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Monthly Archives: February 2011

After Charlie Sheen’s Rant, CBS Pulls Plug on Two and a Half Men

Moral of the story:  No matter how big (no pun intended) you think you are, your karma will indeed catch up with you eventually.  No wonder Emilio changed his name.

by Glen Levy

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/Corbis 

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/Corbis

In the words of CBS and Warner Bros., due to the “totality of Charlie Sheen‘s statements, conduct and condition,” production has ceased on the top-rated sitcom Two and a Half Men.

The 45-year old Sheen, who seems to be doing his best impression of how to spectacularly end a career in showbiz, gave a bizarre and incoherent radio interview with Alex Jones in which he tore into his executive producer Chuck Lorre and other targets such as Alcoholics Anonymous, calling it a “bootleg cult” with a 5% success rate, compared to his own “100%” success rate.

(More on TIME.com: See more on Sheen trashing a hotel room in the top 10 scandals of 2010.)

Going down the same path that some would say was already taken by Mel Gibson, Sheen’s spleen seemed to carry elements of anti-semitism. “There’s something this side of deplorable that a certain Chaim Levine — yeah, that’s Chuck’s real name — mistook this rock star for his own selfish exit strategy, bro. Check it, Alex: I embarrassed him in front of his children and the world by healing at a pace that his unevolved mind cannot process.”

But Sheen wasn’t done. “Last I checked, Chaim, I spent close to the last decade effortlessly and magically converting your tin cans into pure gold. And the gratitude I get is this charlatan chose not to do his job, which is to write,” he said.

While Lorre had no comment on either Sheen’s remarks or the production shutting down, the increasingly erratic Sheen would not go quietly. In what the website TMZ dubbed an “open letter,” Sheen called Lorre a “contaminated little maggot” and wished the producer “nothing but pain.” He also wants his fans to start a protest movement for him, which may be difficult considering that he could be down to single figures on that front. “I urge all my beautiful and loyal fans who embraced this show for almost a decade to walk with me side-by-side as we march up the steps of justice to right this unconscionable wrong,” he wrote.

(More on TIME.com: The top 50 websites of 2010.)

Because of the already existing hiatus in the schedule due to Sheen’s rehab for reported drug and alcohol abuse, there were only going to be 20 episodes rather than the usual 24 in a season. This will now become 16, which is an additional headache the network could have done without. “It may be lonely up here but I sure like the view, Alex,” said Sheen. At this rate, Sheen may need to get used to spending a lot more time by himself.

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/02/25/after-charlie-sheens-rant-cbs-pulls-plug-on-two-and-a-half-men/#ixzz1Ezk8sQr7

 

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Cabo Without Uncle Buck is Like Drinking Beer From a Can

It’s good, but it just doesn’t taste right.

I’m tempted to go into my “fear and loathing” mode and begin to reflect tales of drunkenness and debauchery unparalleled in the relatively sane universes of my faithful followers.  It would be satisfying to sit at my keyboard and reflect on the dozens of times we’ve hung upside down at the Giggling Marlin, crashed our Sea Doo’s at 50 miles an hour and walked away without a scratch, or summoned the Mariachis to our room at 2:00AM to serenade our sleeping wives.  Ah yes, that would be tempting indeed; Perhaps another day when I have the time.  Today I must pack.

The past few trips I have made with my darling, and utterly sane, wife.  It is a welcome romantic getaway and much easier on my wallet and liver.  This ends up being a Disneyland storybook vacation filled with whale watching, great cuisine, snorkeling at Chileno, diving at Cabo Pulmo, yachting on a former America’s Cup yacht, and making love on the beach.  It is so wholesome I often anticipate Doris Day or Frankie and Annette approaching us with fresh baked muffins, butter, and honey.

We are trying to eat healthy, will hit the Gym and take long walks about the golf course early in the morning.  Brian Flynn had to give up his bar, but we will probably search the downtown in vain just one more time to see if he has gravitated back to the Cabo Wabo orbit.  Other than that our late nights are now relegated to a rare cigar and a cocktail at Pitahayas before retiring by 11:00.

I have been coming to Cabo since my parents took me on a Mexican cruise in 1968.  I realize that that is most likely before most of you were born.  Things have changed a bit in that time.  When I first saw Cabo there were only three hotels, the harbor was roughed out but no boats were anchored near it.  There were no shops on it.  Bud Parr was the reigning landlord and you could rent a panga for $10 per hour and catch enough fish your first day to eat for a week.

The Office was a thatched shack on the beach, by itself, and  was a common occurrence to have a couple of tequilas with the locals and play volleyball (they cheated) before ambling down the beach to hear the Hispanic version of Hotel California butchered by the locals at El Dolphin as the bartender peddled his little $25 bindles of  10% cocaine to supplement the meager salary and tips left by the gringo ex-pats.

The first iteration of the Giggling Marlin miraculously burned to the ground as a direct result of the lack of proper payment to local “authorities” and employment of a sufficient number of local staff.   The “Trailer Park” restaurant was in the center of town, and there were not 15 other restaurants sporting the same name littering the “corridor turistico.”  Actually, back then it was just a road.

The point of all this is that I will be there this whole week.  Through the magic of technology and incredible foresight rendered me by my mentor Jay Berkowitz and USF, I am able to schedule this blog to mysteriously leap upon your screen even in my absence.   I hoist a tequila in your honor, pray for your continued health and success, and attempt to enjoy the Cabo, and the man that is present now.  It is supposed to hit 25’ tonight in Redwood City.  I will be sleeping with the door open and only a sheet covering me at Hacienda Del Mar.

Vaya con dios

Modern Cabo San Lucas. Cabo San Lucas Before Dredging.

Cabo’s marina was dredged out of a dry mudflat in 1974 and 1975. Until that time, a landing strip and the houses of cannery workers occupied the area shown here. Cabo San Lucas, c. 1970, right, from the construction site of the Hotel Finisterra. Note cannery still in operation, Hotel Hacienda on low sand dune at left, and landing strip where today’s marina is now located. (Reprinted with permission from The Unforgettable Sea of Cortez.)

 

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Parting With an Old Friend – Part Three; Daisy Mae of the Redwoods

It’s been twelve years now, it will be in the fall anyway, and it still chokes me up every time I think about her. For some reason loosing that dog hit me harder than either of my parents. Good grief, I literally have tears rolling down my cheeks writing this, and its freeking noon on a holiday and I feel fine.

My first wife loved Alaskan Malamutes. She was from Michigan and had had several in her youth, so the first thing we did after getting married was to go to a very reputable AKC breeder and grab ourselves a descendant of several grand champions. His name was Duke, and he was a gorgeous creature. Like many physically perfect human specimens he could also be a bit of a butthead. I remember him getting loose once when a friend was walking him and he wouldn’t respond to his own name, but when shouted at with the name “Asshole” he responded. Fitting. Actually he was a great and loving dog, and actually did put up with lots from the kids and eccentric parents.

We had this thing about dress-up. Still do come to think of it, but that is REALLY another story. While one dog is great, I have always had a tender spot for leaving a dog alone all day while we go to work and go about our lives. Having been an only child, I could relate to wanting a brother or somebody around all the time to play with, so one dog just wasn’t going to make it. I had always loved labs, although never had one. I set my mind on finding one, much against my wife’s urgings. Not being a patient person, it had to be “right now.” There was a breeder way up in the redwoods by Humboldt that had a litter ready for adoption so we piled in the van and made the trek up to the snow to get my puppy. Immediately upon arrival we were ushered into the den with the litter and this little scrawny runt came out of the back of the pen and stuck her nose in my face. That was it. She had picked us. My wife was aghast that it should be such, as she put it, a “magnificent creature.” Guess she was all about looks, but how wrong she ended up being. There was more heart in that little ball of fur than an elephant.

We brought her home and Duke took right to her. One of the first weekends we had together we brought them to Tahoe to one of those ski cabin rentals where 10 people slept in the loft and another 6 or so crammed the bedrooms and fold-out couch. I remember them all running and cavorting in the snow with Larry’s dog Eddie, named of course after his father !?! They loved the snow, the Malamute was right at home, and Daisy was up for anything. They used to run behind my van up in the hills after getting home from work. It was a good way to combine dad’s “quiet time” (read: happy hour) with a dog run. Thankfully there are loads of quiet mountain streets with almost no traffic. That little black puppy would run for miles, keeping up with the Malamute twice her size because she didn’t know any better.

Then came the summer and the aforementioned boat. Before we found our “Shangri-la” at Sly Creek we went places like Whiskytown and Lake Tulloch. Fuzzy had already taught Duke how to swim by tossing sticks in the ocean, but Daisy needed no external motivation. She took to the water like, well like a Lab takes to the water. Once when we had been out skiing for about an hour we returned to find that she had been trying to “retrieve” the anchor buoy the entire time and almost drowned herself in the effort. It happened to be tied to the anchor at the time.

As we progressed to the great camping lake mentioned so often in the previous two blogs, http://wp.me/pY9Fa-9v the dogs were in their element. They loved all the people, the freedom to wander, and the music and attention of the evenings. Only one consideration for a rowdy bunch of evening frolickers with a minimum level of sobriety: Beware the sleeping black dog at night! Poor Daisy claimed the balance (and usually beverage in hand) of many an unsuspecting camper. Duke and Daisy both loved the boat. Duke got a hair up his backside and jumped off in Whiskytown once about a mile offshore and insisted on swimming the way back. They both used to sit up in the bow with the wind blowing through their muzzles like some strange byzantine kazoo.

Duke also decided to go AWAL once on a long holiday weekend and we had to stay over an extra day to go bail him out of the doggy penitentiary in Redding. He was getting on in years for a big dog, and his hip dysplasia was making him more and more grumpy. He made the mistake of snapping at one of the babies one afternoon and was with his honorable ancestors about an hour later. It wouldn’t have been my choice at the time, but mama bear was not happy with a 150lb doggy snapping at a two year old.

Daisy gave us a scare the next summer at the lake. As always, things like bursted water heaters, broken axles, or animal emergencies, happen on weekend when there is nobody at work to help. We had piled kids, tubes, coolers, skis, and friends on the boat for the morning run and were ready to push off. As was customary there were the checks of lines, glance over the shoulder to see that nothing was behind us, and we started to back out of shore. No sooner than the prop was engaged we heard a piteous whine which caused me (thank God) to immediately kill the engine. Recognizing the source of the scream I reached into the water and hauled the 85lb dog onto the boat with one hand. Amazing what adrenalin will do. There was no “vet” open on a Sunday, so we really didn’t have anything that we could do but my Boy Scout first aid and keep her quiet. Benadryl is good for putting dogs asleep too! Later that day, thankfully, a county sheriff (a dog lover) shows up and put butterfly bandages on her arms and paws so that we felt better about her safety. Thank you God and Karma. Next morning I was in the truck and off to the vet to find that her injuries were such that her tendons were spared by about 1/16 of an inch. Daisy Mae rocks, and God was lookin out.

We had so many other wonderful experiences with her it would take months to document. God only knows what patience that dog had to exhibit on New Year’s Eve with Dad and Uncle Paul. I think we were trying to dress her up like a can-can dancer. My lasting impression of her is her loving patience, her devotion to me, her brother Duke, and most importantly my girls. She allowed them to put skirts on her, to sit on her, to pull her ears, to drag her around any physical object available; that dog had more patience than the kids mother and I had combined. I sincerely believe that was part of what made the “family” as centered and “normal” as it was. There were other things that contradicted both of those terms, but it certainly was not the dogs fault.

The last trip Daisy was to take to Sly was in 1999. We had a great time and she never failed to return the Frisbee and set herself for another toss. Ad infinitum. There was no lack of spunk in her step as she ran the campground searching for food. She was above all a loving sensitive… but LAB. She had a way about food, but didn’t hold a candle to her new sister “Oakley” who we will discuss later. There was no lack of enthusiasm in the attack of the lake and the Frisbee, nor that in the love of French fries she inhaled on the way home at “In and Out Burgers” in Davis. The only thing that we noticed was that for the first time she had become incontinent and “peed” herself while sitting on the cement in front of our favorite in-route stop (“In-and-Out” in Davis). With concern we proceeded home.

Over the next two days it became apparent the this was not an arbitration and that Daisy was winding down. She began to lie in a particular area on the side of the yard instead of her usual spot on the porch. It was bizarre, but we finally began to feel that she was choosing her place to die. The incontinence got worse, but she did her best to hide it from us. Her visits to the bush, and the restful spot she had chosen were more frequently.. The decision was somehow clear to me, my love – my little black soul-mate, had lived her years. I spent the next three nights on the porch with her crying my eyes out telling her every story I could remember; preparing her (bullshit, me) for the fact that she was going to be put down. I actually don’t really understand how it is that we think that we get to play God, but when it comes to animals it seems OK. Is it that our love is conditional? Oh jaez! My ex once said “the second she can’t make it up the stairs on her own, she’s gone.” Is that what we really want to do to the things that we love?

Anyway that is what we do to dogs, and in this case I was convinced that it was for her good. That would have been the only way I would have ever parted with Daisy. Our mobile pet doctor Petra Drake was called and responded immediately. She is a wonderful doctor and person. It made me feel much better that she was there. Daisy was laid in my lap, in front of the whole family, and given an injection that removed her spirit from this earthly vessel. Dr. Petra simply said “She is gone.” What a lovely setting for Daisy, and what a meaningful way to go out. By God’s infinite design, my great friend Martin (see previous blogs) arrived just then to say “Hi” and ended up helping me dig a grave for Daisy in the exact place that she had been frequenting for the past week.

There are no coincidences.

 

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8 Necessary SEO Steps During A Website Redesign

By George Asplaud

Following these simple steps could help improve the immediate impact on search results for a new website, and help avoid the often significant reduction in search traffic after a website is re-launched.

Website owners often wait until after their site is redesigned and launched before getting a SEO expert involved. Unfortunately, this can lead to expensive site design changes that could have been easily implemented during the design process.

Sometimes, it’s difficult or impossible to correct issues after a website is launched without essentially rebuilding the site again.

In addition, traffic from search engines can be severely reduced for months after a site is redesigned and launched. This impact can be minimized by taking the proper steps during the redesign process.

Here are 8 search engine optimization steps you should consider during a website redesign.

1. SEO Site Audit

Having a search engine friendly website  means designing a site with no barriers to the search engines. This is critical for success with “organic” search engine results. The best time to ensure a search engine friendly site is during a site design.

If you have an existing website, consider performing some level of a site review or more extensive audit on it. In a site audit, a SEO consultant or agency examines the current website to look for problems with the site design or other limitations that might impede organic search engine results, so that the issues can be addressed during the design of the new site.

See How To Improve Organic Search Results With A Simple Site Audit for some steps you can take to flush out most issues with a small to midsize website.

2. Design Reviews To Develop A Search Engine Friendly Website

During the site design, an SEO should examine wireframes or storyboards and site prototypes or development test sites at various stages in the design and development process to ensure search engine friendless.

3. Determining Important Keyword Phrases

It’s very helpful to have an understanding of what the important keyword phrases (search terms) are for your website in the design process. This understanding can come from a few sources:

Determine what phrases people are searching on to find your products and services as well as related topics in the major search engines.

If you have run a search engine advertising campaign (a PPC campaign such as Google AdWords for example) an SEO can examine the campaign results to see what keyword phrases brought significant targeted traffic to the site and more importantly, which phrases resulted in engaged visitors (as measured by metrics such as Time on Site, Page Views, Bounce Rate, Views of key pages, etc) and conversions (signups, leads, sales etc).

Keyword phrases that pay off in a search engine advertising campaign are ideal candidates for improvement in organic search results.

Using web site analytics (such as Google Analytics) you should be able to determine what keyword phrases brought significant targeted traffic to the site by keyword and again, more importantly,which phrases resulted in “engaged” visitors and conversions.

If advanced analytics are not available, you may have site reports that will at least show you what keyword phrases are bringing significant traffic to the site.

If you have Google’s Webmaster Tools running, you can get a fair amount of information about the keyword phrases for which your site is being found such as impressions (how many times a page on your site appeared in a search result for a keyword phrase) and click-throughs (Webmaster Tools / Your Site on the web / Search queries).

A cautionary note regarding relying on analytics and site reports only:

If you only use analytics or site reports to determine what keyword phrases reached the site in the past, you may be missing many important keyword opportunities. Your site may not have the relevant content or the link popularity to have attracted search traffic for many important keywords, especially competitive keywords.

In some cases, it may be advisable to consider delaying a site redesign if possible, in order to perform keyword research and possibly run a search engine advertising campaign for a number of months to determine which keywords bring engaged visitors to the site that convert.

4. Use Important Keyword Phrases In The Site Design

Once you’ve determined the important keywords for your site and the approximate numbers of people searching on them in the major search engines from within the territory you cover, here’s how to use the data:

  • Are enough people searching on your target keyword phrases?

If this hasn’t already been determined in the past, then use the keyword data to help you estimate if there are enough people searching within your anticipated territory to indicate whether search marketing might become an important marketing channel for you. This will help you decide how much effort to put into search marketing during and after a site design.

  • Do you need to add content to the site?

You should consider adding content to the site to better focus on important keyword phrases if needed. In addition, do you see people searching for related topics?

It may make sense to include that content on the web site to make the website more useful and to help get those web pages found by people searching for that information. During the site design process and after the site is launched, work on ways to get theses visitors interested in your products and services.

  • Optimize pages for target keywords.

It may make sense to optimize most site pages during the site development process, for the best chance at appearing in search results for your important keywords when the site is launch. In many cases, optimization of specific pages can be enhanced after the site is launched, and often has to be because of time constraints or in the case of bringing in an SEO after the fact.

  • Develop  relevant tags.

Develop a short list of keywords to focus on. Use them to develop the important tags, such as HTML Page Title tags and Meta Description tags for most (if not all) the web pages, ideally before the site is launched. Again, as long as you have developed a search engine friendly site, you can do more specific optimization after the site is launched.

5. Develop The Navigation And Linking Structure

Once you’ve determined the content for the site, you can develop a navigation structure that allows site visitors to easily navigate through the site.

Give some thought to organizing your site around important keyword themes which can help improve search engine rankings. (Internal site linking also affects search rankings.)

However, remember that your visitors come first. The site must be designed so that visitors can find what they are looking for and be designed so that the site effectively engages these visitors and persuades them to move along to a conversion. Thinking about keyword themes can help you accomplish this and improve search engine rankings at the same time.

For example, I was the SEO consultant on a large e-commerce B2B site design. They sold toner and ink worldwide and they weren’t sure how to organize the site, perhaps by type of machine (printers, copiers, faxes, etc) or by type of product (Cartridges, Ribbons, etc).

The keyword research clearly showed that people almost always searched for toner and ink by manufacturer such as “hp toner” or more specifically with model numbers (e.g. Brother ic61 ink cartridges). Therefore, we designed the site with manufacturers as the main categories leading to an internal linking structure based on how people typically search.

6. Determine Which Pages Bring Traffic To The Live Site For Important Keyword Phrases

Using a combination of website analytics (Top Landing pages: keyword in Google Analytics), Google’s Webmaster Tools (Your Site on the web / Search queries /Pages), or manual searches, determine which pages on your current website are appearing near the top of search engine results.

Determine whether those are bringing significant traffic for the keywords that are important to your website, and whether it is traffic that is engaged and converts.

For these pages you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Reuse important content.

If possible, reuse much of the content on pages of the new site, ideally using the same URL structure if possible.

  • Minimize the impact of URL changes.

If the URL structure must change, it could impact your search results for months after the site is relaunched as the search engines need to recrawl the site to find the new pages. You can minimize the impact of changes to URL’s for important pages by applying 301 redirects to as many of these pages as possible.

7. Review Incoming Links To The Site From Other Websites

Determine which links to your site from other webpages on the Internet are bringing targeted traffic to the site, and which links in particular may be helping the pages of your website reach higher positions in search engine results.

If any of these incoming links point to inner pages of your current website and the URL’s to those pages will be changed, then you need to apply 301 redirects to these pages so that they redirect to the most appropriate page on the new site.

You’ll want to try to contact as many of these site owners as possible after the new site is launched to ask them to update their links (this also gives you a way to start a relationship with these website owners if you don’t already have an ongoing relationship).

  • Important note about links to the home page.

Some incoming links to home pages may include the complete URL, http://www.domainname.com/index.asp rather than just http://www.domainname.com, for example.

If the URL to the home page will change when the site is relaunched, for example, from http://www.domainname.com/index.asp to http://www.domainname.com/index.php, you’ll want to apply a 301 redirect in this case too.

Then, after the new site is launched, contact any site owners whose incoming links point to the old home page URL and ask them to update their links.

8. Ensure That An Effective 404 Error Page Is Setup Before Launch

Don’t forget to set up an effective custom page not found error page (404 error page) before launching the redesigned site.

This is very important to have in place as the site is relaunched becuase many people may be clicking on search results that link to pages on the site that have just been moved or deleted.

Learn much more about an effective custom page not found error page in this video and accompanying article.

Related reading on the Web

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

 

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Pet Diaries – If I could find the author of this I would gladly credit them, it’s hysterical

 

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A flip side: the asymmetrical gift

by Seth Godin -

Yesterday I bummed you out with a riff about favors becoming impossible to fulfill. Worth a thought: the alternative, the good news that comes with the bad, is the massive asymmetric gift.

A gift is not a favor, because no recompense is implied or expected. A gift is just from me to you, that’s it.

The internet makes it easy to give gifts to large numbers of people at very very low cost. Editing a wikipedia article, for example, is a gift for the ages, one that might be seen by a million people over three years.

This leads to a new clause in the social contract. In this environment, we expect that civilized participants will give. Just because. Because they can. Because the gift makes all of it work better.

While mass favors have to fade (too easy to ask for, too unfair at scale), mass gifts show up to change the equation. Gifts are easy to scale, now, the more generous, the better. For all of us.

 

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Asymmetrical mass favors, a tragedy of our commons

by Seth Godin

If the farmer and the baker make a trade, both win. The farmer benefits from having someone turn his wheat into flour and bake it, and the baker gets money from the bread he sells that he can use to buy things he needs (like food).

This sample math of the transaction (Pareto, et. al.) created the world we live in. It also is connected to the idea of a favor.

A favor is the first half of a transaction. I ask you to do something for me today, something where I will probably benefit a lot in exchange for a small effort on your part. Inherent in the idea of a favor, though, is that one day soon, the transaction will be completed. One day, I will do something for you that gives you a benefit.

As Pareto and any economist will tell you, we willfully engage in this transaction because we’ll benefit. Maybe not right now, but soon.

By spreading the idea of the trade over time, the favor makes trades more likely to occur, and also makes sure that they are even more efficient. If I’m already holding open the heavy door, holding it two more seconds for you is easy for me. And then, the next time you’re holding open the door, you’ll be more likely to hold it for me.

If I recommend you for a job, it doesn’t take much effort on my part, but you might get three years of gainful employment out of it. And of course, you’re happy to complete that transaction as soon as you can, because no one wants to walk around owing favors.

The efficiency caused by this sort of exchange is so extraordinary that we built it into the social contract. I’m not just selfish if I let the door slam as you walk toward the elevator–I’m rude. I’m risking becoming an outcast.

Favors are so ingrained that the next step was inevitable: Mass Symmetric Favors. Halloween is a great example: How else to explain a hundred million people buying half a billion Snickers bars? We give away the candy because it’s expected, and because people gave us candy when we were kids, and because people are giving our kids candy as well. To opt out is uncivilized.

School taxes create a similar obligation. If you don’t pay when you’re childless, there will be no one to pay when your kids are in school. (And you have to live in a world with uneducated people). And so the transactions are spread out over time, everyone giving and taking, not so much keeping score as knowing that a key part of civil society is to participate in these mass fungible favors.

But!

There’s a big but. The internet and other connecting tools now make it easy to create the asymmetrical mass favor–in which one person can ask a large number of people, some of them strangers, some friendlies, some friends–for an accommodation that may very well never be repaid.

The simple example is the person running for the Metro North commuter train that leaves at 5:20. She’s only 2 minutes late. If she misses it, she’s delayed half an hour. Surely the people on the train can wait a hundred and twenty seconds.

Not really. Not if there are 300 people on the train. That’s a one-hundred hour penalty on the passengers, and if there’s no reasonable expectation of each of them somehow finishing the transaction one day in the future, the entire system will fall apart. No, in the abstract, we WANT the conductor to say ‘sorry.’

It gets far more dramatic when we think about spamming 10,000 or a hundred thousand people with your resume or plea for help.

The problem is that under the cover of the social contract, under the guise of doing what’s civilized, what some people are doing is beginning exchanges that they and those they engage with know will never be consummated. She’s not transacting, she’s taking.

And people resent her for it. “It can’t hurt to ask,” is almost never true, but here, especially, it hurts a lot. What the person looking for the favor is doing is actually undoing the tacit agreement we all live by, by seeking a favor when the recipient has no real (social) choice in the matter.

The favor is too important to be discarded, but the internet is making things that look like favors (but are actually asymmetrical takings) more and more common. It’s putting pressure on people who are usually open to a favor to do the difficult thing and just say no.

 

Christchruch earthquake people-finder link http://bit.ly/i6xocM

Its a bit obscure to find somehow, but here it is http://bit.ly/i6xocM

 
 

Top 10 Shockers from the Republican War on Women

pol.moveon.org
From redefining rape to drastic cuts for health care, food assistance, child care, and more, Republicans are waging an all-out war on women. Check out the top 10 list and share widely today.
 

Parting With an Old Friend – Part Two

In town I had become great buddies with a few of the locals that saw us every summer for two weeks.  I had taken the kids into town to get ice, make phone calls to civilization, have a cold one, and most importantly play horseshoes.  We’d leave the ladies at camp (after mom and I retired to the cove to “bathe” – lots of great memories on that boat!) and motor into the little general store at Strawberry Valley. The horseshoe pit was right next to the store, adjacent to the “group W bench” where the local loggers and pot farmers would congregate every evening to drink and smoke.  The kids would eat their ice creams, I would have my beverage, and we would trade war stories about the Grateful Dead with the locals and chill.  Since the kids were little, they couldn’t reach the end of a regulation pit, so I let them back up a few feet and throw at the stake while I sat on one of the benches and threw from there.

Eventually the kids got to big to do that, my Grateful Dead buddy, “Digger,” died from sclerosis and it just wasn’t the same going into town any more.

Over the years the camping experience gradually began to decay, as did the condition of my boat, my marriage, and the kid’s relationships with each other.  My soul mate and faithful black lab Daisy made her last trip in 1999.  We had to put her down the week after we returned home.  I love our yellow lab, Oakley to death, but there will never be another Daisy Mae of the Redwoods.  She came into my life at a time I really needed a friend like her, and was the best friend to the kids as they were growing up.  That is a story in itself.

Some of the friends that used to be such great buddies with my girls (they used to put together a “show” for the adults that they would rehearse the entire week and then perform on the last night) became boring or irritating.  The great core of friends that we started out with in 1983 had gradually dwindled down.  Everybody moved out of the bay area, or had married people that had different tastes from the camping experience we used to enjoy.  A few got their own boats and just got on different schedules. The relatives that had once flocked to the shore tapered off and dried up altogether with the divorce.  I went up one last time with the Ex and her sister with the kids, and we had a great time just like the old days (without the “bath” run), but knew it would be the last for that group.

The next year we went up with my daughter Kayla, her boyfriend, his buddy Josh and my best friend and Brother Paul.  My new wife came up for the last weekend and we had a great time.  The kids had their own vehicle and started going their own way much of the time.  For the first time I was happy to stay on the beach and let them all go out on the boat and wakeboard.  They started taking their own little trips into the forest, leaving dad and Paul at camp, in other words growing up.

We had had quite a few great trips out on the bay.  We’d start .out at Oyster  Point, stop off at pier 39 in San Francisco, head through the sailboats at St. Francis Yacht Club and out through the Golden Gate bridge.  I never went very far out in the Ocean, although the boat does pretty well in seas up to about 6 feet after that it gets a bit nerve racking.  From there we would cruise past Sausalito and Tiburon over to Angle Island for lunch.  Once in a great while there was a stop at Zach’s for a cocktail, then back in the bay.  The return trip was a spin around Alcatraz Island, followed by a stop off at AT&T (PacBell) Park – Home of your WORLD CHAMPION SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS.  It’s great if there is an afternoon game on; you just anchor in McCovey cove and watch the game on the big screen while listening to it on KNBR.

There were a couple of trips (thankfully all with the “boys” where we had problems and had to be bailed out by the Coast Guard.  Once I even had to have a windsurfer off of Coyote Point radio in for help for us.  Another time we had to get towed into the base at pier 30 and walk to Western Marine to buy a battery.  All good adventure!

The year before last we got everybody up to camp and the boat wouldn’t start.  We spent literally days taking it into Oroville and picking it up only to put it back in the water and find it still broken.  When we got home I took it into a repair shop again, spent $2,300 on it and the guy let my daughter pick it up only to tell her it still needs more work.  He’s not sure how much it will cost because it entails a new gas tank, and the upholstery and trailer are shot.  I don’t have anything to pull the damn thing because the ex got the truck in the divorce.

Last year the campground at our Lake was closed, and my daughter was in Guadalajara teaching Spanish to the locals, so there was no trip.  This year it looks as if she will be going back, and our summer is getting booked with family reunions and the like.  The lake was getting too crowded anyway.  Since they doubled the size of the campground  there are all sorts of jet skis and wake boarders in the water anyhow.

The boat needs about $5,000 worth of work to make it “nice” again.  The kids are going their separate ways, and the old gang has disbanded.  It makes no sense to keep the boat.  Am I feeling this remorse because I just don’t like the fact that part of my life is gone forever?  The kids are grown, the friends are scattered, the lake is more commercial, and Diggers dead.  So is Jerry Garcia for that matter.

There are things that we do in our lives, our businesses, our relationships, that just don’t make any sense.  Am I chasing memories, or is it realistic that I can fix the thing up and enjoy it with my new friends, my new wife, my new in-laws, and my new nieces and nephews?  Can I really justify having that thing in my driveway 24/7/365 just for the few times a year we have these amazing experiences that I could never have any other way?

Hell, I’m only 57 and the house is paid for.  Screw it, you only go around once.  Like my good buddy Jesse says, “This is not a dress rehearsal.”  How am I going to take JC out fishing without a boat? How many people get to watch the Giants in McCovey cove?

Thanks for helping me make up my mind.  You have been a great listener, and it didn’t cost me $140 for a 50 minute hour.

 
 
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