchi LA is going to get their hands slapped for an overly immersive ad campaign on behalf of Toyota
. It certainly seems like this one was over the top, but I wonder if S&S LA has any kind of incentive in the contract for generating news stories that stem from the campaign. If so, I hope Toyota wrote in a clause to deduct legal costs. Searching for work
: There are a lot of scams out there. When you're looking for a job, you have to put a lot of yourself out there. Legitimate employers want personal information like job history, addresses, references, birthdays and the like. Unfortunately, con artists posing as employers can do a lot of harm with that information.
Some of the common scams to watch out for are advance fee scams
, 'work-from-home' cons
, and 'background checks' that seek a little too much information.
I mention this, because even with my paranoia, I got burned. I took a job with a company called Green Monster, doing in-home sales presentations for energy conservation products (solar water heaters, UV window film, and radiant barriers). It was commission only, and had some pretty insane driving (150 miles a day or so). So, I did the presentations, racked up some bills, and was supposed to wait for commission checks to come in 2-4 weeks after each sale.
After working with Green Monster for ~2 months doing sales presentations, I had made a few sales but hadn't gotten a single paycheck. I threw good money after bad, working long after I should have walked away. When "the check is in the mail" got old, I told my manager he needed to pay me or stop sending me leads. After the leads quit coming, I opened a case with the Texas Pay Day Law division to try and get my backwages.
So, let this be a warning to you - not all 'scam' jobs are obvious even when you go in with your eyes wide open. Here's another scam to add to the list: 'paid' jobs that are really volunteer work. In other news
: The loans that I made on Prosper.com
have now either paid me back or defaulted. Overall, I'm glad that I got my money back, but disappointed that I didn't do much more than break even. I did help fund some worthwhile investments, and I didn't lose as much as I could have by investing in the stock market at the same time. If Prosper becomes available in Texas again, I think I would put some more money on the line. Guilty admission of the month
: I went hog hunting with my dad on a deer lease recently, and we didn't see anything bigger than a roadrunner. And, you know what? I was okay with that. Just camping out and enjoying the cold front was all right with me. Strangest Thing I've Seen On eBay Recently
: I decided to use the "sort by most-to-least expensive" option, and found that the highest starting price for a coin goes to this bizarre gem: a Ruble reputed to be stained with the blood of the last Czar
. Activism ideas
: The Tarrant Area Food Bank
is now sponsoring Community Gardens. I wonder if there's any being built up by North Richland Hills. Rant of the month
: McDonald's oatmeal is a terrible mix of sicky sweet ingredients and is a parody of health food
. But it probably isn't the least natural thing on their menu. If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d head to
: The New York Academy of Art to check out their exhbits. I also just found out that they're holding their 20th annual Take Home a Nude
charity auction this year (probably sometime in October). If I had a time machine I’d head to
: Broadway in 1926 to see Jeanne Eagels play Sadie Thompson in Rain. She was an Ziegfeld Follies alumn who had toured with Rain for two seasons, and gave a farewell performance on Broadway in 1926. The strangest YouTube video I've seen lately: Weight Watch: 220
. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Burn Notice: S2: D2
Three Sheets: S4: D2
The True Story of Marion Davies
No Strings Attached
The Man Who Would Be King
Scream 4 A Quote to leave you with
: "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism." -Major General Smedley Butler, Medal of Honor, Marine Corps Brevet Medal, Army Distinguished Service Medal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, French Order of the Black Star.
|Wednesday, March 9th, 2011|
|Jennifer Aniston's Sex Tape & other advertising genius
: Work is going well, and I'm coming up on my 90 day review. Wish me luck! I'm a bit worried, because the JC Penney/Searchdex/Google affair
is putting a pall over the whole SEO industry. Advertising developments
: Google Instant is hosing some leading organic search result leaders
. For example, searching for "Office..." of "Office Supplies" will never pull up Staples. Ditto for Lowes vs. Home Depot, SYMS vs. Men's Wearhouse, and anyone else competing with a company that internalizes common search terms into their product name.
I also enjoyed the linkbait that is Jennifer Aniston's Sex Tape
. It's not what you think; instead it's a barrage of internet memes wrapped up in a self-mocking commercial for Smart Water.
Closer to home (for me), the Attorney General of Texas is trying to get a peek inside Google's black box
for AdWords. The list of requested documentation is worth perusing, just because it illustrates how many different factors and agents are involved in setting the price of Google's online ads.
Here's an interesting read about How to use Social Media to lose friends and alienate people
. I'm assuming it's a list of what not to do, but I can only imagine someone using it at face value.
Here are a few banner ads that I found interesting:
First up is an ad for a Hydroponics company
. Why is it that all of these ads always look like headshop advertisement? Okay, know thy market, but there are people who are trying to grow grains & veggies hydroponically. The crude penis that appears in this layout doesn't help either.
Penny stocks (in my opinion) are big scams. So, a penny stock tip website is going to be pretty scammy. But, how could you turn down advice from a beautiful woman
? Gotta love ads that try to use the glow effect.
Some ads are so bizarre that they make me question the credibility of the site that I found them on. This Gold / Food shortage paranoia banner ad
is a pretty good example. The diagonal placement of the company name isn't helping the ad either. Searching for work
: Do you dread interview questions that are about way more than they seem to be about? Well, here are the 15 hardest interview questions, answered
. So, quit your dreading.
A company has recently launched that aims to be the Experian of online reputation
. MyWebCareer offers a free social media credit score, based on your Facebook or LinkedIn profile. There are quite a few additional elements that I think they're missing, but it seems like an intriguing start. Based on my Facebook profile alone, I have a meager 436 point score. How do you rank? In other news
: I'm a bit concerned about the expansion of government powers in regulating the internet. Here's a news story that slipped almost completely below the radar: ICE froze all of the accounts managed by a top level registrar
and knocked their customers off-line for 72-96 hours. This may have been part of an attempt to seize evidence for a huge child pornography sting; but it doesn't seem like the ICE agency should have the authority to go around due process like this (especially when their actions impacted so many uninvolved parties).
I'm also interested in the idea of "Naked Therapy"
. I wonder if my insurance would pay for a session with the gorgeous Sarah White
Fareed Zakaria raises an interesting point about our budget priorities - why are we spending on consumption instead of investment
? We're currently spending $4 or $5 on Boomers for every dollar that we spend on the youth (childhood immunizations / education / kids nutrition programs). Why is that? And how can we fix it? Guilty admission of the month
: I'm as guilty as the next blogger of falling prey to princess syndrome
. Strangest Thing I've Seen On eBay Recently
: Apparently, PleasureHorse.co
is worth about $6,950, while Fingering.co
is worth a mere
$695. Activism ideas
: I'm angry that Congress is trying to defund NPR. If you have just a minute, please contact your senator
and ask them to vote against the bill robbing funding from National Public Radio and other arts programs. I'm fully behind balancing the budget: I'd like to see cuts in a lot of other areas before we see public discourse get slashed. Rant of the month
: Some people are really paranoid about their gold... and this guy really doesn't think using a bank safety deposit box is a good idea in this day of DHS anti-terrorism powers
. The part about a gag rule on bank employees is really bizarre and over the top. It does make me wonder though - what would happen if your box was being searched and you showed up at the bank to access it? Awk-ward.
Also, is there anything like an auto-club that you can install inside your safety deposit box to prevent unwanted access? Something that blocks the access port and can't be easily cut apart might be effective (ie; a security grate like they drop in front of shop doors, or a recessed telescoping bar that holds a smaller box within your box). Knockout gas paired with a radio beacon might also do the trick.
I was surprised to find out that most banks do not insure the contents of a safety deposit box unless they are negligent (ie; a pipe bursts and floods the box, or the bank gives access to the wrong person but good luck proving that!). Even more surprising: many home owners and rental insurance policies do cover safety deposit boxes. If I could go anywhere in the world right now
: I'd visit the Playboy club in Macao
to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1931 for the opening of Eaton's Ninth Floor Restaurant
. Eaton is a defunct Canadian department store that seems very similar in history and scope to Sears in the US. The restaurant at their flagship store was inspired by the Art Deco designs of the SS Ile de France cruise ship. My favorite YouTube video of the moment:
shows Felicia Day and Jonathan Coulton singing 'Still Alive'
... this is so full of win, that it may cause your computer to crash, reboot, and autodetect a hard drive full of pictures of topless redheaded schoolgirls wrestling each other on a trampoline made of whipped cream. It's a distinct possibility. Weight Watch: 211
. I'm boosting my workouts, and my body has built muscle without ditching fat, so far. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
- Warehouse 13: Season 1: Disc 3
- Gold Diggers of 1933
- The Outlaw
- Sealab 2021: Season 1: Disc 1
- Olive Thomas: The Flapper
- Harry Brown
Oh, and this Netflix bomb on a cheating ex-girlfriend
is pretty hilarious. A Quote to leave you with
: "Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans." -Robert Kennedy
|Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011|
|Times Square advertising, a new coin website, and assorted news
: I love the cold weather, but can't stand icy roads. What's the deal with snow in Texas? It's only February! Advertising developments
: Everyone is gearing up for the Superbowl, and I recently came across a news story that irks me. The Superbowl flyover in 2011 will cost taxpayers upwards of $450,000
for a (possible) 5 second appearance on national TV. For some idiotic reason, the Navy is flying 5 F-18s all the way from Virginia Beach, Virginia instead of using the wing stationed next door at Fort Worth Naval Air Station. Granted, Superbowl airtime is valuable, but that's enough dough to pay 10 decent salaries... or 30 entry-level advertising employees!
I also am paying attention to news about Univision. The Spanish language station is growing rapidly, which suggests that there's going to be continuing growth in Spanish language ads for the Hispanic market
Despite the recession, infomercials continue to have a strong showing
. I suspect that the number of hours spent in front of a TV has risen even faster than disposable income has fallen. Personally, I'm as busy as I've ever been before, and I haven't seen an infomercial in months.
I recently launched a website for my Coin Collecting hobby
, and I've been trying out some new SEO and advertising techniques on it. For instance, I created my first Facebook ad campaign at the end of January
. As of this morning, I've spent $7.37 for 130,199 impressions and 35 clicks. The CTR for my best performing ad is 0.036%, so I need to kick it up a notch. It looks like opting to pay for CPM over CPC (ie; impressions instead of clicks) generates a very high repetition rate per viewer. Is there a way to put a cap on that? I'd like more unique impressions if I'm going to pay for each one.
Speaking of Facebook ads - I recently took part in a Corona Light promotion that put my mug up on a billboard in Times Square. Check it out here
, and here
. With Facebook "likes" turning into more than a popularity contest
, I expect to see more campaigns that deliver something to consumers in exchange for their value indicator. Searching for work
: If you're looking for a job, you might want to worry about what the HR department will find when they do a search for your name. I've tried to deal with this by building profiles and touchstones that gather the positive information about me in easy to find locations, but what can you do if you have an evil twin? Or, worse yet, if you have a common name that links to all sorts of people (good and bad)? Here's a real eye-opener of how badly tainted your name can be... Guilty admission of the month
: I drove to work on Tuesday (the day of the ice storm) and spent an hour going each way to put in 3 hours at the office. In hindsight... not the smartest thing I've ever done. Strangest Thing I've Seen On eBay Recently
: Apparently, anvils are collectible
. Compared to other investments, I imagine security is less of a concern with this collectible, and transportation/storage is much greater of a concern. Rant of the month
: Here's a pretty good explanation of how US labor law is like pay-as-you-go toilets
. Yes, you read that correctly. If I could go anywhere in the world right now
: I'd visit Central Park in NYC, because concerts like this
are going on there all the time. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: September 1st, 2010. I'd take a short hop back to see a Sci-Fi themed burlesque show that I missed at the Lakewood Theater
. Princess Leia, striptease? How did I not hear about this?! Then, I'd take a side trip to Coco Cay
to see the Silversun Pickups, the Dan Band, Nelly, and lots of drunken nudity. Weight Watch: 211 (down from 214 at New Years)
. Phrase of the day
: "Tall Poppy Syndrome
". This concept refers to how groups often cut down people with superior abilities simply because they are outstanding. I also think the historical reference is pretty cold (even if it is a bit garbled). Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Going the Distance
Olive Thomas: The Flapper
Knight & Day
Foyle's War; Set 6: Disc 3: The Hide
Family Guy: Something, Something... Dark Side
Young Indiana Jones: Vol 1: Disc 2: Passion for Life
The Killer Inside Me A Quote to leave you with
: "My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins." -Manuel Quezon Current Mood: 8 ]
|Thursday, December 23rd, 2010|
|Now with 100% more Watauga!
It's been entirely too long since I posted an update here, so I just wanted to note that I've moved out to Watauga, TX (a suburb in the midcities area of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex). I've started a new SEO job, moved into a new/bigger/cheaper house, and am hosting a New Year's Party this year. Drop me a line if you're interested.
We've been here for nearly a month and still haven't unpacked everything. Well, today I finally ran a network speed test, and I'm happy to note an improvement. According to Speakeasy's DSL test
, I'm getting 2.57 Mb/s download and 0.43 Mb/s upload speeds. So, I've really got no excuse for slacking with updates.
Oh, I am working on a new website. There's not much up yet, but I hope to do some fun things with MyCoins.co Current Mood: relaxed
|Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010|
|Should I buy a house to beat inflation? And other musings...
: 2 weeks ago, I started a new job. And now I'm unemployed again.
Well, the job I started was working as a co-manager at a retirement center with my wife. On our 3rd day of training, she got a MUCH better job offer, and the employer didn't have any provisions in place to accommodate a single employee. When my wife withdrew from the training program, I was let go. It was actually going pretty well (even though the hours were brutal) and I was getting my mind wrapped around working in a very different field. Now, I'm kind of left feeling like the rug was yanked out from under me. Advertising developments
: It looks like the US Senate is stepping in to regulate the volume of TV commercials
. This has been coming for a while, and I don't really buy the argument from TV channels/cable companies that the challenge is SO technically difficult that they can't possibly achieve an even volume from different inputs. What do you think?
Advertising that targets children has long been an ethical morass. The latest report from the American Academy of Pediatrics
is likely to sway more parents opinions than the last dozen from media watchgroups though...
On a more cheerful note - I cracked up when I realized that KFC is engaging in some truth-in-assvertising
! Their new campaign for the double down involves sweatpants for coeds with a logo emblazoned on the ass. Finally, they're admitting that fried food goes straight to the hips! In other news
: It looks like there's not going to be no Social Security price increase in 2011
. That's going to be rough for Boomers, but THANK GOODNESS.
Also, I'm considering buying a house. Now, I'm one of the last people in my circle of friends to even think about drinking the kool-aid. I was cautioning people about buying houses for about a year before the phrase "housing-bubble" started showing up on the nightly news. Here's a pretty good overview of the reasons that I prefer to be a renter
. My list would start out with the nuisance/cost of maintenance, and, in Texas, property/school taxes are a particularly pointed concern, but it's still a good list.
Yet, I'm starting to worry about inflation. I suspect that the 0.25% Federal Funds Rate is going to backfire with a vengeance, and it's hard to stop inflation once it gets rolling. When inflation gets started again, I wouldn't be surprised to see a few quarters of double digit price increases. As a renter, I might be able to benefit for a few months until my contract came up for renewal, but my monthly budget would be very exposed to changes in housing prices.
Bearing that in mind, I've been looking at some of the HUD foreclosure listings, and I was really surprised to find that I may be able to get a 3 or 4 bedroom house for under $80,000 that isn't in the back of beyond or in a Detroit/Gotham-esque neighborhood. I ran some back of the napkin calculations, and payments on a thirty year note work out to less than half of what I'm paying in rent for a duplex in downtown Dallas. Even after adding in a few hundred dollars a month for tax and maintenance costs, that works out to pretty significant savings (and that's before considering the accrued principal).
There's something else important to consider - how inflation will affect the real cos of a fixed rate payment. Exchanging my rental agreement for a mortgage offers the opportunity to get a house now and pay for it in devalued currency later. Assuming that salaries rise when inflation kicks in, that means I'd come out ahead even if the real value of the house declines (up to a point).
With 0% interest, an inflation adjusted $500 mortgage wouldn't change over the course of the loan. But with 3%, 5%, or even 10% average interest, look what happens at the 10 and 20 year marks:
3%: $500 --> $371 --> $274
5%: $500 --> $300 --> $180
10%: $500 --> $174 --> $61 Guilty admission of the month
: In order to get the clutter in my house under control, I've already started packing for our move at the end of November. If I could go anywhere in the world right now
: I'd be scuba diving in Borneo while staying on a converted oil platform/hotel
. Sweet! If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1810 to check out the original Oktoberfest. I did sign up for the BJ's rewards card - they're offering a chance to win airfare and hotels in Munich at next year's festival (but I have to imagine that it will be tough to exceed the 200 year anniversary this year). Weight Watch: 199
. Word of the day
1. a mode of punishment consisting of blows with a stick on the soles of the feet or on the buttocks.
2. a blow or a beating with a stick, cudgel, etc.
3. a stick or cudgel.
–verb (used with object)
4. to beat with a stick, cane, etc., esp. on the soles of the feet or on the buttocks. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Supernatural: Season 5: Disc 3
Clash of the Titans
And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasus
The Sand Pebbles
Cold Souls A Quote to leave you with
: "One who is too insistent on his own views finds few to agree with him." -Lao-Tzu Current Mood: sleepy
|Saturday, July 24th, 2010|
|Jobs with benefits, and security theater
: Work is winding down at my current job, and I'm really kicking my job search up into a higher gear. One of the most promising jobs I've applied for recently is offering benefits that outweigh the salary, and I was wondering - how do you weigh the true value of benefits with a job?
For me, the value of health insurance, lodging, and a meal plan is only equivalent to the amount that I would spend on each of those categories on my own. I mean, if an employer offers a $400 a month insurance plan, but you were doing just fine on a $100 a month private plan, is the benefit really worth $400 or $100? Advertising developments
: Despite their genius and popularity, it looks like the Old Spice Man
ads aren't having the intended effect. Hmm. Could this be because men typically buy their own personal products? It seems like this whole campaign was written for women, by women, which pretty much misses the point.
Some of the coolest ads I've seen recently surfaced in a London subway
. This unused section acted as a time capsule to preserve the old ads. I wonder what slices of todays ad space are likewise going to be preserved? In other news
: Whole Foods is rolling out more fuel cell power systems
at their stores. I still want to know why sewage/methane systems aren't more widespread. Guilty admission of the month
: I've entered more than 100 different sweepstakes this month and dropped almost $200 at Winstar Casino. Winning a big prize really motivates you to waste time on those things, I guess. Activism ideas
: I still want to form an urban gleaning program to harvest fruit and nuts for local food shelters. Anyone have an idea of where to start with that? Rant of the month
: I rode American Airlines out to California, and the baggage fees / security BS just felt cheap. I had to go outside the security checkpoint and mail some cheese graters to myself that were included in a cheese board we were carrying with us - that's just idiocy. Anyway, here's a good rant about Security Theater
and the TSA. If I could go anywhere in the world right now
: I'd be somewhere cooler, like Greenland. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: 1268, to visit the Dunhuang Buddhist Caves
at their peak. It would also be amazing to visit the site around 1880, when it was buried under the sands and just waiting to be rediscovered. Weight Watch: 196
. I was pushing 200 at my doctor's exam last week, and I was a bit offended when he said "I'm sure you've heard this before, but you need to lose weight." Actually, no! I went from not receiving that message at all, to it being generally understood? Ouch. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Three Sheets Season 2: Disc 2
Grey's Anatomy Season 5: Disc 3
Psych Season 2: Disc 1
White Noise 2
Balls of Fury
Sweet Revenge A Quote to leave you with
: "Good judgment comes with experience, but experience comes from bad judgment." - Rita Mae Brown Current Mood: relieved
|Tuesday, June 1st, 2010|
|Have you updated your bucket list?
There are quite a few things I hope to accomplish before they throw dirt over me, and I've barely scratched the surface. So, I sat down and updated this list to take stock of how I'm doing on achieving my goals.
Are there any things on here that you've done and I haven't? If so, I'd appreciate your advice on how to achieve them. Also, are there any things on this list that you would never do, even if someone paid you thousands of dollars?
Here's my list (in no particular order):
- Travel to all 7 continents
- Learn to sail a boat
- Win a fencing competition
- Go to the Olympics
- Get ranked in the top 10 in the state in my Tennis age division
- Attend a World's Fair / Expo
- Tame a wild horse
- Ride in a hot air balloon
- Go hang gliding
- BASE jump
- Soar in a human flying squirrel suit
- Walk on the moon (or an asteroid in a pinch)
- Learn Spanish
- Get more than 10 people at a Meetup event that I organize
- Eat a Chicken Fried Steak in all 50 states
- Eat a Chicken Fried Steak in 10 countries
- Patent something
- Get a Gold NASTAR skiing medal (or at least another silver)
- Build a lifesized snowman
- Enter a sandcastle sculpting contest
- Experience weightlessness
- Make a whole meal out of food I grew or caught
- Vote for someone I believe without reservations
- Write a piece of legislation to be proud of
- Win a mint design contest
- Make an ice sculpture
- Sell an artwork for more than the cost of materials
- Go waterskiing
- Ski down a double black diamond trail
- Sell a book manuscript for publication
- Get my name onto movie credits
- Earn enough income to file a return in the top tax bracket
- Fly in a zeppelin or self propelled blimp
- Commission a painting
- Win a disc golf tournament
- Beat Yang and Tim both by double digits in a round of disc golf
- Win a photo contest prize
- Win more than $5 on a lottery ticket
- Shake the hand of someone who's been to the moon
- Win a writing contest
- Go to more than 100 countries
- Get my motorcycle license
- Earn a fellowship
- Teach a class as a guest speaker
- Win a court case
- Crash a party
- Earn a certification
- Learn to play a guitar
- Brew Mead that's drinkable
- Win a beer brewing prize
- Forge a sword
- Grow a third generation plant
- Discover (or rediscover) an unknown plant or animal
- Spend a week in the Louvre (sleeping elsewhere if necessary)
- Go skydiving
- Visit the Eagle River Ice Palace
- Go bungee jumping (bonus: strapped to a jetpack)
- Find an undiscovered shipwreck / ID an unknown wreck
- Shoot a deer (but only if it deserves it and looks tasty)
- Author a neologism into Webster's dictionary (I'm partial to "Fidiot")
- Appear on TV (preferably not COPS or America's Most Wanted)
- Call-in to a radio show
- Enter the Olympic Team Trials in Epee
- Take a whitewater rafting trip
- Go to the Olympics in some unknown sport
- Learn to surf & windsurf
- Scuba dive again (I hurt my ears during an emergency assent, but it's past time to get back on that horse)
- Walk under Kapoloa Falls
- Go snowboarding
- Design and mint a medal
- Name a planet
- Adopt a pet from a shelter
- Grow myself a spice rack
- Run for office (losing spectacularly builds character!)
- Fly first class
- Volunteer at an archaeological dig
- Pillow fight in zero-g
- Get on the cover of Wired
- Attend the MIT Time Travelers Convention: May 7th, 2005, 10:00 EDT (42:21:36.025 degrees N, 71:05:16.332 degrees W)
- Correspond with a WWI vet (only about 4 are left in the US, so I need to get cracking on this)
- Visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama
- Buy a package at a USPS auction
- Scuba dive on White Crane Ridge (China)
- Attend Bergkirchweih (beer festival in Germany)
Some things I've checked off the list:
- Start a blog -- Done on: 12/2/2005
- Fly in a helicopter -- Done on: 8/16/2003
- Pet a tiger/lion/leopard/bear/cheetah/bobcat -- Done on: 11/6/2004 (a dead bobcat; not really what I had in mind)
- Shoot a bullseye at 100 yards -- Done on: 11/8/2004
- Publish something for pay -- Done on: 9/2005 (in the spring 2006 issue of Texas Highway Patrol Magazine)
- Get a post greenlit on Fark -- Done on: 7/13/2008
- Get married without going into debt -- 4/11/2009, with everything paid off by the end of the next month
- Win a sweepstakes drawing -- 1/4/2010; I won a $5,000 contest sponsored by the Cheeses of France for a trip to Napa, a 2 day stay in the Auberge de Soleil ($1400 a night rooms), a private culinary lesson, breakfast champagne toast, and hot air balloon ride at dawn.
I'm also gradually working on the list in the book 101 Things To Do Before You Die. The things I've done are marked in bold.)
- [1. Write a best seller]
- [2. Swim with the scariest, biggest, and most colorful creatures in the sea]
- [3. Win an award, trophy or prize]
- [4. Catch a fish with your bare hands]
- [5. Make a discovery]
- [6. Throw a house party]
- [7. Be part of a threesome]
- [8. Realize your childhood dream]
- [9. Learn that instrument]
- [10. Leave your mark in graffiti]
- [11. Storm chase a tornado]
- [12. Get a piece of art into an exhibition]
- [13. Meet someone with your own name]
- [14. Ride the world's biggest roller coasters]
- [15. Stage dive or crowd surf]
- [16. Get into the Guinness book of world records]
- [17. Own a pointless collection]
- [18. Study the Kama Sutra and put theory into practice]
- [19. Master poker and win big in casino]
- [20. Get backstage and get off with a rock god]
- [21. Be a human guinea pig]
- [22. Go up in a hot air balloon]
- [23. Get arrested]
- [24. See a space shuttle launch]
- [25. Capture the moment in an award-winning photograph]
- [26. Bungee jump]
- [27. See an erupting volcano]
- [28. Sky dive]
- [29. Meet your idol]
- [30. Stay in the best suite in a five star hotel]
- [31. Experience weightlessness]
- [32. See the Aurora Borealis]
- [33. Get the score a hole in one]
- [34. Design your own cocktail]
- [35. Play a part of your favorite TV show]
- [36. Visit every country]
- [37. Make fire without matches]
- [38. See these animals in the wild...]
- [39. Go to the dogs]
- [40. Get a free upgrade on a plane]
- [41. Be friends with your ex]
- [42. Hit your targets]
- [43. Throw a dart into a map and travel where it lands]
- [44. Attend a film premiere]
- [45. Do a runner from a fancy restaurant]
- [46. Scuba Dive]
- [47. Milk a cow]
- [48. Be present when your country wins the world cup]
- [49. See both the solar and lunar eclipses]
- [50. Write your name over a star on the walk of fame]
- [51. Learn another language]
- [52. Read the greatest books ever written] I've read 7 out of 85. Kinda sad, really.
- [53. Complete a coast to coast road trip across America]
- [54. Make at least one huge purchase you can't afford]
- [55. Score the winning goal/try/basket]
- [56. Gatecrash a fancy party]
- [57. See the All-time greatest films] I've seen 58 out of 132
- [58. Live in a place you love]
- [59. Leave a job you hate]
- [60. Take a part in a police line-up]
- [61. Get away with the perfect practical joke or hoax]
- [62. Join the mile high club]
- [63. Make the front page of a national paper]
- [64. Drive a car a top speed]
- [65. Shout "Drinks are on me" in a pub or bar]
- [66. Be part of a flash mob]
- [67. Visit the new Wonders of the World]
- [68. Save someone's life]
- [69. In various language learn to say... ]
- [70. Invent a word that makes it into a dictionary]
- [71. Have adventurous sex]
- [72. Have enough money to do all the things in the list]
- [73. Stand on the international date line]
- [74. Learn to fly a plane]
- [75. Get a tattoo and/or a piercing] (not sure if I'll do this one)
- [76. Invent something]
- [77. Learn astronomy and read the night sky]
- [78. Drink a vintage wine]
- [79. Answer a personal ad]
- [80. Spend christmas on the beach]
- [81. Get barred from a pub or a bar]
- [82. Build your own house]
- [83. Skinny dip at midnight]
- [84. Sell all your junk on eBay and make a profit]
- [85. Visit the world's tallest buildings]
- [86. Run a marathon]
- [87. Conquer your fear]
- [88. Get married unusually]
- [89. Throw away the instant noodles]
- [90. Join the 16-Mile high club]
- [91. Publish a cult website]
- [92. Own an original work of art]
- [93. Complete the monopoly pub crawl]
- [94. Get something named after you]
- [95. Get revenge]
- [96. Be an extra in a film]
- [97. Live out of a van]
- [98. Go on a demonstration]
- [99. Confess]
- [100. Reach 100 years of age]
- [101. Continue your gene pool] Current Mood: creative
|Friday, April 16th, 2010|
|Downgraded my DSL speed - ouch
I recently downgraded my DSL speed (because the promotional period with AT&T ended, and $35 a month is a bit steep for 1.5 mbps). I'm supposed to be getting 750k, but my connection seems suspiciously slow.
Here are some test results from different sites:
Time Elapsed: 20.246188879013 Seconds
Transfered: 1086976 bytes
419.44 KiloBits / Second
Do you think the problem is on my end, or do I need to contact AT&T and ask what's going on? Current Mood: cranky
|Tuesday, March 30th, 2010|
|Got a new job, but I'm still searching for something long-term
: I've started a new job, but it isn't going to last for long. Not to get into specifics, but let's say that I'm working for a government agency that hires a lot of people once a decade (and I'm not talking about the Department of Defense).
At work, I've been making phone calls to a bunch of potential job applicants. The phone etiquette that many job seekers use is fighteningly bad. Based on my HR experience, here are a few helpful tips for job seekers:
1) Leave a good callback number. This seems like a no-brainer, but an amazing number of people fumble a digit or put the wrong area code. If you leave the wrong number, there's not much point in waiting for the phone to ring.
2) Use your own phone number. If I reach your husband, best friend, or Great Aunt Clara, I'm going to assume that I have the wrong number. So, if you don't have your own phone, make sure that the person whose phone line you use knows that you're using their number. Also, their phone etiquette becomes just as important as your own.
3) Answer the phone politely. "Whazzup," "Yo boy," and "Who the fuck is this?" are not good lines to open the conversation with.
4) Don't answer the phone if you can't talk. If you're at work, in the bathroom, driving, at a strip club, or otherwise in the wrong place at the wrong time, let your phone go to voicemail.
5) Set up your voicemail or install an answering machine. When I hear "This user has not set up their voicemail box," I really hear "This prospective employee is lazy, technologically challenged, or both." And there are few things more annoying than an endlessly ringing phone.
6) Make sure to empty your voicemail or put in a new tape when your machine is full. If you're circulating your resume all around town, then maybe you don't need to hear from me after all.
7) Record a professional message. Keep your message short and respectful - long messages waste the time of whoever is calling and are particularly tedious for repeated phone calls. Caller's don't need to hear your life story, they don't care how cute your kid's voices are, and they don't need fancy sound effects. This seems obvious to me, but some people I called this week had rants directed against telemarketers, dire warnings that I better not be one of their stalkers, and even a poetry recitation.
8) Use a professional ring tone. Call me old fashioned, but when I call a phone number, I expect to hear the line ringing. I already dislike phones that play music instead of a ring tone, so bad music is a second strike. When you're looking for work, it isn't a good idea to entertain callers with a techno version of "Baby Got Back" or "Pearl Necklace".
9) Pay your bills. If your phone bill is past due, there's a good chance that the phone company will cut off incoming calls. If you're dodging bill collectors, that can also make it hard to catch a phone call from an unknown number.
10) Keep regular hours. Even if you're unemployed, that's no excuse to sleep in past noon. Not only do newly-awakened people have poor phone skills, but it can also rub a caller the wrong way. If I have to be at work at 8 am, then I take perverse pride in waking anyone up who got to sleep in.
On a related note - here are 50 Things Not-To-Do In a Job Interview.
Guilty admission of the month: Have you ever gotten dressed in the dark, only to regret your clothing decisions in the light of day? Well, I had a doozy the other day. When I went to take my lunch break, I realized that I'd been wearing two belts all day (one over the other).
Rant of the month: It looks like Walmart may be putting some real muscle behind their "Heritage Agriculture" program. Could the House that Sam Built really turn into a driving force in local food? WTF?
If I could go anywhere in the world right now: I'd go check out the Cloud 9 tethered balloon in Vegas. This thing sounds cool (although I might need to go check it out last week, since it just crashed to the ground pretty spectacularly).
If I had a time machine I’d head to: Australia for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. On March 12th, there was a cool event billed as the "World's Longest Lunch". A long table covered in white cloth is going to be set up along Little Bourke Street with 1,000 seats. That would be a fun way to get in the Guinness Book of World Records. Or, you could always go with the Great Guinness Toast on 2/10/2010...
Weight Watch: 199 I tried out a new scale this week that says I have 8.7% body fat. I don't know if I believe that - it certainly seems like I have more than 17 lbs of fat to lose.
Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue:
Three Sheets Season 2: Disc 2
Grey's Anatomy Season 5: Disc 3
Psych Season 2: Disc 1
White Noise 2
Balls of Fury
A video that caught my eye: This CareerBuilder ad resonated with me: "Isn't it time that someone lit a fire under you?"
A Quote to leave you with: “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao Tzu
|Monday, January 25th, 2010|
|Rediscovering the job market, c.2010
: I'm looking for a new job after about a two year hiatus. My Christmas bonus this year was a 2 week severance package, so I'm starting the year with a boot to my backside and all the encouragement you could ask for to find a better paying gig. Since my last search, the job hunting field has changed a bit, and there are a lot of different web tools available.
Here are some of the job search sites that I'm using:
*Craigslist.com - There seem to be a lot more scams on the site lately, but there are some gems if you're willing to dig
*Indeed.com - Has a great meta-search feel, like kayak for job seekers
*Monster.com - I just updated my profile on this venerable site; we'll see if it generates any useful leads.
*CareerBuilder.com - Unlike some other sites I signed up for, their e-mail notifications are based on a useful logarithm. Instead of recommending plumbing and real estate jobs to me, it actually includes notifications about jobs I'd be interested in applying for (which is refreshing).
*GreenJobs.com - Has a lot of exciting cleantech opportunities, but most of the jobs require professional certifications and engineering degrees. I'm still keeping my eyes peeled for some marketing work in that field though!
*USAJobs.com - good for seasonal work: it's how I got my job with the National Park Service a few years ago
A few others that have been recommended include:
I'm sure there are dozens of other sites that I'm missing. What do you recommend? Are there any D/FW centered sites that I should check out?
I'm still avoiding the WorkInTexas job bank run by Texas Workforce. When I tried using it 2 years ago, it was a total time suck. The only jobs that were ever listed were manual labor and minimum wage "careers". Worst of all, if you are recommended for a job on the site, you MUST apply or risk losing your UI benefits. Which idiot thought up that idea? Advertising developments
: Superbowl weekend is coming up soon, which means that some of the biggest budget ads of the year are coming. There's going to be one spot that's not like the others in 2010... turns out that CBS changed a longstanding policy banning advocacy ads and sold 30 seconds of Superbowl XLIV to an anti-abortion group
. This may open the door for other controversial ads, but how many advocacy groups have nearly $3M to throw around?
I came across this floating logo technology
a while back, but still haven't seen it deployed. Can you think of some interesting applications for it? Perhaps making hearts over a couples store for Valentine's Day? Or spelling out messages one letter at a time? In other news
: What ever happened with the news coverage of Colony Collapse Disorder
? I've been keeping a lookout for news on this topic, but there haven't been any major developments in the news recently. The latest research has been unable to pin down a particular pathogen causing the collapse, but affected bees have massive pathogen loads
hinting at a weakened immune system. So, it seems like bees are getting hit with something that has HIV like effects. The falling interest in the subject is just another way in which CCD is like AIDS - after the initial panic, concern about this issue has just tapered away. Something startling
: Zane Lamprey is going on tour. I might have to catch his Dallas (or Austin) appearance. Guilty admission of the month
: I haven't given a dime to Haiti. Honestly - there are many more people who die worldwide from malnutrition, poor indoor air, pollution, and other causes that I think we need to work on, and I really don't feel Haiti tugging on my heart strings. Then again, the recent loss of my job might also have something to do with it, along with the fact that I'm a frugal SOB who primarily donates to political candidates and nature conservation groups... Activism ideas
: I hate companies trying to bait and switch me. The Miles by Discover Card is an example of some shady business practices that left me angry enough to write the FTC and issue a complaint. Here's what I sent to the Feds (and I urge you to make a similar complaint - they only investigate these issues when enough people make a stink):
"Discover Card Credit Services sent a flier in the mail promoting their Miles by Discover Card with "Free Tickets - Unlimited Companion Airline Tickets for a Full Year" printed across the top. This promotion (promotion code DALU) seems to be a clear scam. I contacted the agent to find out the particulars of the redemption process, and she referred me to Affinion Loyalty Group. When I called that number, I found that tickets cost twice as much as they do on outside travel sites. If it costs $240 to buy an airline ticket on Delta.com, and $500 to buy a ticket with a "free companion fare," then how is their advertising truthful?" Rant of the month
: This may be a bit dated, but it was an incredibly timely diatribe about the housing bubble
. If I could go anywhere in the world right now
: I'd go check out Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. The pagoda is decorated with thousands of diamonds and rubies, and swathed in gold - all products of more than 500 years of donation from Buddhist pilgrims. If I had a time machine I’d head to
: Portland, Oregon on November 24th, 1971. How cool would it be to take a flight with DB Cooper? Or to spike his bourbon soda? Weight Watch: 199
I tried out a new scale this week that says I have 8.7% body fat. I don't know if I believe that - it certainly seems like I have more than 17 lbs of fat to lose. Top 10 movies in my Netflix queue
Grey's Anatomy Season 5: Disc 1
The Girl Next Door
Psych Season 1: Disc 3
Three Sheets Season 2: Disc 2
Sweet Revenge A video that caught my eye
: This is an amazing use of webcams - synchronizing this must have been a total nightmare! A Quote to leave you with
: "You get what you don't pay for." -Jack Bogle (founder of Vanguard Group, an investment company that focuses on delivering low fees to boost client returns) Current Mood: busy