Monthly Archives: December 2010


I like to think of myself as a fairly bright guy; been around for a while, seen a few things, fairly good with technology, reasonably street smart, those sorts of things.

I cannot believe I got sucked into an identity theft scam.

While logging in to look at the credit card bill I had run up over the holidays, a curious screen appeared on my monitor.  It stated that it was no longer recognizing my computer and it would be necessary to re-confirm my personal information.  It wanted my social security number, mother’s maiden name, and pin number.

My arse!  Was my first reaction.  The credit card company (Chasse) was contacted immediately, and the nice little girl on the other end of the phone explained to me that due to tightened security measures they were asking for more information.  I asked if we could have this screen bypassed as I was not comfortable typing this stuff on my computer.  She dorked around for 45 minutes talking to supervisors, their supervisors, and eventually Lord Chase himself only to come back with the dreaded information that I was going to have to complete the form.

It turns out that the form was indeed a dummy, as when completed the account would still not grant me access.  I ran a Malware scan and came up with no afflictions.  I went to run my AVG anti-virus, and somehow it had been deleted from my machine.  There was a Norton AV program that I didn’t remember, but figured what the heck and ran it instead.

Upon not finding anything Chase was called again.  This time tech-support informed me that the screen was indeed a virus, that the virus had deleted my legitimate anti-virus and replaced it with a dummy shell of Norton that came up with the bogus “all clear” solution.

Now my social security number and mother’s maiden name are out there, along with the login, password and pin number for my $40K credit card. So the following things needed to be changed on every financial institution I deal with:

All accounts,  numbers, passwords, security questions, pin numbers, and any reference to my social security number as identification.





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Create or find something you love, and share it!

This is the season that reminds us of our blessings;  family, friends, health if we have it, jobs, talents, and in general associations.  It is who we know and interact with that defines in large part who and what we are.

I come from a small-ish family but have married into a huge one.  Through my business contacts and organizations to whom I belong my network has extended tremendously.  Through social media and the networks they offer my personal and professional network  is now virtually infinite.

Networks and groups on Linked-In, Face-book, Twitter, Digg, YouTube, Stumbleupon, and WordPress now occupy a huge chunk of my time and social experience.  These are not just educational or professional affiliations (though many of them started out that way) but many are becoming dear friends that I intend to maintain for the rest of my life.

It may have started out as a way to advance professionally, but it has turned out that Seth Godin was right about tribes.  All it takes is some initiative to get an idea rolling and somebody else will enjoy it.  Be that someone.  If you can’t create something on your own, just find something really cool and share it.

This may be a bit dated, because I was out-of-town, but here is my “holiday” offering.  If you have good speakers on your system turn them up!  Happy Holidays!


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Holiday Suicide; Death by eating

I like to eat.  Most people do.  There is this little birdy in my ear that tells me “more is better.”  It’s all sooooo good.

We like to entertain periodically, and live in a great neighborhood on a cul-de-sac.   This means there is no  through traffic and we see each other often.  In the summer there is happy hour on our front porch and in the winter there are periodic get-togethers indoors.  The “holidays” provide the excuse for several such events, and last weekend our home was the location of one.

The product of parents that actually remembered the great depression, I am one to never want for food or drink – especially when throwing a party.  The Ham is purchased (enough for an infantry platoon), bottles of wine, sparkling cider, soft drinks, beers, quiches, shrimp cocktails, cheese platters, relish plates, veggie dip, etc.  Cookies and brownies are baked under the caveat “we need to get all this stuff out of the cupboards” and we amass a pile of starch, fat, sugar, and alcohol that would impress a Second Harvest volunteer.  It never occurs to us that we have only invited 12 people, that this is not a dinner party, or that all of these guests would also bring dishes and bottles of their favorite whatever.

So now it is Tuesday.  The party was Saturday.  The last of the Ham was used last night to accent a dandy Alfredo I prepared for a late supper.  We topped that off with a couple of brownies and some Lindore Truffles.  Did I mention that it has been raining all week, so I haven’t been going on my usual 2 mile walk at lunch?

I hit the scale this morning (what was I thinking?) and was appalled.  Somehow I managed to gain 5 pounds in one week.  The Medifast is on order; I need to look up the tracking number pronto.  We were going to “get on the program” after the first of the year.  I hope I live that long.  At this rate I’m going to be shopping at “Big and Tall” before then, and I’m not that tall.  I think its Fresh Choice for lunch.

It’s only December 21.  Ten more inglorious days of debauchery left.  God help us all!


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Hooters has it both ways, sex and kiddies!

By Matt Coker, Fri., Dec. 17 2010 @ 8:57AM

Hooters restaurants in Anaheim and Costa Mesa routinely violate local and state laws regarding sexual entertainment and children, alleges the National Organization for Women (NOW).

Orange County’s NOW chapter is among four across the state that have filed formal complaints with their respective district attorneys. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has not yet disclosed if it will launch and investigation.

The complaints boil down to this: to comply with the law, Hooters must either ban kids or sexual entertainment.
“Marketing to young children and advertising as a family restaurant while in reality being nothing but a provider of ‘vicarious sexual entertainment’ amounts to sexual exploitation and attempts to legitimize sex discrimination and hostile work environments for women,” says Patty Bellasalma, president of California NOW, in a statement released Thursday by the organization


“Every local county or city with a Hooters should consider a ban on marketing sexual entertainment to minors,” she continues, “and require that sexual entertainment businesses check IDs at the door.”

NOW’s complaints–also filed in Sacramento, San Bruno and San Francisco–break down as so:


  • The chain has used this designation to avoid compliance with regulations against sexual discrimination in the workplace.


  • Hooters advertises itself as a family restaurant.


  • Hooters does not comply with regulations for providers of sexual entertainment.

” It’s time to end this legal bait and switch,” reads the NOW statement, which also includes this:

On a typical evening, Hooters, Inc. serves children younger than 18 years of age and offers child menus, high chairs and booster seats.  They also display and sell products of prurient nature, including t-shirts in child sizes with statements such as “Future Hooters Girl.”  According to Hooter’s own employment material, a “Hooters Girl” is employed as a sexual entertainer and as part of her employment can expect to be subjected to various sexual jokes by customers and such potential contacts as buttocks slaps.  Hooters of America Inc. v Phillips, Case 173 F3d 933 (4/8/99).

The NOW complaints call on government authorities receiving them to either force Hooters, Inc. to comply with EEOC prohibitions against sexual discrimination (if they wish to be a family restaurant that serves children) or comply with regulations covering providers of sexual entertainment (which prohibit children from the premises).

So far, Hooters, Inc. has not reacted publicly to NOW’s complaints.


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Go out and have some fun, really

Here are some ideas from Seth Godin on how to organize an event to make it fun.  His suggestions are for retreats, but this list bears consideration any time you get together with a bunch of colleagues:



  • Must be off site, with no access to electronic interruption
  • Should be intense. Save the rest and relaxation for afterwards
  • Create a dossier on each attendee in advance, with a photo and a non-humble CV of who they are and what they do and what their goals are
  • Never (never) have people go around a circle and say their name and what they do and their favorite kind of vegetable or whatever. The problem? People spend the whole time trying to think of what to say, not listening to those in front of them (I once had to witness 600 people do this!!)
  • Instead, a week ahead of time, give each person an assignment for a presentation at the event. It might be the answer to a question like, “what are you working on,” or “what’s bothering you,” or “what can you teach us.” Each person gets 300 seconds, that’s it.
  • Have 11 people present their five minutes in an hour. Never do more than an hour in a row. The attendees now have a hook, something to talk to each presenter about in the hallway or the men’s room. “I disagree with what you said this morning…”
  • Organize roundtable conversations, with no more than 20 people at a time (so if you have more attendees than this, break into groups.) Launch a firestarter, a five minute statement, then have at it. Everyone speaks up, conversations scale and ebb and flow.
  • Solve problems. Get into small groups and have the groups build something, analyze something, create something totally irrelevant to what the organization does. The purpose is to put people in close proximity with just enough pressure to allow them to drop their shields.
  • Do skits.
  • Have a moderator who is brave enough and smart enough to call on people, cut people off, connect people and provoke them in a positive way.
  • Invite a poker instructor or a horseshoe expert in to give a lesson and then follow it with a competition.
  • Challenge attendees to describe a favorite film scene to you before the event. Pick a few and show them, then discuss.
  • Don’t serve boring food.
  • Use nametags at all times. Write the person’s first name REALLY big.
  • Use placecards at each meal, rotating where people sit. Crowd the tables really tightly (12 at a table for 10) and serve buffet style to avoid lots of staffers in the room. Make it easy for people to leave boring tables and organically sit together at empty ones.
  • Do something really interesting after 10 pm.
  • Serve delicious food, weird food, vegan food, funky food. Just because you can.
  • Don’t worry about being productive. Worry about being busy.
  • Consider a tug of war or checkers tournament.
  • Create an online site so attendees can check in after the event, swap email addresses or post promised links.
  • Take a ton of pictures. Post them as the advance progresses.

Here’s the goal: new friends. Here’s the output: a new and better to-do list.


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People just want a little special attention – Imagine that !?!

Last year I was in a great holiday spirit, but a bit of a hurry.  I wrote the cleaning person a check for her usual fee, and another for $50 with the words Feliz Navidad in the memo section.  The next time she came and cleaned there was no mention of the Christmas check.  This process was repeated for the past year.  Bah humbug.

This year hasn’t been quite as generous with me, and frankly, not having had last years check even acknowledged, I wasn’t in the mood to repeat the process.  For once I actually stopped doing something that wasn’t working for me.

My wonderfully thoughtful wife always has extra cards lying around the house.  She is from a large family, with lots of nieces and nephews and the lot.  There is a birthday about twice a month, it seems, and she is prepared.  We write out the appropriate card for the season, paying particular attention to the spelling of the names:  Ana and Jesus.  Tough to remember, but tougher to spell.

At my wife’s urging I stopped by the local Safeway and picked up a couple of sacks of Godiva chocolates.  Total $8.  Great deal, they still have some left.  I then stuck one of those bows that you get by the gunny sack at Costco on each of the bags and arranged them neatly around their card on the kitchen Island (not to be confused with Gilligan‘s).  It was a Christmassy immage, but I resisted the photo-op.  My daughter Kelsey would have been so proud.  The kids nag me for my incessant optical recording proclivity, but what the heck.

On the way out the door Ana stops me and thanks me for the Christmas.  She gives me a hug (a first) and acts like I had just handed her my winning lottery ticket.  If I didnt know better I could have sworn she was fighting off the beginning of a tear.   Must have been the Ammonia she uses to dissolve the paint from our walls.

The moral of the story:  Some people cannot be bought.  Just as the kids don’t really like some of the little things I pick out, they still appreciate the thought and time it takes.  Don’t get me wrong, they still appreciate the checks, but don’t ever forget the cards and chocolates.



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Merry Freeking Christmas on Capitol Hill, or Two Families of Four in a Winnebago…

 I’m not saying what kind of job the Democrat majority did trying to get along with the Party of No, but the outcome is surely messed up.  Now we have both parties agreeing that there is no solution to the unemployment benefit extensions.  Great.
I teach Social Media to a group of professionals in Silicon Valley who are going through “career transition.”  It is called ProMatch.  These are highly educated people who are working their asses off to try and better themselves.  They go to business meetings twice a week.  They attend several career enhancement workshops a month. They attend networking functions weekly and reach out through their profiles and tweets and links.

They are also at the end of their ropes.   There are only so many “great jobs” selling kitchen appliances at Orchard Supply.  I implore you to forward this to your Congress Persons. We all need to step up to the plate.  Let’s use the grass roots power of we the people to spread this message. It got Obama elected.  Tweet it, Face Book it, Digg it, Make it Delicious and for god’s sake lets all stay LinkedIn.  This crap has got to stop.

Steve Ulrich


This is from last May,  It seemed bleak then.


I am no different from millions of Americans. I have several college degrees. I have saved human lives, educated children, and given freely to charity. I was let go from my place of employment due to the economic problems in the country, and through no fault of my own, a little over two years ago. Many of the unemployed are highly educated and are told over and over and over that we are way too qualified to do the jobs for which we apply. We do not care, we just want a job!

Now our unemployment extensions are ending and we will have no money coming in at all. Most of us have sold everything we had owned of any value and have gone through all of our savings trying to get any job at all, while keeping our heads just barely above water. This means that by April 15th there will be over ONE MILLION unemployed and uncompensated people in the state of New Jersey alone! We will be losing our homes and being evicted if we are renting. I have been making phone calls to State Senators, State Government, U.S. Senators and the Federal Government, through The White House comment line, as well as emailing through The White House website. There needs to be a Tier 5 legislation addressed immediately before millions upon millions of people receive their last Tier 4 check and have absolutely nothing on which to live through no fault of their own.


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There are things you just shouldn’t try to do yourself

Hire an architect – by Seth Godin

Architects don’t manufacture nails, assemble windows or chop down trees. Instead, they take existing components and assemble them in interesting and important ways.

It used to be that if you wanted to build an organization, you had to be prepared to do a lot of manufacturing and assembly–of something. My first internet company had 60 or 70 people at its peak… and today, you could run the same organization with six people. The rest? They were busy building an infrastructure that now exists. Restaurants used to be built by chefs. Now, more than ever, they’re built by impresarios who know how to tie together real estate, promotion, service and chefs into a package that consumers want to buy. The difficult part isn’t installing the stove, the difficult (and scarce) part is telling a story.

I’m talking about intentionally building a structure and a strategy and a position, not focusing your energy on the mechanics, because mechanics alone are insufficient. Just as you can’t build a class A office building with nothing but a skilled carpenter, you can’t build a business for the ages that merely puts widgets into boxes.

My friend Jerry calls these people corporate chiropractors. They don’t do surgery, they realign and recognize what’s out of place.

Organizational architects know how to find suppliers, use the cloud (of people, of data, of resources), identify freelancers, tie together disparate resources and weave them into a business that scales. You either need to become one or hire one.

The organizations that matter are busy being run by people who figure out what to do next.


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You have 96 seconds to read this or…

Of course they never really tell you what.  The paper will self destruct like mission impossible?

Being more than slightly overweight I looked into “Metaphase”.  Whether or not the stuff works (and I imagine it does, because if you eat Styrofoam for a month you lose weight) it is still a scam.  If you enroll in the VIP program they will give you two weeks’ worth of Styrofoam free.  The only catch is that you have to ACT NOW – offer good until Dec 31st.  What happens then, they aren’t going to take your money?  The other thing you get is the benefit of having them charge your credit card and ship you more Styrofoam every month whether you want it or not.  What happens to most is that they have piles of the crap in the garage and don’t get around to cancelling it (which is no easy task) for several months.

My favorite is “register now because space is limited…” for a webinar.   How can space be limited for an internet function?  I asked a few times and was told it was because they mailed out follow-ups.  OK, so Constant Contact now limits the number of emails you can send out too?  Better sign up now before they go away.

The clock.  There is nothing that makes me want to get up off my couch and grab the iPhone more than a little hourglass or stopwatch in the lower right corner ticking down the seconds till…. Till what?  Does the TV blow up if I don’t dial the magic sequence and stop the bomb at exactly 007?

For goodness sake people, wake up!  They will take your registration, commitment, time, or oh yes MONEY, any time you want to offer it.  Don’t let yourself be rushed into making a decision.  Why do you think auto dealers have a “no cooling off period” sign hidden behind the dartboard in their little cubicles.

It’s because most Americans buy stuff we don’t need, on impulse, and they are afraid that if we think about it we might just sober up and pass.  By the way, my house is paid for and my credit cards have a 0 balance.  Guess I’m just not a good American.


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Stop Comcast from blocking Netflix

It’s as brazen as it is outrageous. At the very same time that the FCC is deliberating the fate of our open Internet, cable giant Comcast threatened to block Netflix from delivering streaming movies to Comcast’s own broadband customers.

Without strong net neutrality rules, companies like Comcast can demand fees from innovative companies like Netflix in an attempt to choke consumer freedom and coerce users to adopt its own video services instead.

Tell the FCC: Don’t let Comcast block Netflix. Support the strong net neutrality protections President Obama promised during his campaign.

Comcast only relented after it was able to extort a fee from the company that supports Netflix’s movie streaming service, Level 3. According to the AP, 3 asserts “the fee violates the principles of an ‘open Internet.’ It also goes against the Federal Communications Commission‘s proposed rules preventing broadband Internet providers from favoring certain types of traffic.” 1

It’s a critical time to speak out about this. After stalling for months, the FCC is poised to exercise its power and issue net neutrality regulations at a meeting scheduled for December 21. We expect FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to release his draft plan for protecting an open Internet in advance of that meeting — as early as this week.

There is only one Internet, and consumers should be allowed to access any legal website, service or application on any device of their choosing (whether they’re accessing the Internet wirelessly or not). Furthermore, broadband providers cannot be allowed to employ paid prioritization schemes to give favored network access to some websites or services over others. And finally, the rules must define the terms in a way that avoids the huge loopholes favored by industry and rests on sufficient legal basis.

Tell the FCC: The big cable companies and telecoms will destroy our open Internet if you do not regulate strong net neutrality protections.

Clearly the big telecom and cable companies feel confident that the FCC will bend to their will, rather than protect consumers and preserve our open Internet. What makes Comcast’s behavior even more outrageous is that in addition to the FCC’s pending decision on net neutrality, it also must rule on Comcast’s bid to buy NBC. Without tough and binding FCC rules, will Comcast ensure that NBC content is available online to its subscribers, but video streams from other channels download at a slower rate or not at all?

This is about more than getting movies via Netflix instead of Comcast. It’s about the ability of media monopolies to decide what information we can access via the Internet. Will Fox News stories be carried in the fast lane while Democracy Now! is relegated to slow lane or perhaps blocked altogether?

 President Obama campaigned on a platform that included strong net neutrality provisions. It’s time for his FCC to deliver.

1 “Web delivery firm says Comcast taking toll on data,” Associated Press, November 29, 2010.


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