Friday, November 29, 2013

O Christmas Tree

Thanksgiving is behind is, (barely) and the holiday season is officially ON.
My first chore: staging the various components of the family talisman, the Clanton Tannenbaum. It never goes without a hitch, and so, may I present my tribute to this year's tree:

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Thy leaves are so unchanging;
But flattened here, and scrunched-up there--
They do need re-arranging.

O Christmas tree, thou mockest me,
With half thy boughs be-lighted.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
With what plastic malady be blighted?

The last year spent in attic's sleep,
Awaken, o ye plastic lumber;
Could your Summer's stay in temps of Kelvin
This season prove a colossal blunder?

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Frustration do you bring me;
For every year this plastic shrub
Becomes a polyvinyl meany.

Each burned out light,
Each Scotch-taped bell,
No one alive challenges me as well...

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
At the curb this year you'll be hanging.

(apologies to Ernst Anschuzt and Melchior Franck

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pet Peeve: E-mail "Me-too's"

The Boss sends out a congratulatory e-mail.
A much-loved employee leaves, and the office is notified by e-mail.
The office will close early on Friday, you learn, in an e-mail.

In each instance, your first response is probably to toggle up a reply, and blast your assent, best wishes, or elation to the rest of the office, because you, too, agree and fully support the original message.

The problem is, when you do--and what's the point, if you're not selecting "Reply All?"--along with the rest of your colleagues, you create a nuclear fission-like situation for your company e-mail server, impacting everyone else on the original sending of that message that's moved you so.

For many people, myself included, web-access to the company e-mail system is a wonderful option that is thwarted only by an inbox that is too clogged with messages to accept or send anymore volume. You may have seen that little, yellow notice up in the corner--"Your e-mail box is at 999.99;mb capacity.  At 1000mb you will not be able to send or receive messages."

One of my most pleasurable pastimes at work is clearing the unnecessary electronic flotsam and jetsam from my e-mail inbox and trash can. 


The other, minor irritant, for those of us who also receive office e-mail on our personal smartphone out of necessity, is the constant notification that yet another "Me, too!" message just landed in our inbox.

So the next time the Boss sends a note remarking how the sales team has hit their goals for the month, and it's only the 15th--Huzzah! Just send him a note back thanking him for the acknowledgement.

The next time someone grabs the brass ring and gets a bump up the ladder, send them a personal note--you can e-mail it--expressing your appreciation of their accomplishment.

The next time the office is notified Friday will feature an early afternoon--just relish it to yourself, along with the knowledge you can leave and not worry about coming back on Monday to a constipated-mail box, too obstructed by unnecessary messages to function.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Closed Coffee Drive-thru Lanes: Epic Early Morning Fail

I have a love-hate relationship with Starbuck’s coffee.
A cuppa joe is a necessary evil for people with my work schedule--which spans the wee-hours of the morning all the way until noon. The Scots-Irish tightwad in me rebels against dropping a 5-note and change on a venti coffee creation, even occasionally, but there are some mornings when the need for mental acuity overrules the sphincter on my ATM Card.
Such was today.

It’s not easy finding an all-nite Starbucks.
They exist, but I have to really NEED a coffee fix to go off the beaten trail at 3:30 in the morning.
When I do…and the “over-nite” store is closed, I am doubly-irritated: There are few things worse in the morning than craving coffee, taking the diversion to quell the need, and finding the place closed.

Okay, there’s worse, but it doesn’t help when the Drive Thru light is on, and some clown has placed a table in the lane because it’s really closed. To add insult to urgency, some slack-jawed mouth breather steps out of the store without a care or concern about my de-caffeinated condition and announces, ‘we’re closed’ with a passionless shrug.

Turn off the light.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Great Expectations

The Great Depression.
The Great Recession.
What was so great about these events?

In the Depression in the 1930’s, people lost everything they had, there was this massive dust storm in the Midwest, and it was not a happy time in America.
I think not.
They should have called it the Horrible Depression; or the Devastating Depression—that’s more alliterative.
Not so much.

Same thing with the most recent economic recession.
What was so great about that?  Jobs were lost, houses were foreclosed, and businesses went broke.We should have called it the Really Bad Recession, or the Awful Recession.
There was nothing great about it.

I went to see “The Great Gatsby” recently, the story of a guy who reinvented himself after the First World War. The movie is based on a great American tragedy. Not that the tragedy was all that grand—it was actually pretty sad. But the story was great, and the movie exceptionally well done, and so aptly named.

They called World War 1 “the Great War” until World War 2 came along.
Then they realized pairing positive adjectives with negatively connotative nouns wasn’t such a “great” idea.
I rest my case.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Something for Nothing = Nothing

There’s an advertisement running on the Radio these days that causes me pause.
If you listen to it critically, you wonder how these people get away with what they’re saying.
There’s nothing illegal, but the message is clearly marketed by someone who does not think much of their potential clientele.

The commercial is a fast-talking pitch about flipping houses, and gives lots of examples of folks making thousands of dollars, buying low and selling high. These guys don’t want you to buy actual houses they’re flipping; oh, no. This is an ad for a ‘program’ you have to get so you can learn their system for buying houses low and selling high. It’s a flipping flipping pitch.

Here’s what rubs me wrong about these people:

1. If this is such a good deal, why aren’t they out there, flipping houses until the cows come home? Are they so totally altruistic in their desire to help mankind that they’re willing to give away their system?

The answer to that is that these guys are marketers.
They’re not really real estate specialists.
If they were really good at what they’re offering, they’d be on a beach in Tahiti.
But they’re not.
They’re running Radio ads with toll free numbers to call and promises of grandeur to fulfill.

2. They‘re offering, for free, a system others “have paid dearly to receive,” according to the ad copy. If I was one of those who’d dearly paid for their package, I’d be highly offended, and would be demanding my money back, yesterday.
Reminds me of that old saying, you get what you pay for.
If you’re not paying anything for this “money-making system,” what’s it really worth?

3. I suspect the only money making that’s going on by this system is probably in some fees associated with the package, either when it’s delivered, or when you try to use it.

Sometimes I will call advertisers I hear on the Radio station, just to test their offer.
I'm not even going to waste my time on this one.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Daylight Saving Time is a Myth

This is the core of a letter I just wrote to my congressman, Rep. Michael McCaul:

Next weekend we will begin the arduous, disruptive task of switching from Standard Time to Daylight Saving Time.
What would it take to end this madness?

I consider Daylight Saving Time an imposition and extreme disruption, especially for we who provide early morning functions in the economy.

I awake at 2:30am to go to work.
Next Monday (March 11), I will be arising at an effective time of 1:30am.
I can't begin to describe how difficult that becomes as each year passes.
Why can't we just leave the time set, one way or the other?

The concept of "saving" daylight is a myth, and, ironically, an expensive waste of time.
Dr. Mark Perry's rather tortured explanation of the negative economic impact of changing clocks each year is but the tip of the iceberg.

A Rasmussen Poll last year revealed 45% of Americans think the switch to DST is worth the hassle, but 40% do not. 15% weren't sufficiently awake to answer the question.

Reputable economists at Yale and the University of Michigan have concluded that DST actually costs the country $9-billion MORE in energy costs.

I could stack countless examples proving Daylight Saving Time is more trouble than it's worth. Contrary to its name, DST saves nothing, and actually costs us to implement.

It's time to end DST
There is a very intelligent, credible solution being proposed by some folks at Standard I am signing the petition, and would encourage you to do so, as well.

Congress has been flailing about for months, looking for ways to improve the economy.
This is a pretty simple, straightforward fix.
May I respectfully submit that the United States do away with this mythical practice of “adjusting the clock” twice a year?

At the very least, leave the time set one way or the other, year round, and stop the disruption of lives and biorhythms we must endure twice a year. This would seem to be an easy, no-nonsense way to recoup billions in lost productivity in the economy.
I’m serious.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

State of the Union Rebuttal

I wonder how many jobs are going to be lost when employers have to decide who to keep and who to let go because they cannot afford to pay a government-mandated  $9/hr wage to all their employees.

The Minimum Wage is that--a minimum.
It's not supposed to be a living wage; the premise of "minimum" is that you aspire to rise above it--not wait until the government raises it.

About the only thing tonight's SOTU speech inspired me to do was turn off the TV.