Sunday, August 24, 2008


Long story short, a few years ago, I bought 5 shares of Expedia.  Blah blah Libery blah blah John Malone blah blah Interactive Media blah blah Barry Diller blah blah.  I now find myself the owner of 1 single share of Ticketmaster (TKTM). 

I loathe myself and believe I am now obligated to knock the snot out of myself.


Irish Blessing

I clipped this when I was searching for a blessing for my best man speech at my brother's wedding.  A year ago. Thought it was pretty cool.  Not exactly new, I've heard this before over the years and liked it. 

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Winning a Fight with an A-Hole

I am enjoying this book "The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't" by Robert Sutton. 

First, to define... in this book's definition, an a-hole is to ask this question... "After talking to the alleged a-hole, does the "target" feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized or belittled by the person?  In particular, does he or she feel worse about him- or herself?"  It also suggests that a true a-hole primarily directs this behavior towards people in a subserviant position to themselves, be it subordinates, or service/retail workers or what have you.

There's been some fun examples, like the Southwest senior exec. that saw a customer mistreating an employee, went over to the customer, told him he wasn't a good fit for Southwest and walked him to a competitor's ticket counter and bough him a ticket on another airline.  Or that Southwest sends out letters, when necessary, asking someone not to fly on their airline anymore. 

And a really sobering chapter that pretty much puts us on notice: we all have an inner a-hole that we need to keep in check.

And an interesting theory that you should keep around one a-hole to serve as a negative example.  A study on a college campus with a parking lot that faced the elevator of a building: (1) they made the parking lot really dirty, scattering garbage on the ground and then stuck flyers on everyone's car, they monitored how many people took the flyers off and threw them on the ground; then again (2) with a spotlessly clean parking lot and a third time (3) with a spotless parking lot, but right as a group of people came off the elevator, someone very visibly took the flyer off his car, read it, crumpled it up and threw it to the ground.   The highest percentage of people taking the things off their car was in the dirty parking lot (1), but the next highest was the perfectly clean parking lot (2).  The lowest was the one where people witnessed someone else throwing litter on the ground (3).  But, the book cautions, you should be careful to limit the damage the a-hole is allowed to do.  That even if they are a star performer or rainmaker or closer, they still should be considered as defective for the increased costs the company pays in hiring and training people to replace victims who leave, lost productivity of victims who stick around, HR and legal costs and supervisory costs in dealing with the a-hole.

And the whole reason I decided to write tonight... they were talking about an a-hole who seems to block your every move, thwarts your efforts, shoots down or sabotages your projects, things like that... suggests finding smaller projects, smaller wins, ways to break up your project so there's less visibility.  A small project might not be worth their time to screw with and you can achieve success.  Thought that was pretty profound.  It was the idea that the feeling of control, even a small amount has a huge impact.  There's a nursing home example involving death rates of patients, but I don't want to just give away the whole book.

It is an interesting read if you have any sort of HR leanings or have worked in an environment with a-holes or think you might be one yourself.


Uh, what?  Why would I want to slash heroes?  Google suggests this whether I spell it "zeroes" or "zeros." 

I was looking for a quote I heard in a video, but apparently no one's quoted it in a blog.  I can't remember exactly how it goes, but they were talking about a city that had been doing regionally themed parks... Chinese, Russian, etc.  But after awhile, they realized that they were spending way too much money.  So would continue to allow people to put in proposals, but they were budgeting far less for the development of the parks.  But they said they were getting better quality parks that were more original and the quote was something along the lines of "Creativity flourishes when you begin slashing zeros from the budget." I thought it was a great quote and so was trying to find out who said it, but alas.  Don't know why Google would want me to slash heroes.  That's just wrong.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

120 Seconds of Lit: Right Now

The room is dark, lit only by the glowing monitor.  Between the tapping of the keys, I pause.  An open window lets in the magical, fantastic, pleasing sound of rain.  Splits and splats as it falls on plants with big broad leaves.  The murmur of cars passing by on rain slicked roads filter and then just as quickly fade.  The air... it's so clean, so fresh. On a night like this, so dark outside that nothing is visible beyond the white frame of the window, it's nice to be indoors, safe, dry, warm.  I breathe in deeply and sigh.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Legitimate Post

If feels like ages since I've just posted something, anything, that was about what's going on in my life.  Something that wasn't a forward or a joke or a video, but something about me.  I mean, that's why you guys actually subscribe to this feed, right?  In case I do something dumb like run over a paint can with my car or ummm... I dunno.  I feel like I've had nothing interesting to say in awhile.  Or just no time.  So... what's new...

In a sense, not much, except the baby.  The baby is new.  He cries a lot.  He goes straight from asleep or perfectly calm straight to 11.  There's rarely any warning, and even if there is, it's not enough time to even get to the bomb shelter.  We've had some better days lately, though.  He's starting to be more expressive and starting to play with toys and blankets.  And he also recognizes when Lori signs "eat" and "hungry" which is really cool.  And he enjoys baths, unlike Rachel at that age.  He is a big fella.

Rachel continues to be a joy and a challenge.  We are this close to buying one of those leashes.   I know it's awful and I know her adopted uncle will disown us if we do (he said if he ever snapped he was going to go to the mall with a pair of scissors and "liberate" small children from the cruel oppression of their parents who were treating them like animals.)  But I swear, she's been doing some running off lately that's downright scary.  She's acting on impulse without a lot of thought behind it, and then in some cases, refusing to stop or come back to us when we call.  And in some of the crowded places or parking lots we've been in, this is a really bad idea we've been unable to impress upon her as yet.  But she's also a real big crack-up.  The other day in the car she said "I'm Rachel, the commercial girl.  I like to watch commercials to learn what they're about."  And then the other night, we heard of the monitor something ending in "oo" and calls for mommy and the word repeated.  We were worried that she had had an accident of a serious nature (she's never had that kind of accident) but we got up there to learn that she thought she had heard Lori in her room sniffling, so she was saying "boo."

I had an opportunity to get some new clothes recently.  Most of what I own I've had for years.  I'm wearing far fewer Hawaiian shirts now that I have in the past, but most of my clothes are still a little older.  But I got some new shoes, shirts, pants, ties.  It's pretty cool.  Plus, the guy who razzed me every time I wore a tie is gone, so I don't have to have that little annoyance.  "Yeah, yeah, job interview fourth floor." Should have told him I was interviewing for his job.  He woulda been like "How did you know?"

We've gotten a little (or just plain "little") done in the front yard.  I put in a few blocks to start to define where I want there to be a terrace in the yard.  Even though it's only five blocks, it's already starting to look good.  I took my trusty radial saw to one of the trees, trimming it up like I learned in a book.  Let a lot more light into the yard, but I don't know what I'll do next year.  I'll probably need to trim it up some more, but picture me at the top of the ladder in the grass with a radial saw held above my head.  I won't be able to reach much further before it becomes (any more) dangerous.   I'm going to start buying gravel to define a path in the back yard.  Budget has been tight, so this is exciting to me.  It will mean visible change/improvement, not just the same weed pulling that's been going on now, but an actual improvement.  I'll also be able to buy the panels that will allow me to make the place under the deck shielded from the water. I dug it out and flattened the ground, but without the panels overheard, the water has dripped through from the deck and it's gotten all covered with weeds again.  I should be able to have it covered in time for the heavy rains which will give me a nice outdoor place to sit and read.

I've started reading books again.  My list was getting way too long and I wasn't getting through the stack of magazines by the side of the bed, but I looked at them and realized the magazines would always be with me.  I'm now reading "The No Asshole Rule" - I've taken a bit of an interest lately in HR books and this is the first one I've read.  It's quite interesting.  I'm at the point now where they're saying you actually do well to have one a-hole in the group because they serves as a negative role-model.  But you have to limit their ability to do damage.  At one place they added up the cost of the a-hole - dealing with complaints, dealing with him, recruiting and training his assistants, etc., and told him that they were going to take 60% of the cost out of his end of the year sales bonus.  He got mad and blamed everyone else but didn't quit. 

And next month I'm going to get my car window fixed finally.  I hate not being able to use drive throughs.  And I'm taking a decent vacation.  It cannot come soon enough.  I'm starting to work on my list of things I want to accomplish during it. 

Ok, so that was a lot of yammering.  I feel guilty because this seems rather inane.  But I guess it's my blog so I can be inane if I want to.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oh, Lord Won't You Buy Me a Mercury Sable

Not exactly sure why, but I always pictured God as more of a Land Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser type of Guy.  (Maybe the word land?  Or maybe because they're both rugged without the 'Hey, I'm a massive tool' status you get when you own a Hummer.)  And while duct tape has a lot of uses, I figure God would have made the duct tape in the same color as the car or done something else to the scratch.  (Like speak it out of existence.)