Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bronze Badge… How About Purple Heart?

Harry R Badge

I swear it wasn’t me. I left the computer on and didn’t sign out… I bet Phil was just clicking madly to get to some game site.


P.S. That is 9 more articles than anyone should read about Reid.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Really? No Twitter Badge… but this!!!

Rep Badge

No tracking / badges for "Twitter", but for a badge for "Republicans".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Points, Stars and Badges

Points, Stars and Badges

The Google News Badge system will not last.

By comparison, the MarketWatch Community employs a “star” system where contributors can earn stars as they post (quality, tragically, is not a consideration). Most people post very little, and a few people post a lot, most people stream a little, Pos Skew 3but some stream too much, most people have a little bit of money saved, a few people have a lot, most people read a few articles, some read a lot which drives a strongly skewed distribution curve where the mode is close to zero.

As users drop out of the MarketWatch user community their accounts do not appear to be deleted. “User accounts” are likely used to demonstrate value to MW advertisers. The remnants of their profile and posts get fixed into the left side of the distribution. Frequent, long-term posters continue to push the curve out to the right. 

LinkedIn has a similar active/inactive user issue as discussed in the Xolotech post: LinkedIn Professional Networking – which cites an Infographic stat from Mashable. 39% of LinkedIn users have not visited the site in more than 1 month.  (Note to LinkedIn: pruning dead wood off of a tree is a good practice to encourage future healthy growth.)

Google Badges
The process of earning stars on MarketWatch has unintended consequences that manifests a couple of negative behaviors. 

Bad Behavior

Users that are ejected from the community for violating Terms of Use, can rejoin under a new name, post a relatively small number of items, then re-earn their stars and status. 

Since inactive user counts are still valid, the median and mean are more easily surpassed. The penalty for violating the Terms is minor, and offenders know it.

The outcome for the MarketWatch Community is that User Reputation, as measured by stars is no longer valid, and that bad users have no fear of the Terms of Use. Note to MarketWatch: You tried to crowdsource a solution to this problem, but appear to have ignored your audience feedback. Tsk, tsk… you really should listen to your customers.

How will Google Count -- Absolute Value or Relative Value, and what defines a badge category?

Early Google News Badges are earned while competing against a smaller pool of readers, early adopters can gain Stars quickly. As readership increases, and more users adopt a practice to earn Badges, they will need to read many more articles to gain their stars. (Unless the MarketWatch experience occurs).

Badges in one category might gain stars faster than others - for example, not many people are reading articles on Samsung, when compared to Google. Google stars spawn at multiples of 40 articles, Apple at 25, Nokia is under 10. Of course, this will all settle when the curve is set.

Again, what is the goal of the Badge program from the User Point of View and how does it differ from the goals for Google?

Changing Habits – Do I follow Authors or Topics?

I still prefer the features of Google Reader over Google News. Reader has a better interface (and Feedly makes it great!),  does a better job at tracking articles that I have read, and keeps a list of articles so I can back-track to find key ideas. Authors that put out good product get added to my list.

My Google News reading habits have changed. I had to make adjustments to Personalization -- reducing the number of Sections, and using the sliders to increase Blogs and reduce Press Releases. I skim my home page, then click down into the Badges for further reading. Google News does not provide enough articles to feed each Badge category. Some articles re-appear as unread (but still count towards your badge).

Serendipity is lost to pursuit of a goal. (Note to self: add StumbleUpon to Menu bar, use more frequently). 

Where Reader is my “closed” list of topics (can I invoke a Google+ Circle reference?) based on Authors. Google News was always my “open” list of categorized, lightly curated, new content. Badges seem to push News towards a smaller pool of topics.

Is it possible that Google is resurrecting demographics (Demographics 2.0) by News Reading habits? Or, are Circles being stealthy inserted into other Google properties?

Chicken – Egg…? Do we even need badges?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hayek vs. Keynes

Hayek vs. Keynes

John Phelan provides a great summary of the debate in his article: Hayek vs. Keynes and the LSE on the Mises Blog.

Maybe the BBC will be kind enough to share their a copy of their August broadcast with a particular viewer in Central Texas.

Regarding China: “One questioner asked whether the Chinese stimulus package had been so much more successful than America’s because the totalitarianism of China allowed the government to direct the spending more effectively than in the US with its dispersed government.”

burnig car
Maybe a visual example will work:
China injected fuel directly into the cylinders of their economic engine… where the US simply sprayed the fuel all over the engine compartment.

As the US economy gasps and sputters along, we wait for 537 posers to collect their campaign materials for 2012.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amazon Avoids the Tax Man, You do too…

Amazon Avoids the Tax Man, You do too…

Christopher Caldwell misses the point in his Financial Times article: “Why Amazon’s tax-free landscape needs bulldozing”.

  • Do I work with my CPA to reduce my tax burden? (Yes, I do). 
  • Do I make decisions about where, when and how I conduct financial transactions based on tax consequences? (Again, yes). 
  • Do I think that the Government will continue to try and find new ways to take my income (and savings) for their pet projects? (Yes, they will).

I also suspect that businesses worry a lot about changing tax regulation – heck, I worry about changing regulation. To offer any support to the federal, state or local government to collect more taxes begs the questions: 
  • Did Mr. Caldwell pay all that he should, could or might pay? 
  • Did he make EXTRA contributions out of the kindness of his heart? 
Without waiting for a response, I suspect that Mr. Caldwell tried to minimize his tax exposure employing the tax code where appropriate, and did not send in extra money to soothe his sad feelings for government debt (aka stupid government spending).

Why not criticize that individual tax payers that are not disclosing their online purchases -- which is were the actual burden lies?

Finally, a few notes about tax collection on the web. I have installed and updated tax systems by Vertex and Sabrix. The number of taxing jurisdictions in the US is not 50, it is not the sum of the counties, parish or boroughs (more than 2000), or even the total number of zip codes (+4!). Hint: try multiplying these factors... it moves beyond ludicrous and well into plaid (Thanks Mel).

The complexity of tax collection forces many resources to be directed at compliance, and many resources (dollars) to be reserved for penalties. The government makes a tidy sum on penalties for rounding errors, issues between products and services (different tax structures) and issues about customer addresses that sit in multiple jurisdictions. If I buy from Texas and Amazon ships from Arizona to my Mom in Kentucky, in which state are taxes due? If a company throws in a free widget with purchase, am I liable for the value of the widget in addition to the item?

Here is solution #1

If each state set a single rate (a single percentage) based on State used for the final shipping address, then every company would have a single 50 line lookup table to collect taxes. Simple, easy, fast, and accurate.

Monthly sales per state * state tax rate = check to the state.

Of course, that is still a disadvantage to those high tax states that border low tax states, and local companies still have the burden of local taxes, blah, blah blah…

Simple solution #2

Online retailers should issue the equivalent of a 1099-Online$ form to purchasers of over $500 annually, then let the states force them to pay up. Of course, some families might spread purchases over different people in the household... blah, blah blah (are you beginning to see the problem?).

I think I like my original “keep the government out of my wallet” position.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Top 20 – How Google makes $$$

Top 20 – How Google makes $$$

My insurance company wanted me to take out loans, even a mortgage so that I could pay my attorney on credit. Most lawyers donate, to a degree, and many claim to be fond of hosting conference calls about trading software. My recovery will depend on a transfer of gas/electricity to fund my classes during rehab where I'll get a special treatment of cord blood.

The Most Expensive Keywords in Google AdWords (And How to Target Them in Your Search Campaigns)
  1. Insurance (e.g., "buy car insurance online," "auto insurance price quotes"); 24 percent of keywords; top CPC of $54.91
  2. Loans (e.g., "consolidate graduate student loans," "cheapest homeowner loans"); 12.8 percent of keywords; top CPC of $44.28
  3. Mortgage (e.g., “refinanced second mortgages,” “remortgage with bad credit”), 9 percent; $47.12
  4. Attorney (e.g., “personal injury attorney,” “dui defense attorney”); 3.6 percent; $47.07
  5. Credit (e.g., “home equity line of credit” and “bad credit home buyer”); 3.2 percent, $36.06
  6. Lawyer (e.g., "personal injury lawyer," "criminal defense lawyer); 3 percent; $42.51
  7. Donate (e.g., "car donation centers," "donating a used car"); 2.5 percent; $42.02
  8. Degree (e.g., "criminal justice degrees online," "psychology bachelors degree online"); 2.2 percent; $40.61
  9. Hosting (e.g., "hosting ms exchange," "managed web hosting solution"); 2.2 percent; $31.91
  10. Claim (e.g., "personal injury claim," "accident claims no win no fee"); 1.4 percent; $45.51
  11. Conference Call (e.g., "best conference call service," "conference calls toll free"); 0.9 percent; $42.05
  12. Trading (e.g., "cheap online trading," "stock trades online"); 0.8 percent; $33.19
  13. Software (e.g., "crm software programs," "help desk software cheap"); 0.8 percent; $35.29
  14. Recovery (e.g., "raid server data recovery," "hard drive recovery laptop"); 0.7 percent; $42.03
  15. Transfer (e.g., "zero apr balance transfer," "credit card balance transfer zero interest"); 0.6 percent; $29.86
  16. Gas/Electricity (e.g., "business electricity price comparison," "switch gas and electricity suppliers"); 0.6 percent; $54.62
  17. Classes (e.g., "criminal justice online classes," "online classes business administration"); 0.5 percent; $35.04
  18. Rehab (e.g., "alcohol rehab centers," "crack rehab centers"); 0.5 percent; $33.59
  19. Treatment (e.g., "mesothelioma treatment options," "drug treatment centers"); 0.4 percent; $37.18
  20. Cord Blood
--> Maybe that will drive traffic to my site.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Badges, badges, everywhere, and not a note to read…

Badges, badges, everywhere, and not a note to read…

I get it… but I’m not sure I like it (and not in a Facebook “like” sort of way).

Badges 8

It looks like I need to work on the Strong Bond == Weak Bond post that I have been kicking around for a few weeks. Maybe the Justin Beiber “I’m stuck in traffic, so I’ll blow up the Instagram” photo story can be woven into the story.

I’m looking for suggestions: How do I get away from these badges when everything on the web touches one or more of them?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Google News Badges - um, well…

 Google News Badges

OK, so I earned two badges.

G Badges 2I’m not sure how to find other topics to read to earn others badges. My news reading is not limited to Google and Kindle. For instance, I tend to read plenty of articles about Tablets, Dell, and eBooks.

Also, I have been reading articles about Amazon’s new Textbook Rental program for Kindle. Am I reading about Amazon, or Kindle, or cheap textbooks?

If I read Apple articles and try to earn an Apple badge, is there a calculation that will compare my Apple reading count with others?

To quote Shrek,

“Layers, onions have layers. Ogres have layers”.

Apple stock? iPhone 4 news? New Apps in the App Store? Jobs’ health? How is Google going to peel back the layers to determine what I’m actually reading? 

I’m still searching for a list of the 500 available badges. But it appears to be top secret. As for changes to my browsing habits, Badges certainly causes me to return to Google News more than before. I also use Google Reader -- a lot. Reader is my preferred tool, especially for tracking Blogs.

What is the difference between delivering News and delivering new “Reader” articles?

G Reader 2

Ads are not posted on either service… so there must be some other reason for the nuance. It seems very clear that Google can track my preferred resources, reading trends, and click-behavior on Reader…

So, why not Reader Badges?

G Reader

Friday, July 15, 2011

28 Days Later... (Deja Vu)

28 Days Later... (Deja Vu)

John Timmer from Ars Technica publishes the bad news (on July 15, 2011 at 3:45pm) in his article: Virus Kills Monkeys, Hops Species to Humans.
“In May of 2009, one of the species of monkeys housed in a facility at the University of California in Davis began falling ill, showing symptoms of pneumonia and hepatitis. Despite efforts to limit the spread of any infectious agent, a third of the monkeys eventually came down with the ailment; most of them died or had to be euthanized. Researchers have now identified the cause of the outbreak, a new species of a well-known virus family. Once they knew what to look for, they found evidence that the virus had been transmitted to one of the researchers at the facility and spread to one of his family members.”
May…. of 2009 – 26 months ago?!?

He should have waited two months and published under the headline: “28 Months Later”

28 Days Later was released in 2003 and is on my Top Movie list. Had I known it was a documentary...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shocking Fact: My PC Makes Me Dumb(er)

My PC Makes Me Dumb(er)

Jeffrey Tucker of Mises: "Shocking Fact: We Don’t Remember What We Don’t have to Remember"

“This alarmist headline (“Internet Use Affects Memory, Study Finds“) nicely plays into every technophobe’s worst fear: The internet is destroying our brains. But when you look at the details, it is absolutely rational.

Two groups were told some stupid trivia and then one group was told that the information was saved and another group was told that it would be erased. Guess which group was more likely to remember the information? Look: the more trivial facts that are online, the less we need to remember and the more we can use our brains for valuable types of thinking.

This isn’t dreadful; it is economically rational and very wonderful.”

I was going to add a pithy rejoinder, but I forgot what I wanted to say…


Mind Like a Steel Trap, Rusted Shut

At the Movies - 10+ Favorites

At the Movies - 10+ Favorites

I like the suspension of belief, suspension of critical judgment that the movies allow. I'm free to form new ideas, new thoughts, and new associations. Movies can be viewed in the strict vein of the story line, in the strict visual presentation, but more often than not they boil down to specific archetypes.

Fantasy, science fiction and horror are my favorite genre. My Top 10 list, not in a specific order, is filled with good examples. You might notice a lot Ridley Scott and Tim Burton and plenty of animated work in my list. Scott and Burton provide rich back-drops, strong visual presentation and terrific soundtracks as a stage for their stories. Technology has allowed many new movies to be bigger, louder, faster… but older movies with solid plots and strong acting are still the most compelling. 

Where early literature had stories that pitted Man against Man, Man against Nature, or man against God, modern themes explore Man against Himself (or against his own inventions). What are the circumstances that cause a person to grow and change? How do you find your core beliefs, core competencies and core drivers? 

Top 10+

  1. Blade Runner – This movie has several versions in release. My favorite is the second – with Harrison Ford’s internal dialogue dropped.  Robots, androids, and replicants - what happens when a machine discovers the desire to live and begins to wrestle with mortality and morality? Priss kicks and screams when faced with her death. Ridley Scott allows Roy to die on the roof-top, releasing a white pigeon, a metaphor for the escape of the soul. The movie should stop here, and all of the re-cut, re-release and variations focus on a less important ending (the escape of the romantic couple). Pinocchio always want to be a real boy.
  2. The Exorcist -- clash of Scientific and Occult - where science falls short and the only solution is the ultimate sacrifice. New edits of this movie, now that censorship has relaxed, make the movie much scarier. 
  3. 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later – Many of my top movies fall into the post-apocalyptic genre (The Day After Tomorrow, Road Warrior, etc.). Some might put this movie into a zombie genre. The trigger event: a bunch of environmentalists that break into a lab to set free experimental animals. Of course, the unintended consequence is the release of a powerful virus. What happens when society is boiled down to the basic idea of staying alive? 28 Days and Aliens, much like Night of the Living Dead cut off all avenues of escape and start applying pressure. Relationships form and break quickly as pressure and stress are applied. 28 Days and 28 Weeks are very scary because they are intensely personal, because the focus on survival at the individual level. Shaun of the Dead is a fun horror-comedy, if you think horror can be fun. 
  4. Alien Series -- Man as a small part of the universe, monsters (both alien and human) maternal instinct, ulterior motives of the scientific (military?) community. 
  5. Up! -- Personal burdens that we take up can keep us from living life to the fullest. It's very hard for me to watch this movie.  
  6. Being There -- Peter Sellers, God-like simplicity, and yes, I like to watch. The Jerk with Steve Martin has not convinced that it is a see the world as a child, or as an innocent tale. Navin Johnson is not Chancy Gardiner, but two super-talented comedians take on these roles with important messages.   
  7. Tim Burton: Sweeney Todd (2007); Corpse Bride (2005); Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005); Big Fish (2003); Planet of the Apes (2001); Sleepy Hollow (1999); Mars Attacks! (1996) Ed Wood (1994); The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Batman Returns (1992) Edward Scissorhands (1990) Batman (1989) Beetlejuice (1988). Some Burton movies miss - Dark Shadows and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure are both terrible. But Alice in Wonderland is a beautifully rendered, Mars Attacks! stands as a unique perspective and Big Fish is an amazing, fanciful story. 
  8. Central Station -- a modern Jesus parable, exploration of Brazilian culture. It's weird that Amazon has only "1 left is stock"... and the price is $47 (!). 
  9. Clint Eastwood -- Pale Rider, Unforgiven, Good Bad and the Ugly, A Fistful of Dollars, Hang'em High. Eastwood as the Good Guy, the bad guy and the Avenging Angel. The Dirty Harry series spurs discussion of conservatives and liberals in San Francisco - still relevant today. 
  10. The spaghetti western -- Presentation of good guys, bad guys, racism, women as property, class-ism, and greed. Spaghetti westerns provide the foundation for the classic Eastwood westerns. Firefly the TV series hit on many of these same themes as does Star Trek and Star Wars and the TV series Defiance.
  11. Star Wars 1-6 -- Good v. Evil, Redemption. The spaghetti western in space. Firefly (#12) falls into this genre. 
  12. Frankenstein, Dracula, Metropolis (30's horror, Romanticism and evolution to modern vampire/werewolf stories). Before the monster role changes from evil killer to misjudged victim of science, early horror was dark, romantic and scary.  Metropolis - the 1927 version of a robot combined with political allegory, nice. 

Netflix Tests Pricing Power

Netflix Tests Pricing Power

MarketWatch Blog “The Tell” outlines the split between Netflix consumers and investors: Netflix investors cheer fee hike.

“Some analysts complain that Netflix is over-valued, with a 67% run-up this year and a share price near the $300 mark. Some believe the shares have more room, with the highest price targets currently sitting at $325.”

Speaking from the consumer side of this equation, I’m not in love with the changes to the plans, and more specifically, I hate the idea that my Watch Instantly Queue may disappear.

This new billing scheme seems to reward the heavy user (who are already subsidized by the average user) while punishing the discriminating user that may only have access to unusual titles in DVD format. Analysts point out that alternatives exist: RedBox, iTunes, Amazon Prime video… But fragmenting my media consumption to multiple vendors will eventually lead me to cut.

After all, I do not want to go to three different grocery stores to save money on different brands of cereal… I’ll just take the best overall offering and pay a bit more.

"Netflix teaches us that once you get people to pay, you can always raise the price. The music business is about maintaining price points. Huh? Have they never gotten a cable bill? It starts off small and then goes up. Few disconnect, they grumble and pay up. Yes, the increase at Netflix is substantial, I’d go up a buck or two at a time, then again, the company’s goal is to kill DVD rental by mail. Hell, why buy all the discs, establish warehouses, mail them, incurring postage, when you can stream movies without any of this at all? The music business never got comfortable with the cost savings of digital, too busy placating Wal-Mart it got caught in the past." ~Ritholz

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gersham's Law, Less Than Fine Dining, & Saturday in the Park

Gersham's Law, Less Than Fine Dining, & Saturday in the Park

Juan Caprio of Mises Economics Blog (@MisesBlog) was able to finish a puzzle for me in his article: Gresham’s Law of Manners, or how socialism gives us a rude society

"...valuable goods are hidden/hoarded whenever there is forced equality or at least the least valuable are forced upwards in perceived value."

What does this have to do with manners? Well, if we regard all State property (public areas specially) as the tragedy of the commons it is, we can analyze people’s behavior as more or less valuable. In a free society, people of great manners (and overall superior personal image) will tend to surround themselves with similar people. 

But in partial socialism, access to public venues is increasingly non-discriminating (of behaviors and attire and even hygiene) thus making a melting pot out of different human groups. The problem is, that some people are put off by others’ behaviors and personal presentation."

Saturday in the Park

I noticed this last summer when we went camping in Waco, last year when we went camping at Artesian Lakes, last month at SeaWorld and last week when Christy and I ate at the Grotto Restaurant. Bad manners, drunkenness, poorly attired (some seemed to be trying to be offensive)... all are a big turn-off. Not that I consider myself to be high class, but I need to discover a way to separate the riff from the raff or some new places to spend my time.  

It makes you want to stay home. Maybe I can invite Juan over for dinner.

Monday, July 11, 2011


My favorite Restaurants: 

The Front Room, (Clement Street), Michelangelo's Ristorante and Caffe, The Iron Pot, Tommy’s Mexican restaurant (on Geary Street). You might notice that all of my favorite restaurants are in San Francisco. 

Actually, the correct term is “were” in California. I visited Tommy’s in September 2009 and Tommy and his wife were still running the restaurant. They serve Central American food with fantastic mole, red and verde sauces. California has the great blends of global culture and food. Asian, Mexican, Greek, Indian, all made better by fresh ingredients and the willingness of the chefs to take chances.

As the city has changed, so have the restaurants. If the original owner-operator leaves, the quality always seems to suffer. The Front Room, and Iron Pot are closed, and Michelangelo has changed ownership. 

My wife and I met for the first time at the Front Room in Concord. The Clement Street location was my college favorite, and the California Street location was convenient when I lived in Pacific Heights. 

Where Texas does compete with California is barbecue and fixings. Low and slow cooking takes time. Californians don’t have time. Rudy’s in Round Rock, C&J Bar-B-Que in College Station and plenty of smaller pits cannot be duplicated in California.

I am an ice cream snob (I'm a polenta snob as well, but most people are not concerned with polenta). Dreyers, Breyers, Blue Bell, Baskin Robbins, - sit a the top of the chain brands. But Mitchell's Ice Cream is worth making a trip to Noe Valley.. 

Jack Daniels, neat.


Periodical Bucket List (Bite-Sized)

Periodical Bucket List (Bite-Sized)

How do you understand liberal and conservative perspectives, the agenda and how to find the truth? What are the things that motive journalists? What is the benefit of skimming and tri-angulations?

What is on the Reading List

  1. The Economist
  2. NY Times
  3. Minyanville
  4. CBS MarketWatch
  5. Google News
  6. Texas Monthly (Local culture and flavor)
  7. Ben Stein
  8. George Will
  9. Ann Coulter
I think it is much easier to read those that profess their position up front. This allows for better perspective and fact checking. Those that hide their agenda, hide their spin, hide their true intention are not worth the extra time to determine their core values (lies are at the core of their existence). 

The Book Bucket List

The Book Bucket List

Are these authors, books, themes on your list?

Thomas Sowell: Economics and social economic behavior would top my list of favorite readings. The topic crosses over into politics and history and human behavior. Personal decisions, the interaction of parties, and the motivation to act can appear simple. But there is a deeper level of need and want that drive behavior. The more that you have perspective on human motivation, the better you can predict outcomes. 

Sigmund Freud & Karl Jung: Where economics covers the interaction between individuals, Freud and Jung provide insight into the individual. Their writings are not perfect. Recent writings show errors and gaps in their thought process, methods and conclusions. But Freud and Jung created foundational work in psychology with wide influence even today. The more that science chases the human mind, the individual motives and motivations, the better we are able to understand ourselves and each other.

Estes, Faludi, Paglia (the feminists): One of the great opportunities in life is to look at issues from a different perspective. I can be challenged to see a new point of view, to more deeply understand an argument and, on rare occasion, modify my view point. The very act of exploring alternate views will change your perspective – by altering your point of view, or by supporting your position. 

Authors on the B List

  • Dante 
  • Orwell 
  • Ludwig Mises 
  • Hume 
  • Rousseau 
  • Franklin / Hamilton
  • Machiavelli 
  • Tocqueville

The New Millennium - Living in a Post 9/11 World

Living in a Post  9/11 World

On Tuesday September 11, 2001 I caught my regular BART train from Concord to Daly City and then transferred to the Gap shuttle to San Bruno. I was standing in a Deli across the street from the Gap Bruno when the news of 9-11started to break. Christy and I were 11 days from our wedding.

Over the next few days we took cancellations from family members in NC, FL and TX that could not make their flights. Christy’s parents drove out from Texas just to make sure they could attend. On the 22nd we were married in Berkeley on a Hornblower Yacht. The following morning, Sunday, we escaped to Puerto Vallarta for our honeymoon and a week away from the news.

Memorable Moments

Everyone has a few moments in their life that are memorable. I remember driving through Pacifica yelling "Eskimo" with Steve, Ray and Paul in 1978. I remember watching Rocky Horror Picture show in my tuxedo after HS graduation in May, 1979; standing at Lombard and Fillmore during the Loma Prieta earthquake October, 1989; watching the Oakland Hills Fire in October, 1991 and seeing first news shots of 9/11/01 at 1111 Bayhill in San Bruno.

After being witness to so much turmoil I’m glad for the memories of my wedding, honeymoon and the birth of my children. 

Christy and I used a three and five year plan to map out our life. We were able to get out of California, move to Ohio, have two kids, complete my MBA, and then move to Texas – without straining our relationship. In an eight year period from 9/11 we sold a condo, bought and sold a house in Pittsburg, rented a house in Columbus, bought a house in Powell, sold the Powell house, rented in Delaware, and bought a new home in Texas. We traveled to Mexico twice. I travelled to Ireland. We vacationed in North Carolina and Texas. I worked at Gap, Bisys and Dell.

Our plans were never set in stone. They guided us and allowed us to move without the burden of too much doubt or regret.
We're living in a post 9/11 world, and making the best of it.

The Lost Decade (1986 to 1996)

The Lost Decade (1986 to 1996)

Can you lose and entire decade? 

No, not really. I started at USF in the fall of 1979. I worked midnight to 6:00 am at the Motel DeVille (now the La Luna Motel). By my third year I had my second surgery to remove a pilonidal cyst and lost my ROTC scholarship. I didn’t have enough money to continue full-time classes. 

I worked the entire decade, I got married, got divorced and I joined the Mogul Ski Club. 

The Lost Decade was not a great period of any wild success. 

It was more a period of recovery from the turmoil of my last year of high school, my lost scholarship, and a bad early marriage.

Small successes: 

I did learn to ski well enough to do a few Black Diamond runs at Lake Tahoe. I did complete my undergraduate degree at USF. My time working for Dick Russell at State Farm, and my time at Fireman’s Fund and Charles Schwab did prove to be an important part of my work foundation. 

I found my (future) wife in 1999.  But it was not until 2000 when I joined Gap that I found my career footing.

The Formative Years - 60s and 70s

1960s and 70s – 

My Dad was in the military. I was born in South Carolina, and my brother in Georgia. We have lived all over the US. I do remember a few things from my childhood. When we lived in Lawton, Oklahoma our house was across the street from the train tracks. We were horrified as a turtle tried to cross the road and was crushed by several cars. Frank and I fought a lot. He tackled me on a gravel driveway and I hit him on the head with a bat. He still has the scar.

We lived in West Point in a duplex on a very short street. Across the street was a huge cemetery. At the end of our street was the elementary school. Behind the house was a hill that we would ride sleds down during the winter. During the summer we would follow the bug-spray machines down the street (probably not a good idea in hindsight). We used to play with a water-pressurized rocket in the front yard.

We left West Point for a cross-country drive to California before flying to Hawaii. Lynn was picked up along the way. We flew out of Travis AFB and returned four years later after three years at Schofield Barracks and one year at Fort Dereussey. When we landed in California (1974) we only had tank tops, shorts and flip-flops.

Growing up at the beach had big advantages when it came to swimming. I went All-City in 7th and 8th grade.

Once again... with style.

Microsoft ate my blog (ugh).

Time for a new start.