Blog Post #5: Course Reflection

One concept that I was able to learn more about as a result of this course and group was project is rapid prototyping. I have had a New Product Development course here at McCombs, but never had the opportunity to take part in a rapid prototyping session. So just being able to help form insights from our interviews into a product or service concept was a worthwhile exercise. It was helpful to have Jeff from upstream come in before our rapid prototyping session to help set the guidelines for how our team should approach the exercise. Of key importance, was his insights on just putting our heads together to get a rough product or service concept developed, not to try and attempt a full scale design. It was helpful to view his own examples of how products had evolved from rapid prototyping to finished solutions.

Another concept that I was able to better grasp was that of developing a persona of the customer and directing research and product ideas to the persona's characteristics. My wife is an Account Director at an advertising agency, so I have some understanding of how creative is directed towards a target, but I never got a sense for how it could be applied to product development. I think that when teams come together to develop a new product or service, having a persona makes sense because it not only gives the group a target to think about but it makes the process more fun. We developed the persona of Sam and Buck - the single, affluent dog owner (not Matt M). Sticking to this, enabled us to direct our effort around "what would Sam and Buck" want or need from our service offering? I think it's a great discipline to use; to have a segmentation, but personalization strategy.

I say more in the final project, but I don't have much to complain about here. I think the reason is that I just had a great group to work with, especially Kelly, who LOVES dogs and so that made rallying around her passion really easy. Maybe that's it - a key takeaway: maybe it takes someone's passion to create a great project? I guess if you put your full self into something like product development, your creativity really comes out. This course is really part entrepreneur! Early on, we did have some trouble getting started, finding meeting times, and subjects to interview. Also, we struggled with developing a good list of interview questions to use. But once we had that, things really flowed nicely to the end concept. But I think these are concerns with any group project - especially in business school - and the class meeting time really helped.

Yes, I enjoyed working with my team to develop the Royal Gardens Dog Lovers Apartment Complex. Although we had a very diverse background (2 MPAs, 2 MBAs), I think the diversity in thought contributed greatly to our ideas. I never felt like we ran into a wall with idea generation - we could just get together and drum up the next course of action fairly easily. Also, beyond idea generation, we had a resident expert in dog-walking, which was an immense help, a realist-type accountant, and two creative MBAs (as creative as MBAs can be). Honestly, I really had fun with this project because it allowed us to go the full cycle with research to prototype but also to be creative and visual with it. Also, the entire project wasn't too structured, so I never felt like our group "had to fit the mold." I really enjoyed being creative and thinking outside of the box. My team was very enthusiastic about the solution we developed - which made it feel less like a project and more like an endeavor.

Thank you for the course and thank you for the project!


Wal-Mart's Data Deluge

The retail giant Wal-Mart - with customer traffic of 100 million shoppers per week - has been collecting customer data through check out scanners for years. The company paid $4b for data infrastructure in 1991 and goes to great lengths to keep its data secret from suppliers and competitors. This customer and product data is segmented by store geography and is used to model tests to improve operational efficiency and product availability. Wal-Mart currently holds twice the data of the entire internet and gives the company an advantage in tailoring product availability to the right customer at the right time.

Based on this article and my knowledge of Wal-Mart's shopping experience, these data collection efforts are helping Wal-Mart make products available at the right time and help with supplier relationships but there isn't anything radical with these practices that is giving the company a competitive advantage. All businesses should aim to better understand their customers in order to make strategic decisions like new stores, product availability, and the offering of new products. The reason is that other retailers such as Macy's or Target are just as able to study their customer's buying habits, store performance, and inventory availability just as easily. Most retailers offer data collection efforts through loyalty programs and credit cards. It is up to them how much they are storing and analyzing this information to make business decision. I think that Target has a very similar effort to Wal-Mart's because of what Wal-Mart has been doing. The only true advantage that Wal - Mart has it that it doesn't share the scanner information with Nielsen or IRI, which makes it difficult for specific Target stores to better price match against Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart also collects data on more transactions than anyone else because it receives the most customer traffic. Additionally, it is important for any business to meet the needs of its customer base but I find it disturbing that Wal-Mart is looking to profit from unfortunate natural disasters like the gulf hurricanes. This is how their pop tart and beer response to Hurricane Frances was spun.

There are privacy concerns with what Wal-Mart is able to collect and I hope that steps have been taken to prevent personal data such as social security numbers, credit scores, mortgage balances, and driver's license numbers from being compromised. This article was not specific on how Wal-Mart might be using these pieces of information to offer new services, however this may be unknown. The fact that these pieces of information are available to Wal-Mart and the potential for abuse does disturb me. However, if I were to buy anything from a retailer with a credit card, then I surmise that they would collect this information as well. The key question is whether my household is receiving more credit card offers in the mail due to my shopping habits. This I am not sure of. Overall, I believe it is the moral responsibility of every business leader at Wal-Mart to not abuse the company's comprehensive data collection efforts.

Wal-Mart's data collection and technology efforts has effects beyond the company's customer base; Wal-Mart's suppliers are impacted as well. In order to improve inventory efficiency, the company uses RFID technology to keep track of inventory pallets. However, it does this by forcing its customers to invest in the RFID technology in order to continue to do business with the retail giant. With this technology they are able to become aware of supply outages up to the minute and relay this information back to suppliers for fulfillment. It can also notify suppliers of missed shipments or errors in delivery to get these problems corrected quickly. All of this contributes to the customer experience because items are in stock when needed - however, I don't think this is a radically different practices than other retailers. Wal-Mart is also gaining more power over its suppliers due to this information because it shares only what is needed for the supplier. The retail giant is moving towards scan based trading, where the inventory sold at Wal-Mart stores is owned by the manufacturer until it is sold - reducing the massive amount of inventory that Wal-Mart now holds on its books. This would be a massive change, putting Wal-Mart in a similar position to Ebay - another company that serves as that marketplace for goods but doesn't own the actual items being sold.


Paper Topic: What makes a successful customer experience with online services?

Research Topic:

In today's world, the way in which users are interacting with information and with each other is changing rapidly. People are connecting to the internet with a host of new devices and are accessing content or information in new ways. Over the years since internet has emerged in the early 1990s, people have now developed online lives, where routine daily tasks involve the internet. Yet through this change, some exemplars have emerged in the realm of 'online services' which provide that unique customer experience that users seek and keep them coming back, despite a host of competitors and little to no switching costs. In the social media realm, there is Facebook which has clearly dominated over competitors such as MySpace. Online gaming is led by Zynga, the maker of FarmVille despite PlayFish and Pogo and many other online game sites. When most people of online music, they turn to Pandora rather than offerings from Last.fm and Slacker Radio. And online information and community sites such as Wikipedia, Blogger, and LinkedIn are ruling over content mills, Typepad and Wordpress, and Bebo.

Key Questions:

What makes these key offerings work and why are they sticky? Is there something that explains their success? How is the user experience managed? How is the user experience designed, and are there key elements of each leading offering that are common among 'winning' platforms? How do they overlap: for example, Zynga and other online gaming companies use Facebook as a platform. What is the customer experience of each - relating to the customer experience framework we have studied in class? How are customers acquired? How are they managed? How are users retained? Have these online services been able to create higher switching costs than that of other less popular offerings? How much do these companies understand of their user base that is allowing them to target other customers and develop other appealing offerings? What are the broader implications of our growing connection to online services and what could the future hold? For instance, will it be a winner-take-all market for each type of offering or will multiple offerings co-exist?

My Interest in this Topic:

I am intrigued with how much our lives are being conducted online and how rapidly this phenomena is changing in today's world. As someone who remembers the late 1990's internet bubble and crash, it seems there is some element of what is going on today that parallels that period. However, there is likely much that is different and it is possible we are not going through internet bubble cycle 2.0 at this point. I hope to understand why or why not this may be occurring and what has changed since that time. This topic is also personally relevant to me because I hope to find a job at one of the leading online service providers. I think that by conducting the research for this paper that I will learn a great deal about the industry and the strategy behind the engaging customer experience that has been created by each company.

As I think about my interest in this topic and my future career, I consider that if I were required to write an MBA dissertation, that this would be my topic.


My research resources include learning from one of the leading experts in online marketing today, Seth Godin, through his book and ongoing personal blog. I also will analyze the corporate blogs of today's leading companies in this realm, Google, Facebook, and Pandora. Additionally, I will look at leading tech site articles devoted to the topic, such as the CNN Tech article listed below.

Seth Godin, Tribes, 2008
Seth Godin's Glog
CNN Tech, Why the no-fun 'FarmVille' is so popular, Sept. 28, 2010
Pandora Corporate Blog
Google 10 Things Corporate Philosophy
Facebook Corporate Blog


Customer Experience: Amazon for Textbooks

As a graduate school student, each semester brings a large textbook purchase, sometimes upwards of $300. The cost can be daunting, although the textbooks are required for each course. Fortunately, there are options, and the number of options is growing. Students such as myself today can purchase from the Co-Op, rent textbooks from Chegg.com, or purchase from Abebooks.com or Amazon or even Barnes and Noble.

This past semester, I had to purchase two books for my Invisible Global Marketing course, the subject being business in emerging markets. These are not textbooks, but two books co-authored by the professor of the course. Being the cost-conscious student, I first comparison-shopped for these two books at the locations discussed previously. After a store visit to the Co-Op and a few website visits, I determined that these two books were cheapest when purchased from Amazon. I started an order for them at Amazon and added them each to my cart. When I began the checkout process, I realized that Amazon carried one, and could ship to me directly, but the other book was listed by a private seller on Amazon. I first thought this could be a problem, because there could be two transactions, but Amazon handled both purchases in one check out - the book at Amazon, and it handled the other with the private seller. Amazon's book was new, but for the other at the private seller, Amazon indicated what condition the book was in: New, Used, Like-New, Or Very Good condition, and the price differed for each variation. Additionally, for each one, I was given an estimated ship date, and length of time for delivery based on the shipping method I chose. I soon found out that both books would arrive at my house within a day of each other, although in separate shipments. I felt delighted that I could save about $15 off these two books versus other avenues such as the Co-Op, so I went ahead and placed an order. When each arrived about 5 days later, each arrived with a receipt from Amazon and the other seller and the Amazon book came with a return shipping label. Each was in the condition described in the listing.

Despite securing these books, I was forced to drop the class a week into the semester because of a scheduling conflict with a required course. I decided to return the books but I felt that this could be a problem. Would I be double-hit for shipping charges? Would Amazon and the other seller accept the return? Would any of the books be damaged or lost in the mail? The return at Amazon proved to be super easy. I didn't have to call or email anyone, I just simply indicated on my web check out form from my order that I was returning them. The return form sent me a return label for the other book. I put both in the mail and received a confirmation about a week later that both were received and a return credit issued, including the shipping charges for the return. Looking back on this entire transaction with Amazon, the whole experience seemed relatively painless; both finding, shipping, contacting Amazon afterwards, and returning the books. From my perspective, these are the important elements of my exchange with Amazon:

Ease in locating items
Low pricing and shipping costs versus other alternatives
Felt the shipping time was good relative to the cost
Ability to purchase from a variety of sellers, not just Amazon
Ability to quickly communicate with Amazon regarding the return (simple web page handled return)
Effortless return process, simple label priting at home, although I still had to go to the Post Office to mail the package
Fair credit for exchange policy

Why was this so? Analyzing the entire customer experience with elements of the Experiential Marketing Framework explains this.

There are five elements to this framework:

Sense: appealing to the senses, and used to differentiate the company or motivate customers.

Feel: appeals to to customers inner feels and emotions, with the objective to create affective experiences.

Think: appeals to the intellect. This engages the customer with creative problem solving experiences.

Act: enriches customers' lives by showing them alternative ways of doing things.

Relate: contains some of the above aspects but expands to customers feeling of an ideal self, other people, or cultures.

From my perspective, my Amazon experience touched on the Feeling, Thinking and Relational aspects of the Experiential Marketing Framework. These three categories encompass much of what I value from the exchange with Amazon. The competitive pricing and shipping costs and times all relate to my inner feeling regarding saving on expenses and how that just feels good for a consumer, especially with a web transaction - where cost and shipping are the main differentiators - the same items can be found at many sources. My ability to engage in one transaction with multiple sellers through Amazon, the ease of communication regarding the return and the effortless return process definitely falls into the Thinking category, as these aspects are all ways that Amazon showed me a creative way of completing a tast. (Amazon handled the sale for me with the other vendor, coordinated shipping, included a return label, and made it easy to print the other). Lastly, considering how I feel about the entire experience includes comparing this experience to previous dealing with Amazon, also comparing to other sellers, and comparing to what I feel is an ideal fair transaction. These three elements stem from the Relational aspect of the Experiential Marketing Framework.


My Persona: The Asipring, Soon-To-Be Graduate

In order to develop incredible products, marketers must step outside the bounds of traditional market segmentation into a new realm of personas. A persona is a collection of personal beliefs, characteristics, goals, and opinions about a group of customers beyond simple demographics, behaviors, or psychographics. Below is the persona I've created for myself in the form of the Cohorts examples, which includes major elements of the Empathy Map discussed in the course:


"People say I'm a creative, free-thinker, apt to try that next experience."
"I hope that we can buy a house in the next five years."
"Not an empty nest for long: we're saving for that eventual baby."
"Success to me is spending quality time with my wife, kids, and work - in that order."
"People in America spend and eat too much. I try not to emulate this!"
"Selective social bug: Quality over quantity counts with friends."
"Starting and running a business is a life goal for me."
"I love technology that makes life easier; coolness is less of a factor that functionality though."
"I'm a member of a wine club and enjoy wine tasting with my wife."
"Eating organically is a goal, but we don't have the $$$ to do it 100% of the time."
"Staying physically active is a bug for me."


Graduate education
Apartment living situation
Business Professional
$90,000 annual income
No credit cards


Audio / Video:

2 Laptops at home
Addicted to Netflix
Still use that turntable to play records, although MP3s rule
I have a good digital camera but should have taken a photography class!

Sports and Fitness:

Gym rat: I love a good workout


Wine tasting
Travel - usually local, it's all we can afford right now
Art shows, checking out a new exhibit at the museum
We eat out selectively, but mostly enjoy cooking at home
European soccer

Outdoors and Home Life:

Looking foward to having a dog around the house


There is a reason I was laid off...

Simply because of the start of World Cup soccer...well at least some big friendlies, and some big qualifiers:

Tuesday: Brazil vs. Italy (Friendly)
Wednesday: Argentina vs. France (Friendly)
England vs. Spain (Friendly w/ Becks included)
U.S. vs. Mexico (1st final round qualifier for 2010)

= Huge.


The Path Forward

Now that my experience at the "world's biggest bank failure" is complete, I sit home pondering my next move, although with much optimism. I'm recently married and turned 32 over the weekend, (if the year isn't a milestone it is in my case). The confluence of all these events has given me a little more cognizance for the future. Or at least a sense of its importance...

It's a tough economy sure; many of my friends were laid off...not only those at WaMu. Everyone has been affected in some way, shape, or form. We're all cutting back in our lives; the "culture of excess in America" is over- or at least I hope it to be. Of course I have to get a job at some point, but given my experience to date, I feel that I can be a little more patient this go round, at least now, to try and mold the career I want to step into.

Something along the lines of:

Finance - I have extensive experience in this to date, and seek to leverage on it.

Strategy - have recent events not enforced the importance of a sound one?

Service / Giving Back - because business can't all be about profits; rather I feel it serves a greater purpose.

So while you all may get in touch with me and think my days are all about Far Cry 2 on the PS3, Fox Soccer Channel, or the Gym...that's only partially the case. I plan on keeping you updated.

PS: Thanks to Adam S. B., Esq for the idea.


Bailout? An idea full of idiocy.

Of course, that's my opinion. But I don't think we should be authorizing one person to have so much power over the financial markets. That would be Henry Paulson under the guidance of Bush.

And middle class America shouldn't pay for it...

Don't bail out bad CEOs and poor business models. They took on the risk, so make them suffer the consequences. Banking is like haircuts, or doctors. We always will need it. The banking institutions may fail, but the service can't go away. There will be some other healthier bank that will take over if one cannot operate.

The amount we're talking about putting towards this bailout ($700M) is MORE than what we've spent in the Iraq so far, minus the lives...

If the mortgages the government buys from these banks go bad, then the middle class will pay in the future in the form of higher taxes, lower social programs, etc...

Do we really think this is fair that the President etc are telling the Senate and House to sign a bill or ELSE financial armageddon will occur? How much sound judgement is happening with that? And this is coming from the same guy (Bush) who said we needed to invade Iraq.


Sorry readers, it's been awhile...but I'm back

Hola amigos, I know it's been awhile since I last rapped at ya, but in the last 3 weeks, I've gotten married, the economy took a nose dive, and my company was taken over...so I've been a little busy. But let's add a little humor to it.

Top 5 Reasons You Know the Economy is in Shambles:

#5 - You just spent 30 minutes "rebalancing your 401K / IRA"…which can be summarized in 5 seconds as "a mad sell off." Yet it feels GOOD...

#4 - Next career option could involve the world "Canada"

#3 - You realize no one has any answers…politicians, economists, Bush, anybody. Oh and you want to punch Jim Cramer in the face.

#2 - You're weary of Bush trying "leave a legacy" on his presidency with Bailout…"worst president ever" is now a given. (9/11, IRAQ, Katrina, Economy)

#1 - Greatest job ever? It is very likely that the stress of the economy will likely cause mortal health problems for the president...and vice president.



Alright, let's transition to something more intellectual: politics. Last night was Barack Obama's big speech. Did he deliver the punch? It was a big event: 84,000 saw it live, millions more on television. Beyond all the grandiose events, I just hope this candidate can deliver on the "CHANGE" he promises. Otherwise I get a funny image in my head if either Barack doesn't win or becomes our worst president: the homeless will start using his campaign signs to ask for "CHANGE"

What do you think of McCain's VP Pick? My first thought is that it came out of the blue...1st term Governor of Alaska. And given the Ted Steven's issues, probably not a good association. Mitt would have been a better pick, however Palin could peel off some of Hillary's supporters.

Awesome website you should check out:


It's basically a portal for every major story related to this election season. And it's the most up to date resource I've found. Take a look at the Electoral Maps between McCain and Obama. Take out the "Toss Up States" and you'll see how close this race is at this point:

Obama: 273
McCain: 265

that's a dead heat.

Will be tuning into the RNC next week...just to complete my "political spectrum"


WHO IS: Turd Ferguson?

"It's a funny name"

From a famous episode of the "Celebrity Jeopardy" skit on Saturday Night Life featuring Will Ferrell as Alex Trebeck. Burt Reynolds was played by Norm Macdonald, Sean Connery played by Darrell Hammond, and Jimmy Fallon playing French Stewart from 30 Rock. There have been 13 episodes to date of Celebrity Jeopardy but this one has to be the best:

Burt Reynolds: "Hey. Hey, ah... check out the podium. Look at this."
Alex Trebeck: "Mr. Reynolds has apparently changed his name to Turd Ferguson."
Burt Reynods: "Yeah, that's right. Turd Ferguson. It's a funny name."

They go back and forth arguing which ends with:

Alex Trebeck: "I hate my job!"



Where is there more debauchery and sexual promiscuity: at the Athlete's Village in Beijing or at the Democratic National Convention's hush-hush parties?


Great Article about the Olympic side of things:




There are 3 weeks till I get married: planning a wedding is a cross between major excitement and a major to-do list. In many ways I'm super excited to celebrate it, yet on the other hand I'm ready to get through it and "back to a life of normalcy."

The Beijing Olympics are over: While Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and the Redeem Team made most of the headlines, it was also exciting to see our performance in Beach and Indoor Volleyball for both the Men's and Women's teams (commence global domination NOW). I've also discovered an appreciation for waterpolo. Boy that sport is exciting to watch - it is rough! (What goes on above the water, is MUCH different from what is below: "hey this guy is going to shoot on goal, I am just going to straight kick him in the nuts!"

The US OPEN tennis tournament begins: It's my favorite tournament to watch of the year: the fans at the night sessions in NY are absolutely crazy. I think James Blake and Andy Roddick will be the crowd favorites...yet Nadal / Federer are the favorites to win.

Democratic National Convention is held: I'm excited about Barack's VP pick and we'll see if the Obama-Biden duo can effectively convey a message of unity. I've also read that the Denver Convention is also "Politicians Gone Wild with Spending" which is too bad. Oh and the race is effectively tied now: chance of Obama winning two months ago: 75%+.

Now? 50%.


DUMB MOVE OF THE WEEK: Chinese gymnast, age "16", He

"Look mommy, cheating is for winners!"

Look's like the International Olympic Committee has launched an official investigation into the gymnast's age. This coming after some uber-pc geek discovered two documents that put the gymnast's age at 14 rather than 16 on her Chinese passport.

WHO IS: Mr. Sparkle?

Mr. Sparkle is a character from one of my favorite Simpsons epsidoes, "In Marge We Trust." Homer takes the kids to the landfill to dispose of the Christmas tree. While there he comes across a box of detergent with asian writing on it. The product's character looks like him. Of course he finds this weird, so he ends up calling the manufacturer in Japan for information on it. He gets a video in the mail of one of the Mr. Sparkle commericials. It's strange but ends up explaining that Mr. Sparkle is the result of the merging of two large Japanese companies: Tamaribuchi Matsumura Fishworks and Heavy Manufacturing Concern. Their mascots are a fish and a lightbulb, and the combination of these two forms Mr. Sparkle. So Homer discovers the resemblance is just a coincedence.

Watch Here:


Mr. Sparkle Taglines:

"Mr. Sparkle is disrespectful of dirt."

"Mr. Sparkle is a magnet for foodstuffs...he will banish food particles to the land of wind and ghosts."


PEOPLE I WOULD FIGHT...If I saw them walking down the street

Now let me be honest: I would probably lose, but I'd still fight them. Just because of my convictions. Each for various reasons. Most just annoy the sh*t out of me.

So here's my list:

1. Bob Costas - I've hated Bob Costas as long as I've watched sports on NBC. This guy always seems to host the biggest sporting events on NBC: any game with Michael Jordan, the Kentucky Derby, the World Series, anything with Tiger Woods, the 2008 Summer Olympics. Bob Costas reminds me a little of Matt Lauer for sports. He always seems to focus on the drama, and frequently proclaims athletes as "the greatest player of all time" or "playing the greatest game of his or her life." It's as if Bob is seeking the greatest athletes...but it's just that he only seems to consider the emotion of game in the present, but not all the rest of history and other players. Further, in the Olympics, Mr. Costas seems to curtail the rest of the world's athletes for only those wear the red, white, and blue.

Recent annoying moment: when Bob Costas interviewed President George Bush at the Olympics and asked him if #1 "the Olympics had legitimized the Chinese government to the rest of the world" and then awkwardly transitioned to #2 "what is your take on the doping allegations in US baseball?"

Fact: I just heard someone in the office elevator complaining about him.

2. Donald Trump - How many times do we need to see Mr. Trump's scowl and comb over in the Apprentice boardroom? And who was his secretary? The Apprentice is worthless when teaching the virtues of business. Just ask anyone who's work email address ends in .com. So is this guy.

Recent annoying moment: Every season of The Apprentice when he proclaims: "if you win this, you get to work with ME."

3. Dude that hosts "Survivor" - Now I don't even know this guy's name, but I will tell you he sucks BIG TIME. For one, reality television blows, is a drain on society, and this guy plays up week after week on CBS in the show's format that never seems to change. Please help us, when will Survivor get old? When they run out of exotic locations and are resorted to "Survivor: Compton" ? Mr. Survivor host guy, the tribal council has spoken...you're going down.

4. Joe Rogan - I have no first hand experience with Joe as a comedian. He may be funny. My opinion of Joe Rogan stems from his persona as a host of Ultimate Fighting Events (UFC). He's always in a black shirt with blue jeans and black shoes, a big watch on his left wrist that's always pretentiously displayed. He looks like he's about to go clubbing after the event in Vegas. Then he'll get in the ring after each fight and ask something of the loser so ridiculous as "Now what did it feel like when he was pounding you unmercifully?" But what's most annoying is the way that he has a high pitched voiced, frequently yells about each combatent, and holds the microphone up to his mouth so he resembles doing a bicep curl at the gym. Joe Rogan, I hate you.

Recent annoying moments: UFCs 55 through present, UFC 88

5. Clay Bennett - This guy is the second coming of Big Country Bryant Reeves. And he stole our team (the Seattle Supersonics) and then in the midst of it all he is dismayed because he "wasn't liked in our town anymore." Huh? Really? I'd have to throw in this bucket a little extra credit if Clay Bennett and David Stern were ever walking down the street together, possibly hand in hand? Well anyways, I'd give Clay a swift kick the spleen, and Stern would receive a round house left to the grill. 'Nuff said.

My Perspective on Phelps' accomplishment

Michael Phelps feat at this year's Olympics is an amazing achievement. But I don't think we can call him "the greatest athlete ever" or even "the greatest Olympian ever." The simple reason is that only swimming allows for a single athlete to have the opportunity to win so many medals. I'm sick of the broadcasters calling him the greatest athlete ever. Michael Phelps just has the ability to win because he's able to race in events which are similar in distance. 100M / 200M / 100M relays. It's as if Usain Bolt in track and field won the 100M (which he did in 9.69) then was able to win the 200M, the 4 x 100M, then was able to run the 100M backwards, sideways, and then the 400M forwards, backwards, and sideways, and some other way. Well it seems crazy, but that's what swimming offers in a single Olympics.


Best basketball player: Kobe / LeBron - how many medals can they win? ONE
Best gymnast: Maybe THREE OR FOUR (Team competition, all around, individual events)
Best volleyball player: TWO (Beach and Indoor)
Best tennis player: TWO (doubles and singles, 3 if they have mixed doubles)

I aim not to take away from what he has accomplished, but to consider the format of his events versus the others at the Olympics.


OLYMPICS: My changes to the sports lineup

1. Keep soccer, but make some changes - There's been discussion about making some changes here, and some notable sports reporters have suggesting getting rid of both women's and men's Olympic soccer.

Reason: Olympic soccer is the opportunity for our U-23 team to tune up for the World Cup. I don't agree with the reporters on espn.com and cnnsi.com about this. The summer Olympics fall between World Cups and the US doesn't have a competition of Euro caliber, which falls the same year. Also the qualifying for the Olympics is driven by other major continental tournaments, and it is important to hold such tournaments. It's a tune up for the US, and we're definitely competitive. But one thing I'd change is make a rule that the 3 players that can be above 23 years old must be released from their clubs for the Olympics. Club soccer can wait.

2. Get rid of softball, keep baseball - They are already getting rid of both, although 3 years ago softball and baseball were nearly reinstated. (It was 1 vote shy of reinstating them).

Reason: It's just not competitive. The US softball team has dominated all opponents. Before yesterday, the cumulative run tally in softball was something like 55 to 1. Baseball on the other hand IS competitive, and I'm sorry it is being eliminated. Cuba, Japan, Central American teams, and the US are power houses.

3. Add golf - I'm not sure of the format for it, but possibly a team like, Ryder cup competition could work versus head to head.

Reason: It's truly an international sport. The world plays golf.

Other changes:

4. Don't let the host country verify the ages of its athletes (Chinese women's gymanstic team). Given what everyone is saying, this could blow up. Meaning if this is really investigated and China in fact issued false documentation, then it would tarnish the image of the host nation.

5. Improve Coverage format - Show the Olympics on cable channels devoted to it when the events are live. I laugh everytime NBC's Bob Costas says "Michael Phelps on next, Live" yet I already know the outcome after seeing it live on the Canadian channel. Thank goodness for Canadian coverage. So much better.

And actually I laugh at Bob Costas altogether...although that's another post.


REASONS why the ipod falls short

Let's get something straight: I love my ipod. I use it almost daily on the way to work or at the gym. But I use it only because it's the best mp3 player device out there. It isn't perfect. So here are some gripes I have with the whole apple system: the ipod and itunes.

#1 - Lack of functionality - let's face it, the ipod is simply a glorified walkman for mp3s. It really doesn't offer anything new, only that you can play mp3s on the go. And with the exception of the iphone, it doesn't offer anything more than this ability. I expect some additional functionality: a microphone to record notes, a recorder to capture audio inputs, an FM tuner, an internet connection, or even satellite radio.

#2 - The one function click wheel - it's annoying that every function except the hold function on the ipod is controlled by one wheel. It was revolutionary with its design, but I don't like it. Especially when I'm listening to a song and I want to adjust the volume, fast forward, or change the EQ settings. Changing the EQ settings requires going back to "Settings" a few screens, and with sweaty hands at the gym, this can be difficult to do. When trying to skip forward a mixed cd (yes I listen to DJ music often) half the time I don't fast forward, but end up rating the song, or adjusting the volume altogether. At the very lease, the volume should be a separate control.

#3 - Limited colors - Only the new nano is offered in any color scheme. But if you want the full functioning ipod (with video) you can't get the colors and it is larger.

# 4- Lack of wireless headphones - so apple can invent the brilliant iphone, but not come up with a set of wireless headphones? Doesn't make sense. The headphones that are provided are sub par, and new ones can cost $$$. So maybe apple isn't working on this. In that case, then they should partner with another company who is. Cool, great sounding wireless headphones should be standard.

# 5 - itunes blows - Let me get this straight: I can only update my ipod on MY COMPUTER with MY ITUNES ACCOUNT? What if I'm over at a friend's house and I want to erase, or add a song cause I just bought a new cd? Or I'm at work? Shouldn't I be able to log in to itunes online and update using his or any computer? (I promise I won't steal any music.) Also converting songs sucks and the fact that you can only get song titles when you're hooked up to the internet is frustrating. Aren't song titles stored on the CD itself? And the way it organizes songs by artist can cause for multiple listings for the same artist. Example: for instance when a song is something like MIA featuring Timbaland - this is listed separate from MIA, even though it is from MIA's CD. Apple could definitely put together more user friendly software...

* Well that's it for my ipod gripes. Hopefully either S. Jobs or CNET is listening.


Major Problems with E-Mail today

Just how productive is it these days? In many ways, EMAIL has become a bane of many professionals lives. At some companies, people spend up to 40% of their day managing their inbox. I have spent time at companies where this is wholly true, and perhaps even more so. Microsoft being one. Email at MSFT gets to a point where it seems to take up half your time, and feels counter-productive. My first week there I was told "I'd receive more email than I've ever had before." And this proved true. I've seen Microsofties at the gym who check their Outlook inbox via a Blackberry in between sets of curls. It's sad. They're seemingly tied to managing their inboxes. Of course, they're sharing ideas, but in an inefficient manner. At this and other companies, there's really a lack of what could be considered "business hours" due to email. It creates a constant flow or work not limited to being passed between 8 am and 6 pm. Just replying to an email, "passing it back", feels like getting something done. It's part of the culture. But there's only so much benefit to working in this manner, and I believe email at this point has reached its critical point.

A few things I would change about today's email culture are as follows:

1. If you're receiving more than 50 emails a day, you need to reevaluate your job or how your company works. It's what is called "Information Overload." You don't want to fall into half your day being spent responding to emails, especially if they involve projects to do and you never seem to get to the bottom of your inbox.

2. Stress face time versus email communication. If anything, someone should try to see a customer or colleague in person in a meeting versus sending an email message. If you can't see the person face to face due to time or location differences, consider picking up the phone over sending an email.

3. Remember that you affect how your company values email communication. So be wary of how others work versus how you do, and think twice about sending an email. Because it may cause others to use it more too.

4. Avoid "flame mail." Flame mail is the term for someone expressing discontent or anger over email in response. And usually, flame mails involve words that one person wouldn't say to another if speaking face to face. Consider how you treat others when sending email. If anything, call a meeting or pick up the phone.

5. Consider changing your email habits. Some things I would suggest is checking your inbox at only certain times of the day, or sending email only as an "FYI basis." Again, you have to determine how you want email to be apart of your career.

6. Don't needlessly cc: others. This happens far too often in the workplace. People think others are in the know just because they were copied on an important email. This adds to the email volume. I can't recall how many times I've been in a meeting discussion to hear someone ask questions about the subject matter only to be told, "didn't you get that email? you were copied on it." Simply copying someone on an email doesn't imply they are now on the same page as you. People have different schedules. Consider telling them in person or over the phone to get your point across.

Email: It's a communication tool, not a job.



A Quick Synopsis of the Political Career of John Reid Edwards:

Becomes North Carolina Senator

Vice Presidential Candidate with John Kerry. If it weren't for Ohio, they would have won.

Wife is diagnosed with cancer

Runs as Presidential Candidate on platform of helping poverty, earns 26 delegates, drops out, later, most important endorsement of Barack Obama

August 2008:
Admits to extramarital affair with campaign worker.

August 2008:
Would have spoken at Democratic National Convention if it weren't for above.

(end political career)


Hey Obama! Get on with it buddy! That convention is coming up pronto. Denver awaits. Aren't you supposed to have a Veep picked by then? Don't you introduce him or perhaps her to the rest of the country at that event? And you two have to figure out stuff together beforehand, right? I'm sick of you taking up my news headlines with the rumors, conjecture, and hearsay as to who's going to be the one to stand alongside you. SPARE ME!

So what do you do instead? You dash off to Hawaii. Say what? Dude. You're already tan. And how bad is this campaign right now? I mean Paris Hilton is taking on McCain. And hey, aren't the Olympics going on? NOW THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A BETTER WAY TO SPEND YOUR VACATION. You see, being present at the opening ceremonies would have introduced you to the world...not the sun worshipping masses of Waikiki Beach. Should have kept flying right on to Beijing.

So get on with it Barack. If you screw this election up...well I don't know...cause it was handed to you on a silver platter: (let me remind you)

1. Economy in Shambles
3. W
4. Took out Hillary
5. Opponent: Old
6. You: "Celebrity"

So pick someone. Heck, here's an easy list for you. While you're soaking up some Vitamin D, take a look through your Ray Bans and circle one of these names. Fax it to the Washington Post. Get the word out so we can rest easy. Call this person with "you're it." Figure out the country's problems together. GO, FIGHT, WIN!

Obama's EZ VP List
Instructions: Circle One name below, fax

G. Clooney


LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends

Here's a good band I saw at lunch. They're from Seattle and have been out for a few years. Yet, I've never heard of them. This is a pic of them performing at the Market. He sounds a bit like Jack Johnson...check him out, if anything, just because of the band name.


LOSING A MAJOR STAR: LeBron James to Europe?

Q: What if one of sport's most recognizable icons headed to Europe to play basketball instead of playing in the NBA?

LeBron James (loose French translation = "The Bron" James) has stated that he would accept offers to play basketball in Europe. And at this point, he's already been contacted by a few clubs, although no formal salary talks have begun. James is under contract through the 2011 season, but he can opt out of his contract a year before. He's stated that he would seriously consider salary offers around $50M per year. Although I cannot fathom what he would do with the additional money, as he likely has everything he wants, such a move would be devastating to the NBA. Losing a star of this caliber would undoubtedly affect ticket sales for the Cleveland Cavaliers, television ratings, and possibly cause a rash of players bolting to Europe for more money. Unlike the NBA, European clubs are not bound by a salary cap and possibly could offer James a very lucrative contract. Ever since I've watched sports I've thought the United States had the best sports leagues (except soccer) and the world's best athletes played here... For example, the baseball and basketball final games are considered "World Championships" which must be like a kick in the face to all the other countries that have similar leagues.

I see a couple issues with this. One is that the salaries of professional athletes are WAY TOO HIGH...although I cannot hope to change that with anything I will ever do. Someone getting paid $100K or more to play basketball or any sport for that matter, just doesn't make sense to me. Much less what James "would consider" to play for Europe. Or Jordan in 1997-98, or David Beckham's salary in the MLS. Yet, people watch sports, television ratings go up, companies pay for the television advertising, apparel sells, sports teams take a cut, so athletes get paid more...or given this, athletes CAN be paid so much. If no one watched, different story. But we do.

Yet, for all the .0001% of kids who will end up as LeBron James, the other 99.9999% will end up NOT PLAYING PROFESSIONAL SPORTS and will have to get normal jobs...so shouldn't we be investing into them instead?

Forget trying to change the world. The other issue I see is that the NBA model won't work long term if European teams are able to sign stars because they aren't restricted by a salary cap. There's really no loyalty in sports anymore, and if Europe can offer more money, eventually the players will follow.



A-Rod, C-Rod and the "irretrievably broken" marriage

So consider for a moment: You are one of the Major League's best players, have been since you entered the league in '96 (you've led in HRs, RBIs, and Runs), with a multi-million dollar contract anchoring one of the best teams, a 12 time All-Star, a collection of cars and houses, and two kids with wife shown below:

So I have a question: You couldn't make this one work? And what exactly does "irretrievably broken" mean? Is it really that bad?

Instead of "retrieving", you'd rather be up at all hours with the former Material Girl chatting about goodness knows what. (probably some half witted religion and how Guy Ritchie "isn't the man he used to be") Hello! Where is THAT going? Although it is a paparazzi's dream...A-Rod, buddy, if you don't step up to the plate with C-Rod soon, you're at risk of losing half of everything you own that is material. Think about your two kids, Natasha and Ella. With names like that, a divorce will raise the odds one of them ends up "working the pole" by 67%. So if anything, do it for the kids!

Therefore, you have earned my word of the day: C-O-U-N-S-E-L-I-N-G

So let me get this straight? You'd rather enter a newfound life of singlehood? Well play ball with that. Cause I'm sure that after whatever nasty divorce proceedings slice through your wealth like a sushi ginsu knife, then throngs of single women will begin looking at you for who you truly are, rather than all the fruits of your success. AH-SO!

Good Luck A-Rod.


When it's More Appropriate to txt msg

MY LIFE EXPLAINED: "Jason, why don't you ever answer your phone?"

Now don't get me wrong, I do answer my phone. But sometimes I will admit I don't pick it up and instead reply back with a text. And over time, this has sort of built up as a trend, and I know some of you have gotten pissed. A few replies I've heard to this are as follows:

"Jason, you're the only one who has a text only plan for your cell phone."
"I'm sick of calling you only to get a text in return. Why don't you be cool and call me back?"
"Texting is for losers."

Alright so here's the rub...or my rules for texting in response: (in most cases)

1. Public places - bars / restaurants / coffee / the bus: I'm not a big fan when people are in the Starbucks line in front of me yelling into their iphone something annoying like: "Hey man what's up? What are you doing? Nothing. You? Getting coffee." OR "I'm soooo hungover...Ozzies was crazy last night...Phi Beta Sigz were in da house!" OR "What? What? I can't hear y...you...you're breaking up" Or any other needless banter. I can't tell you how many times I've ridden the bus with that one person who thinks it is cool to use their cell phone, interrupting the peace of all other riders. To those guilty of this: Do you or don't you realize that everyone else on the bus now knows about the appointment you're making to check out that rash, how your boss has you down and you hate your job, or how your ailing grandma is doing? Spare me! So at least I'll consider YOU when I talk...hence my rule here.

2. When call involves quick coordination - Anything that involves a one or two word response to such things as: What time to meet up for happy hour? Who's coming? What's the address? Doesn't require a call. Because it takes more time to dial, connect, and talk than for my text message to hit your handheld. And if the individual you're trying to contact follows Rule #1, well, then we have a problem, don't we?

3. When you want to avoid getting cancer - Ha! But seriously, doctors are beginning to warn the public about this, although the Cell Phone Business Association of America doesn't think anything is wrong with putting a microwave emitting device up to your ear for prolonged periods of time. Whatever. Well I don't want my ear to start looking like John McCain's cheek.

* If you are texting while doing any of the following YOU'RE A MORON: (article and poll from today on msnbc.com)

Anything at the Gym
Driving (unless of course you're in the state of Washington, where you can't talk while driving so texting a bit more discreet, although illegal as well)
Riding a bicycle
Riding a unicycle
Riding a horse
Riding a lawn mower
Putting on makeup


LIFE CHECK: When to be Wary of the House Next Door


A few guidelines on when you should be alarmed at who's living next door. These MAY or MAY NOT be true to where I live...I'll leave that up to you. Consider what applies, and if any, be thankful you're a renter (temporary) versus just having plunked down all of your savings towards that "nice house on the block."

- You can't remember the last time you saw the same person come in or out.

- Mystery smells frequently waft over the fence. Described to you as "something's definitely going on over there."

- When you witness a ouija board being carried inside.

- Little shop of horrors has taken over their "garden" and tunnel under your fence.

- Neighbors often seen climbing on roof with beers on nights other than July 4th.

- Lawn was scrapped years ago for small dirt field.

- They supposedly pay to receive the newspaper but never seem to retrieve it from the driveway...and the collection grows.

- You begin to question how they hold jobs given the schedules they live by.

- They have given a new meaning to duplex: Your house has one front door, theirs: four.


NEWS: Giuliani's Son is a Baby and Brett Favre: Do We Care?

Alert, Alert! The ill-thought-out lawsuit of the day goes to Rudy Giuliani's son, Andrew Giuliani. (I should mention that Rudy is a former mayor of New York City AND a "I failed miserably" presidential candidate)

So Andrew Giuliani is suing Duke University over wrongful dismissal from its golf team. The coach had to cut the team down to 13 players (from what I don't know, so how good Andrew really is, well isn't apparent) and poor Andrew didn't make that list. So in 198 pages of what I'm sure is mind numbling bafoonery, he's suing, claiming getting cut from the Duke University golf team interferes with his "plans to become a professional golfer."

HELLO? Andrew, buddy, IF you want to be a professional golfer, you don't have to go to college to do that. College sports involve my word of the day: AMATEURS. If you are really THAT GOOD, well you could drop everything (including your classes, binge drinking, and sketchy hookups) and leave Durham, NC immediately for the pros. Because if you are THAT GOOD, you can apply for that tour card pronto. (Think of guy named Tiger and school named Stanford.) Being on some collegiate golf team doesn't equate to becoming a professional later, only that you received some cushy athletic scholarship to help pad your personal finances post graduation in that cushy career you'll get for being the former major of New York City's son.

* If he wins this lawsuit, every person who's been fired has grounds to sue his or her former employer because getting canned "interfered with plans of being CEO"


"Your honor, objection to grounds of lawsuit."


Also just reported: "Report: Brett Favre does not have Packers issued cell phone"

Wow, this is definitely front page worthy (it was at 9:35 AM on espn.com)...Is anyone following la saga de Favre to this level of detail? If the jr. reporter couldn't immediately post this on the internet and had to put it in print, I think he would have thought twice about the waste of time it is.

Tomorrow's headline: "Report: Brett Favre didn't take pee in Packers locker room"


MY TOP TEN: Indications our Economy is in Shambles

National Forest Service's Economic Recession Danger Level:

(Smokey says: "remember kids, times are TOUGH!")

#10 - Your company's loss per share is greater than its stock price.

#9 - Bars have scaled back Happy Hour to 1 hour only and have removed the late night session entirely.

#8 - Your Home Equity Line of Credit gets revoked while you're on the way to Best Buy for that new flat screen.

#7 - You consider either not smoking or not driving. (gallon of gas = pack of cigarettes)

#6 - The interest rate on your credit card approaches 30% because your credit score dipped below 720.

#5 - Dinner at TGI Friday's is now gourmet.

#4 - You begin scheming on how to use slugs at the laundromat again, like you did in college.

#3 - You have to walk across the street, because your usual Starbucks was closed.

#2 - You hear more about "the Fed" than "K-Fed" in the news.

#1 - The guy getting ready next to you at the gym has drug store brand toothpaste in his dop kit.


Choice Summer Cocktails

Ahhh the summer. I think it's finally here in Seattle...
Nothing inspires happy hours more than a little afternoon sun. For locales, see list of "decks." Here's my favorite summer cocktails:

a traditional Cuban highball cocktail

degree of mixology difficulty: 3 out of 5

1.5 oz rum
12 fresh spearmint leaves
1/2 lime / Rose's sweetened lime juice
7 oz club soda'
2 tbsp. simple syrup(or 4 tsp. sugar)

* Bartender made E-Z: roll up mint leaves tightly to release flavor and cut roll into narrow slices. Combine sliced mint, rum, and sliced lime to a highball glass. Add a few cubes of ice and crush well with the mixture. Add soda water and sweeten to taste with Rose's or simple syrup or powdered sugar.

* While enjoying: queue Afro-Cuban sounds and don your best Che' tee

a wine punch from Spain and Portugal
degree of mixology difficulty: 3.5 out of 5

Per 1 gallon of sangria: (and this recipe is by no means scientific)
1 bottle of red wine, preferably a cabernet (not too heavy in taste)
1 bottle of rose'
some white wine (a cup or two)
1/2 cup ginger ale
1/2 cup orange juice
can of pineapple, sliced with juices
5 oz vodka
2 limes - sliced
2 oranges - sliced
1 lemon - sliced
1 cup sliced strawberries

* Bartender made E-Z: Best when prepared 24 to 48 hours before drinking. Combine all sliced citrus fruit, pineapple, orange juice and wine into an iced tea jug. Squeeze citrus slightly when adding to get juices out. Put into fridge and mix every couple of hours. After about 12 hours, add strawberries and vodka. Liquor to taste. Continue to mix and keep in fridge. Before serving, add ginger ale and sweeten to taste with sugar. Serve over ice.

national drink of Brazil / national drink of Inigo Rodriguez
degree of mixology difficulty: 2.5 out of 5
degree of sugar content: high

2 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 Lime (8 Wedges)
2 1/2 oz Cachaca (product of distilled sugarcane juice)

* Bartender made E-Z: Muddle the sugar into the lime wedges in an old fashioned glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes, add Cachaca and stir well.

* Best enjoyed while watching Brazil's national game or the Superclasico (screaming at tele)

(thanks to Jordon for suggesting this one after his recent trip of company sponsored debauchery)

YOUR TAKE: Oklahoma City "Thunder"

News just in from the the professional monopolistic sports league controlled by David Stern: the former Sonics basketball team will be called the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Q1: Is the new name cool? Or does it sound like something out of the WNBA or the XFL? And does it make sense?

Seattle = Boeing = Supersonic = the Sonics. (checks out)
Oklahoma City = Cowboys = Cattle Rustlers = Team Rustlers? ($#%@?)

Q2: Does Clay Bennett look like Bryant "Big Country" Reeves (former OK St. "standout", the NBA definition of mediocrity)? (that's if CB gained about 40 lbs) Or does he simply just have the same #2 haircut?

Q3: Still bitter?

* A good point I overheard at happy hour: It seems to me with the history of the NBA, that the league would have done everything to preserve its legacy. (for example the NBA logo = Jerry West, not Jordan, Kobe, or LeBron) Preserving history should have been of the utmost importance. The 41 years in Seattle for that matter. But it wasn't.

Absolutely brilliant quotes by Clay Bennett:

1. "We're already investing in an economic model that doesn't provide a return" Seattle Times Interview, May 20th, 2007.

* This makes little to no sense coming from a businessman. Put it simply: if I said this at work, I'd get FIRED. An investment is never undertaken without some projection of a return. Otherwise, there's no point. They teach that fact to elementary age Junior Achievement students! (Clay was responding to a question about why his group doesn't pony up some of the money to get a $500 million arena in Renton, WA)

I can't believe what he said here. What I can believe is that with an investment of this magnitude that he had ample financial analysts and bankers there to develop a financial model for the business. And further they determined the cost of the lease in Seattle WASN'T the main reason the team lost money...given the annual lease cost in Seattle was around the same amount as what we paid for Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. (the real truth is "winning" in SEA or "only game in town" in OKC = profitability) Let's face it folks, the NBA is a broken business model.

* As for the coming Howard Schultz / Yarmuth lawsuit I wish I could say to Clay & Co. like Ivan Drago did in Rocky IV, "You will lose" but I can't. For now, THE TEAM IS GONE. In the meantime, Schultzy should close all Starbucks in the "Big Friendly" city.


"Reality TV": The Best and Worst Shows Ever

The first Reality TV show I can remember growing up was COPS (of "Bad Boys" theme song fame) but it didn't seem much the "social experiment" that these shows have come to be today. It was more along the lines of "street cop is followed by man holding camcorder" and 1. was never filmed in the day and 2. criminal frequently shirtless. Why was that? The first of the social experiment genre to me was MTV's Real World New York around 1990...remember that one?

Note to Readers: Slight RANT to follow

I'll admit that I'm not a fan of reality television at all. I think it's just needless competition and somewhat scripted drama for the amusement of fans. And there's not much redeeming value other than entertainment...(if you can all remember William Hung on "American Idol", you catch my drift). Even the creator of CBS's "Survivor" admits the shows aren't entirely "reality" because the producers create the situations the contestants are put in. But don't let me change your TV viewing habits...

So here's my list of the BEST (maybe OK is better fitting) and WORST shows reality TV has spawned:


#1: Temptation Island (absolute worst) - this was a cross between a Sandals resort ad and soft porn...and the host is almost as cool as Marky Mark (Mark L. Walberg)

#2: Flavor of Love - Hey Flav, what time is it? Anything with Flavor Flav should make you consider this guy sang "9-1-1 is a Joke" and wore timepiece necklaces..."It's the Flav-a, Life Save-a"?

#3: The Apprentice - the way that the contestants approach business siutations is entirely unrealistic. And in "reality" you succeed in business only when you work together as a team. Not eliminate each other. Furthermore, who wants to look at the boardroom scenes when Trump's "comb over" is the size of a wave on the North Shore of Hawaii?

#4: Bachelor / Bachelorette - All you have to ask yourself is: how many "couples" have actually made it with this one? Contestants vying for their mate usually contain ample evidence of "baggage" or "skeletons in the closet." This show is like a glorified "ElimiDate" (which receives unhonorable mention)

#5: The Swan - just Google "swan before and after photos" and you'll see why. SCARY!

BEST: (or Of Containing Some Redeeming Value)

#1: Biggest Loser - I call this the "life-spent-television-watching offset show." However any time you have contestants trying to lose weight it's altogether a good thing. There's a lot of emotion with the contestants...because the results are truly a life changer.

#2: Extreme Makeover - Home Edition - again, this is a life changer. It definitely makes a difference. Although my one gripe with this show is that they help only 1 family per episode but if they would scale down the 5+ flat screens, designer faucets, and 6 bedrooms they provide for them, then maybe they could help 2 or more families. (My other one is that main host guy gets so fired up he seems to turn purple.)

Of course, it is likely very few will watch if the average suburban dwelling were built for the family:

"Daddy, look! They saved that family cause Grimace and crew built a house for them just like ours!"

*** More to Follow ***


What NOT TO DO at the range or on the course...

For all those duffers, semi-professionals, or weekend warriors, here's a collection of what NOT TO DO with a golf swing. While I by no means have a perfect swing (far from it)...this collection of videos will make any golfer feel better about any chunked, duffed, bladed, sliced, or hooked golf shot.

#1 And the list starts with Sir Charles Barkley. Perhaps the most famous person with the most famous worst swing. It's downright crap. For all this guy's famous friends, money, and free time you would think he could complete a golf swing without something like three hitches in it. (Count 'em). It doesn't take Butch Harmon to analyze this one...I can't even figure out in this picture if he's on his take-back or his down-swing. But his weight is about 80% on his front foot and both knees are bent like he's ready to spring for a rebound. Reality to Chuck: WRONG SPORT. This is just rubbish.


*WEB HINT: all you have to do is google "worst golf swing" (proper boolean not required) and it takes you straight to Chuck. HA! Googling "best basketball player" during Barkley's career would have taken you straight to Michael Jordan...but only now is Sir Charles in a class of his own!

>>>To my opinions here, "I may be wrong, but I doubt it."



Just one month to start of the English Premier League campaign.

EPL TRIVIA: 42 teams have competed in the EPL at one time or another (think promotion / relegation). 20 teams play in it per season. But only FOUR teams have won the championship:

Blackburn Rovers
Manchester United

I'd say that's an interesting fact.

This point is definitely debatable but many regard the Premiership as the preeminent Eurpean football league, surpassing Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga.


WHO IS THIS GUY? mikel arteta

"It's still my ambition to play for Spain."

Now hopefully this guy will get the 2010 call up for his country (because the '08 Euro final was pretty poor)...he's likely the best footballer you've never heard of. Mikel Arteta currently plays for Everton in the EPL... I caught glimpse of him after I saw his '06 goal versus Bolton and it still gives me chills...and is one of the best I've ever seen if you view it as a highlight, not some grainy-YouTube-video-set-to-music Production. Unfortunately, that's all I have at the moment. See the goal here: (it's the first goal in) The way he transfers the ball between feet before shooting is ridiculous. and left footed at that.

UPDATE: alright here it is...and I went DEEP into YouTube to find it. FFwd to 2:30. The announcer's words say it all..."one to watch again and again"


'08 Election Video from JibJab.com

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Calorie Sticker Shock

I really can't title this posting any more creatively than MSNBC did...Oh well.


My hats off to New York City for requiring eateries to post the calories on their food products to customers. I've been saying for years that if you regularly consume any food product in the glass case at Starbucks "you'll begin to wear it over time." (Further, that any "coffee drink" that takes more than 3 seconds to order is in the same category.) I call it the "Starbucks 10" similar to college's "Freshman 10." I surmise that once restaurants start to lose customers to your Aunt Bee's home cookin, you'll see calorie counts detailed in small print.

Common complaint: "Son of a...Why can't I lose weight? I go to the gym 4 times a week and eat this here pecan crusted chicken salad from TGI Fridays and wash it down with a Two Pump, Extra Whip, one Splenda Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks every day!!!"

(read: gym < "healthy salad" + "fancy SBUX") Sounds as if similar laws are set to go into effect in the Emerald City.

YOUR TAKE: A Long Lost Twin Brother?

Do any of these famous / semi-famous people resemble each other: (Come on, I'm not the first one to suggest. Or am I?) Includes LINK O' DAY

...Take a look. Comments?

1. Alexander Hleb (Belarus soccer player) and Willem Dafoe (Actor, Klaus in Life Aquatic)

2. Michael Ballack (German / Chelsea soccer player) and Marky Mark Wahlberg (of Funky Bunch fame, not-so-famous song: "Good Vibrations")

3. Kyle Korver (NBA, Jazz) and Ashton Kutcher (Actor in terrible films, also Bruce Willis "thorn in side")

* LINK O' DAY: In honor of my list, I give you:


Now I must admit, some of these are pretty good (V. Beckham, Ricky Gervais, B. Spears ones) but some suck (Eric Cantona, Paris Hilton)...Have a look! BTW, the woman who used to cut my hair looked just like P. Hilton.

**JUST ADDED: (my 2nd tier LINK O' DAY):



FOOTIE NEWS: Ronaldinho to AC Milan

News just in that Ronaldinho will be transfered to AC Milan in Serie A for 21M Euros or about $33M US. While he may not be the best looking player on the field (he looks like Dave Chappelle playing Rick James), Ronaldinho's footie skills more than compensate for his lack of looks. (Compare picture to link to highlights)

This definitely boosts the Rossoneri...(that's Italian for red-black or AC Milan)

In other news:

1. Former US Captain Claudio Reyna has just announced his retirement from MLS due to nagging injuries.

2. Sepp Blatter of FIFA has come up with a list of three potential alternate sites for the next World Cup in 2010 if South Africa cannot host it. There have been concerns of security and finishing stadiums. But this alternate list has not been made public, only that "it exists." Germany isn't on the list (brilliant, let's have the World Cup at the same location TWICE IN A ROW), but Mexico has already come forward saying that would be ready to host. No confirm if England (host of '66) is on the list. (Hey, at least England WILL QUALIFY...confused? think Euro '08.)

3. Sepp's a bold dude. Or at least that's my take. He also has stated that ManU should release Cristiano Ronaldo (dos Santos Aveiro) to Real Madrid IF he wants to go there...who is this guy? Sepp of FIFA to anyone: "All soccer refs should wear skirts now. Why? because I said so!"....."Poof! It is so...YOU ARE ALL MY PUPPETS!"

Big Step Forward

Our wedding invites went out this morning. Relieved that is finished. Last night felt like "Kiersten and Jason craft night" getting those things ready... So for those of you planning a wedding (No one I know, although see right) make sure you get a couple of post office quotes on how much postage will be. We got a high estimate and affixed postage based on it, only to find out we could have saved a ton if Mr. Postman knew what he was doing. (a/k/a value to reading my blog)

(disclaimer: reading this does not translate to an e-invite)


Monday, July 14th YOUR TAKE

I'm back from a trip to Winchester, Virginia. (more on that later). Glancing at the headlines this AM, there's been a lot of news since I left. I'm curious as to what you make as the biggest news story in the past 5 days: Your choices (in no certain order):

1. Tony Snow's passing...former White House Press Secretary
2. US Financial Woes wreak havoc on banking stocks...WaMu down 35% Monday
3. 2008 MLB Allstar break...is there one Mariner in the lineup?
4. Budweiser being sold to a Belgian company? HUH? An iconic American brand gets sold overseas? What's next? McDonalds to an Indian Company? (new name: McMumbai) Your opinion on what will happen to the brand? Will Bud become a "cheap version of Stella"? (another Belgian brand)
5. Madonna and A-Rod...despite the 2008 All Star game being held in New York this week and this being the last year of the old Yankee stadium, THIS story made front page headlines in NY papers today.
6. i phone glitches...for all you techies who "waited in line for coolness" over the weekend.

Your take? Feel free to comment.