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Saturday, March 31, 2007
Driving to work today, somehow, my mind started wondering to just such a thing. I was thinking about the Ohio State Buckeyes playing tonight for a spot in the NCAA Championship game. I thought of how I once had thoughts of attending Ohio State.
I grew up in Cincinnati, and the college that I had always been interested in attending was Ohio State University. After graduating from high school, I took a year of working before making any major life decisions. I graduated at the age of 17, so it didn't seem to be a waste of time to spend a year deciding what I really wanted to do with my life. Did I want to go to college? Where? Or did I want to do something else?
The answer turned out to be both. I wanted to go to college, but I didn't plan my high school career out as well as I could (and should) have, so I was not offered any scholarships. And I never thought it would be right for me to ask or expect my parents to foot the bill for me. So I had to come up with some cash to go to college.
Back then, in the Reagan era, there was one simple way to earn college money: The Army College Fund and Montgomery GI Bill. So I enlisted for three years in the Active Duty Army, for $35,000 in college money.
Eight years later, I finally came home. Eight years, and a lot of life. I had made many choices during those eight years, some stupid, and some maybe not so stupid. I reenlisted once -- for another three years -- and extended my enlistment twice for an additional year each time. The Army took me to Germany for three years, and it was a good experience.
But when I came back home, five years later than I had originally anticipated, everything was different. After such a long absence from school, I couldn't even picture myself starting college at the age of 26. Plus, I had to have full-time employment -- I really couldn't ask my parents to support me at that age!
So I never made it to Ohio State. Or any other college. And I was thinking about that this morning, and you know how that goes some times -- you find yourself wondering What If?
While I was in Basic Training in the Army, my instructors were so impressed with my entrance exam scores that they asked me to take another exam. It was the strangest test I have taken in all of my life. I basically found myself trying to interpret a made up language with very little knowledge of what the made up language was supposed to be. That's right, it was a linguistics test.
The shocking part was that I scored so well on the linguistics test that they wanted to send me to USMAPS -- the United States Military Academy Prep School. The plan was that I would then go on to West Point -- the United States Military Academy -- probably the most distinguished military academy in the country. At West Point, I would spend five years learning to become an Army Officer. I would then go to a different specialty school than I had enlisted for -- I would spend up to three years training in linguistics, learning Russian, or whatever other language(s) the Army needed me to learn.
After roughly ten years of training, I would have a five-year service commitment to pay my country back for my college education at West Point. Fifteen years: that's some commitment to hit an 18-year-old kid with during his first month in the military.
This morning I was thinking about my career now, and how different life would be if I had been an Officer in the Army with training as a linguistics expert. It seems I might be making considerably more money, and be better able to provide for my family.
Then it hit me: what family? It was my retail career that relocated me from Cincinnati to Indiana, where I met my wife and started the family that means the world to me today. What would have brought me to Indiana if I was a linguistics expert? Certainly not relocating to grand open a new retail store.
If I had taken that unbelievably great opportunity some twenty years ago, I don't know where I would be today, but I know where I would probably not be. I would probably not be in Indiana. I would most likely have never met my wife, with whom I am raising the two most wonderful kids the world has ever seen.
So you see, sometimes a good thing might not be as good as it sounds. Some times you have to pass up some great opportunities in life if you want to stumble onto the opportunity of a lifetime. There is no job in the world that could be more important than being a good Daddy to my kids and helping my beautiful wife nurture them into fine adults some day.
So don't be too quick to jump for the money when opportunity comes knocking, because sometimes the real opportunity is just around the corner, and if you answer the door too soon, you might not even be home when your life shows up to meet you.
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "In recent days, the House and Senate each passed emergency war spending bills that undercut our troops in the field. Each of the Democrats' bills would substitute the judgment of politicians in Washington for that of our generals on the ground. Each bill would impose restrictive conditions on our military commanders. Each bill would also set an arbitrary deadline for surrender and withdrawal in Iraq, and I believe that would have disastrous consequences for our safety here at home. ... For all these reasons, that is why I made it clear to the Democrats in Congress, I will veto the bill."
Romney lists potential running mates
The Associated Press AP BLUFFTON, S.C. - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Thursday dropped some names of potential running mates in the 2008 race, but added such speculation is a bit premature. Among those Romney mentioned for the second slot on the Republican ticket were three Southerners: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. ...
"I have to be honest with you, I haven't given a lot of thought to that, so I don't want to put any names in that hat right now," Romney said, but also gave a nod to Bush, calling him "quite a guy." "I love him. If his name weren't Bush, he'd be running for president, I'm convinced," said Romney, who added he also was "pretty partial" to South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint. ...
Talking with reporters later, Romney said the names he mentioned are part of a list of vice presidential contenders that anyone winning the GOP nomination would have to consider. "When I'm in South Carolina, I'm not going to fail to mention some of the ones that are closest," Romney said. ...
Tancredo to announce for president Monday
The Associated Press WASHINGTON - Colorado Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo is apparently set to make his presidential run official. An official close to the congressman says Tancredo, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, will announce his bid for president on Monday. The official says Tancredo has considered running for more than a year, and has raised more than one million dollars in two months. He will kick off his campaign with an announcement in Iowa, where political caucuses start the presidential nominating season. Tancredo's office says that he will make a "major announcement" on a Des Moines radio station. A spokesman says the decision whether to run for president won't affect whether he will run again for his House seat.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Skin, by Ted Dekker, in bookstores April 3. Preorder Now
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Sen. Clinton To Pay Off Vilsack's Campaign Debt:
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack gave Sen. Hillary Clinton his endorsement for her presidential campaign.
The Clinton campaign has promised Vilsack to help pay off a $400,000 campaign debt he built up during his run for the White House.
A representative for Clinton's campaign said they are not sure how their campaign will do that. They concede that at some point, Clinton will have to contact her supporters.
The campaign said there is no connection between Vilsack's endorsement and their commitment to help pay off his campaign debt."
Matthew Ebel's I Know You're There
David McMillin's Goodbye Southern Skies
Promo: Buckeye Drive TimeMatthew Ebel's I Can Fly
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
"Our one day push led to 72 hours of excitement as the charts slowly aggregated. I believe these were our highest chart positions:
iTunes Rock Charts
New Zealand: 56
Overall Top 100 Songs Chart
Please let me know if I missed something.
If you were to look at all of the other bands on the charts at the same time, Black Lab was the ONLY UNSIGNED BAND.
Just getting onto the charts is pretty huge. Note that there are record companies out there that can't do what we did on the 24th.
Was there movement on the charts that wasn't apparent because they only updated 3x in 24 hours? Possibly. Was there an Apple conspiracy to shut down the charts on Bum Rush day? I really doubt it. Were the iTunes servers probably swamped because of the release of Apple TV and an update to the iTunes software? That would be my guess.
Did traditional media take notice? Washington Post, BBC, San Jose Mercury, Billboard, Spin, CBC, Businessweek and others. Raise your hand if you've ever heard of any of these.
Was it a success? You tell me. The whole experiment was set up to show that podcasting and new media is a social movement that has a pretty far reach across the globe. Bum Rush got a lot of people inside and outside of new media talking, shed more light on podcasting and helped get some exposure for an unsigned band and helped them tell their story about how they were mistreated by a major record label.
And in the end, even though we may not know the final sales report for 30 days, I'd wager that we raised thousands of dollars for the scholarship fund. Some kid who couldn't afford college before will get to go this fall because of the podcasting and blogging commuities. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel pretty good.
Honestly, 100 percent the credit belongs to you, the podcasters, podcast listeners, bloggers and blog readers who took part in Bum Rush the Charts.
Imagine what we could have done if we had made it a whole Bum Rush week instead of a day?
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Saving Daylight, But Not Much ElseJoe
March 22, 2007(National Review Online)
This column was written by Melana Zyla Vickers.
I presume to speak on behalf of all early risers when I say that this premature switch to daylight-savings time that began last weekend is the worst political decision since Congress gave $13 million to organizers of the World Toilet Summit. There we were — in the Mid-Atlantic region, at least — tens of millions of us, nine days ago, on the cusp of spring, waking to the sound of mating cats and the sight of budding dandelions, only to have our thoughtful representatives flush us back into December darkness.
Children who just a week or so ago were inspired by morning light to jump out of bed for school are now hibernating under their covers like confused grizzlies — albeit smallish, furless ones. In the evenings the same smallish grizzlies are now wired, unable to sleep, tormented by the playground sets still visible in the yards outside.
Sure, once daylight-savings had kicked in on the traditional first Sunday in April, the children would still have needed incentives and/or parental force to overcome the call of the backyard and that extra push into bed until the end of the school year. But — as if it needed to be said — extra weeks spent enforcing bedtime is nothing like extra weeks spent ripening a Stilton: More is never better. It's no good if the enforcer becomes tougher, more blue-veined and more inclined to say the whole thing stinks.
And for what? The Dems who introduced the measure, and the Republicans who went along because the daylight-savings change was tucked into the 2005 energy bill, say it'll save energy. Not mine, I can tell you that much. If my representative in Congress wants to attach an electricity-generating wind turbine to the posterior of my 5-year-old running around crazed in her pajamas at 7:45 every night, he might have an argument, (and I'd be able to get a firmer handle on the 5-year-old). Barring that, there are no energy savings to be had.
It's not that hard to figure scientifically: Wake up in the coldest, darkest hour of a March day, and you're going to turn on lights and turn up the heat; and shower longer; and make a warm breakfast if you have the time. Unless the additional energy expended in this government-gifted hour of morning darkness is cancelled by any energy saved at night, in office buildings or singles gyms or happy-hour speakeasies or wherever it is that this moral and magical conservation is taking place, there's a net expenditure, not savings, of electricity.
Skeptical? Talk to the University of California Energy Institute. Scholars there just published a paper calculating that Australians, who have already twice gone through this experiment of messing with their daylight-savings dates (for good-sport reasons such as accommodating evening events in the 2000 Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games), saw their net energy-consumption increase.
There's more of a downside to jumping the gun on daylight-savings time than lost parental sleep. There's also the ominous "increase in fatal accidents" following the shift to daylight-savings that is reported by the journal Sleep Medicine. (OK, fine, the small rise in accidents involving tired drivers happens every year when we switch. But what sort of person would want to hasten the arrival of this sort of carnage?)
The politicians who approved this daylight-saving madness in 2005 — and they know who they are — should be glad we're nowhere near election day. Because if the legions of morning persons I know were going to the polls today — particularly in the morning — the politicians would be toast. In the next election cycle, they will do well to prepare for cries at town hall meetings of "Where were you on the daylight-savings issue of 2005?"
Where, in particular, were the pols who claim to feel soccer-moms' pain? If ever there was a suburbanite's issue, this was it. The politicians should have seen the national threat on the horizon and defeated it in the name of all that is good and holy. Instead, they said "aye" and "yea." It's not as if there hadn't been an energy bill in 200 years or whatever, and this was their only chance to vote for one. They were clearly asleep at the switch.
Political scientists scrutinizing this daylight-savings atrocity years from now will be sure to describe it as a prime instance of "values-transfer," wherein the government decides what is good for people and makes them swallow it; like separating one's papers and plastics or retiring from the workforce before all one's hair falls out.
But this instance of values-transfer is way worse. It makes children cry. It causes car accidents. Worst of all, it makes morning people cranky. And if the morning people are cranky, who's left? For all that cost, the change meets no objective at all, save generating overtime pay for all those computer programmers resetting trans-Atlantic airplane schedules, BlackBerrys, and Microsoft Windows, which, when last I checked, was still an hour late, on my screen at least.
If politicians don't get the point, it must mean they're sleeping-in past 7:15, seriously undermining their claim to be working for their constituents 24/7. If, on the other hand, they do understand the point, they ought to change things back to normal and leave people to their long-established habits. It's called seeing one's error in the clear light of day."
Sick and Tired of Incompetence
It seems like I just talked about this not too long ago, but sometimes I really feel like I'm surrounded by idiots! I don't know if it's that the people working for me are infected with sheer stupidity, or that they just don't care. They weren't stupid when I hired them, and I had ninety days after that to fire them if they just didn't care. So they either became stupid after I hired them, developed a careless attitude, or should pursue an acting career, because they sure had me fooled.
Last night someone sold an item that required some technical preparation before it could be delivered to the customer. I have instructed everyone on my staff to always tell customers that items like this will be ready for pick up at 5:00 pm the next day. The customer has been calling since 8:30 this morning to check on the status of their merchandise, which means that either the customer didn't listen or my employee didn't follow my instructions (or volunteered that they might call earlier to see if it was ready yet). Eventually, after the unit was ready to be picked up, they were told they could come in and pick up their new purchase.
They're here now. As I write this. But they're sitting in the waiting room waiting because some idiot pulled the wrong item for the technician to prep for pick up! This technician's Manager -- who is supposed to be my partner in the business -- has his head so far up his, well, let's just say that he couldn't see the light of day if he was standing on the surface of the sun. So rather than verify that the item his technician was prepping was the correct item, he did nothing. It's much easier to do nothing than it is to actually do something.
So now someone is busting their knuckles trying to get the correct item prepped while the customer sits impatiently waiting for their new purchase. I think if I were the customer, I wouldn't be very happy.
Now, to be fair, I can't blame all of this on the technician or his Manager. It was one of my Assistant Managers that was in the building last night when the item was pulled and taken to the staging area to be prepped for pick up. He left me no communication whatsoever (which I have also talked about before) that the item had been sold and needed prepped. And when he came in today he made no effort to follow up and ensure that the item was indeed prepped correctly.
Furthermore, just based on past experience with this Assistant Manager of mine, he probably is the one who told the customer that the bike would probably be ready before 5:00 and that they could call in to check on it.
And I really can't stop there with the blame, either. After all, I should have realized that everyone else involved is a total, blithering idiot, and I should have read their minds (if they even have minds) to discover that the item had been sold and required prepping, and I should have gone out and pulled the product myself, verified it myself, and prepped it myself. Then maybe things would have been done right the first time.
It drives me absolutely mad! Why don't people just think before they open their big mouths? Why don't they think before they invest the time and effort required to do anything? Why don't they think at all?
Now, in addition to having to prep another item for this customer, I have the incorrectly prepped item sitting here ready to go, in the way, unprotected by packing material, just hoping that someone will buy it, like some lost puppy in a pet store window.
In his weekly radio address, President Bush said, "...the Democrats in Congress have only delayed the delivery of the vital funds and resources our troops need. The clock is running. The Secretary of Defense has warned that if Congress does not approve the emergency funding for our troops by April 15, our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions -- and so will their families. April 15 is also about the same time that Congress returns from its Easter vacation. Members of Congress need to put our troops first, not politics. They need to send me a clean bill, without conditions, without restrictions, and without pork."Joe
Friday, March 23, 2007
From the Patriot Post:
Democrats fear Fred Thompson... and should
Beyond the field of announced GOP candidates with questionable conservative pedigrees, there is a potential suitor on the horizon who could close the wide breach between Republicans and conservatives. Fred Thompson, the former Republican Senator from Tennessee, is perhaps America’s brightest and most capable prospect for President in 2008.
Most folks probably recognize him as District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC’s “Law & Order,” or maybe from one of his big-screen roles like “Clear and Present Danger,” but I have had the privilege of knowing him for 20 years as just Fred. I know well that he is as capable of navigating the clear and present dangers facing our nation and restoring law and order to our constitutional republic as are the characters he plays on screen.
Last week, when Sen. Thompson was queried about a possible presidential bid, he replied, “I’m giving some thought to it,” saying he would make a decision in coming months. “It’s not really a reflection on the current field at all. I’m just going to wait and see what happens.”
Notwithstanding his tip of the hat to the current field of GOP contenders, Thompson made it clear that he would be watching them: “I wanted to see how my colleagues who are on the campaign trail do now—what they say, what they emphasize... and whether or not they can carry the ball next November.”
In other words, like most conservatives, Fred is concerned about the electability of the current field of Republicans—and for that reason, we want him in the lineup.
The GOP frontrunners—Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney—each have their own peculiar weaknesses. Common to them all, however, is their lack of bona fides among conservative voters—the Republican base. Without the conservative vote, it is highly questionable whether any one of the current frontrunners could pull off a convincing primary victory.
Democrats clearly understand their Republican opponents’ limitations, which is why they are confident that one of their far-left-of-center frontrunners, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, will win the presidency in ‘08.
While there are conservative candidates for the GOP nomination, any of whom could deservedly win the Republican primary, none of whom would be likely to carry a majority in the general election. This list includes some true luminaries of the conservative movement: Sen. Sam Brownback, Gov. Jim Gilmore, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Gov. Tommy Thompson and possibly former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
However, if conservatives and the rest of the Republican electorate want to line up behind the most capable, qualified and electable candidate in the ‘08 presidential race, a man who can carry the Reagan mantle and draw an enormous crossover vote (as President Reagan did in 1980 and 1984 see 1984 election map), then call out Fred Thompson.
After earning his J.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1967, Thompson had a private law practice and later served as an assistant U.S. attorney—making his mark weeding out corruption. After his prominent role as Republican counsel during Watergate, it was Thompson’s 1977 investigation that toppled the crooked administration of Tennessee Democrat Gov. Ray Blanton. In 1980, Thompson was tapped to serve as special counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and in 1982, special counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
In 1985, the Blanton scandal was the subject of the film “Marie,” in which Thompson played himself—because the director could not find an actor who could capture Thompson’s power and determination. His success in that film led to his roles in more than 20 other big-screen hits including “No Way Out,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “Class Action,” “Cape Fear” and “In the Line of Fire.”
In 1993, Tennessee’s Republican leadership convinced Thompson to return to public service in a campaign bid to fill the unexpired Senate term of then Vice President Albert Gore. Fred then demonstrated his formidable skills on the campaign trail. Despite all the support Bill Clinton and Al Gore could muster for popular six-term Democrat Rep. Jim Cooper, Thompson won a landslide victory in 1994, garnering 61 percent of the vote to Cooper’s 39 percent—the largest victory margin in any statewide political contest in Tennessee history.
Thompson’s success in his first campaign for national office did not pass without substantial note from the Democrat National Committee. He won by an even wider margin in his 1996 re-election bid. Rest assured, the DNC fears a Thompson draft for the presidency.
Thompson’s record as a U.S. Senator from 1994 to 2003 shows that he was on the right side of every critical issue. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs from 1997 to 2001, he voted for national-debt reduction, the all-important balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a presidential line-item veto to eliminate congressional pork and efforts to privatize elements of Social Security. He supported legislation in the interest of free enterprise and opposed many regulatory and tax measures. He opposed growth in social-welfare programs, including expansions in Medicare and welfare for immigrants. He supported efforts to decentralize or disenfranchise unconstitutional government programs.
Fred voted for limits on death penalty appeals, product-liability punitive-damage awards and class-action lawsuits. He opposed decreasing restrictions on wiretaps. He supported increased oil exploration, including ANWR drilling permits, and is an advocate of free trade, understanding well the underlying national security implications. He supported an amendment to prohibit flag burning and voted for numerous measures in support of Second Amendment rights. (Charlton Heston campaigned for him in ‘94.)
On family and social issues, he opposed “marriage” between homosexuals, partial-birth abortion, cloning, the addition of “sexual orientation” to hate-crimes legislation and legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. He voted for many education-reform measures, including the provision of school vouchers.
Most important, Thompson’s support for Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom was, and remains, steadfast. Thompson has the authoritative grasp of national-security issues necessary for a commander in chief, particularly with respect to the long-term jihadi threat.
Lamar Alexander filled Thompson’s seat in 2003 when Fred withdrew his re-election bid following the tragic death of his daughter. Today, Fred is married to Jeri Kehn, and they have a daughter. He also has two grown children from a previous marriage and five grandchildren.
Currently a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, Fred’s conservative credentials are unassailable.
Former Senate Majority Leader and Reagan Chief of Staff Howard Baker, who appointed Thompson as Republican counsel to the Watergate Committee 35 years ago, is unabashed in his support for Thompson in ‘08: “I keep sending up trial balloons telling people they should get him to run. So far no one is shooting them down—including Fred.”
My friend Zach Wamp, a conservative member of Tennessee’s congressional delegation, spoke with Fred last week and has reached a similar conclusion about his candidacy: “There is a real, real strong possibility that he will run.” Zach and more than 40 other members of Congress have scheduled a meeting with Thompson on 18 April, and they will encourage him to run.
Observing the current political climate, Fred notes, “I think people are somewhat disillusioned. I think a lot of people are cynical out there. I think they’re looking for something different...”
“Something different”? How about a plain-speaking and plain-dealing American—a charismatic leader right out of the Reagan mold, whose character, integrity and experience are head and shoulders above the rest of the field?
Fred Thompson is the right man at the right time.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Land of Lincoln
The Hanging of Allen Scott Johnson
The Fox Guarding The Henhouse
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Lately there hasn't been much enjoyment. Since the districts were realigned in February, placing my store under the responsibility of a different District Manager, I haven't found myself very motivated, haven't enjoyed my work, and haven't really cared much for what might happen. I think there's more to it, though, than just a realignment. There have been many changes implemented company-wide over the past six months or so that contribute to the way I've been feeling.
I guess the best way to describe it is this: I don't feel like I'm actually the one running the store anymore. I feel more like it's being run by proxy from above, like I'm just the head Sales Associate on site to keep things in order. This happened once before at a company I worked for. That company had actually been so successful that it was featured in the book "Good To Great" for the successful ways it ran the business. That was then. They've made several changes since then, and this year they've announced some store closings. If there was a sequel to that book called "Great To Lousy," that company would probably be featured again. My current company would probably headline book three in the series, "Lousy To Nonexistent."
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Podcast EvangelismI download lots of podcasts to listen to during my four hours of daily commuting. I used to put them all on a Secure Digital card and play them on my Palm handheld device through the car stereo via a wireless FM transmitter. Yeah, I love gadgets. But playing mp3 files for four hours a day can really chew through a Lithium-Ion battery in no time. So I started burning them all to compact disc.
That leaves me with a new dilemma -- what to do with all those compact discs after I've listened to all of the podcasts on them. Sure, I could contribute to the local landfill by dumping a new CD in the trash every three or four days, but that just seems wasteful. Especially when there's lots of entertainment and information contained on those little round discs. Just check the sidebar for some of my favorite podcasts.
My wife thinks I'm kind of silly, but not too long ago I came up with a great way to dispose of the many podcast CDs I burn: I give them away. Not just to anyone, mind you. Well, actually, I do give them away to just anyone -- anyone that happens to come along and pick them up. Here's what I do -- and I did this today with about fifteen CDs that have been collecting in my car.
We went to a nearby outlet mall to do a little browsing. I loaded up all these old CDs with me, and in almost every store we went in, I left behind a CD. One placed inside a book in a Borders Outlet store. One placed inside the box of a small kitchen appliance at a Kitchen Collection outlet store (the new owner of the appliance will probably think it contains some important operating information about their new purchase). I placed one in an oven mit, one in a folded sweatshirt, and one behind a book about how gullible Hillary Clinton is to remain married to Slick Willie after all his shenanigans as President.
See, my thinking goes like this: most humans share a common trait with the ordinary domestic house cat -- we're curious. If you were doing some shopping and found a CD lying on a shelf that was obviously not a piece of merchandise, wouldn't you pick it up and want to give it a listen? Or if you worked at the store and found it during your nightly clean up. Or, if you bought something and the CD was actually in the product you purchased. Would you be curious enough to listen to it? Of course you would! At least long enough to see what it's about.
So I leave these things lying around for others to find in the hopes that they'll discover something great and get turned on to podcasts. It's my little way of supporting the podcast movement by spreading the word to unsuspecting people wherever I go. I call it podcast evangelism.
So the next time you're out and you find a CD with no markings other than a three or four digit number (which just happens to be the month and date that I burned the disc), it's probably a safe bet that Joe has been there.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "Our troops urgently need Congress to approve emergency war funds. Over the past several weeks, our Nation has begun pursuing a new strategy in Iraq. Under the leadership of General David Petraeus, our troops have launched a difficult and dangerous mission to help Iraqis secure their capital. This plan is still in its early stages, yet we're already seeing signs of progress."Joe
Friday, March 16, 2007
But first a little back story. ...
Approximately a month ago it came to my attention -- during a visit with from two District Managers -- that an employee was bringing a handgun to work and storing it in his locker. If you've ever been to Indiana, you might have noticed that at least 50% of the state's population lives in hick country. I don't know about you, but I personally don't feel too comfortable being around a hick with a gun. So I learned that this hick has been carrying a gun to work in my store for at least the past four months -- probably for the entire year he's been working here. These visiting District Managers actually learned this before I did! What makes matters worse is that both of my Assistant Managers had been aware of this for at least four months.
Last week during the investigation of the dishonest Associate I discovered, I became aware that a $300 piece of electronic merchandise had been stolen from the display. Two months earlier!!! When I asked who it had been reported to, I was told that both of my Assistant Managers had been told. Of course, neither of them will admit to having ever been informed of the theft.
Today, after waiting for two months for a backpack I ordered to be delivered to my home, I learned from one of my Assistant Managers that the backpack had arrived at the store and been sitting in a box in my office for three days. Three days!!! Bam! I slammed my fist on the countertop when I heard this. "Why wasn't I told?" I demanded. "I thought you knew," this ignorant incompetent spewed.
I went to my office and found the box, with my name labeled as the intended recipient three times on the box. "Why did you open it?" I asked. "I didn't know what it was," the spewer spewed.
I ranted and fumed and lectured for several minutes, then thrust the box in his face and said, "I don't like to beat a dead horse, but I'm going to kick this horse one more time before I let it rest. If the box has my name on it, that means it's for me. Don't open it." "What if you aren't here?" he spewed again. "Then leave it in the office for me to open when I return, and tell me that it's there when I return."
I guess I can get a little impatient at times, but one thing I definitely don't have any patience for is ignorant incompetence. I don't think there's anything wrong with me expecting a certain level of common sense, of intelligence, and of communication from those that I have hand selected to be my support staff.
Am I wrong? Tell me.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
The past several weeks have been quite hectic. If you've been watching, you may have noticed that I've made fewer entries here over the past month or two than I normally do. It's been tough to get the time to sit down write. My payroll at work has been significantly reduced (company-wide, not just in my store), my market has been assigned to a new District Manager, I've had an internal theft investigation that resulted in the termination of an admittedly dishonest employee, winter happened (yeah, that caused some chaos, too), and I'll soon be forced to convert most of my full time staff to part time status to further cut costs. On top of all of that, I was notified on Monday that I have to have all yearly performance appraisals written by this Saturday. That's five days to write them from start to finish. I have thirteen direct reports that I have to write for, and each one takes about an hour to do it right. That's more than a full shift of appraisal writing, and that would only be if I could sit down and do it without interruption. As it stands, I have all but two completed and ready to sign-off on and send to the next level for review.
So it's been quite a hectic time here in Nowhere, Indiana. But it hasn't all gone to waste. I've continued to put Average Joe Radio on a close to regular schedule. I even have several future episodes already in the works (or, at least, the planning stages), and things are going along strong. I've also added some new gadgets to the site that I think can really enhance the visitor experience.
First, I've started placing Google Calendar Quick-links whenever I talk about an upcoming event that you might be interested in. Just one click and you'll have a reminder saved in your Google Calendar with whatever notification preferences you have set. And if you aren't already signed up for a Google account, signing up is just a few quick steps away from the Quick-link. And, might I suggest that you sign up for Gmail, as well, while you're at it?
But that's not all. Almost every post has always had a link to send me an email, but that's so 2000, if you know what I mean. You can now find me on Google Talk anytime I'm online. Just click on over to Average Joe American, scroll down the page a little to the Google Talk gadget in the sidebar. Add AverageJoe.blogs to your contact list and, if I'm online, drop me a quick note. It's that simple. And all you have to do to keep the chat going is leave the site open in a background window or tab while you continue to surf.
And yet there's still more. A few episodes back, I decided to give my listeners the best possible sound quality I could give them in Average Joe Radio, so I started encoding most episodes at 192 kbps. Extremely long episodes may still be at 128 kbps when needed, but that shouldn't be too often. The problem is, with 192 kbps stereo MP3 files there can be rather lengthy download times. Even on broadband, with my bandwidth provider, the downloads can sometimes be slow. I can't really expect much more without forking out some cash for the bandwidth, now can I. So, I discovered a nice fix. At the very top of the sidebar at both the main page and the podcast page, you will now find an MP3 streamer, courtesy of Google and Odeo. Just one click and the latest episode of Average Joe Radio will start streaming through your PC speakers almost immediately. No more lengthy downloads if you plan to listen from your desktop.
In addition to the video material I get from YouTube and Google Video, I've started adding an occasional video from Wall Street Journal Online. Now I have access to a much wider array of video content.
I know this probably sounds like a big Google ad, but what else can i say? I'm a satisfied Google user. I use Blogger to host the site, Google Docs to write many of the posts, Google search, and every one of the other Google products mentioned here, just to name a few.
What I really wanted to say today was this: even when you might not see frequent posts on the site, I'm always working behind the scenes to make things better for my readers and listeners. I hope you enjoy your time here, and if there's anything else you'd like to see worked into the site, just drop me a line and let me know.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Fred Thompson thinks there isn't enough "star" power in the GOP presidential field, so the professional actor and former Tennessee senator is considering getting into the 2008 race. ...Joe
"I'm going to wait and see what happens," Thompson said. "I want to see my colleagues on the campaign trial, what they say, what they emphasize, whether they can carry the ball next November."
"I think people are somewhat disillusioned. A lot of people are cynical out there. They're looking for something different," he said. ...On the issues, Thompson said he:
—Is "pro-life," and believes federal judges should overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision as "bad law and bad medical science."
—Opposes gay marriage, but would let states decide whether to allow civil unions. "Marriage is between a man and a woman, and judges shouldn't be allowed to change that."
—Opposes gun control, and praised last week's 2-1 federal appeals decision overturning a long-standing handgun ban. "The court basically said the Constitution means what it says."
—Supports President Bush's decision to increase troops in Iraq. "Wars are full of mistakes. You rectify them. I think we are doing that now," he said. "We've got to give it a chance to work."
—Would pardon former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice now, rather than waiting until all his appeals are exhausted. ...Thompson said he was not setting a deadline to make a decision and believes he won't be at a disadvantage if he waited until summer. "The lay of the land will be different in a couple of months than it is today, one way or another," he said. ...
Thompson has acted in films such as "The Hunt for Red October," "Cape Fear," and "In the Line of Fire." He was interviewed on "Fox News Sunday."
From the studio, and live in Concert from Nashville, Tennessee:
Kevin Reeves' Redemption
Geoff Smith's Not On The Radio
Promo: Bum Rush The Charts
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
You can do so tomorrow. Just go to MatthewEbel.com and check the calendar for link and time.
Or have Google Calendar remind you:
You can do so tomorrow. Just go to MatthewEbel.com and check the calendar for link and time.
Or have Google Calendar remind you:
Monday, March 12, 2007
LP Investigation Update
If you care at all about the outcome of the recent internal theft investigation at my store, here it is -- though it should have been obvious: I called the dishonest Associate today and terminated him. Now, I normally wouldn't do a termination over the phone, but this particular Associate was terminated for admitted dishonesty. He was suspended at the end of the investigation and knew that the call would be coming soon.
It has always griped me to find that one of my trusted Associates is taking things from the company without paying for them. I've dealt innumerable cases of internal theft during my time as a Retail Manager, and they almost always come out the same. I haven't yet been wrong about an Associate whom I suspected of dishonest activity. Every one of them was either caught in the act or admitted to it during the investigation.
I'm glad to have this dishonest individual out of my store and off of my payroll.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
From CBSNews.com: Get Ready For The Big Time Switch
...This coming Sunday is the start of daylight-saving time. That, and the switch back to standard time in the fall, have been with us since long before computers were invented. But this year it will be different. A 2005 federal law dictates that daylight-saving time will begin three weeks earlier than before and extend a week later to the first Sunday in November.
The reason that we should worry is because some PCs and other devices are programmed to automatically switch to and from daylight-saving time based on the old rules. As powerful as Congress and the President may think they are, U.S. law doesn't automatically replicate itself into silicon and software.
Microsoft and Apple have got you covered if you happen to have the latest versions of their operating systems, but very few people have upgraded to Microsoft's new Windows Vista. Apple says it adjusted its calendar when it released OS X 10.4.5 in February 2006 though the company recommends you update again because "some additional regions that recently adopted time zone and DST changes."
Most Windows users are still using Windows XP, which needs an update to recognize the new start of daylight-saving time. ...
If you need the update, or aren't sure whether you do, go to http://support.microsoft.com/dst2007, where you'll find instructions and links to the appropriate update sites. That Web page can also help you with earlier versions of Windows as well as other Microsoft products, including all versions of Outlook, even the newest 2007 version. ...
BlackBerry users who have version 4.0 or newer can upload a patch from the company's Web site. If you have an older version, you're advised to check with your cell phone carrier. Palm's Web site also offers updates for Palm OS and Windows Mobile devices. And Microsoft has updates available for other Windows mobile devices. ...
TiVo says its digital recorders have been updated, and most people who use standard cell phones shouldn't have a problem. That's because cell phone clocks are typically updated by cellular carriers, which is why the clock is usually correct when you get off a plane in a different time zone.
A Sprint spokesperson provided me with this statement about that company's equipment. "Most wireless phones will automatically adjust with the new daylight-saving time change, but BlackBerry devices and some PDAs and Smart phones may incorrectly display the wrong time or calendar appointments. ...
One problem is that the U.S. is going it alone on this switch, so any manual or automatic systems that synch between countries could pose a problem. ....
The price of not updating your device as described above? Well, if it's a computer, Blackberry, or PDA (Palm or Windows Mobile) that automatically adjusts for DST, you'll have to spring forward tonight. Then in April, when the date that we used to spring forward rolls around, your device will automatically spring forward, causing you to fall back an hour again. Then in October when we used to fall back, your device will fall back and you'll have to spring forward to stay on the right time. And come November, when we get back on standard time again, you'll have to fall back again.
Do we need any more reason to do away with DST? As if it wasn't bad enough before, many people will have to change their clocks four times a year going forward. Will the nonsense never end?
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "The United States is doing its part to help our neighbors in Latin America build a better life for themselves and their families. We are helping these young democracies make their governments more fair, effective, and transparent. We are supporting their efforts to meet the basic needs of their citizens -- like education, health care, and housing. And we are increasing opportunity for all by relieving debt, opening up trade, and encouraging reforms that will build market economies, where people can start from nothing and rise as far as their talents and hard work can take them."
Thank God It's Saturday
All you ever hear people talk about is the weekend. They talk like everyone is off every weekend to spend time with their family. Well, I've got news for you, we aren't all off on Saturday and Sunday. Personally, I work probably 48 out of the 52 Saturdays in the year. Which makes Saturday like Friday for me. Except that I have to be back at work on Monday, so I don't get two days off in a row. That's the life of retail.
It's been a hectic and frenzied week. I haven't had much blogging time, but I've put up a few posts about what was going on.
I still don't have the final word on my Dishonest Associate. I'm waiting still to hear from Human Resources or Loss Prevention. As far as I'm concerned, it's a done deal and the guy is history. But big companies have make sure they dot all their I's and cross all their T's.
I was using my Palm Tungsten T3 the other night with my Wi-Fi card and dropped it. It landed on the Wi-Fi card, bending it just enough to break a connection loose inside, rendering the radio inoperable. I even took it apart and tried to fix it with no success. So now I no longer have mobile access from my Palm device, which means I'll probably be using it for a lot less than I have in the past -- something that will no doubt please my wife.
Basically, it's been a stressful week, and I'm looking forward to a relaxing day tomorrow. Somehow, I don't think my wife is going to let me get much rest.
Friday, March 9, 2007
After nearly three hours of interviewing, my LP Investigator finally emerged to report the results of his efforts. The Associate in question admitted to what is commonly referred to as "grazing:" the act of taking snack items from an employer without paying for them, or reducing the price of them to make them more affordable, for one's own consumption. Grazing is, of course, theft. The total theft admission of this Associate amounted to roughly $25.
To make matters worse, he implicated several of his coworkers in similar activity. It is well known that when confronted with the evidence, a thief is very likely to implicate others in the hopes of either throwing the scent of his own trail or making his acts seemingly less significant. Therefore, such implications must always be treated with a sense of caution. They must, however, at the same time be taken seriously and the necessary precautions put in place to make sure that such activity doesn't occur going forward.
The dishonest Associate in question has been placed on administrative suspension until the Human Resources department can respond on the matter.
In my mind -- and in the mind of my LP Investigator -- this dishonest Associate is already a former Associate, and the act of termination is only a formality.
Dishonesty In The WorkplaceIt's been a hectic week that has kept me from blogging and podcasting. At the beginning of the week I discovered evidence of Associate dishonesty. Without going into all of the details, I was performing some routine checks of the electronic journal for one Associate (no special reason for choosing him, really), and saw some interesting things. Things such as items being added to tickets, then deleted again; items being price adjusted well below the retail price and often below our cost; Associate discounts given to employees who were not even in the building at the time the transaction took place.
I contacted my Loss Prevention Department, sent him the details, and two days later he arrived at the store to conduct his investigation. Now, I spent a very brief period as a District Loss Prevention Supervisor for a major retailer. I worked on two cases before moving on to another company and getting back into Store Management. And I have to say, the investigation can be very exciting at times. And it can be very boring at other times. In this case, it was very boring.
This dishonest Associate either didn't do very much, or covered his tracks very well. We couldn't turn up more than a few petty (but clearly dishonest) acts he committed. I think the total dollar amount we came up with was just over $500, and at least $250 of that might have been legitimate activity and not dishonest at all.
The LP Investigator is interviewing the Associate right now. I'll be called in soon to witness the Associate's statement and make a decision on whether he will remain employed here or not. Of course, unless the LP Investigator really bungles the interview, that decision has already been made.
More to come... .
Posting From Google Docs
This is a test post. If this post appears on Average Joe American, then my Google Docs blog settings are correct, and I will be able to post using Google Docs from any web-enabled PC.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
The newest episode of Average Joe Radio is on the web and ready for download.
It's a great Artist Spotlight, with some great music from Black Lab, and more information on Bum Rush the Charts.
Call the feedback line: 206-600-4JOE.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
I'm finding myself to be pretty stressed about work lately. Since the restructuring that placed my market under a different District Manager, it's been a kind of culture shock to which I haven't completely adjusted. My new District Manager is nothing at all like the former -- management style, personality, communication, even availability are like night and day different.
To make matters worse, we've been in a sort of sales slump since the fiscal year began in February. This new District Manager has seen sales numbers that don't look good, and nothing I try to do seems to have any impact.
Sales were down today, and I find myself dreading the thought of going to work tomorrow. In fact, I find myself not enjoying my work at all anymore. It shouldn't have to be that way.
With the (seemingly) very real prospect of the company being bought out, my current unhappiness with the work situation, and the ongoing lack of time to spend with family caused by the two-hour commute, I think it's time to aggressively pursue other options.
Mitt Romney won the most support for the Republican presidential nomination in a straw poll of GOP activists attending an annual conference.
Despite his record of inconsistency on some social issues, the former Massachusetts governor got 21 percent of the 1,705 votes cast by paid registrants to the three-day Conservative Political Action Conference. They were asked who their first choice would be for the Republican nomination.
Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor whose moderate stances on social issues irks the party's right wing, was second with 17 percent.
Both were among the more than half-dozen White House hopefuls who spoke at the conference.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who rounds out the top tier of serious GOP contenders, skipped the event — and was punished for it. He got only 12 percent of the vote.
Ahead of him were Romney, Giuliani and two others. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a favorite of religious conservatives, got 15 percent, while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who says he won't decide whether to run until the fall, got 14 percent. ...
We've known for quite some time that the liberal media is opposed to our actions in Iraq. They, like most of the United States Senate, were in favor of taking action in the war on terror. And, like most of the Democrats in the United States Senate, they are now opposed to the very measures they were in favor of to begin with. I don't think that's news to anyone.
But look at this. If you click the link above, you'll be taken to an MSNBC.com report about U.S. Troops entering Sadr City in Iraq. Now, I didn't go searching for this story. I received it in a daily email news digest i receive from MSNBC.com. What's significant about this? Well, this is what the headline and summary of this very same news story looked like in the email digest I received from MSNBC.com:
U.S. troops enter Sadder City
Hundreds of U.S. soldiers entered the Shiite stronghold of Sadder City on Sunday in the first major push into the area since an American-led security sweep began last month around Baghdad.
Now, if you don't believe me, check out a screen capture of the email I received.
Now what's saddest of all is that MSNBC.com doesn't know the difference between Sadr City and what they called "Sadder City."
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Sorry, I'm stuck at work today for a fourteen hour day, and the network I use to connect at work won't allow access for me to actually see or hear what the President had to say in his weekly radio address. But you can download and hear for yourself.
Looks like the radio address was on Friday this week? Sorry for the confusion.
And here's an excerpt:
In his weekly radio address President Bush said, "Our Nation is blessed to have so many fine Americans who are willing to serve. We're blessed to have so many compassionate volunteers who give their time to care for our injured soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. We're blessed to have so many fine medical professionals who dedicate their lives to healing our troops. This country has a moral obligation to provide our servicemen and women with the best possible care and treatment. They deserve it, and they will get it."