Get on with the real work

I sometimes find myself feeling a little guilty playing around Twitter or reading blogs, watching videos; all in an effort to stave off doing any real work.

But then I come across stuff like this where the Pennsylvania house is seriously debating a bill to ban students from having cell phones in school.

What planet are these guys on? Is Pennsylvania not in the same recession the rest of us are in? Is this just busy work for politicians? Have they already created all the jobs that Pennsylvanians need and just need something to do? Do they know how ridiculous and out-of-touch this makes them look to the rest of us out here trying to scratch out a living doing real work?

The height of silly.

FAFSA and SBA

What do the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Financial Aid) and the SBA (Small Business Association) Web sites have in common? Take a look at the layout below.

If you have ever filled out the dinosaur of the crappy FAFSA Web site with their PIN number application process, their endless parade of multi-page question forms, their cryptically-coded questions that only a lawyer (and a really bad one at that) could actually understand and their “browser technical requirements” that either scream “I’m on the payroll of Microsoft!!” or “The developers here only had a rudimentary point-click public-school education” than you can only guess at how useful the SBA site is!

I didn’t even bother going beyond the front page as my expectations of bureaucratic morass and overly-lawyered language were already satisfied just looking at the design. Yeah, wonder why small business is fed up with Washington.
fafsasba

Signs of our times

These are just a few images and snippets I saw while cruising around some internet haunts.
picture-21

Ideas now come in florescent light bulbs? Ah, well, the incandescent light bulb had a good run. Found on wowOwow.com

picture-20
Found on Tavis Smiley as a reaction to the 25 random things. Why all this social media is going to die an ugly death pretty soon.

picture-16
A very sad day when someone IN AMERICA wants a job with health insurance for Valentine’s Day, rather than a small indulgence like chocolate, flowers or time away. Found on wowOwow.com (and I can’t find it again, but I saw it there.)

These guys already got their stimulus

Dear President Obama,

I would like to bring your attention to several places of business and government agencies that have already taken their stimulus by raising their prices on goods and services. Should they come asking for a hand out, please let them know that they have already been greedy enough.

– Midas in Englewood, Ohio.
– Montgomery County Property tax people
– The Ohio BMV
– Anthem Blue Cross
– The Speedway on the corner of Taywood and Main
– Vectren
– AT&T Wireless
– Dayton Power and Light
– Time Warner Cable
– The Northmont School District
– Farmers Insurance
– Montgomery County dog license people

Thank you for listening. If you are ever in Dayton, Ohio, please drop by, scratch my ear, play fetch in the back yard.

We’re all in this financial mess together.. except me, and me, and…

white-noise-tvThe Washington Post published an article on President Obama’s desire to pre-empt the network’s prime time with an address about the stimulus package that is being routed through Congress.

Broadcasters are bracing themselves for the likelihood of three prime-time interruptions in three weeks, totaling at least three hours of prime time — and ad breaks — yanked.

“His economic stimulus package apparently does not extend to the TV networks,” one network exec noted.

What arrogance! I got past the headline that read “Obama’s Preemptive Strike” but that snarky comment about how television is being ignored by the stimulus package by what seemingly passed as an “adult network exec” just ticked this puppy off.

For us who have been responsible, lived within our means, saved some of our earnings and still saw our home prices plummet and are told that bailing out our irresponsible, short-sighted, greedy neighbors is a good thing because “we’re all in this together” are supposed to give a crap about what happens to the television industry by “giving up” one hour of prime-time airtime because our president wants to address us as a nation on a serious topic?

The same television who took ad dollars for infomercials on how to exploit your home equity? The same television who put on show after show on flipping houses and making tons of money? The same television who shows a depravity of morality in exploiting “scripted characters” on reality shows and calls that entertainment? The same television that pushes a right-wing ideological agenda without conscience? We are supposed to care about television losing out on three hours of revenue because they show a blatant disregard for anything but their own self interests?

Idiots. Self-absorbed, short-sighted morons.

Soccer stupidity in America

44928201All the soccer fans have probably heard by now that David Beckham is leaving the LA Galaxies to go play for AC Milan. Who cares, good bye. But what makes this somewhat of a sad story is that the MLS, the media and pretty much everyone who has no idea about who really runs soccer in America had hailed Beckham as the opportunity to bring the World’s sport, the “beautiful game” to America for good. This was the legitimization of soccer in America.

They were wrong because soccer in America is not about soccer and probably never will be. Having hung out on a soccer touchline for more years than I can remember, it is about two things:
– Power and ego for the adults running the sport
– Getting a college scholarship

I try not to be a cynic, I really do. But, every now and again, stuff happens that reaffirms my beliefs. Today, a team sent a tournament the following email:

Although I have registered our team in your tournament, we will not be able to compete in the tournament. I haven’t sent in the payment. But, I wanted to make sure you knew that we need to withdraw from the tournament. Our Coach is not available to travel with us that weekend due to a scheduling conflict with his [über-competitive league] team. Please let me know if I need to submit any additional information in order to withdraw.

As a parent, what I hear from the coach is this:

I demand unquestioning allegiance from your kid to me, but I will not give it back to you. I don’t care about anything that won’t get me fame and stroke my ego. Coaching your kid’s “B-team” at a tournament you really wanted to go to won’t get me that, so is just not as important to me. I am only using your kid to fund my “Über A-team” anyway. It is all about ME, ME, ME!!! (visual of cape flapping in the wind, barrel-chested stance.)

And this is why soccer in America is failing and will fail. The adults are not about the game; they are about themselves.

Probably why Beckham is leaving. It only took him 17 months to figure it out, but once he did, he probably wanted no part of that game. To leave LA celebrity to play in Italy is one huge vat of desperate “get me the hell outa here, mate!”

Is this entertainment or opportunity

na-av674a_goofo_d_20090202191213The Wall Street Journal published an article on Tuesday about how many unemployed people are turning to Twitter, blogs and online games to take their minds off their money anxieties. They compared spending several hours a day playing games and using social networks to the 5-cent movie houses of the Great Depression when unemployed workers spent the afternoon watching Charlie Chaplin movies.

What an incredible opportunity to get some practice time in. The really smart folks will spend the extra time honing their blogging and twittering skills, all the while connecting with people who may be able to help them out when the economy takes an upswing. The smart people will craft their writing, experiment a little boldly, edit tighter and be able to offer employers the benefit of their practice time. The smart people are building a portfolio of writing samples for when opportunity knocks.

And then, of course, we will have those who will know how to play online games better, will have tweeted out banal crap and will emerge out of this recession/depression with no more marketable skills than when they went in.

Which are you?

Is there really a text in this class?

I read Shannon Paul’s blog this morning where she was invited to speak at a class at Ferris State University on using social media tools in marketing research. While she did not share the entire content of the class on her blog, she alluded to the gist of it in her afterthoughts and with the question: “How do you prepare communications students for a world where no canonized body of work applies?”

But the fallacy that there is “no canonized body of work” is not entirely accurate. There are huge volumes of works that study human behavior. The problem I have with social media classes like this is they study the medium rather than the text. It is the same issue I have with business and social media experts who attempt to sell an ROI of social media.

….

My Web 2.0 friends are high maintenance

I noticed a trend lately with my Twitter followers, my blog comments and Facebook friends. If I don’t post something new, you don’t care about me. I never get an email asking “are you ok”, “am I feeling well”, “haven’t heard from you in a while”, “what’s up?” My page views drop precipitously

On the other hand, my friends in real life, (*sigh* ok, IRL friends) call me if they haven’t heard from me, they bring me chicken soup and hot cocoa when they hear me all stuffed up and coughing, they help me shovel my car out of the snow. And I do the same for them.

But my online friends, nothing. Not a tweet, not an email, no comment, no Facebook message. Nothing.

I know all this social media stuff is the future, but do I really want to settle for a future full of high-maintenance “friends” who never, ever give unless I push out first? I’m thinking I really don’t.

Why would you?

Picking yourself up as local government pulls you down

irisflowerIn his inaugural address, President Obama says, “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” But don’t you dare do it in Modesto, Califonia.

According to the Modesto Bee, Gordon and Lorraine Nicholson of Woodland Iris Gardens were shut down for selling iris flowers from their seven-acre farm because they did not have a permit to sell at retail. Not only that, but since they would have allowed the public to use their restrooms, the restrooms that were perfectly sanitary for the family to use, were now unusable according to Stanislaus County code enforcement. In addition, their Web site was forced to close. I’m surprised they didn’t have to surrender their dog to the county for failing to test his drinking water four times a year and buying an inspection seal.

All that aside, I suspect the public’s concern over sanitary laws is directly proportional to their need to go. If I gotta go, I will make do with a tree on the back 40.

The county code enforcement unit is just enforcing county zoning law and state laws, said Sonya Harrigfeld, director of the county Department of Environmental Resources. Just following orders without an application of common sense.

When Obama talks about this country building itself, he refers to a time when local governments didn’t regulate everything. “I’m sorry, Mr. Joad, but that Ford truck is piled up way too high with your family’s belongings. It is only allowed to be nine inches past the roof of the cab.”

While it is true that life was a bit more dangerous, the going was a bit tougher, they had no WiFi or GPS at least people were free to try to find a better life, to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and remake America without being told to wash their hands in county-inspected water. I’m afraid that as Washington tells us to hope and “act (swiftly and boldly), not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth,” local counties will reach out more swiftly and boldly to beat us back to the status quo.

When I read stories of local government officials wielding their “authority” they only have because we are too weak to challenge them, I think of this video and Seth Godin’s comments. It enrages me that local government officials — like the three talent judges — feel they also have the right to sit back from their lofty, tax-provided perches and judge ordinary folks who are just trying to make a living and thinking outside of the norm. Instead of encouraging innovation, their first instinct is to grab a pitchfork and lead a passe to “kill the beast.”

When in the Course of Human Events.

It is not about the weather, people

President Obama walked about DC without a coat.. or hat or mittens.
President Obama walked about DC without a coat.. or hat or mittens.
Barack Obama made one comment about schools closing because of a little bit of snow. According to the Washington Post, he said:

My children’s school was canceled today… Because of what? Some ice? . . . We’re going to have to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town.

And he wasn’t really talking about the weather. What he meant to say was.

We’ve got an economic and cultural storm brewing and you all just better tougher up, quit your whining and work together to get this country back on track.

At least that is what I heard with my super-sharp canine ears. Schools may have been closed here in Ohio as well, but we still did our three walks that day. If dogs can do it…

I’m just saying.

People need hard times and oppression to develop psychic muscles. – Emily Dickinson

Getting followed by the best

Robert Scoble
Robert Scoble

Robert Scoble has decided finally to follow me on Twitter. I’m not sure what prompted him to finally join the DogWalk, but since I’ve been following him and commenting on his blog for a while, maybe he just found me interesting? I dunno, but sure glad to have him aboard.

On the Internet, if people know you are a dog, they will follow you anywhere.

Bart Simpson will always be 10 years old

bart_simpsonHere is the secret to the sustainability of The Simpsons: Bart Simpson will always be 10 years old.

At first, this statement seems a bit puzzling, but think about why other social media icons have fallen away. The Brady Bunch grew up, the kid from Two and a Half Men is now a teen-ager, Eddie from The Courtship of Eddie’s Father quickly grew older. The bane of shows that have kid stars is they get older quickly. But, Bart Simpson will always be 10 years old.

Mommybloggers have fallen into this trap because many of them build their audiences around themselves, their personal brand. They are in the minds of their audience, always a mom with kids of “a certain age.” But, while they tend to attract new moms, they themselves are getting older and their kids along with them. Yet, they are looked to for the same advice they were giving when they were struggling through new parenthood.

And many of these mommybloggers will not grow out of that “phase” because it took too much time, too much energy, too much of everything to get to where they are and they will hang on. To their audience, they will always be the mommy.

But they aren’t. They are older, their kids no longer need them to be “mommy.” And this will tear their world apart because they have built a solid brand around being “mommy.”