Be careful what you send people, they may just laugh at you with the world watching

This is just funny and clever stuff because it is in context. The dogs leaping into the pool isn’t bad viewing either.

And if you are a lawyer or a company with a lawyer and feel the need to send me a cease and desist letter, for anything I have done, said or will do and say, I will publicly ridicule it and you as well. I will probably pee on it instead of oven-toasting it!

Fight fair and write with care. And compete with your brain, not your lawyer. You’ll look smarter and less like a whiney-momma’s boy-cupcake-nancy-pansy.

Yup, that oughta get me at least ONE letter.

How we are all connected

Today, I heard from a long-time reader who emailed me just to let me know she was still reading and that she had been enjoying the blog ever since she first saw it.

Wow! Whenever I get an email like this, it is truly a humbling experience. Even though the DogWalkBlog gets lots of traffic, when a reader takes a few moments out of the day just to say she enjoys reading it touches. That is what blogging and Twittering and all this stuff is about; one touch, one moment.

I’m writing this immediately after looking at the pictorial spread in the Wall Street Journal. In a sea of 1.5 million people, photojournalists are able to pick out one genuine smile, one face full of hope and one little girl who gives her dad a “thumbs up” with an orange glove.

I aspire to be that lens. Always.

Why do we keep eating?

Why do we eat? The simple answer would be that if we did not eat, we would die. But that is not entirely true. Science can provide us with a pill we can take that would provide exactly the nutrition we need — no more, no less — to keep our bodies healthy. Yet, we resist the notion that a pill, taken three time a day, would replace daily meals.

….

Round up all the web geeks and pelt them with pebbles

I just spent the last hour of my life fighting with some CSS that works perfectly in Safari and MESI 7.0, but not in MSIE 6.0 or the “standards compliant” Firefox whatever version it is now. Since I am working pre-coffee, pre-office hours from a laptop on my kitchen table, I don’t have the luxury of checking out the site on a MSIE 6.0 browser. All I have is a really badly worded description of the problem, sent in an email by a very late Boomer who is using a language all her own to describe the issue.

Let me start by explaining I am very, very good at CSS, HTML, PHP, Perl, MySQL, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and a whole host of stuff that has long been discontinued. I have been in the Internet and Web game since 1995 so I think it is fair to say I know what I am doing and have employed a pretty sizable library of fixes, kludges, hacks and plain ol’ cheats to make stuff work on a Web site. I can read, write and design. Don’t even start assuming I’m an idiot or unknowledgeable. You would be very, very wrong.

In some circles, I would be considered a geek. But in mine, I am a User Interface Designer. My job — some would say my obsession — is to make the interaction between the human and the machine seamless and intuitive. If training is needed, the system is too complicated. At least that is the ideal.

I have lost more time, brain cells and sleep to the hubris of geeks than any other tech-related issue. I am convinced the only reason that we have browser discrepancies with CSS, HTML, etc is because the geeks were in charge and they did not have the skills to play nice with each other or anybody else. They looked down at the user because they weren’t as smart, because they didn’t get it. And, they looked down at each other because each one was more right than his peer.

What if each company making street lights decided on a different order of the red-yellow-green? Of, decided that the colors were way too boring and decided purple-pink-magenta would be better. Or, what if they decided that light were just not good and they used coo-coo clock birdies instead? And imagine if a different signal was installed on each street corner. But, the wrinkle is that each user was able to choose which signal he/she liked best for that day, for that corner? What a mess!

So, now we have this mess of browser technologies that don’t play well with each other. For every hour I have to spend on the phone or email, explaining why MSIE 6.0 is a piece of crap, I would like to invoice Microsoft. And, in all fairness, Microsoft should take that invoice payment out of the paychecks of any geek who decided that their way was better. Let them live with the consequences of the mess their hubris created. Apple and Mozilla, you’re not off the hook either.

I expect the geeks to either ignore this post or defend their position. I really don’t give a crap which they do because today, I woke up as a fully frustrated user who doesn’t care to hear another excuse about why your way is better. I am no longer a developer; I will be a user first. If I have to fight with it, I ain’t gonna use your technology.

Standards are good. Community-agreed conventions keep use from wasting time. Pay attention to the user, geeks and peek out from your self-induced world every once in a while.

And quit going to geek conventions where everyone validates your opinion about the user. They’re wrong; we’re not stupid. We just have lives where technology is a tool, not an ends.

What would you do if you had $1 million dollars?

Dear President-elect Barack Obama;

I am a small business owner. I do quite well for myself as I am in a knowledge-based business servicing the youth sporting market and the retail services industries. I also dabble a bit in coffee and Web 2.0 consulting.

I was running some numbers this afternoon on the bail-out plans that have been proposed to date. As I look back on my college days some 20 plus years ago and my classes in English Literature — specifically with regard to American literature of the mid to late 1800s (Hawthorne, Dreiser, Meliville, etc) — I was struck with what is to me a strangely obvious fact. Modern capitalism has run its course and the current financial crisis is the front wave of a new economy.

At its basics, capitalism is providing money to build infrastructure for making goods and to a certain degree, providing services with the promise of a return on its sale or sale of the goods produced. Having been in a service industry all my life, I am not unaccustomed to “cramming” a product economic model (“making widgets”) into a service model. It really doesn’t work but we lied to ourselves just the same.

This country no longer makes things. We provide services; we assemble components. The old capitalist model where we invest in machinery, buildings, factories, etc for making goods is dead. It has been dying for a very long time. As such, funding the economy from the top down is not a viable option. There will be no trickle-down benefit as the economy will only swell and move if the bottom tiers start spending and buying goods and services. Yet, they can’t because they have no ready cash.

Capitalists talk in billions of dollars. Ordinary citizens talk about hundreds each week. Investment banks talk millions in transaction per day. Small business talks about hundred of thousands in revenue. When you pour $700 billion into Wall Street, it is like dumping a gallon of water into the Pacific Ocean. When you pour $1 million into a small business, it is like filling a bathtub with a fire hose.

Here is my proposal:
– Establish a fund of $400 Billion dollars.
– Give $1 Million dollar grants to 400,000 business that are ready, able and willing to provide services to a service-based economy.
– Each business can then afford to hire 6 people at a salary of $40,000. With health care, taxes, equipment, etc. that should equal about $60,000 investment for each employee.
– That leaves about $640,000 left for materials, computers, advertising, marketing, etc.
– Encourage a strong multi-generation team, such as Gen Y, Xers, Boomers and beyond. Working together, we make a difference we all want to experience.

That puts about 2.4 Million people to work, building knowledge centers for teachers, creating software to better manage health care systems, providing new event marketing systems for brands, creating better time balance management systems for new parents, perhaps even finding a cure for some diseases. The infrastructure of services you will jump-start will sustain itself well past the year the US Government will fund.

Your campaign proved the model. Small amounts of money spread across millions of people who are motivated to creating a better world than was left them works. We are ready, willing and able to make the change.

Lead us and help us say, “Yes, we can” one small voice at a time until it becomes a thunderous, mighty roar.

Warm regards,

G.

PS I look forward to seeing the new puppy Malia and Sasha pick out!

The definitive metaphor for social media

There has been a rush with the social media consultant groups and evangelists about how to define this thing called “social media.” Chris Brogan defined it as cafe-shaped conversation. And many people jumped on that metaphor.

Hubspot got a bit lively when they published a video and blog post about not measuring ROI on social media. That got a lot of comments, many which attempted to define social media so it can be measured.

It seems like everyone is struggling to define this thing called Social Media and how it correctly fits into how business will be conducted. While social media may be better defined as the elephant in the room with five blind men, a perfect metaphor popped into my head this morning when I sent someone a link to MildFire and their response was, “How do you find this stuff?!?”

The real answer was I grabbed it off a Twitter stream as I was sitting and zoning between tasks. But, the answer I heard coming out of my mouth was: “It’s like this huge asteroid belt that flies by my desk all day long.. something catches my eye and I reach and grab it. Sometimes it is a shiny rock, sometimes it is a nugget of gold.”

So, the definitive metaphor — at least for Twitter — is it is an asteroid belt.

As for MildFire, I’m not sure yet if they are a nugget of gold or a shiny rock, so they go into the drawer until I have time to asses their value.

Things I found funny today

Two scenes in Katy Perry’s Hot & Cold music video struck me as funny today.

Come on, a rock n’ rolling priest at a wedding? That’s just God’s sense of humor.

A guy in a hot dog suit getting run over by a guy running away from his angry bride to be. Yeah, that has funny written all over it.

Posted via email from rufus’s posterous

Never confuse ‘clear thought’ with crap

Last Saturday, Mark Lilla, a professor of humanities at Columbia University, wrote an article in the WSJ titled The Perils of ‘Populist Chic’, What the rise of Sarah Palin and populism means for the conservative intellectual tradition. It was well-thought out and objectively argued. In short, it explains why presidential candidates need to go bowling and drinking beer, why smart girls get teased in math class and why nobody like a know-it-all. Kinda.

Anyway, I tell you this so that you are intriqued enough to read the article and draw your own conclusions, but also to introduce Mr. Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D who wrote a letter to the editor, saying, among other things:

Prof. Lilla proves that highly educated minds can be small and prejudiced when he describes Gov. Sarah Palin as “ignorant” and “provincial.” What this Columbia professor really means is that she isn’t Ivy League educated and isn’t from New York City.

Well, I’m just a mutt that grew up in the Frogtown area of St. Paul and graduated with a BA in English from the public university, the University of Minnesota and even I think Sarah Palin is ignorant and provincial. Moreover, I think she is rather stupid in that she does not show a capacity to learn as evidenced by her more recent interviews (still reading the keywords off the notecards!) Furthermore, she exhibits distain for others around her and appears incapable of empathy. 

But mostly, she is stupid. No, really she is.

The president should be really smart, almost geeky smart. The fact that we have a smart president-elect who is also a great orator and empath is a giant plus. Let’s stop “mocking him” through sneers, jokes and sarcastic asides. After all, he did what Sarah Palin and John McCain could not.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

Eat dessert first

Wall Street Journal 2008-07-14 Michael WitteI read the Wall Street Journal. I have since I was a young puppy when I got my first job at Dog Pound, Inc. While my peers always flipped to the Money sections, checked the stock quotes, etc., the first section I read was MarketPlace. This is where all the “life” bits happened which drove the other parts of the paper, like stock prices, financial markets, etc. Its a bit of wisdom that most dogs get later in life when they figured out that “managing stocks and portfolios” is really wagging the dog.

Anyway, almost the entire WSJ today was gloom and doom about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the collapse of Steve & Barry’s, the feds seizing IndyMac, how to sell your home in a down market, consumer confidence at an all-time low. But, on the very last page, I ran into an article by George Anders titled “Buy Now, Don’t Regret it Later.” What a remarkable bit of wisdom!

It is a few hundred words and worth the time to read, but it all boils down to “take time out to pee on that bush, linger over the smelly thing, say hi to the neighbor dog…” Pay attention to the non-money things in your life as that is what will make it richer. Read the opinions, essays and Marketplace FIRST.. then, when you have time, read the gloom and doom on the financial pages.

The photo was shamelessly lifted from wsj.com and is credited to Michael Witte. If he complains about it being here, we’ll take it off…. but, I hope he doesn’t

Unfamiliar walks

A couple days ago, we took a walk downtown and I really enjoyed myself. I love new places, new smells, new dogs. As I walk along, I look back to see if my owner is still with me, to make sure that he wants to go straight, take a left, stop and look at a building for a while. Sometimes, I come back, nuzzle his hand and keep walking.

Lately, I’ve noticed I started doing that on our regular paths as well. I’d look back to make sure I was going the right way. I’d not linger on smelling grounds because I am unsure if it is ok to do. I was not sure which turn he wanted to take.

I should know where to go, but I’m lost, even on familiar walks. It all seems so familiar, yet different and no longer mine.

Trying to find normal

Today, I spent the afternoon curled up alone in my office, working on stuff. Sometimes the phone rang and I answered it, but mostly I did the small things that I used to do when it was just me.

I miss me.

Scott McClellan from a dog’s point of view

There is a lot of talk about Scott McClellan’s new book. Comments from it range of “now, we know the truth” to “he is bitter” to … oh, who really cares. Just everyone shut up already. If you want, buy and read the book, if not, just quit talking like you know anything.

Here is the canine take on what really happened in the White House and is best illustrated by the fable, The Emperor’s New Clothes, written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837, 171 years ago! Amazing we knew so much about humanity back then and still we don’t pay attention. Kids, stay in school, crack a book!

For anyone under 40ish, here is the synopsis from Wikipedia,

An emperor who cares too much about clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they tell him, is invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. The Emperor cannot see the (non-existent) cloth, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing stupid; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime. The Emperor then goes on a procession through the capital show off his new “clothes”. During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, “But he has nothing on!” The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth and begins laughing. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession.

But, this is a fairy tale, so the emperor had to be the laughing stock. But, here is what would have happened if this were a true story.

Royal guards would burst out of the royal procession and beat the kid to death in a bloody attack, in full public view. Then, they would have arrested the kid’s family, beating them the entire way to the dungeon, where they would have been tortured and held without a lawyer indefinitely. Do you think the crowd would keep laughing? Do you think the crowd would turn on the royal guards and administer mob justice? Probably not. They would have kept their heads down, waved like they meant it and worked on trying to get out of the parade and go home as quickly as possible.

A lot of royal guards burst out of the royal procession after 9/11. And the crowd did not stop them and did not speak up. The few who did were beaten back like a bratty little kid. And deep in their hearts, the crowd knew this was wrong, yet kept silent because they didn’t want to get beaten and they didn’t want to get hauled off. (Bill O’Reilly, if you are reading this, this is a METAPHOR for what happened, not a literal representation. You use a lot of big words at the end of your show to describe how folks should write you. Can you say metaphor?)

For the people who are saying “If Scott felt this way, he should have spoken up sooner, not write a book later.” Hmmm…. 171 years ago, Andersen knew this. I think what Scott did was kept his head down, waved and tried to figure out how to get home as quickly as possible. Then, when he was safe, he cried out “The emperor is wearing no clothes.” But, the royal guards came after him anyway. And probably will for a very long time.

Please read, then speak. In that order. Start here.

Memorial Day

As I was lifting my leg to bless the Englewood Independent lying on my doorstep this morning, the front page article caught my eye. So, I bent down to read it before soaking it. The main headline read “Memorial Day: Remembering those who preserve freedom.”

It was a good article about Air Force Capt. Bob Everdeen from Clayton who served in Afghanistan. However, the headline just kept sticking in my head. I am not anti-military, though you may view the following as such. But, if you leave a comment about me being anti-military, you just have not read this post nor have you thought about anything in it. Fair warning.

The military does NOT preserve freedoms. It protects the citizens from military threats, both foreign and domestic which are casually ASSUMED and “marketed” by our leaders (and reflected by journalists, shame on you) to be launched to take away our “freedoms.” In reality, our freedoms are being taken by our own government, who seek to control the citizenry through fear, intimidation, abuse of power and any other tool it can contrive to keep power. For example, Osama bin Laden did not want to take away our freedoms by striking the towers and the Pentagon; he just wanted to strike America where she hurts the most, in the wallet. He doesn’t care about our “freedoms,” but he does care about killing Americans, crippling our economy and forcing America out of the Middle East. Big difference. Yet, the actions were marketed by the current administration as an attack to “take away our freedoms.”

Read the Patriot Act, take a look at the laws that allow wire-tapping, racketeering, eminent domain, declaring a US citizen an unlawful combatant and see how they are being perverted and applied to US citizens. All of these things should scare the average citizen, not just us dogs. It is all of these things that the military is “preserving” for its citizens? Hmmm….

Freedom is preserved by Americans by NOT allowing our government to overstep any authority it derives from its CITIZENS. This starts at the local level in school boards, at city government council meetings, county tax offices, etc. Leash laws, for example. Why? To take away my freedom to sniff on a tree, to pee on a bush — purchased with tax dollars, planted by a city worker on city property, to dally over a smelly bird carcass, to be in the city park behind the Englewood government center palace stretched out in a full run with the wind in my ears?

Freedom is also preserved by skilled diplomats who talk with other government leaders. More good comes from mutual respect and patience than by any military action any government can impose on another. It is just a matter of time — 1 year, 100 years, 1,000 years — before the oppressed rises up and crushes the oppressor. But, mutual respect and patience builds a common goal that preserves freedoms for both parties for 1 year, 100 years, 1,000 years.

Get involved, find a voice, preserve your own freedoms. Make this country a strong America that only the really stupid would ever think of invading. When every citizen has the passion to defend his/her freedoms from any enemy, foreign and domestic, perhaps we will feel less like relying on a military force to “preserve our freedoms” and take on the role for ourselves. And, perhaps our government leaders will think twice before “defending” our freedoms through laws that serve to limit the activities of its citizens for their own protection.