Friday, October 09, 2009

Cupid keeps on striking

I have unabashedly proclaimed my undying love many times in this forum, and I guess I'm promiscuous because the objects of my affection range from presidents to pariahs, from pundits to geeks, from economists to actors, and from comedians to guide dogs.

Nevertheless, I will risk my reputation once more and go to bat for yet another mensch: the (cross all body parts) next governor of "we're our own worst enemy" State of California.

So I love Tom Campbell a lot. But love, unlike affection, must be earned. So here's why I love Tom Campbell so much:
  • I love him for his breadth and depth of public service: this includes, but is not limited to: serving in the U.S. Congress, the California State Senate, the Federal Trade Commission, the University of California system, and as Director of Finance for the State of California.
  • I love him for his adaptability: he's lived in Berkeley and in the O.C. He was a prof at Cal and at Stanford. (only the coolest of peeps can hang in both schools).
  • I love him for his finesse: "I'm most concerned about the dropping educational attributes of our population." (whereas I would have cried: "BEWARE THE IDIOCRITAZATION OF OUR SOCIETY!")
  • I love him for his ethics and class: when I raised the issue of smear tactics, he took a total Nash Game Theory approach to explain why such tactics are ineffective. Nice way to get out of the implicitly-smearing-by-saying-you're-not-the-one-smearing rathole.
  • I love him for his consistency. When asked why he didn't run as an independent because he is so balanced (aka "moderate"), he replied that he believes in personal liberties with respect to both governance *and* social issues. Thus, a conservative in the most classic liberal sense. He added that independents tend to skew election results to the extreme candidates, and cited Perot and Nader as recent examples (clearly he's not loyal to the GOP then.... another point in his favor for me!).
  • I love him for his raw intelligence. Last night when he talked about the budget - which is really the main job of any governor (allocating the state's resources) - he decried simplistic, soundbyte-appeal responses such as "eliminating waste, fraud and abuse" (as in, duh?) and instead did the heavy lifting that a complex environment like California's requires and drew from finance/monetary policy, history, law, economics and legislative rules to develop comprehensive solutions. Not soundbyte-y but way more credible.
  • I love him for his unabashed humor: "I'd like to be more optimistic than the facts permit me to be. Go Bears." He also humored an alum last night who begged him to recite some salty Irish chants. You may have had to be there, but it was priceless.
Susanne's a lucky woman! Let's hope the State can be so lucky.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Must I?

When I was about 4, I received a gift from a generous relative. Upon opening it, I was cajoled to respond. Complying, I stared directly into her eager, inquiring face and flatly declared:

"I don't like it."

...and to this day, her crestfallen response is indelibly marked in my memory.

But as adults, we've developed the super-ego to ensure we adhere to social mores. As such, we often find ourselves in situations where we are forced to effuse.

Two common settings for this cruelty include:

1) Admiring friends' offspring. When this pertains to homo sapiens, I can buy in. People warrant respect. And infants all the more: I can totally get behind the awe of procreation.

However, my line is crossed when I am obliged to ooh and aah over a canine or feline. How much excitement can one be expected muster over a yelping, unhygienic slobbering animal unable to dialogue? Over what period of time is such feigned enthusiasm sustainable? Inhumane expectations.

2) Staff meetings. These are undoubtedly the most egregious examples of enforced enthusiasm*; particularly when they are kicked off by asking all participants to share with the group just what it is they love -- the most -- about Company A. The ensuing applause most often invariably owes to the fact that the employee has finished, rather than reflecting what s/he has actually shared.

But, being the solutions-oriented businessperson I am, I felt it was important end on a positive and constructive note:

Ways To Avoid Coercive Engagement (drawing off of real-life experience)
  • Never use campy parables ... unless good. Really good.
  • Don't regift the giveaways. If you must, do not disclose.
  • Contain all meetings to 1.5 hours - max. If you have the choice of longer meeting with food, or shorter meeting without food, go without food.
  • Make sure your schwag is dogfood you would eat, too.





* You can further reference the gem by Mike Judge at the bottom of this post for a lucid depiction of why this is just so wrong.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Euphemisms (cntd.)

Lying Loopholes and, as such, I simply can't get enough of them: they are so useful!!!
I used to reserve most of my geek love for economists....but rhetoricians are starting to move up!


Talk. To. Me.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Smile And Nod

I learned the value of this Standard Operating Procedure from a colleague of mine at Schwab. It entails never pushing back regardless of how unreasonable the request, and only later surfacing the constraints. That way you become the invaluable go-to person and never get pegged as a naysayer.

This morning I embraced the SAN SOP when I agreed to join my friend's running group.

Let's clarify: I run. I just don't do "endurance" runs. But, I figured, how hard can a little extra distance be?

Only in the car - en route, committed - did John throw out these remarks:
  • "If you studied the trail posted online..." ("study" the trail? ah...right...)
  • "The grade ascends consistently for the first 6 miles." (note the use of "first")
  • "There is an extension option because the main course is only 11 miles." (note the use of "only")
  • "The fact that it's trail running sort of selects out who will be there." (I had no idea what this specifically referred to, but got the sense that trails must be scary)
Smile And Nod. Smile And Nod. No problem!

But, in merciful face-saving fate, the Running Demon of Sun*Sans*Shade led even the "ultra" runners to condescend to their own humanity and join me in stopping at various points along the way.

So really, I am just like them. I could do a 50K in my sleep. Dreams, that is.


This is not me.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

May I have some opiods to chase my dopamine, please?



My highly social nature + my incessant need to uncover truth has traditionally been a source of pride, enabling me to be a journalist, sleuth and master of no trade (aka "generalist").

But pride cometh before the fall: thanks to current networking technology, I can now feed my social and search beasts at alarming rates. It started slowly with email....escalated with Facebook....and was fueled to whole new levels by IM, Skype messaging and Twitter. Now I have services like FourSquare which text my phone to immediately notify me who is going where and subsequently permit me to research, add tips, stalk others ... the ADD possibilities for those seeking external stimulation are endless!

Specifically, I'm noting that my capacity for reading and writing beyond a short email or tweet is eroding; that my Facebook activity steps up considerably when I am forced to read through a document longer than one page; and that I must multitask with my human-computer interface when encountering a simple human interface, lest I neglect my extroversion of any possible input.

So it was with great relief that I had the patience to read all of this piece (yes, first seen as a friend's post on Facebook but actually a normal-length article from Slate...which still writes articles vs. being pure post redux). It neutralized my neurosis by stating it in concrete and physiological terms.

And that's good enough for me. Just proud that I finally finished this post!


This very post is a cry out for intervention. Sponsored by AT&T.


Sunday, August 02, 2009

The eye of the tiger

I've never been sure if it is simply unsettling or outright rude when people over the age of four transgress their social boundary with a hovered gaze. Only recently has this led to some real confrontation.
  1. Yesterday I shamed my spinning student when I announced to the class that I was staring her down. That did the trick and she looked away (note: she explained later that she often just "zones" by staring at the teacher...but, still....).
  2. Later in the day in a cafe, I found myself unable to listen to my friend catch me up because the woman next to us - while pretending to eat her Waldorf salad - overtly stared at us each time one of us uttered a word. Remember, this was a cafe folks - not a library. So I kept looking back at her and mercifully, she would back down. However....every time we resumed our conversation, she jumped right back in, compelling me to simply stare her down. Result? She let out a nervous smile, got up and left 1/3 of her salad there. Mission accomplished! (Of course, this was a Seinfeld moment that only video can fully capture).
  3. The coup de grace came today in Sausalito when I failed to notice one of the thousands of self-entitled cyclists crowding up the (AUTOMOBILE) route. Alas, my blissful Sunday afternoon happy place was interrupted by an abrupt, childish fist thump on my car accompanied by some choice expletives and accusations. My natural response immediately kicked in: gleefully smile back! But, this didn't lead to victory; rather than use his endorphins for their stress-relieving purpose (come on: Sausalito, sunny Sunday afternoon with a clear blue SF Bay view?), he proceeded to ride up to my car, scream at me and threaten to call the police. Which only drove me to smile at him more.
While I technically "lost" this third face-off, it somehow felt the most gratifying.




Sunday, July 26, 2009

A brush with extinction



Much to my chagrin, my inordinate need for self-expression has been slowly migrating away from this beloved, cherished forum to Twitter. This entropic pull away from organizing my thoughts in a systematic, comprehensive manner and instead towards regressing into simple, visceral reactions has begun to diminish and impoverish me.

Fortunately, my liberal arts formation was jolted back from hibernation today:
She also wants to ... continue to speak her mind on the social networking site Twitter, one of her favorite venues to reach out to supporters.
"She"...yes....."she"...ummmm....the human being that can reduce me to a mass of inarticulate, suppressed and frustrated energy of stellar (think black hole level) proportions. For all its value it has introduced, Twitter is undoubtedly her favorite venue for the same reason I lament it becoming mine: it is but one of the many roads taking us to Idiocracy today.

Thus I assure you that, as long as she is in the public square, this blog will continue... if only for the sake of preserving subject-verb-object communications and the cerebral cortex as we know it.

However, I am too dumbfounded at this point to say anything more specific on today's news.

Still trying to warm the super-ego back up.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Homage to Robert

"He is too perfect.”
- Lyndon B. Johnson




Admittedly I am no LBJ fan, but truth can often come from surprising sources. As my friend recently said, "If the Lord used an ass to speak words of truth, then who am I to judge?" (see Numbers 22). Contrary to popular opinion, Robert McNamara was, in fact, Perfect. Let me count the ways.

A true non-partisan, civil servant.
He left Ford, where he had been named president only 10 weeks before (and which he'd only joined to pay his wife's medical bills after leaving academia), to be Defense Secretary at the ripe age of 44. Taking the $25K-a-year job cost McNamara $3 million in Ford stocks and options. He also happened to be a registered Republican. He later turned down LBJ's offer to run for Vice President.

Data-driven and objective in a political environment.
  • Example 1: Kennedy had argued in his 1960 presidential campaign that the strategic nuclear arsenal of the United States was less powerful than the Soviet Union’s, and that the gap was growing. McNamara took office nine days later. He recalled that “my first responsibility as secretary of defense was to determine the degree of the gap and initiate action to close it. It took us about three weeks to determine, yes, there was a gap....But the gap was in our favor. It was a totally erroneous charge that Eisenhower had allowed the Soviets to develop a superior missile force.” Per the NYT, "the estimate of Soviet forces had been a product of politics and guesswork."
  • Example 2: Despite years of investing his own career in the war, he listened to a CIA analysts' argument of why the war should be stopped...and went on to commission a history of the war known as the Pentagon Papers, which later served as a key tool in exposing the war's shortcomings
Saved the world.
Despite his own attestations to the contrary, it was his idea that resolved one of the closest nuclear showdowns in history, the Cuban Missile Crisis. Specifically, it was McNamara's idea to do a secret deal whereby President Kennedy offered to withdraw U.S. missiles in Turkey if Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev removed his warheads from Cuba — a deal which resolved the crisis.

It is inane to apply the openness and transparency of our post-Cold War, post-"nuclear era" to the 1960s, when diplomats faced unprecedented complexity and fear thanks to the introduction of nuclear weapons and the bipolar, militaristic world order. McNamara navigated his own doubts adeptly - preserving national security while at the same time, seeking the best policy to the point of being willing to alter his own point of view and go against that of the Chief Executive's... ultimately leading to his own termination.

Human despite his brilliance.
He lived his entire life honoring the Examined Life by wrestling with the ultimate questions, such as “What makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

But when it was appropriate for him to be transparent about these questions so critical to a free, functional, democratic society- via his memoirs, the Fog of War documentary, the visit to North Korea in the '90s, and frank admissions (e.g. "War is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate.") - he was vilified rather than vindicated....proving that when it comes to popular opinion, it doesn't pay to be thoughtful or self-correcting.

And alas: a stud.
  • Example 1: After pouring himself into the effort to eradicate global poverty heading up the highly bureaucratic and conflicted World Bank, his wife died and he hiked 140 miles up the 18,000-foot level of Mount Everest at age 65.
  • Example 2: Remarries an Italian widow at age 88.
Ah Robert: was it only 53 yrs that separated us?


7/11/09 postscript: WOW just watched this incredible interview w/ Errol Morris & Charlie Rose & RM....the ultimate underscore. (and eeeikes directed by my high school friend Mike Jay to boot!)

Friday, July 03, 2009

I thought cruel & unusual punishment was unconstitutional

Typically we must remove ourselves from the scourge of our pain to properly heal and forgive.

Why aren't you helping us, Sarah?


Proof that nations do sometimes reap what they sow.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The legacy endures


Only when forced to wait in an endless TSA line was I informed of the cruel exception: unlike other airports, LAX asks travelers to arrive two hours (not one hour) prior to departure. That's twice the misery.

As the clock ticked, I was bumped to the head of the queue. All systems were go until I tried to walk through the detector. Was it my watch? No. Was it my ring? No. Was it my bobby pin?

No. In fact, final inspection proved that the King of Pop himself still wields power. I reluctantly unpinned him, placed him alone in the large bin, and awaited his return to me on the conveyor belt.


It was worth risking a missed flight to ensure I got the Michael we know and love back from the TSA.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The law

Is this supposed to make me feel better?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The usury thing

Usury...banks....usury....banks. I was bitterly reminded of this sad association when I logged into my B of A account last week to see I was fined $35 for running a $4 in deficit when I preempted my automatic deposit by 1 day.

I was reminded of this - twice - by U.S. mail.

Kudos, then, to the SF Public Library which blew up any stereotype of governmental rigidity when, upon receiving my DVD 1 week late (the case of which I'd returned on time but unfortunately without the actual DVD which was securely in my player at home), simply proferred a benign shoulder shrug and made no attempt to fine.

Government or bank? I'm leaning left.


I'm a far happier camper being held hostage by the gvt than by B of A

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Idiocracy, Part (I lost count)

Unfortunately it's also taxing our legal system.
This Court is not aware of, nor has Plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a "crunchberry." ... A reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the Product in the instant case contained a fruit that does not exist. . . . So far as this Court has been made aware, there is no such fruit growing in the wild or occurring naturally in any part of the world. --Judge Morrison England Jr.
Eject eject!!!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

In the presence of....

In the spirit of Shakespearean "undoing" ...just how long will it take me to eradicate myself of the slime imparted upon me from the presence of another?

Undo undo!

Just because it wasn't George Clooney doesn't mean it didn't leave me feeling like this

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Living Off The Wall

As I approached the TSA-like security checkpoint at the Federal Building where I teach government employees spin each week, I lost all self-control:

"Workin' Day And Night" kicked into the iPod.

Edging over to the side of the patio area and then refusing to investigate any further exposure, I launched into a cathartic warm-up for class. Thanks to Michael.

When all was done, I turned around to find the 50-something pensioned security guards smirking delightfully through the glass window at what they minutes later labelled my "gyrations."

Maybe they can get a little more groove on to meet Michael half-way.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Maslowian cosmic crises

Sauntering over to the gym with ample time for weightlifting before the spin class that Lily was so keen to have me sub for her, I breathed easy. Confidently.

Then 5 minutes before class, I ran into Rob - the "other" spin instructor - and immediately grasped that...

I needed to beam to the club ACROSS TOWN to teach.

Where is space/time travel when you need it?

Grabbing my bag, my computer and my bling (for Monte Carlo Casino Night later on), I dragged my sorted state of affairs through streets downtown, straggling along in cycling cleats, workout gear, and fur coat. En route, charitable onlookers picked up my CD case that dropped out of my overstuffed bag. Thankfully, I was able to procure da BOMB cabbie who rushed me across town in 13 minutes. I barely escaped after snatching some personal items that had fallen out onto the seat ...

Busting into the studio, I thought all systems were "go" as I came upon the students dutifully spinning away (and miraculously not snarling at me being 25 minutes late) ....until I realized that....

....one of my prized Tommy Hilfiger sandals was gone!


...leading me to ponder:

How on earth would I bling at the Civic Center later?

Well, Jo-Anne (being her generous and together self) provided auxiliary bling for my feet. But the best news of all was that I dared to push all thoughts of my prized shoe lying on Sacramento Street or on the back seat of aforesaid cab aside and boldly go beyond the improbable:

Upon brand verification, the first gym confirmed my precious sandal was in their posession!

Livin' the high life.


.
Thanks to Jo-Anne, order was restored and I was able to bling out at Civic Center and even snatch up a few spa treatments in the Silent Auction....for The Cause, of course.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Institutional promiscuity

Can you recite to me how the U.S. Electoral College works?

Right. Why, then, is it so easy for a U.S. Senator to just switch parties....consequences include potentially reversing control of the U.S. Senate....preventing filibusters on key legislation....changing control of powerful sub-committees....reneging on implicit promises made to voters and financial supporters......

No legislative process. No bureaucratic hurdles. All completed simply by the spoken word.



Party-hoppin' is easy stuff, Arlen, so there's no need to assure us you're "full of vim vigor and vitality" - even if you are 79. However, a new photographer may help.





Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thank You For Smoking. Indeed

Let's face it: we are bombarded with spin at work, on the freeway, on the airwaves, on the web....so tonight, it was with profound....refreshment....that I was introduced to PureSmoker.com.

This unabashedly frank site essentially allows "users" (in the truest sense of the word) to freebase out those pesky cigarette impurities (=tobacco) so people can just cut to the chase to access the source of their addictions more directly.

Straight from the straight-shootin' site:
2. What is in the cartridge and this Vapor you inhale?
Three main ingredients make up this liquid (what some like to call ELiquid). They consist of:
Water: Cant survive without it. Its that substance you see covering 70+ percent of the earth
PG (Propylene Glycol): Considered generally food safe by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Its mainly used in flavoring extracts but can also be found in medicines, cosmetics, hand soap, etc…
Some Include Nicotine: Need I say more? I could go on for hours. The fact remains, NICOTINE IS ADDICTIVE.
You can't say you weren't warned!


A picture says a thousand tokes


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rock & Roll: source of all wisdom

My big revelation in the job search process was this:

"Negotiations" = asking for something.

Thing is, the banks already asked! The gvt gave, and wisely.

But now they want to "re-ask"?

I don't think so.

Hold the line, Timothy!



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Volume. That's what we do.

Vintage SNL fans will instantly know what such a phrase means....for the more mainstream population, I simply refer you to the latest dark foreboding on the prospects of our culture today: The Virgin Megastore closing.





Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sometimes exposing the truth costs something


My love for euphemisms continues...
  • "Is that bad?" = I am a cruel person
  • "Your goals align with mine" = Your work will support my goals (variation: In this case, there IS an I in teamwork)
  • "Professional" = I am not employed and have no title.
  • "Executive" = same as immediately above, but I also seek a role where I can delegate and get paid a lot
  • "Thanks for being so open" = I am going to do my best to forget everything you just over-shared.
..and on a darker note:
"Assigned to a special military tribunal" = time to make arrangements

[Of course, I would welcome learning of cases where such fora ruled in favor of the defendant and thus be proven wrong].

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Open to correction

Really, that's all we can ask of us imperfect beings right? Based on a crazy turn of events this evening, I hereby recant (half of) my cynical life-motto: "If it seems like it can't get any worse, it will."

The sordid deets:
It's 5pm and my friend A is demoing some software on my new idol-worship Macbook, and I log back into my Gmail account only to find this incomprehensible error message:
Lieber Nutzer,

in Deutschland heißt unser E-Mail-Service Google Mail, nicht Gmail.

Sie können Ihre E-Mails in Deutschland direkt unter http://mail.google.com
abrufen.

Ihr Google-Team

Der E-Mail-Service von Google ist in Deutschland nicht mehr über die von Ihnen eingegebene URL abrufbar.

Allgemeine Informationen zu Google finden Sie in Deutschland wie gewohnt unter www.google.de oder www.google.com.

Um....this is disturbing, to say the least. I'm convinced I've been violated by a trojan. I'll stop there.

But sit tight: the incredibly audacious thing is that (even more than the fact that "Lieber Nutzer" means "Dear User" and not, as A prefers, "Dear Nutcase") this is...LEGIT!

My gmail was truly "rehubbed" and all I had to do was use mail.google.com vs. gmail.google.com

All on Google servers. All legit. All clean.

So in this case, things didn't get worse than I expected.... they actually got BETTER! C-raz-y.


My Lieber Nutzer message makes me want to break out the Sacher Torte!


Friday, April 03, 2009

Two steps forward....


And that would be which humans, being resourceful in exactly what way?

I was quite aware that the trip down from my mountaintop customer service experience today was inevitable...but it felt so soon....and the descent, so far...

I know it's possible to order prescriptions online...have them sent to you...the whole internet thing and all....I've done it. And yet today, I knew, in the deepest recesses of my profoundly intuitive self that I would have to - for some cosmic reason as yet unknown to me - make a live visit to the Kaiser Pharmacy for my first transaction.

Entering the pharmacological SuperStore (Costco meets Epcot) was in itself awe-inspiring: a wing for Member Services (that came later), a cafeteria, health kiosks, a bakery (I'm sure they're serving a preventative form of sugar) all left my head spinning. When I managed to find my way to the pharmacy, I was confronted with Grand Central Station-like billboards advertising whose prescriptions were ready (felt a bit un-HIPAA-ish to me but perhaps data transmitted in open-air is less regulated).

In any case, all went somewhat as hoped - prescription received by doc, filled, waiting - until the Moment of Truth came: payment.

CONEXIS, the administrator (= money gatherer) of the COBRA insurance coverage on behalf of my former employer, had no issue taking my $800+ in cash I paid to continue coverage and updating its website to say I was now in "covered" status.

But they missed a little detail: they didn't tell my insurance provider. Which, I learned to my astonishment, was no vagary but actually standard 'practice': the customer service rep admitted that his whole raison d'etre is fielding calls from people trying to fill their first prescription or make their first doctor's visit (you know, get health services), only to get denied service because....

...patients are supposed to manually tell the provider that CONEXIS says we're covered and...

I'm clinging to the assumption that the ".org" means that CONEXIS makes absolutely NOTHING on these transactions.



I believe you.

Forgiveness

Easter is just 'round the corner, so let's hear it for the virtues Jesus came to instill. Today: I hereby forgive AT&T!

Yes, in a turn as dramatic as Sally Field changing personalities, this beloved telecom bane of my existence has shown a radically different face and, as such, garnered my forgiveness.

So wha'happend? I had to pinch myself today when I, with trepidation, walked into the store where I first purchased my iPhone last summer (part 2 came later). I was hoping that the retail staff would be willing to deviate from any policy requiring proof of purchase and take subjective pity on the fact that my car charger wasn't working.

What then transpired was none other than awe-inducing: boom-ba-da-ding, the floorperson pulled up a record of my purchase within seconds, and the return was not only seamlessly executed, but even upgraded (or, as I like to say, Upgrayedd-ed) to a better model.

As long as "this" AT&T is talkin', I'm forgiving.


Monday, March 30, 2009

If Facebook says so...

...it must be true!

Diane Bisgeier

Diane took the How "New Yorker" Are You quiz and the result is You Are 100% New York! Congrats!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Doctor's Orders

I like a high-protein diet. I just wasn't aware that certain sources were more effective than others.


Did I hear that word at 1:45 right?

Fidelity


Derelicte's catwalk debut

So while it is true I can give ultimatums, I am also a sucker when I fall in love with something that stays true.

Take Zoolander as a case in point: perhaps the pivotal point in that movie which ensnared my eternal affection was the introduction of the Derelicte fashion line, inspired by the homeless.

The vanity-zation of the grave was too delectable not to take permanent residence in my heart.

And then I went to Brasil...and the irony became disturbingly real.


The "Favela" line of high-end home furnishings. Yeah, really.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Breakups


Often I encounter a turn in a movie where I simply can no longer suspend disbelief and, consequently, part ways with the entire movie. Few top-of-mind examples:

V for Vendetta. When the Masked Man's cave is exposed, the absurdity of the whole pretext of the film suddenly becomes clear. The scales fall from my eyes. It's over.

The Kite Runner. 2 scenes conspire here: First, when it's revealed that the childhood friends are really brothers (="Luke, I'm your father!"). Second, when the one offending Taliban character they encounter in the entire city of Kabul just happens to be the same tormenting bully antagonist from childhood. Statistically astounding! Again = over.

And now, this same intolerance threshold just kicked in for Facebook, my once-beloved platform of self-expression.

The trigger? A friend invite from Phil Ting. When I saw the invite, I KNEW that name was familiar. A college friend? Work?....and then I realized: none other than ....the San Francisco City Assessor-Recorder!

I think Phil realizes that, like the meter maid, a letter from him is never fun. So he's trying to make up for it by a Facebook Friendship? I don't think so.

It was a beautiful thing while it lasted, Facebook. But I think it's over.

.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

For REALS?



From: My Student Loan Servicer

Dear DIANE BISGEIER,
Congratulations! We are pleased to inform you that you have qualified for the NextStudent program by making on-time payments on your CONSOLIDATION LOAN. Beginning with your next installment, we will lower the interest rate on your eligible loans by 1 percentage point for the remaining term.

Sincerely....


My life-motto has been:
"If it's too good to be true, it probably is." Could it be that none of my loans are "eligible"? Or that my "remaining term" just expired? Or...?

No, it's a new season. Here's to suspending disbelief!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pet Peeves




Peeves. Annoyances. Rant-inducing behaviors. Facial-tick-causing things of life. Because these are really what this blog is all about.

A few top-of-mind ones of late:

1) When the driver I'm with approaches an intersection with a green light and feels the need to ....slow?? .....down.......

2) When the person at the gym uses the common equipment as a nest. And, after I efficiently use all other equipment in the hopes of the offender eventually moving on, I finally ask to work in and s/he suddenly claims to have "just one more set."

3) When someone interrupts me. It's effectively being lied to: the "listener" doesn't really listen despite asking you a question.

And anyone reading this far knows that I am not keen on being stifled.

Addendum:
AT&T. If you really need elaboration...:

AT&T Inc. said Thursday it will start selling iPhones without requiring a two-year contract, but they will cost $400 more ...The new phones will still be "locked" to AT&T and won't work with any other cellular carrier unless they're modified. AT&T will only activate them on the regular iPhone plans, which include a $30 monthly charge for data access. Prepaid service will not be available.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's ba-ack...


Actually, attempts to pull me into the ponzi-scheme-o'-the-day haven't really subsided; I just chose to refrain from posting all of them that have poured in since I first posted on this lamentable practice in June '07...

But today's email forced my hand; I must vent...

To: (impersonal dist list here)

Hey there!
I would be remiss if I didn't let ya'll know about the special MonaVie has going through the end of March. They are waiving the normal $39 start up enrollment fee, so now you can buy MonaVie at wholesale prices. The beauty of this promo is that there is no purchase commitment, no hidden fees, just access to the lowest possible price on the product for one year! It has certainly kept me busier than usual. Good thing I'm drinking it to keep my energy levels up! Rock on acai berry!

So if you are interested, let me know and I can give you further info...just wanted to be sure I let everyone in on a good deal! No pressure....
Here's to your health!
Blessings,

My burning ontological question: does the fact that something is wholesale make it intrinsically better?

The rhetorical question is: will MonaVie's salesforce, in its need to stay amped to promote the beverage, be sufficient as a consumer base for the product? Let's lift a glass to derivative, self-referential economics!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Recurring themes




I'm consistently mesmerized by denial...Idiocracy...and my current favorite, euphemisms.

How fitting that the very word itself sounds so much better than, say, obfuscation.
Cap industries’ emissions of the gases blamed for climate change? Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will have to contend with dissent on a panel with Democrats from coal and manufacturing states.

“The legislative process requires compromise and being open to different alternatives,” Mr. Waxman said.

In defense of Henry though, I'm not sure I'd want to say, "We're copping out on this one."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Surely this must be a *lagging* indicator....





I was so eager to check out NY's Museum of American Finance, "the nation’s only public museum of finance, (whose) mission is to promote financial literacy, and to empower people to better understand risk and reward in order to make more effective financial decisions."

But what are we to make of the "Current Exhibit" page?


404: Resource Not Found

Friday, February 27, 2009

Encouraging good behavior

Last month I noted - dumbfoundedly - how certain people make use of the LinkedIn professional networking tool. I subsequently published a counter-example because I was so heartened that all people are not, in fact, utterly clueless. 

And this week I received a message which not only restored my faith in human discretion, but serves as a hallmark example to those who struggle with how to respond to someone else's unfortunate circumstances. 

It is, in short, to be emulated. As such, it also bears publishing.


Subject: Hey Diane,
Just noticed that you are no longer at Schwab. I've got quite a few connections in NYC, SF, LA if you are looking for something, just let me know I'd be happy to poke around for ya.

Although having some time off, I'm sure is fabulous! :)

Take care

--Mike


And on this note, I officially end my own job search. Hallelujah!

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Don't assume"

I often reflect on these simple yet sage words from my college comrade John when I find myself judging someone's character prematurely.

That said, sometimes assumptions can work to our advantage.

Other times, they can go awry....

Now available: "If You Can't Lick 'Em...Lick 'Em" by Ted Nugent

Amazon.com

Dear Amazon.com Customer,

We've noticed that customers who have purchased or rated Bob Seger - Greatest Hits by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band have also purchased If You Can't Lick 'Em...Lick 'Em by Ted Nugent. For this reason, you might like to know that If You Can't Lick 'Em...Lick 'Em is now available.
...viva la direct marketing! And of course, the Motor City Madman.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Regressing... in the name of progress

I knew something just wasn't quite right when I observed the downfall of the musical instrument.

It seemed to be an unfortunate extension of the same trend that has us no longer lathering our soap, pulling the paper towel or turning the sink handle as part of that handwashing ritual of yesteryear. As we kiss our motor skills goodbye, we also seem to be letting go of something on the cerebral front:
“Humans evolved with amazing navigational abilities in our brains from an evolutionary perspective,” said Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive.....Neuroscientists have discovered that people who have occupations that require them to maintain complex mental maps of the world, like London taxi drivers, have an enlarged hippocampus.

What happens when our hand-held computers become extensions of the way we think?

...With this sort of map it is possible to see a three-dimensional view of one’s surroundings, including the annotated distance to objects that may be obscured by buildings in the foreground. For starters, map-based cellphon
es simply translate paper maps into a digital medium, but future systems will probably begin to blur the boundaries between the display and the real world....

“I have wondered about the fact that we might as a culture lose the skill of mapping our environment, relying on the Web to tell us how to navigate,” said Hugo Spiers, a neurobiologist at University College London. “Thus, it might reduce the growth of cells in the hippocampus, which we think stores our internal maps.”

Small brains attached to increasingly-morbidly obese bodies. What would Marshall say?



Thursday, February 12, 2009

Life is a continuum

From euphemisms...to marketing...to outright deception.

Once again, the boyz from Redmond just go ahead and merge 2 & 3*.



Of course, it's not surprising..but I sure do resent the branding.

LinkedIn Partner Message from Microsoft BizSpark

Hi Diane,

I’m Jacob Mullins and I work on the new BizSpark program at Microsoft. BizSpark offers you the chance to use the latest software design, development, and production tools from Microsoft for up to three years with no upfront costs. All you pay is U.S.$100 when you exit the program.

Jacob Mullins

Startup Development Manager, Microsoft BizSpark
@jacobmullins

P.S. If you’re interested in learning about how Microsoft works with Open Source, or want to meet the team, you’re invited to the Third Annual Microsoft Open Source ISV Forum on Monday, March 23, 2009 at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, California. Hope to see you there.

*hint: since when does "open source" entail pre-qualification and "exit" fees?




Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How desperate must the measures be?


I mean, times may be desperate...but I'm not sure a bong ever motivated me to do much more than grab some munchies.


Michael Phelps
The Greatest Olympian of All Time

Creative accounting on steroids

Because the king of steroids is in charge!

But IOUs? Reallly....?

I guess it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you don't invest in infrastructure, the populace becomes dumb enough to accept just about anything. All roads lead to Idiocracy!

Is it possible to short a U.S. state? If not now, I'm sure the Wall Street guys will figure it out....

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Redemption

For every yin, there's a yang:

LinkedIn

Date: 2/05/2009

Subject: Hey!

You are no longer in the White Pages!!!!! You must have been impacted! I hope this email finds you well. Someone with your credentials I'm sure will soon, if not already, be in a place where you want to be. Take care and keep up on your blog!


Notes:
  • "White Pages" = Schwab employee directory
  • "Impacted" = current HRspeak for being laid off and used interchangeably with the oh-so-lovely term "severed".



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Core competencies

Life outside the confines of employment has been utter bliss! Spending each and every minute doing exactly what I want. Sleeping when I want. Seeing who I want, when I want. Working out.

But here's where I need YOUR help: I think there's a socialization piece that may be getting lost. What do you think?:

I just received an invitation from a friend who has her PhD in education. She is putting together an event that costs $15/person to:
Come to dance and PLAY together...giving adults the opportunity to rediscover the joy of play alongside their children as well as meet other like-minded families....inside developmentally appropriate ways of playing and engaging to support critical thinking for children ages two through eight years-old.
The evite responses were private, so I failed to exercise developmentally appropriate restraint and fired off my "no" RSVP:
Pay to play? What is this world coming to!
Hey, but maybe it's not unemployment. I think I just didn't play well enough as a child.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Suspending...

Suspension of disbelief: the audience tacitly agrees to provisionally suspend judgment ...
My current attempt to suspend disbelief comes in response to this unsolicited note from a friend who noticed my changed LinkedIn status:

Subject: Bummer!

You got laid off? I know you are so good at what you do, but you were certainly in the wrong industry at the wrong time, huh? :(

So sorry.
I hereby suspend any judgment as to the value of this message or its author!

Of course, the alternative to such suspension - actually sending my response that is currently saved in my "drafts" folder - may not really build bridges anyway....
Subject: Bummer back!

Hey, thanks for the note. Guess NOBODY'S safe these days: I just read that (your industry) is due to shrink by a gazillion percent this next quarter. But I'm sure you'll recoup at some point. Hope you don't lose your shirt in the meantime!


Diane Bisgeier is exploring opportunities in SF and NYC.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Discordance

In college I did a spring break "experiential learning" program where we explored homelessness. We even spent one night at a homeless shelter. When it came time to share what our main take-aways of the week were, I shared this pearl:
" I learned that I never...ever....want to be homeless."
Fast-forward to a few months ago, when I participated in a "peer coaching" group through my business school. The peers? A bunch of unemployed MBAs. Though I was employed, it certainly left me with a very similar feeling I had all those years ago in college (simply replace "homeless" with "unemployed").

This is why I am bristling at the thought of outplacement services! Hanging out with other unemployed people + a chipper, theoretical organizational development 'professional' rather than with real, productive, employed people somehow does not feel helpful to me...

Perhaps akin to locking up felons up with other felons and expecting it to be "correctional"?
















I love you, Mike Judge. You get discordance.