The Right Stuff

Much like Seinfeld, this is a Blog about nothing. Yet, it is a blog about life and direction we move. Do we treat each other fairly? Are we moving in the right direction? Do we, indeed, have the right stuff? Links:

Monday, January 23, 2006

Seat Belt Laws

As a society, why should we require anyone to wear a seatbelt? This is a victimless crime. We let people smoke, overeat, drink about as much as they want and don't stop them from doing that. There are so many more important items for the police to attend to rather then having people where seatbelts.

Seat belt laws should cover only minors riding in a vehicle. And, the driver should be responsbile for his or her minor.

In New Jersey, for example, one can be stopped for not wearing a seatbelt, but cannot be stopped for talking on the cellphone without a headset or speakerphone. People talking on cellphones cause accidents. Not wearing a cellphone only impacts on the person not wearing it. So, now logical is New Jersey's priority of laws?

What do you thnk? I would love to hear from you.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

Verizon and Cable TV

In New Jersey, Verizon is attempting to get the state legislature to take away each township's right to negotiate with Cable-TV providers. They want the state to section today about Verizon's full-court press to get state-wide approval for it's cable operations.

I have dealt with Verizon and its predecessors for over 20 years. In every instance, they have attempted to mislead and/or bully those with whom they disagree. I have been a long-time customer of Verizon's Yellow Pages products, spending over $10,000 per year. About 10 days ago we learned that some of our most recent advertisements went in with both my website and name incorrect. We pointed this out to the sales manager who refused to authorize a refund. Then, we were referred to a special unit that handles these requests. When we requested a full refund with respect to only the incorrect ads, we were told "no". When we asked to speak to a manager, we were asked to write to an address in Massachusetts to appeal his decision. Is this the kind of company you want running our cable industry in New Jersey? This is just one example of Verizon's arrogance.

The bottom line is that Verizon has proven that it cannot be trusted. And we should make every effort not to allow them to buy favorable legislation. Can you imagine what Verizon would do if some person who paid only $50 per month had a complaint about their Cable services?

Some of you may have purchased Verizon DSL over the past several years. When they made a better offer to new customers, did they tell you? NO! They don't care about their current customers as much as they care about getting new customers.

Verizon has a poor corporate culture. The company only looks to the bottom line and not its responsibilities to its customers. How can they be trusted to meet the best interests of the New Jersey public? The answer is simple, they can't!

What do you think? I would love to have your comments.


Saturday, December 31, 2005 the the gas the movies

I must admit...the ideas in this blog were inspired by a friend of mine. So, for the record, not my original idea to write about. But, I definitely agree with it.

So, you are in line...whether it be at a gas station (there is still no self service in Oregon and New Jersey), fast food drive-up window, or a bank want to get in and out, as quickly as possible. And, like most of us, after you have gotten your gas, food, or cash, you pull out of the line so that the next person can do his or her business.

Well, how lovely is it to be behind someone who has to carefully put the money back in their wallet before they pull up 10 feet, or make a cellphone call, or put on some makeup? I mean, we all need to work together here. Imagine how much time is wasted by our society through unnecessary waiting in line? How hard it is to put that envelope from the bank and put it on the seat next to you and pull up ten feet so that the next customer can start doing their business?

And, well, there are all kinds of line inefficiencies. Ever see a movie line to buy tickets? I mean, try watching it carefully. On a couple of occasions I have been at the back of a line with nearly 100 people. And, when your movie starts in 10 minutes, you kinda get a bit anxious. There may be 3 or 4 people selling tickets and one line wrapped around those poles and dividers. So, you wind your way through. Why does it take so long? Well, aside from the possibility of the ticket sellers being slow, the MAJOR reason is that the people in line are, mostly, just dumb.

Heck, if I weren't such a Type A personality, I might be making the same mistake. The people in line wait until the ticket seller yells out "next" to start moving. And, sometimes the ticket seller has to do that two or three times to get someone to stop talking. I mean, when you are at the front of a hundred person line, you COULD stop talking and pay attention, right?

And, here is the key. Anticipate! If you see someone walking away from a ticket seller with their tickets, you might as well be ready, within your money in hand, at that ticket seller BEFORE he or she is ready to yell "Next!" How hard is that?

I tested this theory once. Instead of standing at the back of the line, I let my wife stand there and I went to the front and played the part of the line accelerator. As I anticipated the next ticket seller becoming available, I moved people on. The line for my wife went through in half the time. So, not only did we make our movie, the manager, who was acting as one of the ticket takers because the line was so long gave us free tickets for our services!

So, when we are all out there on line somewhere, let's think about how our action, or inaction, impacts on those behind us.


Monday, December 26, 2005

Volunteerism in America

Volunteersim is defined by The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language as:

Use of or reliance on volunteers, especially to perform social or educational work in communities

The same dictionary defines Volunteer as:

A person who performs or offers to perform a service voluntarily

and goes on to define Voluntary:

Acting or done willingly and without constraint or expectation of reward.

It seems we have lost that meaning. Too often, employees are paid to volunteer, expected to take a portion of their pay and contribute it to charity (those who "contribute" to the United Way know exactly what I am talking about). Some or our college-aged children "volunteer" their time...but get "stipends" or cancellations of their loans. To "volunteer" means to give without any expectation of reward!

So, what can each of us do? Truly volunteer! Find a problem and make a difference. A close friend of mine runs a shopping spree each year. No publicity, no accolades, no speeches about his good work. He just gets to give Christmas to 5060 underprivilegeddd children each year and feels good about it. He gets another 40 people to help him on the day of the spree each year and each of them feel good. And, not one of them does it because they have to, or they get paid to, or their employer expectsa minimummm number of hours of community service.

One local high school states on its webpage:

XYZ High School has initiated a voluntary community service component in which the student must complete a minimum of 15 hours of service.

Is the program "voluntary"or required by the term "must complete?" Sounds pretty confusing to me.

I felt so touched when I heard that a local contractor was forming a charity to raise money for supplies so that several contractors, including himself, could go down to New Orleansand buildd new homes. Imagine my disappointmentt to find out he was planning to use the funds raised to pay for for his services during the trip to New Orleans! The guy was trying to do right...or was he trying to keep employed during the cold NJ winters? I certainly don't know.

In spite of that, I do believe that volunteerism and charity is truly in the hearts and minds of most of our citizens. And, I pray that most of our country do not value the almighty dollar as first and foremost. Could I be wrong?

What do you think? I want to hear from you.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bank of America

I have formed my own public charity. We take underprivileged children on holiday shopping sprees. When I formed the public charity, about three years ago, I approached the local branch of Fleet Bank to open the account. The local manager assured me that there would be no service charges.

So, Fleet gets taken over by Bank of America and we are advised that the charges would commence. So, we move our account to PNC by writing out a check for the remaining balance on the account. However, Bank of American insists on keeping the account open and charging $15 per month. So, each month, the charity goes further into a negative balance and the bank won't close the account.

Up until this point, I was relying upon my staff to resolve the matter. So, I am at the office late and see a statement showing the negative balance. I figure I will call the phone number on the statement and talk to a representative to resolve the matter. I call the number and hear a series of prompts. After about 8 minutes, I find the relevant prompt and .....

Well, you know what happens next. I don't get the live person to talk to. Instead, I get a recording saying that they closed their offices at 7pm and I should call back during the normal telephone business hours. I mean, why couldn't you tell me at the beginning, saying:

"Our automated services are open. If you need to speak to a live person, call tomorrow between 7am and 7pm." But, noooooooooooooooo, they make you go through all of the prompts first.

And, when they put the phone number on the statement, in all that white space (about half a page on my statement) they couldn't give me the hours of automated services versus live services?

Hey, Bank of America is so bad, I am still getting statements for my mother showing a zero balance. She passed away in 1999! It took me until early 2005 for them just to take the last $2 in the account in the hopes they would close it. Hmmmmmmmmmm...maybe they will start charging her $15 per month. I bet they will when they see this post!


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Another night at the movies

Well, I went to see King Kong. As most of you already know, what a terrific movie! An unbelievable love story. And, it's three hours! So, imagine spending most of those three hours near talkative, rude teenagers?

I guess I forgot why I don't see movies the first weekend they are out!

I mean, you got to give some credit to Regal theaters. Their manager threw about half the rudies out! But the other half put on an act and got to stay. I wonder why these young people even go to the movies. When I was younger, I went to see the movie or make out :-). Never just to talk!

Yesterday, someone came up with a great idea. There should be sound sensors in the seats. If you make too much noise, you're outta there!


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

45 minutes with my daughter....Priceless

Some of you reading this blog may find that all I do is point out weaknesses and negatives. So, for a change of pace, I thought I might share a more postive experience. All of you fathers will especially enjoy this.

My 23-year old daughter is spending a few months with us at home before she starts graduate school abroad. While here, she is working full-time and going to school at night. (I am so proud of her!)
One of the things so important to her is keeping in good physical shape. So, she joined a gym and goes regularly. Like me, she is somewhat of a nightowl, so she is usually at the gym late...often starting after 10pm. She chides me about being overweight and out of shape (I protest...after all, I do play basketball with the guys a lot). Well, in spite of my protests, I arranged to get a short-term membership at her gym.
Well, the first time she went, she warned me that she would be doing her own thing and not to expect that I would be "with her". So, we got there I went to the walking machine (not a treadmill...something more fancy then that) a few down from her. She looked at me and pointed to the machine next to her. Then we separated for a bit and then she asked me to join her by the free-weights (she usually doesn't go cause she is a bit uncomfortable with all the heavy-weights there). Well, she started showing me how to do lunges and curls and all kinds of exercises. I was fine doing them and I know they are good for me. But, for me, it was that one-on-one time that a father almost never gets with an adult daughter.

I felt like I was in a MasterCard commercial:

Membership to Gym for 2 months ...........................$98;

New running shoes....................................................$84;

45 minutes of time at my daughter's side
three times per week..........................................Priceless!


Monday, November 28, 2005

Open letter to Inconsiderate Job Applicants

Here is the text of an actual E-Mail that I sent last night to a candidate:

Dear Tiffany:

Why bother forwarding a resume if you don't follow the instructions of an ad? Where is your salary history? Why do you think the job is a good match? And, who would hire you when you have not had a job for more then 11 months in the past 5 years? Maybe you should explain that? Responses such as yours is why more and more employers run to placement agencies to screen out inconsiderate job prospects, such as yourself, who do little more then clog up our mailboxes.

Change, or you will keep finding dead-end jobs!


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Job Applicants

I own my own company. And, from time to time, we need to hire people. When we do, we often place an advertisement on Monster Board and include language along the following lines:

"Tell us about yourself. Think about why you might want to work here and then tell us. Make sure you provide us with your salary history and requirements."

But, instead of reading my ad and responding accordingly, MOST candidates use their keyword finder to identify my job as one they want. This is a significant change from 5 to 10 years ago. It appears that the high technology of the internet, makes people stupid. Or, maybe it just enables stupid people to apply for jobs in droves!

So, after they match a keyword to a new job posting, the candidates send me their resume to me, along with the other prospective employers that have an appropriate keyword matching the candidate's autofinder. These people almost never get the job. The people who get the job (at least with my firm) are the one's that actually read the ad and take the time to provide a personalized helpful response. One in which they show me that they actually read the ad and understand the basic requirements of the job.

From time to time, I call one of these "blasting" candidates. I see something in their resume that, in spite of their lack of judgment in applying for a job, that they might actually do well at it. When I do call, however, most have no idea what the job is all about, even after I identify the company by name and type of business. What is worse, is that sometimes I leave a message that I would like to conduct a telephone interview. When I do, I am aghast when a candidate calls me back and STILL has no idea about the job. They didn't go back to their e-mail and the ad? Then, why bother calling me back, I ask?

While I am at it, I might as well vent about candidates who state in their initial telephone interviews: "I had no idea your office was so far away from me." Hey Ninny! Didn't you run a Mapuest of the zip code I had in the ad? Why stuff my mailbox when you have no intent to travel the 35 mile commute? It should be YOUR job to screen out jobs you don't want to commute to, not mine. I have no idea if you are moving next week to a town nearby my office.

If you see yourself in the descriptions above, please take note. Save us all time, and increase your chances of getting a job. Send thoughtful responses ONLY to the jobs you really want. In the long run, we will all be better off.

And, if you are an employer, I would love to hear from you!



Today, I drove to my office. Yes, it's Sunday! But, in my field, the work always seems to be there. And, Sunday's are a good day to get a lot of it done. I did get my exercise though with some vigourous basketball in the morning.

So, here I am driving to work....nice day...just minding my own business doing about the speed limit (40 mph on one two-lane road and 50 mph on the next) and this guy is tailgating me. I mean, not even one car length off my tail. As we all learned in Driver's Ed, one car length for ever 10 mph. So, this guy should be 4 to 5 car lengths behind me. And, so it goes, me with him on my tail for over 4 miles! Nobody behind him, nobody in front of me. You think he got to his destination any faster by staying 3 or 4 car lengths closer then he should? The asshole should have passed me or just stay content a safe distance behind. As many of you know, this happens a lot and it is sooooooooo stupid. I can't wait until I get that Laser Gun in my car so I can shoot out the guy's tires. Then, he will really be late!

Anyone else think this is a problem? Let's hear from you.


Men and public bathrooms

As you all know by now, I went to the movies last night. Now, half of you know about public restrooms for men. But, for the half of you that may not, let me describe the particular men's room at the movies, which is not much unlike any others. First, you enter and see the sinks and electric hand-drying machines. Then one sees a room of urinals and stalls with doors hiding the toiliets. Now, I am well over 40 years old and, for the life of me, I cannot understand why a man wants to urninate in the toilet when there are perfectly good urninals to be used. You ask, why should I care? Well, try having to use one of the toilets which has been generously sprayed? Or, even when the man had the god-given sense to raise the seat, most get some on the floor. Well, if I have to sit on a toilet, my pants end up touching the way around it unless, like George, I totally remove my pants. Well, that is what I faced tonight. And, thank g-d, there were two other restrooms, one of which had been recently cleaned. So, men, use the urinal in public bathrooms and save the toilets for those who really need it!


A night out to the movies

Tonight, my wife and I went to the movies. Great flick, Walk the Line, the story of Johnny Cash. Anyway, it seems to me, if the movie is to start at 8:05pm, it should start within 5 or 10 minutes of that time. It didn't. Rather, they first had a couple of minutes of commercials (not previews, but commercials, and this is after 20 minutes of "stuff" before the 8:05pm start time!). Then, another 15+ minutes of previews of coming attractions. I mean, how many times must I see the coming attractions to Geisha? So, if you agree with me, tell the manager at the movie theater that the movie should start no more then 10 minutes after the start time!

I would love to hear your comments about how you feel.