Sign of the Times


I spotted this scene in Southeast Portland today. I think it speaks volumes about the current economic scalpel that is slicing its way through society. Entertainment out; banks in.


Why Your VM Outgoing Message Sucks


Here’s a brief history of events that led up to a huge portion of the population leaving a terrible, soul-crushing outgoing message on their voice mail. First, just when we were getting used to rotary phones, being able to zip that dial like a racehorse around the final turn, they changed the format. (pic: zen)

Enter the calculator-esque push-button phone. Or is it Satan? (ahem) See, this design got callers everywhere overconfident. Soon they were seeing if they could punch in digits even faster than the old, more controlled method of the spinning dial. This led to an increase in wrong numbers. (pic: stilo95hp)

We’re not just talking about a spike, but an all-consuming wave that flooded the lands of the telephone users. At one point I remember a 60 Minutes segment about it, people were being inundated with wrong numbers, and suffering a minor form of PSTD. But it was not a sickness without a measure of protection, and subsequently we got the answering machine.

After the masses figured out how to use them, answering machines began clogging people’s call time due to long-winded outgoing messages, usually prefaced by stating the phone number that was reached, and both household heads -and maybe the kids- would chime in too, followed by them all simultaneously instructing the caller on what to do when they hear a beep. This went on for a long, dark time. (pic: Wikimedia)

Which leads us to a present epidemic. The ghosts of the past still haunt many of us when we record our outgoing message on our cell phone. Personally, I think it should be short and to the point (which many of the offending are), and maybe just say “Hi, it’s [name].” And let that 15 second recording start that informs the caller on how to leave a voice message. But here’s the rub that I experience way too often upon being directed to someone’s voice mail. And please… please change your outgoing message if it starts like this:

“Hi, you have reached…”

No. No, I haven’t. I really needed to, but I haven’t. I knew who I was calling, but I didn’t reach you. WHY DO YOU MOCK ME?

(pic: Bloggoggles)

The Office Supply Scam


I recently had one of the best dealings with a scammer who called my office, and I can’t wait for the next in a line of the ten or twenty who have attempted, in vain, to rip my company off. It’s an old scam, as Snopes points out, where the caller phishes for information like names, copier info, including serial numbers, and the like. They are the dregs of the business world, and all of us should be aware of their ilk.

From the article:

What have come to be called “toner-phoners” usually start by calling and pretending to double-check a copier’s serial number, then offering to reduce a company’s toner supply at reduced rates. What ends up being shipped, of course, is horribly overpriced product of exceptionally poor quality.

In my line, what usually happens is they get the serial number, ship the appropraite substandard toner, and invoice the accounts payable department, which usually pays it based on  rote expectations.  Here’s what happened when I answered the phone.

“[Company Name], can I help you?”

“Hey, how ya doin? This is Mike from A. L. Industries, just checking in with you.”

“What was the name of the company?”

“A.L. Industries. And we’re updating our files here…”

“Ah, A.L. Industries… okay. (my best Jon Stewart impression) Go on.

“Uh, I think I’ll call back at another time.”

“You’d better not.”

“Oh I will!”

“You’d better not!”




If anyone is unaware of this, tell your friends and beef up on these guys. They are bottom-feeders.

(Image: the awesome Toshiba e-studio 520, a masterpiece of design and function.)

Week in Review


from brandlabs~ John Bender's glove button

– The Academy Awards made history Sunday night, or at least director Kathryn Bigelow did, but the highlight was the tribute to late director John Hughes.

However Emilio Estevez, who played the high school jock in “BC,” was notably absent. A source exclusive to Yahoo! reports that Estevez was spotted at the Cornell Winery and Tasting Room in Agoura Hills, California, shortly before the ceremony. A representative for the actor, who is now known more for directing, said professional obligations also kept him from the tribute.

– EMI was dealt a double whammy this week by two great bands. OK Go, who have become my gods of all things music video, told the record label adios after a month of squabbling about embedding their amazing videos to the Internet, and now have their own label, called Paracadute (parachute). And today news broke that Pink Floyd legally stopped EMI from selling single songs, claiming an appropriate and precedent-setting artistic imperative that their albums (which the judge ruled does not mean a physical record, tape or CD) were intended to be listened to as the whole wonderful experience that they are. (Applause.)

– Corey Haim finally lost his battle with drug addiction. And Corey Feldman was swift to the media with his ego scarcely sheathed, a fierce belief that the death was not caused by a drug overdose, and an inexplicable front-side rat-tail.

(YouTube Link)

– I also learned today that there are not one, but two “re-imaginings” of The Wizard of Oz in the works. I’m speechless, but Phil Jones, Tupac Shakur, and The Wicked Witch of the West have something to add in my stead.

This makes me like Tim Burton’s latest movie a bit less, for it hath unleashed a monster.  Next thing you know we’ll see a Casablanca “re-visiting” and so on.

I’d have blogged all this individually, but my real estate listings just keep selling, so busy bee!

Running With The Devil Vocals Only


I’ve been meaning to share this forever.  I’m a couple of years late on it, but it’s awesome.

David Lee Roth Sings Runnin’ With The Devil.  Vocal Track (btw, he’s not saying “God damn the Navy and all you lifers”, as I had been previously taught.  He’s saying “Goddamn it baby, you know I ain’t lyin’ to ya.”  Once you hear it, you can’t unhear it.)

Then again, if Van Halen just kept with what worked, the “dark years” (aka “Anything With Sammy”) would never have happened. Sure, they had number one songs and albums, but dammit, Dave was the soul of the band! The zen-cum-slapstick comedian of the group! I defy you to prove me otherwise. (Chunklet)

The Fascinating Tale of the Kee Bird


Once upon a time I was most interested in the world of aviation.  I was actually contemplating pursuing a career as a helicopter pilot, and had always found myself gravitating to the lore of flight machines.  As kind of a fluke, I ended up in the US Navy as an airman loading ordnance onto planes; this led to other duties such as towing jets and the corrosion control/painting of the A-6 Intruder, a fine bird.  The films of Steven Spielberg had a role as well, like a shared love of all things WWII aviation.

Nova’s B-29 Frozen in Time, about the Kee Bird, renewed my geek affair with aircraft in one fell swoop.  Here’s Part 1, narrated by Richard Crenna (!):

(YouTube Link)

The story is romantic, and tragic.  It’s the epitome of FAIL, but it’s so very inspiring.  Darryl Greenamyer was a test pilot and B-29 enthusiast who, after learning about a certain abandoned bomber called the Kee Bird that emergency-landed 50 years hence in Greenland, decided to launch a rescue mission.  With his long time mechanic on board, a crew of skilled workers, and a lot of financing to get the seemingly simple task done, he delved into the harsh Greenland waste.

The ensuing voyage of frustration, drama, determination and ultimate failure shines a light on the nature of strength.  You can see what happens as you watch the videos (linked in each part at the YT link), and perhaps relate to efforts and best laid plans… an agent at my office wrote on her whiteboard: “There Is No Struggle Without Strength.”  It is so true, and sometimes the struggle turns out okay.

Like it did for me today.  After a month of negotiating, salvaging failed sales, dealing with scared and angry people, and a lot of hard work, my sellers signed today, and their buyers sign Tuesday.  It was a struggle, but I was strong.  And for some reason, this all reminds me of Darryl Greenamyer and his Kee Bird dream.

Buy it on Amazon.

Marvin Gaye’s Star Spangled Banner


(YouTube Link)

This one’s for Wendy, who turned me on to Marvin, as well as James, Otis, and Wilson.  Salute!