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Monthly Archives: March 2011

There is Nothing Like a Good Long Storm to Make You Appreciate The Sunshine

Joni Mitchell was right; you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.  The past couple of weeks it has rained pretty much nonstop.  I feel like we’re back in my wife’s hometown of Hazel Dell, a suburb of Portland.  Never knew how people could live there, too freeking rainy.  The big difference between here (San Francisco area) and there is that we get breaks between showers.  They can go for literally weeks without seeing the sun.

Today we had a break for a couple of hours and I took a walk.  There were kids out playing on their skateboards, women washing dogs, others taking walks or riding bikes.  It was like the old Chicago song:  Saturday, in the park… It felt just like the 4th of July.  All that was missing were the Mexican vendors with their push-carts full of ice cream.  It was T-shirt weather for that hour, even though the temperature read 49’.  In the sun it felt like we were back in Cabo San Lucas.  Funny, when we were down there I didn’t even go for a walk last time.  It seems as though we appreciate things when they are scarce, as the sun was today.

There is much to the texture thing.  Humans often don’t appreciate things without it.  Three years ago who would have thought that we would be ecstatic that the market was back up over 12,000?  When the Silicon Valley was in its “heyday”, a thousand dollar lunch bill just went into the Advertising and Entertainment budget.  Now Mary and I get excited by a free vendor dinner at the Fairmont.  There used to be secretaries and admins to do things like typing and filing.  The internet was a tool and emails were a means of communication, not a burdensome task to filter through in the morning.

Belt tightening can be a good thing.  People learn to do their own typing, publishing, and organizing.  It is a better head space for most of us to be responsible for all of our own actions instead of blustering through the day only to dump the follow-up on someone else’s desk.

Cigarettes used to be 50 cents, gas 29 cents a gallon and what did we do as a country?  More people died from tobacco than anything else, and the average car was a V-8 that got 8 miles to the gallon.  There was no concern for health, carbon footprint, global warming, or anything other than how much steak and potatoes we could fit into our bloated bodies.  Our businesses were every bit as bad.

The new era has brought about many changes:  My car is a Prius that gets 50 miles to the gallon, my office is a converted bedroom in my house, that (the house) is a tremendously downsized version of the one where my kids were raised (but it’s paid for), my business is on the internet helping other folks sell what they do, and my sirloin habit has been cut down from three days a week to once a month.

I actually appreciate it all now.  The walk in the sun, the occasional steak, that I can now type 50 words a minute, all came from necessity.  The contrast in life is what makes us appreciate what we have.

 

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Puddle Stompin’ in the Rain

I have always been a California boy.  I was born here, went to school here, worked here, and will most likely die here unless I am traveling at the time.

For some reason the women I have attracted have never been from California.  My first two wives were from Michigan and my current (and last) was raised in Oregon/Washington.   My sensibilities tend to gravitate towards football games, hot buttered rum drinks, and over-eating when the rains come.  This is obviously not too healthy, but the “rainy days” are few and far enough between that the lifestyle never gets too sedentary.  Of course ski trips and other “outward bound” trips break up the winter.  My skiing career started when I was 5, walking up the hills and skiing down.  The thing I never really embraced was the all day, grey day in March when there is no Football, Baseball is just in training, and BasetBall and  Hockey are not my favorites.

The  mother of my children, although we split up 7 years ago she is still a dear friend, was one of the Michi’ganders.  She was born in Kalamazoo, which is a name I have always loved just for the sound of it. “Tippy-canoe-and-Kalamazoo-Too.”

We had kidz.  We had great kidz; they were into everything.  They attended Adalante Spanish immersion school, the both got their kiddy black belts in Okinawa Karate, they played some music, held interests in teaching and journalism, partied like their parents, loved and helped people like their pastors, and were generally just great kidz.

This happens to be a very rainy day.  It somehow reminded me of some of the most wonderful things that my Michigan wife and I did with our Kidz.

There was an area down from where we lived in the hills, down by Middlefield “Little Mexico” where the fields were not as well grated, and there were big depressions in the turf, where huge lakes (at least 8”deep) would accumulate during a good rainfall. Kip (Mom) would dress the girls all up in their finest Muck-luk attire (boots, hoods, slickers, goggles, astro-hand-warmers, etc…) and we would head for the puddles.  It didn’t matter if it was raining 1” an hour at the time.  It also didn’t really matter how cold it was outside, but being California, it was usually still mid ‘60’s when we were out.

The real game plan was to totally drench everybody around you.  It didn’t matter that it was cold and wet, the action of the competition and play was such that nobody was ever cold.  There would be the unsuspecting girl (or Black Lab) standing way too close to a 6” puddle, and it was irresistible to jump in with both feet and splash the heck our of everything..   As the exhaustion became an aphrodisiac and the endorphins mixed with the lack of sensitivity to the cold, we became a bit bolder.  What were at first “foot- stomps” denigrated into full body slams into the cold rainwater.  When the splashes were insufficient, there was indeed (hate to say it as a dad) dunking involved.  There were side splashes, back splashes,   back lashes and amazing crashes.  There were times we brought our bikes, walked with spikes, floated tikes, it was all good.

The inevitable end to the day was to throw all the clothes (down to the undies) into a huge garbage bag, pile into the Astro Van (the best family vehicle we were ever exposed to until my wife decided we needed a leather lined Tahoe that got half the mileage and cost twice as much) and as hypothermia was beginning to take control, rolled back into the driveway of our Upland home.

Decontamination was efficient, concise, and incredibly poorly received.   Upon return home after this afternoon of excess mud and clayurnal bliss, the clean-up process at home was not popular.  There was the garden hose for the bulk of the mud, then the total strip search on the porch for the remainder of the mud.  Tubs were simultaneously run, and by the time the girls had recovered from the shock of the hoses and subsequent stripping, and were ready for the hot tub.  Not like we had a “HotTub” but the tub in their bathroom was by then, pretty inviting,

An hour later, dressed in their “onesies” or whatever attire was appropriate for their age, we were all snuggled in front of the fireplace.  We were always resplendent with the memories of the day, the wonderful feeling of having an athletic “outdoor” day, enjoying the contrasts in temperature,  the sheer excitement of the splashing and wallowing, and sharing the “Aprè” experience with our family.

Every time I see a puddle on the side of the road, I have to drive through it or stomp on it.

I love you, my girls!  Kayla, Kelsey, and Kippy

 

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I love Spam

Where did that word ever come from?*  According to Wikipedia Spam is “the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.”  I think the folks at Hormel would beg to differ.

My first and most lasting memories of Spam are from my days as a Boy Scout.  During our 50 mile backpack trip, the rite of passage for most scouts, the honor of being chief cook and quartermaster fell upon yours truly.  Not only did this prestigious responsibility produce a cooking “merit badge” it also included the preparation of all the food.  The canned food was extremely limited, but the scoutmaster insisted on bringing these little square blue cans of amalgamated random pork parts.  To look at the stuff was not advisable, but after hiking about 13 miles on dusty, rocky, trails the day before food tastes amazing.  Fried up in their own plethora of fat juices over an open fire at 11,000 ft the salty goodness of this culinary anomaly is forever etched onto the immortal tablets of my most savored gluttony. Combined with corn polenta (on the side, silly) and just a hint of maple syrup these steamy plates of cholesterol were devoured instantly by the ravenous pre-pubescent pack of pimple pushers.  These are the times of which memories are made.

It is with this reverence that I take umbrage at the extreme to which the e-mail community has vilified any use of unsolicited bulk electronic communication.  By the definition of most of the “reputable” email marketing companies, “bulk” warning people of a tidal wave would be considered Spam.  The message would be unsolicited, according to the content is irrelevant, and it would be sent to hundreds of thousands of addresses.  According to the Spamhaus Project: “Spam is an issue about consent, not content. Whether the Unsolicited Bulk Email (“UBE”) message is an advert, a scam, porn, a begging letter or an offer of a free lunch, the content is irrelevant – if the message was sent unsolicited and in bulk then the message is spam.”

I say enough!  We have gone way too far.  Obviously nobody wants the un-solicited billions of messages offering Viagra or a Ukrainian girlfriend for cheap, that are generated “offshore” and filtered through dozens of websites so that they are un-traceable and un-stoppable, but is there no middle ground?  Is it un-ethical for the local Church to buy a list of email addresses in their City to announce a clothing drive to help the people in Japan?  Is it un-ethical for a local school to send out a notice for a free class for the unemployed on job hunting?

The can spam act is VERY clear on  its stipulations, and as long as you identify your  message as an ad, identify yourself accurately, and offer the recipient the option of an “opt-out” you are free to send people an unsolicited message.  Do I think that this has been abused? Certainly.  Do I think that there are many un-orthodox practices that defy ethics and are practiced in business every day?  Heck yes.

What I propose is that we use some common sense.  If one has an honest offer that one feels is of value to an audience, I think they have the right to communicate it.  There is no regulation of what kind of shit gets put on the television, with increased volume.  The offshore Viagra peddlers will never stop.  You drive down the freeway and see a billboard every 20 feet.  Heck, the email messages at least give one the option of an opt-out.  I really think that there are people with WAY too much time on their hands to take this up as a cause.  If you want to be a zealot about something why don’t you go off on the price of gas!

  • According to the Internet Society and other sources, the term spam is derived from the 1970 Spam sketch of the BBC television comedy series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus“.[12] The sketch is set in a cafe where nearly every item on the menu includes Spam canned luncheon meat. As the waiter recites the Spam-filled menu, a chorus of Viking patrons drowns out all conversations with a song repeating “Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam… lovely Spam! wonderful Spam!”, hence “Spamming” the dialogue.[

The Story of a Classic

The first can of SPAM® Classic was produced in 1937 in Austin, Minnesota. After all these years, SPAM® Classic is still a tasty staple in kitchens around the world.

But did you know that the SPAM® Family of Products is part of the Hormel Foods Corporation? Since 1891, the Hormel name has been synonymous with quality, value and innovation.

Learn more about our innovation processes and commitment to food safety in our 2009 Hormel Foods Corporate Responsibility Report.

Visit hormelfoods.com to learn more about Hormel Foods.

 

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Head-To-Head: Yahoo Search Direct Vs. Google Instant

Mar 23, 2011 at 2:46pm ET by Danny Sullivan

Yahoo rolled out Yahoo Search Direct today, its rival to Google Instant. Yahoo says that its service is focused on providing actual answers, while Google’s is focused on bringing back links. True? Let’s have a face-off.

Test 1: Who’s #Winning For Charlie Sheen?

Yahoo says one of the 15 areas that it’s especially focused on right now with Yahoo Search Direct  is that of celebrities. Well, celebrity Charlie Sheen is still making plenty of news. What happens if I try searching for him at both places?

Typing in “charlie…” on Yahoo gives me:

There are links to Sheen’s Wikipedia page, his Twitter account and a YouTube video about him. Those are all links, not answers.

Meanwhile, Google gives me links, too:

But I have to hand this one to Google. In those links are recent news items about Sheen, which I think are better “answers” than what Yahoo is providing.

Test 2: What’s Playing Near Me?

How about movies showing near me. I type in “mov….” and both show me movie information, even before I finish the word. Here’s Yahoo:

Yahoo gives me three links, to Yahoo Movies, to Movies.com and to Fandango.

Here’s Google:

Again, I hand this one to Google. Google has guessed at my location, gotten it pretty correct and shows me local screening information. Sure, it’s one city off — but Yahoo didn’t get my city at all.

Test 2, Subsection A: How About By ZIP Code

Yahoo’s demo suggested that I might get better results for a movie search if I also entered a ZIP code. So, I gave it one near me:

That’s pretty nice, though it misses out two theaters that are actually more convenient to the 92661 ZIP code and instead lists the Edwards Univesity Town Center location that’s farther away.

What’s Google got?

Yes, same thing Google showed before. If I want more from Google, I have to do an extra click:

And the clicking is pretty good — I get the nearby Triangle Square cinema listed, which Yahoo’s Search Direct display missed.

Now, if I clicked into Yahoo’s own movie results, I also find Triangle Square listed. But the point about Yahoo Search Direct is that I’m not supposed to have to make that extra click.

Test 3: What’s The Weather?

In Yahoo’s demo, they seemed to totally trump Google in how typing only “wea…” would present the local weather:

But in reality, I got a different experience:

And at Google?

I actually got the weather for my area, just by typing the letters “Wea….” I’d say that was another win by Google.

Don’t get me wrong — I love that Yahoo’s bringing this new system out. Maybe things will improve, as it gets up to speed. Plus, if I ran more tests, maybe it would come out as more impressive than Google Instant.

But it’s also not correct to dismiss Google Instant as just showing a bunch of links. It’s showing answers, too.

 

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Are you making something?

the wisdom of Seth Godin

Making something is work. Let’s define work, for a moment, as something you create that has a lasting value in the market.

Twenty years ago, my friend Jill discovered Tetris. Unfortunately, she was working on her Ph.D. thesis at the time. On any given day the attention she spent on the game felt right to her. It was a choice, and she made it. It was more fun to move blocks than it was to write her thesis. Day by day this adds up… she wasted so much time that she had to stay in school and pay for another six months to finish her doctorate.

Two weeks ago, I took a five-hour plane ride. That’s enough time for me to get a huge amount of productive writing done. Instead, I turned on the wifi connection and accomplished precisely no new measurable work between New York and Los Angeles.

More and more, we’re finding it easy to get engaged with activities that feel like work, but aren’t. I can appear just as engaged (and probably enjoy some of the same endorphins) when I beat someone in Words With Friends as I do when I’m writing the chapter for a new book. The challenge is that the pleasure from winning a game fades fast, but writing a book contributes to readers (and to me) for years to come.

One reason for this confusion is that we’re often using precisely the same device to do our work as we are to distract ourselves from our work. The distractions come along with the productivity. The boss (and even our honest selves) would probably freak out if we took hours of ping pong breaks while at the office, but spending the same amount of time engaged with others online is easier to rationalize. Hence this proposal:

The two-device solution

Simple but bold: Only use your computer for work. Real work. The work of making something.

Have a second device, perhaps an iPad, and use it for games, web commenting, online shopping, networking… anything that doesn’t directly create valued output (no need to have an argument here about which is which, which is work and which is not… draw a line, any line, and separate the two of them. If you don’t like the results from that line, draw a new line).

Now, when you pick up the iPad, you can say to yourself, “break time.” And if you find yourself taking a lot of that break time, you’ve just learned something important.

Go, make something. We need it!

 

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History of Cabo San Lucas

Before Cabo San Lucas was known as the tourist town it is today, the beaches were inhabited by a nomadic Guaycura Amerindian group called Pericu. The Pericú were hunters and gatherers; the shores around Cabo made it easy to live off of shellfish, small game and wild plants. There is also evidence that they were skilled weavers and potters as well.

The Cabo coastline remained untouched by European explorers until 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Spaniard, made the first contact with the Pericu people while exploring the waters of the Pacific for the Spanish monarchy. The Spanish forces remained because of the threat of English pirates in the area. The harbor at Cabo San Lucas continued to be used by pirates until the mid-18th Century as a hiding place after attacks on Manila Galleons (you can see a ship similar to these in the harbor). The pirates also enjoyed the many coves and inlets, perfect places for stashing loot. After pirating became a thing of the past, the port was mostly ignored because of the lack of fresh water available there.

More activity came to the harbor at the end of the 19th Century. Baja-californianos began exporting bark from the local palo blanco tree, to be processed and used in leather tanning. This made Cabo San Lucas a main shipping port. With the increase of nautical traffic, the Faro Viejo lighthouse was built in 1890 by port authorities at the nearby Cabo Falso.

The abundance of tuna in Cabo was discovered in the early 20th Century, and in 1917 an American tuna cannery was moved from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas to take advantage of this new resource. This brought a new population that continued to grow even as the native population dwindled. By the 1930s, a small fishing village had developed to supply the cannery. The harbor was then occupied by about 400 people, all of whom were involved in the canning industry. This remained the driving force of the local economy until 1941, when a hurricane destroyed a large part of the factory. The damage was devastating and Cabo San Lucas was all but abandoned during World War II, when Japanese submarines patrolled the coast.

After the war, leisure travel became a popular activity and Cabo was rediscovered as a game-fish paradise. Word of mouth brought a sport-fishing craze to the cape in the 1950s and 1960s and Cabo became a hot spot for catching prize-winning marlin and other swordfish. During this time, the small village grew in size to about 1500 residents (not including the many seasonal fishermen that were brought in by plane or boat to fish the cape). The slow but steady pace of growth changed in 1973 when the Transpeninsular Highway was completed. This new link by land between the United States and Cabo San Lucas brought even more traffic to the area. The city soon became a popular destination for people traveling by car and recreational vehicle, in addition to those who already came by boat or plane.

Nowadays, the small fishing village has become a bustling tourist attraction. Cabo San Lucas has increased its numbers and now boasts a population of almost 25,000. The majority of people who call this place home make their living from the tourist industry and most of them are recent arrivals seeking work. Many small shops and boutiques line the streets with souvenirs and handcrafted Cabo clothing. Tour guides are ready to show off the spectacular coastline (and the sights under the water too). Affordable boating adventures and tours await those ready to take to the waves and are a sign that Cabo is no longer an exclusive yacht club just for the upper class sports fishermen.

Great fishing is not the only activity that brings people to the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. First class golfing attracts sportsmen of a different kind, while the beaches bring legions of sunbathers each year. Scuba diving is also a popular draw for visitors; the beautiful waters are great for watching exotic, colorful marine life.

Despite deep roots in the past, so richly displayed at the Museo de las Californias, Cabo San Lucas has a distinctly modern feel. It is far enough away from home to be a great getaway, without feeling too foreign.

 

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Martin Sheen Understands Son Charlie’s ‘hell’

People
By Simon Perry, PEOPLE.com
March 21, 2011 12:36 p.m. EDT
Martin Sheen's latest movie, "The Way," co-stars son Emilio Estevez, who wrote and directed the father-son drama.
Martin Sheen‘s latest movie, “The Way,” co-stars son Emilio Estevez, who wrote and directed the father-son drama.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • “When you’re addicted, you don’t grow emotionally,” Martin Sheen says
  • Sheen’s latest movie, “The Way,” costars his son Emilio Estevez
  • Estevez is optimistic his brother can beat his problems

(PEOPLE.com) — Martin Sheen understands the “hell” son Charlie Sheen is going through.

He believes that Charlie, despite being 45, is still “emotionally” a child. “Because when you’re addicted, you don’t grow emotionally. So. when you get clean and sober you’re starting at the moment you started using drugs or alcohol,” the actor tells the UK’s Telegraph magazine. “You’re emotionally crippled.”

Sheen, 70, has been through similar difficulties, he concedes: “I know what hell he’s living in. I’ve had psychotic episodes in public. One of them was on camera — the opening scene of “Apocalypse Now.” … I know what Charlie is going through. And when you do something like that, that is out of control, that’s the most difficult thing. You have to have courage.”

Courage and faith are required, adds the committed Catholic, whose latest movie, “The Way,” costars his son Emilio Estevez, 48, who also wrote and directed the father-son drama.

“Faith can help all of us. Addiction is the dark side. It’s a reflection of despair. And it’s fed by all the other negativity,” Sheen tells the magazine, a supplement to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Estevez, meanwhile, is optimistic his brother can beat his problems. “There’s always hope, and there are so many examples of people pulling themselves out of the sh– and having a rebirth,” he toldThe Sunday Times. “So you just pray for him and hope he has that moment of clarity.”

See full article at PEOPLE.com.

 
 
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