Monday, January 30, 2012

Crumbs Of Embarrassment.

Saturday was spent with the in-laws. My father-in-law (Cary) has been kind enough to loan us a car for the foreseeable past, present and future. My wife (Mommy) uses the car to drive to work and drive the kids when I am off working on projects. Mommy usually eats oat and granola cookies on the way to work to avoid having an empty stomach at work. As a result of Mommy's off to work routine, some crumbs had settled into the various crevices around the driver's seat. The car needed some routine maintenance. Cary mentioned he was embarrassed to take the car to the mechanics because of the crumbs in the car. All I could think was crumbs, mechanics, embarrassed, why?

Each person has their own tolerance level when it comes to embarrassment. So if Cary was embarrassed, it's his right to be embarrassed. Still, crumbs in the car are indicative of someone that eats in the car and nothing more. Crumbs in a car does not signify some ingrained tragic personal flaw. If someone doesn't care for the crumbs in my car (but this is Cary's car) that person can take a hike. In the future, Mommy and I will be meticulous so Cary needn't be embarrassed about the condition of his car. But I remain unconcerned about any opionions regarding crumbs in my car.

Sunday, I helped a friend deliver over $750 of pizza and salad from a local pizzeria to a local house of worship for a dinner at that house of worship. The person in charge gave my friend a $10 tip. A $10 tip on over $750 of food? Now, that's embarrassing.

Friday, January 27, 2012

ROL: Shine A Light.

ROL(Return on Life) is the "help improve your life" counterpart of ROI (Return on Investment). Simply stated, ROL suggests incremental changes or activities that can produce major returns toward a better quality of life (QOL). This week's ROL recorded live via the magic of YouTube is about shining a light.

Please share your thoughts in the comments on the concept or the delivery. 1 thing: No matter what you say, I can't grow a full head of hair.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SOPA? Nope-a!

After a grass roots protest which included many websites going dark SOPA is dead, at least for now. The legislation will surface in another session of Congress, probably sooner rather than later. Still it's been a good day for freedom of expression, with the understanding that theft of intellectual property remains a vexing problem.
Inherent in SOPA and other legislation is intent to "allow the creative to be free to create". The premise of protecting the inventor for the sake of invention is misplaced at best. Dancers dance, singers sing, creators create and inventors invent. The concept of profitability wanders along later. Imagine these two conversations from history, reconstituted through the thought process of  US legislators:
  • Young Orville and Young Wilbur see a bird flying overhead, look at each other and nod in synch. Orville says "Do you think we can get $50 a suitcase in 2011?"
  • Alexander Graham Bell picks up his new invention and speaks with urgency, "Watson, come here. I need you." Watson rushes into the room and Bell continues, "I don't have an unlimited minutes package and since you are in the building, I saw no need to waste my minutes."

Dancers dance, singers sing, creators create and inventors invent because they are driven. No legislation encourages them. Not only do dancers dance, etc. but also cheaters cheat, thieves thieve and robbers rob. No legislation can completely protect the property of the inventor. Any legislation that grants sweeping powers to suppress in fact inhibits the inventor.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Bye, Joe."

Saturday night I caught a headline that the Paterno family was preparing for the imminent death of the family patriarch and college football coaching legend, Joe Paterno. My immediate thought was, "I'm sorry the death wasn't slower and more painful". Luckily thoughts aren't recorded for posterity, unless I post those thoughts on my blog.
source: Wikipedia

My vindictiveness stems from Paterno's actions (or lack of same) regarding his former assistant and accused child-raper Jerry Sandusky. Luckily for me time leads to perspective. When Paterno's death was reported on Sunday morning, I realized the world was no better or no worse minus Joe Paterno. I was able to empathize with his family for their pain of loss. Amid a sea of questions (I am troubled by the apparent inability to question by Paterno's legions of supporters) one huge question continues to circle in my mind.

Who is the bigger monster, Sandusky or Paterno? I do not suggest any form of clemency for Sandusky but at some level he doesn't understand that child rape is wrong. Paterno, however is lauded for being a role model and shaper of men. As someone praised for teaching strength, values and decisions Paterno failed to scream about Sandusky the raper from the highest Pennsylvania mountain or at the very least ban Sandusky from the Penn State football facilities. The greater burden falls to Paterno, but who is the bigger offender?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend Magazine: Deli Doubletalk.

It's best to think worst,
When your wurst is the best.
Please feel free to suggest alternative captions in the comments.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jersey Exchange.

I was out and about Sunday.  Pro football ceases to exist once the Bears are eliminated from the playoffs. In many years, pro football ceases to exist as Thanksgiving concludes. As I was tooling around town, I was listening to the recap of football playoff games that don't exist. The commentator from the four letter network was analyzing an exchange between Arian Foster (RB, Houston) of the Texans and Ray Lewis (LB, Baltimore) of the Ravens.
source: benchwarmerblues

After the game ended, Lewis and Foster autographed and exchanged their game jerseys. The radio talking head expounded on "sense of history of the game, two warriors, good friends, blah, blah, blah...". I guess it's hard to kill 6 hours on radio when you don't take phone calls.

I have nothing against Ray Lewis (except he doesn't play for the Bears) or Arian Foster (except he doesn't play for the Bears). Both men are well skilled and well compensated. Both men are amongst the best at there position. Their exchange of jerseys is a nice gesture but nothing more. Their jersey exchange is the same as two mid-level managers (as common as pro athletes these days) trading pencil cups at a trade show. If Lewis and Foster exchanged autographed jerseys for a charity auction, now that's something great.

I am an avid fan of pro sports. It's time pro sports be placed in proper perspective, even on networks that cover athletics.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Unseasonably Seasonal.

Wednesday, Rockford reached an all time high temperature of 57 degrees for January 11. Thursday, the snow started falling about 8 A.M. By 9:30 PM 6 inches of snow covered the area. 6 inches of snow is a mere love-tap in the Midwest. Unfortunately the snow still needs to be moved.
Mommy has to be at work by 6:30 AM, which means a 4 A.M. wake up for me to clear the driveway. In a fit a pique, the snowblower refused to start. The snowblower had been inactive for 11 1/2 months and whether it's protest was due to being ignored or awoken from it's hibernation is unsure.  What was sure was that I was clearing the driveway by shovel, with a huge helping of legs and a side of back.

Luckily, the snow was light and powdery, not wet and heavy.  Deep breathing and a couple of ibuprofen will take care of my residual soreness. I'll fiddle with the snowblower in daylight and get the bugger started. As I waited with Little Suzy for her school bus I was struck by one thought:
Items that were once a luxury (snowblower, cell phone, microwave) are now considered a necessity. As often as I talk about seeking a simpler life, maybe not so much.
How about you? Would you give up technology for a simpler but intimate lifestyle? Or are you tied to to the convenience of modern life?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

ROL: Comfort Is Key.

ROL (Return on Life) is derived from the metric ROI (Return on Investment). Just as changes (hopefully small) to investment increase profitability (hopefully disproportionately larger than the increase in investment), small incremental changes in behavior can greatly increase QOL (Quality of Life). This week's ROI is about making others comfortable.

I have spent most of my professional life as a funeral director.  The families I serve are in pain, but almost everyone I serve is uncomfortable. People attending a funeral usually don't attend  funerals regularly. Given the subject matter no one other than funeral home staff is quite sure what to do.

People that arrive late for funeral are often in a quandary. Usually, the late attendee starts by apologizing to me (and hey, I only work there). As they approach the door to the service the look on their face is a cross between confusion and embarrassment. I have no way to politely tell the latecomers the family doesn't take attendance and often won't remember who attended the funeral. What I do to attempt to lessen their anxiety is inform them whether they are entering close or away from the lectern and which way to turn for seats. I don't know if my information helps, but it is information I like to know when I show up to anything late.

I need to remember to help people find a comfort level more ofter. I think it makes everyone happier.

What do you do to put others at ease? How does it make you feel when you help? How do you feel when no one helps make you comfortable in a strange/new situation?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#DadFit in #Illinois.

Once in a great while a confluence of seemingly random minutia occurs, which in turn provides a solution of substance. Such was the case this Monday morning.

I was reviewing my Triberr home page and approving blog post tweets for inclusion in my Twitter stream. I happened upon a  post from John Willey of  "Daddy's in Charge". The post was about a new blog, DadFit. John explained the concept of making lasting healthy changes with the help of a supportive and open community. I immediately clicked on the icon conveniently located in the upper half of the right sidebar and liked the Dadfit Facebook Page.

During the morning I listen to WSCR the local (OK, Chicago) sportstalker. Mully and Hanley reviewed the guest list. Lo and behold, Governor Pat Quinn (a former reformer doing a mediocre job of cleaning up the pile of crap he was handed as Governor) was scheduled to be on the show. Since the Bears were out of (never in) the playoffs, the Governor would not be announcing one of those idiotic politician sport bets (Illinois sewage vs. Nevada nuclear waste?) that is so mindlessly prevalent these days. Governor Quinn would be discussing something else.

Candidate Pat Quinn walked the width of Illinois (167 miles) in 2001to call attention to the inadequacy of affordable health care. In order to perhaps lower health care costs for all, the Governor has issued a challenge: walk the width of Illinois over the course of the year. That's less than 1/2 a mile a day.

I signed up for the challenge and downloaded a pedometer app. Within an hour it was obvious I walked over 1/2 mile a day puttering around the house. For the challenge, I must walk an additional 167 miles over the year. That's less than 15 minutes a day and can easily be incorporated into my routine.

I have my 1st contribution to Dadfit. Any ideas on other changes to becoming and staying healthier?

Monday, January 9, 2012

My 10 Best Days.

My celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday over the weekend, causing me to reflect on the best days I've ever had.
If you're going to watch the video later, allow me to offer a clue: There are no sporting events on the list. I love my Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks but no thrilling victory or crushing defeat ever changed the way I felt about the next day's sunrise.

What are the best days in your life? How about the most significant days of your life? Why?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why Google+?

To say there are more social networks than you can shake a stick at is an understatement. Frankly, shake a stick in any direction and a social network will likely spring up immediately. Given that nuisance limit of 24 hours in a day, it doesn't matter how many "gotta be on" social networks exist. Like the cable conundrum where the number of channels increase and the stuff worth watching decreases (okay, disappears), at a certain point it will not be possible to be on all the social networks* one must be on.
New Year, New Challenge.
I made Google+ a priority for 2012. Wanting to break in on Google+ with friends, I asked via Facebook status, "Anyone want to connect on Google+?". I made some connections. My friend Yvonne (a great advocate and activist) aka @stopfox indicated that she had more social networks than either time or money. Yvonne asked (not directly) "Why another network?"  Her query caused me to think, "Why Google+?".
Indeed, "Why Google+?" is a good question. Although Google+'s circles organization is very practical, any unique strength of a social network is usually co-opted  by other social networks (it is maddening for a medium that encourages individuality to play follow the leader in this manner). Google+'s integration with the Android platform and everything else Googley is nice, but I'm sure Google+ works equally well with other platforms. My reason for involvement with Google+ is merely mundane.
No One Will Ever Read The Newspaper On Their Computer.
Like the horseless carriage, the television, the Betamax and the MP3 player before it, social networking is here to stay. The format may change and today's mega-monsters of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter may or may not continue for decades but platform driven e-networking will continue as long as their are humans and computers.  From all appearances Google's business model appears flexible enough to withstand the roller coaster turbulence of today's marketplace. So that is "Why Google+". I'm not leaving Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the cast of thousands but I will actively add Google+ to the mix.

How do you feel about the plethora of social networks? Any networks (currently in existence) you will be adding or subtracting from your mix? Would you rather return to carrying a pocket full of change to make a necessary call from a payphone?

*The social networks on which I currently have accounts include: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Triberr, HubPages,,unemployedworkers, Blogger,, Mashable, Huffington Post, StumbleUpon, Quora, Plaxo, Google+,, Branch Out, Klout and some Yahoo groups. I also have inactive accounts with Wordpress and MySpace. This doesn't count the blogs where I am an occasional commenter. These blogs also have the elements of a social network, but I don't want to include them in my list for fear of appearing obsessed with social networks.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

ROL: Positive Reality.

ROL is an abbreviation for Return on Life. Return on Life is all about making small incremental changes that yield large returns on life enjoyment. This week's ROL is about keeping a positive attitude grounded in reality.

This Season.
source: Wikipedia
It's been a tough season to be a Chicago Bears fan. The Bears started off the season losing 3 of their first 5 games. All three loses were dreadful. After that, the Bears reeled off 5 wins in a row and appeared to be an actual professional football team. The Bears star quarterback broke his thumb in the last victory of the 5. After losing their star quarterback the Bears lost five in row. With those five consecutive losses the Bears had no chance of qualifying for the playoffs. The coup de grace was a Bears win in the last game of the season, guaranteeing a worse draft position for the Bears. At least I'm used to it.
The Last Half-Decade.
The Chicago Bears had a great season in 2006, winning 13 of 16 games. The Bears advanced through the playoffs until losing the Super Bowl to the Indianapolis Colts. The next three years the Bears had a composite record one game below break even with no postseason appearances. Last year everything went right for the Bears until they lost the conference championship and found themselves 1 win short of a Super Bowl appearance.
It's All In How You Look At It.
At the post-mortem press conference the day after the Bears season ended, a reporter asked Bears coach Lovie Smith how he planned to turn around a franchise that has made the playoffs only once in five seasons. Smith replied, "We've made the playoffs once in the last two years". True. And Bill Clinton didn't have sex with that woman. The stain on her dress proves it.
Measure Accurately.
I'm a big fan of staying positive. A strong will to stay positive has gotten through some pretty rough times (How was 2011 for you?) Staying positive does not mean ignoring the truth. Staying positive means identifying and acknowledging and developing an action plan to correct any deficiencies.  Ignoring the obvious only makes it harder to improve and has a negative impact on a positive outlook.

Do you have any examples of someone (you, a family member, a colleague or employer)obscuring the truth in order to portray an overly rosy outlook? How do you feel when someone inaccurately portrays a situation in an overly optimistic manner?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gifts, Memories and Today.

source: Amazon
As I posted previously, Chanukah with my family was rather disjointed due to a 2 week contract for me. We finally exchanged gifts as a family (Mommy, Mario, Little Suzy, Gracie the wonder beagle and me) on New Years Day. I scored a major haul. Texting gloves (for texting while driving in cold weather), a tripod for my smart phone (hello, vlogging) a huge bag of Belly Flops (all the flavors, all the calories, a fraction of the price) and the Tom Lehrer collection (including a DVD of a concert from Oslo, hopefully subtitled).

Matt Jaffe
I was turned on to Tom Lehrer in junior high by Matt Jaffe (if you enjoy hiking, check out Matt at We spent hours listening to That Was The Year That Was. I even went with Matt and his family to see Tom Lehrer for a McGovern fundraiser. In retrospect, McGovern needed a vote raiser. I understood much (not all) of Lehrer's context and the time spent with Matt and Tom certainly shaped who I am today.

As I was listening to the CD yesterday, I realized that Mario is the same age I was when I started listening to Tom Lehrer. I know Mario wouldn't listen to Tom Lehrer with me. Mario is very young for his age and being an Aspie, Mario can't share my sense of humor. I know Mario picks up on household values from our conversations. Still I am concerned about how Mario will shape his views on the world around him. Friends help kids with defining themselves (especially during those years when parents know nothing) and being an Aspie, Mario has no friends. Finally I know there are no simple answers and things work out. Still, I can't help but worry.

Any recent gifts that bring up old memories? Any worries about your kids that you like to think you can change, but really can't change?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Three Words.

Chris Brogan wrote a New Year non- resolutions post that I loved. Instead of resolutions, pick 3 words and spend the year honing those 3 words. Simple, right? Probably not, but I won't know until 2012 becomes 2013. Here are my three words for 2012.
source: Kids Math Games Online

Like natural resources and drinkable water, time is in limited supply. There are only 24 hours a day and 365 (366 during a leap year) days a year. In 2012 I want to invest time in working on making better use of my time. T. Boone Pickens is quoted "Work eight hours, sleep eight hours. Make sure they're not the same eight hours." I don't feel the need to squeeze the juice and grate the rind of every day. I want to plan and execute work and relaxation and keep both in their proper column.
I do many things each day. Almost everything I do (spending time, eating, reacting to others) is by choice. I regularly fool myself by saying "I have to..." but in fact, unless it is a matter of life and death "I choose to...". Some of these choices my involve not wasting food or avoiding arguments, but these actions are still choices. Having a better year means making better choices.
After reading "What Would Google Do?" on the advice of Gini Dietrich (well a blog post by Gini actually, but it sounds much better if I intimate she was addressing me personally), I switched my browser to Chrome (until Microsoft decided it was foreign matter and locked me out. I haven't had time, energy or anger management skills to restore my beloved Chrome). When it came to time to select a smartphone, I went Android. So when Google introduced their powerful new social network, I invested time and energy to become proficient in Google+. Not exactly. Pretty much not at all. I learned Twitter and how to blog. I've improved on LinkedIn and Facebook. If I'm going to continue building the brand of me, I must slay Google+ in 2012.

How about you? How do you feel about words and/or resolutions? What are you going to do to make 2012 the kick-ass year you want it to be? Hey, whet my appetite and I'll invite you to guest post.