MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

August 29, 2008

Sticking It To Hilary!

By now you've probably heard: John McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as is VP running mate.

This has got to totally piss off Hilary!!

Gov. Palin is very young (born February 11, 1964). Based on the pictures I've seen so far she's quite good looking. I'd say even hot for a middle-aged woman with 5 children and the stress of being a Governor (far better looking than Hilary even on her best day!). Yes I'm a pig – so sue me.

There hasn't been a female VP candidate of a major party since 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was Senator Walter Mondale's VP pick in his run against President Reagan in Reagan's second term. A real lose/lose ticket for the Democrats.

With this pick John McCain stands an excellent chance of winning. Gov. Palin is young, a mother, a successful Governor, a conservative – she's got a very strong resume.

Hilary has to be fit to be tied! I know she's probably suspected this will be the pick (there are no secrets in inside politics) but now that it's official she must be fuming. Why?

Consider this:

Gov. Palin stands a very strong chance of being the first female VP in office.

If McCain wins re-election in 2012 almost certainly Palin will run as President in 2016. All other things being equal and assuming no significant problems in life (a big assumption for an 8 year span I grant) there is a very real chance Sarah Palin will be the first woman President in American history!

That has to be keeping Hilary up at night!

Time will tell. No counting chickens yet.

But it is interesting.

As the ancient Chinese curse says "May you live in interesting times!"

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Paranormal: Who Does It Better Than TAPS?

I am not a TAPS member. Nor is my group a TAPS Family member. So this article isn't about defending TAPS or an issue of pride.

It is a common re-occurring theme on many paranormal sites and message forums (even TAPS's own site) of being critical of TAPS – The Atlantic Paranormal Society – as portrayed on the TV show "Ghost Hunters". So people believe that because TAPS is on TV they (TAPS) is saying they are the best, the top of the field, the sole example of what to do etc etc etc.

Criticism is easy. When you're on TV the whole world can slam you. Everyone's a critic. Some people may have legitimate criticisms (like the ethicacy of having investigated one of the homes of the Manson murders) while others are probably just sour grapes.

Let's face reality: 99% of people only know Jason, Grant and TAPS from TV. The vast majority of people, even those in the paranormal field, have never met much less really spoken to either of them or other people in TAPS.

The GH TV show on the Sci-Fi channel is 1 hour long. But 15-20 minutes are commercials! (Very sad commentary on things in general) This isn't unusual. Check your other favorite shows and you'll see similar (of a 30 minute show 10-12 minutes is commercial time!). That leaves 40-45 minutes of actual show. Do you think you can really get to know a person or group from 40-45 minutes of heavily edited TV?

More over, the show has clearly changed focus from the first season. Season 1 through about half of season 2 I would say was really about as close to reality TV on the subject of the paranormal as ever been shown. The equipment shown/used was common for most groups. The locations investigated were the kinds of cases most groups can get. And yes even the interaction of the TAPS people (drama and all) is real as sometimes happens in groups. Towards the middle of season 2 it changed. I don't know if it was Pilgrim (the show producers) or the Sci-Fi channel or both but clearly the show was re-engineered to fit what was (is) believed to be the audience expectations and demographics.

I can't argue too much with that. The Sci-Fi channel is just that – science fiction. It is not National Geographic, Discovery or the History channel. And even on those channels it's still about ratings and audience viewing.

I could go on about the show but that's not the point of this article. Maybe I will in a future article.

The point I am making here about TAPS which includes the TAPS methodologies, equipment use, theories, group interaction (as it all was portrayed on the show in seasons 1 thru 2.5) is this:

If TAPS is no good then who does it better?

It's fine to say TAPS isn't the best and I think Jason and Grant would agree that no one should be labeled "the best" in the paranormal field. But if you're going to say that TAPS is so consistently bad/wrong at what they do then who do you point to a as better example? Just saying they are wrong without offering a better option isn't helpful.

There may be other groups that do this-or-that aspect of paranormal investigation "better" (not even sure what that means "better" in terms of the paranormal). But, like it or not, for now TAPS and the TAPS approach is the defacto standard for the paranormal field.

Until someone can point to another group with an overall better approach, better methodology than TAPS that also gets just as consistent results (both good paranormal evidence as well a good debunking) then criticisms of TAPS are just blowing hot air.

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August 26, 2008

A Liberal Rush Limbaugh? Now That's Humor!

Love him or hate him there is no doubt Rush Limbaugh is successful.

I love him (philosophically that is). So I guess that makes me part of the vast Right-Wing conspiracy. Never mind that "vast" and "conspiracy" are oxymoronic in the same sentence, why let a little thing like reality matter. But I digress from the nature of this post.

I started listening to ol' Rush nearly 20 years ago, just after the origianl '60 Minutes' interview with him. I saw that interview and thought "I've got to hear what this guy has to say!". The next day I tuned in and have been listening ever since. Never called the show though I did think about it many times. It would be awesome to have a dinner with him or attend one of his lectures/presentations!

Liberals just love to wring their hands and scratch their heads and ask "Why can't WE have our own Rush Limbaugh?".They tried a couple of times such as with former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and post-President Bill Clinton.

In full disclosure and in the interests of scientific research (observing the subject at hand before making a conclusion) I did listen to Gov. Cuomo a little. It was like listening to paint dry. I'm surprised Amnesty International didn't sue as being cruel and unusual punishment (well, not really surprised, they are both liberal).

So why can't the libs get their own Rush Limbaugh on the air? Draw a huge audience? And get people just as fired up as Rush does?

Very simple.

1 – Rush has a positive message for everyone. The best days of America are ahead of us, not long gone as liberals want us to believe. Rush states and believes that we are great today and will be even greater tomorrow. That's a very un-PC thing to say these days, that America is a great country. Liberals are constantly telling us how embarrassed and ashamed we should be of ourselves and how much better other countries are than we. Americans' don't believe that and don't want to hear it. We know we are a great country. Not perfect but the best the world has to offer in terms of freedom, leadership, self control, self destiny, economics, prosperity, and opportunity. Liberals would tell us all those things are just a pipe dream and we need to become like other countries, who surprisingly have nowhere near out levels of those things.

2 – Rush states and believes in YOU! He believes that you are the best person to make choices for yourself. NOT government! He believes that everyone has the power to make themselves the best they can be, to elevate themselves into the highest levels of life and fortunate. It is NOT for people to wait around hoping government will pass some law or create some program that will safe them. Rush constantly states that it is the American getting up in the morning, going to work, doing their job, taking care of themselves and family, having some fun in life and taking care of their own affairs that is what makes the country run. It is not the people in government that make America work so well. Rush is self made, living what he professes so it's really hard to argue with that.

3 – And not to be overlooked, Rush is entertaining. The subject matter is easy to poke fun at. It's easy to make fun of a person who says that taxes and rules make you free. It's easy to point out the hypocrisy of someone who owns a giant mansion that sucks down thousands of kilowatt hours of electricity but says you should use less and pay more for what you use. It's crazy to think milk should be reclassified as liquid meat or that a fish has just the same rights as a human. And how ridiculous is it that someone thinks Joe Camel is a greater threat to America than Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden??? By contrast, I don't see how someone can make fun of things like lower taxes, less government regulation, less government intrusion in our daily lives, stopping an attack before it's launched and preventing those people from even trying it again.

The modern liberal message is one gloom and doom. That is not an appealing or entertaining message. You can't make a pile of dung look and smell like roses.

That's why there is no liberal Rush Limbaugh.

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August 23, 2008

Live the Good Life? Not on My Back!!

On July 23, 2008, Yahoo Finance posted an article by Laura Rowley entitled " High Anxiety: Americans' Top Financial Fears Revealed".

Below are two comments in full (only edited for spelling errors) posted by readers of this article that I think say a lot about the difference in thinking between people on issues of money:

trance951 - Thursday, July 24, 2008, 11:22AM ET

To all of these people who post about how much they have saved over the years because of their sacrifices and who scoff at anyone who doesn't already have a white picket fence that is paid for, I congratulate you on your wasted life. Time after time I read here about John and Mary who didn't get cable TV, drove a $500 car for 10 years, never travelled, budgeted to see a movie 3 times a year, shops at Goodwill, and probably still wears a same pair of underwear since high school. Great, now you're a king in your own castle, passing on your divine wisdom to your gardener who obviously is flawed as they should have everything you do. How fantastic that you finally bought that fancy new car that you've always wanted. It only took you 30 years since you got your license. Travelling and experiencing the culture of Europe is so much better from your scooter, don't you think? And can you believe how much better a movie sounds with surround sound? Just think, all those years in stereo. John and Mary, you've gone to an extreme. You've let the fruits of your labor dry out as much as your wrinkled skin. There is a happy medium between saving and living, and it is unfortunate that you were only able to experience one or the other at any given time. Me? I'll take a lifelong of memories. Enjoy your abbreviated AARP version. Stop comparing generations, it is apples and oranges.

And the reply:

Yahoo! Finance User - Thursday, July 24, 2008, 11:39AM ET

trance951, No one has a problem with your mentality, but read the comments you refer to carefully. You can value life experiences more than money. In fact, you probably should have a balance, as you suggest. What people here are complaining about is that fact that some people made a clear choice to save less, work less, spend more and live life to its fullest, and now they don't want to suffer the consequences of that choice. They want the government to bail them out. Those of us who saved and worked diligently are suffering the consequences of our choices, with a less fulfilling life by your standards. Why shouldn't people who chose the "fulfilling" path suffer the financial consequences? I mean, shouldn't such people be exactly the ones to say, "It's only money!" Does it really seem fair that the people who chose money now have to give up their money to take care of those who chose fulfillment? At least give us our consolation prize of greater wealth given we made the "wrong" choice to lead less fulfilling lives!

The 11:39AM commenter is 100% correct. People with the same mode of thinking as Trance951 want to live the "lifelong memories" style of living and have someone else pay for it.

Time and time again I have read articles and forum posts from people who gripe they are in their 40's or 50's or older and have nothing. They cry how horribly wrong it is that someone else has more than they do.

Did you ever stop to think the fault is your own? Nope!

First, realize that no matter what you do life is not about equality or sameness of result at the end of the day. For hundreds of reasons two people can start out doing the exact same things in life and one ends up with significantly more than the other. That doesn't mean the person cheat or stole it. Life is not as simple as A+B=C. Unfortunately.

Second, I wish I had $1.00 for every person I met who said "Why bother? I'll never be as rich as ." Maybe so but if you don't try you certainly won't be! More importantly, while you may never be as rich as that doesn't mean you still can't accumulate a tidy sum. Wouldn't a "mere" $50,000 come in handy now? You bet!

You are the CEO of your own life. If you choose to live the good life today and not do what you should do for tomorrow, you're an adult over 21 so live with your choice. But don't you dare claim that I and others like me who have made tough decisions to scrimp and sacrifice to have more than two coins in my pocket are to blame you’re your lack of financial success.

How dare you think I should have to pay for your good times!

Kiss my ass!!

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August 21, 2008

IT: You're Only As Good As Where You Come From

File this under "If I knew then what I know now."

Certain occupations are, more or less, the same everywhere you go. Account follows the same GAAP rules, lawyers have more or less the same laws and regulations, teaching is the same in California as in Vermont, welding uses the same tools, and so on.

But not in IT.

When you work in IT you are seen not as a professional with a set of skills to be applied to the specifics of a particular organization, but rather as snap-shot of the IT environment you came from. To put it another way, while everyone will agree (give lip service to) with the fact that no two organizations/business function the same even in the same industry, if you don't come form the exact same IT environment as they do then you aren't a good fit and probably won't get the job.

So if your old company used software A and the place you are interviewing for uses B, even though they do the same thing, you're not qualified. Never mind that the processes is the same, you don't know the software. Of if your old company used SDLC and your new company uses Use Cases or RUP that's not good enough.

The Devil is in the details. So to an extent I have to concede and understand the point. Concept will only get you so far. At the end of the day you have to be able to produce and that means being able to use the tools on hand, not take days or weeks to learn it.

But that flies squarely in the face of reality.

First, the reality is technology changes all the time. Company IT departments constantly switch from A to B to C technologies. The sign of a truly intelligent person is to be able to take what they know from prior experience and apply it to more quickly learning something new. I just don't see how it is expected you're supposed to have 5 years experience with something that only came out 6 months ago?! Many years ago (I'll be dating myself with this) I went to a job fair in Manhattan. At one company's table I spoke with their HR bimbo. They were looking for someone with 5 years RPG programming experience for the AS/400. I knew RPG so I thought I was a good candidate. She insisted that I tell her about my AS/400 RPG experience. I said "No one really has AS/400 RPG experience. IBM only started shipping the system a couple of months ago!" She insisted, "Well we need someone with 5 years experience." WTF?! I know she wasn't a technology person so I can't get too angry but how did she expect to find someone with 5 years experience on computer system that was less than a year old?!

Second, the reality is that I as an IT grunt don't make the technology policy decisions. I rarely if at all even have a say in them (and that's presuming my say actually holds any weight in the opinion process when price and politics is more a factor!).For example, at a former software vendor I worked the decision was made to go with Galaxy instead of Motif (xWindows) as the GUI front end. Galaxy was cheaper to license and at the time Motif hadn't really established itself as the dominant and preferred technology. So if you were a programmer there you had no choice but to use Galaxy. But now when you try to get a job else where you have experience with a lesser used, lesser accepted technology (Galaxy instead of Motif). In another example I worked several years for a well known direct marketing company. The powers that be decided to go with a 4GL called MANTIS to replace the CICS on the MVS mainframe (at one point I found out that MANTIS was created by a programmer in South Africa who wanted to program BASIC-like on the IBM mainframe!). Not my fault they decided to abandon CICS – the standard for online programming in the IBM mainframe world – for some crappy proprietary language. But since I was no longer programming in CICS no one would talk to me about CICS positions.

"So go buy a book or take a course and stop bitching!" is what I'm sure someone is thinking now.

And you might be right.


Third, many of these technologies are highly proprietary and specialized. There are few if any books about them and even fewer if any courses. Those courses there are tend to be several thousands of dollars for a mere 3-5 day class. That's the kind of stuff a company sends you to, not you pay for on your own (even the basic intro class can be in the 4-figure range!) Further, these technologies usually have to be bought under license from the vendor (can't get it at off the shelf at Best Buy) require significant computer resources to run so it isn't like you can just buy it and put it on your laptop to play with.

Fourth, and I've written about how stupid this is before, if you learn it on your own then you don't have a working reference to confirm you actually have done it. More and more in IT employers want you to give a working professional reference from your jobs to confirm that you actually have done this or that, worked with ABC or XYZ technology etc.

Fifth, even among project level work like project plans, requirements gathering, specification documentation, etc. there are no standards. Every IT department has it's own standards, policies, procedures etc. Yet employers want you to know how they do it. They will ask you to describe how you at your present job go about designing a specification, creating the required documents, getting the project scheduled and so forth. Then they'll say "Well that's not how we do it here." In Heaven's name, how am I supposed to know your internal policies and procedures?!

More and more, IT job hunting is less about the reality of working and more like a fishing expedition. The managers don't really know what they want just looking for someone to come in an WOW them.

Maybe I should try a song&dance number?

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August 17, 2008

A Hit, By Any Other Name

"A hit, a hit, my kingdom for a hit!"

Perhaps William "Bud" Shakespeare didn't exactly write them but the sentiment is the same.

"Hits" the crowning jewel that all webmasters and bloggers use to measure the success of their site, and garner pride points ("My site gets more hits than yours!"). Hits drive advertising and link exchanges. Hits rank sites on popularity counters. The selling price of an established website always includes hits. Even some search engines consider hits when ranking sites.

But there's the problem…

A "hit" can mean several different things! And as such the number can grossly inflate the apparent popularity and visits of a site.

"Hits" can be counted as page views, server accesses, visits or unique visits.

Page Views – This quite literally means the number of times the page has been displayed. Doesn't matter the content of the page just the number of times the web page has been served up to a browser.

Now things get interesting!

Server Accesses – This is the number of times the web server has to be accessed by the web page to retrieve all the elements of the page. A web page is just HTML code (could also be PHP or ASP code but let's presume plain ol' HTML for now). There are all the extras that make a nice looking web page like graphics, photos, video or audio, scripts for animations and special effects, etc.

For example, suppose a web page consists of 4 elements: the HTML page it self, 2 graphics, and a photograph. Every time someone wants to see the page the web server has to serve up 4 items (technically popular web pages would probably be kept in the server's cache memory for faster results but that's not important, just mentioning in passing). Therefore, 1 page view = 4 server accesses.

As such, you can see that if by "hit" you mean server accesses the number of "hits" quadruples! In other words, someone using page views as "hits" would say the site had 1 hit but someone else using server access would say their site had 4 hits! That's a big difference!

But wait, it get's better!

Visits (or Visitors) – This is the number of individual accesses to the over all web site. For example, if 10 people are reading this blog page now that's 10 visits.

Unique Visits (or Visitors) – This is the number of one-of-a-kind individual access to the web site. For example, if you came to this blog 10 times today that would still only be 1 unique visit.


To tie all this together, let's say 2 different people come to a web site twice in a single day. This website has 5 pages, each with 4 elements on the page. Assume the two people view all the pages once each time they come to the site.

Therefore, depending how you count a hit, this website had:

40 server accesses
10 page views
4 visits
2 unique visits

That's a big difference in counting!

So the next time someone brags their site gets X-hits be sure to grill them on what the mean!

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August 14, 2008

Children Playing Scientist

It seems like any kid with a digital camera and a near by cemetery is a "paranormal investigator" theses days. The paranormal field today, on the whole, is characterized by mostly younger people. Teens and 20'somethings mostly. Getting into the 30's, 40's and beyond is relatively less common. Not surprising. It does appeal to the mystery and excitement factor of young people. But with youth comes a grave (no pun intended) lack of understanding about science and discovery.

Right now it seems everyone and anyone is rushing head long into trying to make a ghost camera. Something new that will photograph a ghost better and more consistently than normal cameras today. A decent goal I grant.

But what is your basis in understanding the properties of light and the EMF spectrum? How much experience as a photographer do you have? A pocket digital camera or a disposable 35mm camera isn't experience. Not when creating a new device almost certainly will require the interaction of different kinds of light filters and lenses.

Too often some will come to a message board/form and say "I'm working on a new camera to use X, Y and Z for ghost hunting." Right away people lavish accolades on the person for having a great idea. Then – nothing. The person doesn't give any details on why they think this is a reasonable approach, why they think this is a better or improved approach, why this has a better chance of working than something else, how they plan on developing and testing it, etc etc etc. Worse, after dropping the notion and basking in the glow of mutual admiration for such a great idea months go by and no update on their progress or even if the project ever really got started!

You don't get credit for just tossing out ideas!

I'm not trying to stifle new ideas and creative thinking. I do believe that too often that formalized structure does inhibit creativity. A fertile mind needs to be able to run with a new idea immediately and not get bogged down in bureaucracy and paperwork.

But some level of documentation and reporting needs to be followed if you truly plan to make a contribution to the field. Otherwise it's just self promotion and parlor tricks.

It's a joke and an insult to the field.

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August 11, 2008

Hilary's Last Hurrah

I'm going to break a little with my promise not to be like other bloggers. I'm going to talk about Hilary Clinton's now apparently failed 2008 Presidential campaign race (I say "apparently" because the Democrat convention hasn't happened yet and who knows what Ace she thinks she has up her sleeve).

This topic has been ground to bits by countless bloggers, pundits, and talk shows. But from my point of view there is one significant point that no one has yet discussed and that's what this commentary will cover. So I'm not really breaking my promise after all since this is a subject no one else has dared to speak of.

On with the show…

In my gifted opinion the 2008 Presidential race was Hilary Clinton's first and last hope for being elected President on her own. In the future, who knows? Politics is more fickle than a blind date. Events no one has even dreamed of could happen and she may yet run again. But for my $.02 this was her one and only shot at being an elected President outright.

Here's why:

Scenario 1: Obama wins in November, runs and wins re-election in 2012

If Obama wins the election he will almost certainly run again for re-election in 2012. No matter how badly he does (and he will do very badly but that's a topic for another time) he will still seek re-election. It's just history. No sitting President in the last 30 years hasn't tried for a second term. They didn't all make it (like Bush-41) but they still tried.

As being a sitting President, it will be that much harder for Hilary to run against Obama. And, if by some miracle Obama does a decent job then it will be even more impossible for her to run against him. She will have to wait until 2016 to try again. By that time she will be 69 years old (she was born October 1947). No one is going to elect a 69 year old first-time President. Gender is irrelevant. Even if she does run there will be other Democrats trying for the nomination too. She will just be one of the field. They won't give her any special status like in 2008.

Scenario 2: Obama wins in November, runs and looses re-election in 2012

If Obama wins the election he will almost certainly run again for re-election in 2012. If he looses to a Republican that person will also run for re-election in 2016.

Running against a Republican sitting President will be a bit easier than against a Democrat sitting President. But not by much. Running against incumbents is never easy regardless of party. If Hilary runs and looses (again) then just as before she will have to wait until 2016 to try again. Same issues with her age and other Democrat candidates.

Scenario 3: McCain wins in November, runs and wins re-election in 2012

If McCain wins the election he will almost certainly run again for re-election in 2012. If he wins re-election, same as scenario #1.

Scenario 4: McCain wins in November, runs and looses re-election in 2012

If McCain wins the election he will almost certainly run again for re-election in 2012. If he looses to a Democrat that doesn't automatically mean he looses to Hilary. Just as in scenario #2 there will be other Democrat contenders for the office and she won't have any special privileges. They can only keep the name of "Clinton" in the public conversation for so long before people get fed up with hearing about her. The world doesn't revolve around her.

If McCain looses to a Democrat other than Hilary that person will almost certainly run for re-election in 2016. If that person wins then Hilary will need to wait until 2023 to run again! She will be a whopping 76 years old – no one will vote for her.

It is for these reason I believe the 2008 Presidential campaign was Hilary Clinton's one and only shot at being an elected President out of the gate. She may accept the Vice President position some day but I don't see that happening until at least 2012. And then too not many Democrats what to be tied to the Clinton reputation. Even if she accept the VP position in 2012 and the Democrats win the White House it will be another 4 years (assuming re-election in 2016) before she can run for President herself. She will be pushing 80 by then. Unelectable.

As I said at the start of this, politics is fickle and who knows what will happen in the next 4 to 8 years. She definitely won't be going away as a Senator and may even get on some powerful committees (and, Heaven forbid, maybe even nominated to the Supreme Court if a Democrat wins the White House!). But as being a President, elected on her own merits without having to be in the shadow of someone else, without having to ride the coat-tails of someone else into office – and even worse, a man! – 2008 was her only shot.

Hope she enjoyed the dance but the music has to end.

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August 8, 2008

Tiny Seeds of Management Waiting to Grow (The Peter Principle is Alive and Well)

One of the many things that amazes me in life (which, by still being amazed at these things, helps prove to myself that I haven't gone numb – yet) is the number of people hired or promoted into positions of management – sometimes high management – who are totally clueless! I don't just mean a poor manager. That's bad too. But I mean people who couldn't manage their way out of a paper bag!

There is the concept of the Peter Principle which states that a person rises with in an organization to their level of incompetence. This idea was brought to light and made popular by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1968 book "The Peter Principle". The concept is decades old and still as fresh and accurate today as it was then.

I wish I had $1.00 for every time I had to work with a manager or VP who, not only was incompetent, but everyone knows he/she is incompetent! Even the higher-ups. But they were prompted or hired for the job on the basis that quote "over time they will eventually grow into the position" (actual quote from a senior manager about someone he promoted into a position of high management important but wasn't really qualified for).


Fine. They will grow into it. Then I should be promoted to CEO with all the pay and perks thereof. After all, someday I will grow into the job, right?

I wonder if I should use that line of logic with my boss at my next review to get a raise?

Or the next time I make a mistake at work I'll tell the boss not to worry because someday I'll grow into the position.

I'll let you know how it goes.

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August 5, 2008

The Setup (Watch Your Six!)

In the workplace it is so easy to be setup by your co-works! (or coworkers – cow-workers – as many in the cyber world like to say and is very true!)

Setup to fail.
Setup to look stupid.
Setup to have a bulls eye on your chest for no reason.

It doesn’t take a lot to achieve it. Just a few carefully placed words said at the right time can devastate your reputation or image.

For example at a staff or status meeting a co-worker can say things like "I was finished with my piece of the report at 5:15 last night but Bob had already left for the day" implying that Bob runs out at 5 o'clock sharp.

"I know how important this is to be ready for Monday so I'll come in Saturday to do my part. Susan, do you have plans for the weekend?" thus putting Susan on the spot. If she says she has plans that makes her look non-dedicated and this other person more sincere. Even if Susan doesn't have plans she is now on the spot to come in on the weekend.

"I took this home and worked on it over the weekend. It was tough but I knew you needed it today. Joe was your trip to the beach this weekend?" thus implying that while Joe sunned at the beach this guy was working.

Then there are seemingly innocent comments like when you are leaving someone says loud enough for all to hear "Have a great night Tom!" so everyone looks and sees that Tom is leaving and notes the time.

And then there are in seemingly innocent requests.

Once a co-worker asked me to give a rough estimate for doing something. I explained that it was really hard to estimate without some more detailed info. She pressed for a general estimate and I gave her one of a certain number of days presuming this and that. Later that day she said "I told Carol", our manager at that job, "your estimate and she didn't like it at all." What a bitch! She took a very rough estimate and presented it to management as my proposal. I never gave her another rough estimate again!

It's such a catch-22. You just can't stop and grill someone for every request they make. You get a bad reputation.

Sad thing is some people do this on the job purposely for sport. I've heard people say they are actively working to get someone fired. So much for team spirit and working together.

Keep your resume well polished.

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August 3, 2008

How Sweet It Is!

I’ve dabbled with the sweet on LI over the years. Mostly the tidal regions for winter white perch or pre-season trout. Got a few small mouths from a certain East End lake (if you fish the fresh you know where I’m talking about). But that’s the extent of it. Always seemed like the best freshwater time was during my prime surf time. I knew there was more there, seen some bass in the lakes, but didn’t put much time in.

Until this year.

For the last couple of seasons I felt like I was in a fishing rut. Fish the creeks through the spring, summer fluke or bass nights, hunt for albies in September, then do the cold night trips for bass for the remainder of the year. Maybe an offshore trip here and there. But otherwise the same thing year in, year out. Each year I told myself I’d break the routine and try some different places, different things. In a way I did 2 years ago when I got the Goldfish. The yak did open new opportunities. But this year I decided to go for broke and put my time on for some freshwater action on LI.

I started in May exploring spots along the Peconic River and found some good places to put the yak in the water. I fished a couple of the sections of the river and found pickerel, perch and pre-season bass (can’t help what jumps on my spinner!). I read more online articles, picked up a copy of
Long Island’s Best Freshwater Fishing and got as much info off the NY DEC site as I could find.

So recently I decided to try an East End lake that kept coming up as a good spot for big largemouth bass. I got on the water a little after sunrise (should have been there earlier, next time I will). Started working the edges of the lake with a Panther Martin spinner (it also holds pickerel and I wanted to try for one) and a popper. Got some perch and a few smacks at the popper but nothing else.

Then I switched to a rubber worm – BANG! That was the ticket. The first time I hooked up I thought I was snagged (my Texas rigging skills need more work). Pulled back and it didn’t move. So I pulled back harder and the rod started to pump – what a thrill!

I followed all I could remember from the articles and ESPN fishing shows about working the structure, getting in the snags, etc. The yak was an excellent platform for this kind of fishing. Just a few gentle paddles was enough to propel me silently along the shore line. Sometimes I even let the breezy push me into the shore weeds to hold myself with in casting distance of good looking structure.

I was very happy with my results. I still have much to learn but I’m so excited to try!

Since then I have caught a variety of freshwater fish on Long Island and have been having a great time!

Long Island really does have some very nice freshwater action.

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August 1, 2008

For Crying Out Loud - Learn How to Handle Money!

I have often read (and heard) the average American carries a credit card balance of $10,000!

I'm not surprised (any more).

The more I live the more I meet people who just don't have a clue how to handle money. They have absolutely NO self control. They get a dollar, they spend a dollar.

I've spent my share of money on frivoless things, momentary pleasures, things I only use once, and things that are still in the wrapper in the back of the closet. I have some fish lures that I bought 20 years ago to this day still haven't touched the water!

But I never bought things I couldn't afford (or at least reasonable foresee how to afford) with in the boundaries of my means. I never bought something for fun or pleasure and threw caution to the wind about how to pay for it later. Or worse, spend money I needed for food, gas, rent etc. on a moment's pleasure or little bobble and then wonder how to pay the important bills.

But I see that happening with people all around me.

I know a woman who's 29 y/o and acts like a 10 y/o. I've seen her spend $100 on cheap junk jewelry and then complain she doesn't have the money for food or gas to get home! I've seen her buy a tray Starbucks Grande cappuccinos for friends on a daily basis but doesn't have the money to repair her car! I've seen her spend $14 on really cheap sunglass (and it wasn't an urgent situation that she needed them) but say she'll forgo food for the rest of the day because she can't afford it.

I know people that when a once-in-a-life-time trip is suggested they immediately step back and say "Well I have no money so I can't go" but they go out drinking 2-3 or more nights a week! And don't forget the concert tickets every other weekend!

This isn't just a young person's problem. Older people are just the same.

Some years ago I worked with a man named Patrick (not the same Patrick from the fishing community I will be discussing in a later article). He told me his goal was to retire early at 55 (he was in his early 30's when I knew him) and travel the world. Good goal. But he wouldn't put a dime into a retirement account! We discussed at length IRA's (back then the annual max was $2,000). He said he didn't have two grand to put in. OK, how about half now, half later in the year? Couldn't do that either. How about $500 spread out over 4 times during the year? Still couldn't do it. How about $100 per pay check? Nope. How about each week one night a week instead of going out to dinner putting the money into an IRA? That was just too much too. I'm not sure what ever became of him and his goals. You can only help a person so much and I'm not into banging my head against the wall.

People – listen up!

Learn how to manage money!!! Don't go for the crap about "What if I die today? I can't take it with me!". I'll take odds that you will survive the day to see tomorrow and the next day and the next. Except now you won't have 2 pennies to scrape together.

One other point: You're embarrassing yourself when you say and act like that. People know you have a job and you blow your money on crap. So when you say you have no money people talk. And it isn't pleasant talk. You're making a very bad reputation for yourself. People will only have sympathy for so long until they realize you have money to spend on junk but not on what counts.

I'm banging my head. And it hurts.

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