Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009


This the the terrible state I found my Sigma 150mm f/2.8 yesterday. I'm distraught.

It was in the backpack case still attached to the extender. I suspect one of the kids, but it really doesn't matter.

Terrible. This is what it looks like all together.

Any idea how much this will cost to fix? I'm headed to Dan's in Allentown today where I got this.

I think I'll take a look at this too.

Golden Eagle vs. Fox

Golden Eagle vs. Fox, originally uploaded by -SPK.

Who wins this battle?

This is a Reuters photo, seen here,1518,grossbild-1414628-603221,00.html

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do business with local merchants

A few weeks ago our Kenmore vacuum head stopped working. Upon request from Becky, I spent a lot of time (15 seconds) assessing what could be wrong. After careful consideration I contacted Sears repair via their toll free number.

When the gentlemen answered, I would swear his office was right in the middle of a bus terminal and he had a familiar accent similar to those tech support guys whose names are always "Bob" and "Tom" but I digress. We scheduled an in-home visit that would cost $75.00 and if we chose to have the unit repaired - the $75 would go towards the bill. Done.

The day before the aforementioned in-home repair, we got a confirmation call but no one ever showed up. No one ever called again. Not even an email follow up to make sure I was satisfied or to take a survey. It's like Sears just didn't want to know anything else.

So, I turned to Google. "Vacuum repair Easton PA" and find this listing:

Hal's Small Appliance & Sweeper Shop
1706 Washington Blvd, Easton PA
(610) 515-9953

I call and ask if he repairs Kenmore and get the affirmative. "Just bring down the hose. You don't need to bring the whole unit." Hal offered.

The shop is totally old school adorned with toy trains, old lamps, used irons, repaired griddles and good old fashioned American and local spirit. Hal is wearing a blue pair of Dickies pants and a red plaid shirt tucked in.

After about 30 seconds, he has the problem diagnosed. "I'll have it fixed by tomorrow."

$10.60 later, our vacuum is working good as new. Thanks, Hal!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Uh uh uh uh uh

Uncle Joel is patting on Kaitlyn's back. This makes me think of the Charlie, you bit my finger video. You'll definitely laugh at this!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How dumb can you be to believe THIS?

"They met Rempel the next day with a suitcase. They said it had $10.6 million in shrink-wrapped U.S. bills. Rempel wanted more proof. His new friends pulled out one bill and “cleansed” it with a liquid “formula,” which washed off some kind of stamp. Rempel was told that process made the money “legal tender.”

This guy's having a bad day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Taking personal days: Very good.

I read this quote today and it's apropos of my day off "It's time to mitigate the urgent to focus on the important."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What makes someone successful as a sales consultant?

In a few weeks, I’ll head up to Rochester NY to my company’s headquarters to speak to a class of newly hired sales consultants for a few days. I’ve been thinking a little about what makes a successful sales representative, so here goes:

I’ve been in business to business sales for over 10 years and if there’s one thing I’ve learned – it’s that when people succeed at sales they always posses these few key traits:

  1. Personality
  2. Desire to win
  3. Money motivated

Lets start with personality. This seems pretty obvious, but for some reason boring-ass people keep getting sales jobs! When I interviewed sales candidates, I rarely read their resume before the interview. I wanted to see what it was like sit across from a total stranger and have a conversation with them. How comfortable are they small talking? Segwaying from the weather to the job interview? Did they keep me interested? In retrospect, about 70% of their “grade” came from this 10-15 minute introduction period. Yes, that important.

Action item: Be energetic, have something topical to say, ask really good questions, then ask follow-up questions. Move naturally to the next topic.

Desire to win. This is a very multifaceted trait that refers to a competitive person, someone who has the innate drive to find a way to get it done, to be a leader, to be a “go to” person, to be a resource, to be THE best.

Action item: Seek-out and implement strategies of proven success. Challenge yourself after every sale “could I have been better?” and after every no sale “what will I do different next time?”

Money Motivated. What is the job of a sales rep? To separate a prospect from his money in return for a product or service. In the absence of value, all purchase decisions revert to cost. The money motivated sales consultant will find a way to eloquently and cheerfully convey to you that the benefit of their service FAR outweighs the cost for one reason: to separate you from your money. And, when you buy – you’ll write that check with a smile.

Action item: Find the “pain” and help them to feel it now, then clearly explain point for point, how your solution takes away that pain for the investment of $$$$$.

Lastly, for those of you who don’t like us sales reps, remember this fact: Nothing happens until something is sold.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

YouMail. Voice mail on steroids

A while back, I wrote about PhoneTag and was enamored with it. Since that posting, I canceled the service and switched to the free YouMail.

YouMail is free application that handles my cell phone voice mail (and landlines if you want), but does it 10 times better than traditional voice mail.


1. When someone calls me but doesn't leave a message, YouMail looks up the phone number that called automatically and sends me a text like this: Missed Call From 610-555-5555 SMITH, JOHN Easton PA.

2. When someone calls and leaves a message, YouMail emails me the message as an mp3 file with the caller ID information.

3. Visual voicemail. When I login to their website, this is the screen I see. I can see the caller's name, caller ID information, date/time they called and listen to the message right there.

4. Unique greetings. Once you upload your contacts - you can select greetings based on caller ID. So Beck and Mom get their own greeting, caller ID blocked gets the system greeting and my buddies get a funny one.


-Since I am on the road most days, I don't need to write down the contact info from every voice mail I get (and I get about 10-15 a day). I can just listen to to message and know that when I need it again it will be in my account and on my email.

-Uhh, It's free.

-Caller ID on missed calls. Some people don't leave messages, and I don't have all of my contacts loaded in my phone, so when I get a missed call - I know who it was that called me and decide if I should call them back or not.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Instructions on how to make a snow angel, by Paige



LL Bean makes people happy, even though it wasn't their mistake

A blog that I've been following for a while was recently purchased by Consumer's Union (the company behind Consumer's Reports).

Maine Vacation

Here is an excerpt from today:

I wear dress shirts to work every day, so for Christmas, my wife ordered three new shirts from LL Bean. Like all my other shirts, she ordered them with my initials monogrammed on the pocket. Some of my old shirts are a little threadbare, so I was thrilled to have new shirts. (Kids, when you get older, clothing CAN be an exciting Christmas gift.) The Monday after Christmas, I pull one out of the closet to wear to work. The sleeves are too short—way too short.

I didn't try them on Christmas day because almost all of my shirts come from LL Bean. They're all the same size. I just took them from the package, washed them and hung them with my other shirts.

Turns out, my wife had confused my inseam length with my sleeve length and ordered shirts with the sleeves three inches too short. I was quite disappointed, but my wife was fuming mad at herself. That's about $150 worth of shirts that had my initials on them and I couldn't wear. We, naturally, assumed we would be stuck with the shirts. It was her error, not LL Bean's. We'd just be careful ordering in the future—"Measure twice, order once," to steal a carpenter's axiom.

I encouraged my wife to call anyway, just in case, and explain what had happened. Reluctant to admit a mistake, she waited to call until yesterday. She wasn't calling to try to return them, just to place an order for replacement shirts.

The conversation with the LL Bean customer service agent went something like this (paraphrasing):

Wife: "I placed order xxxxxxx in November, and I'd like to re-place that exact order with different size shirts."
LL Bean: "That's an odd request, why do you need to do that?"
Wife: "I ordered the shirts for my husband, and the sleeves are 3 inches too short, but it was my mistake, and they are monogrammed, so I know I can't return them."
LL Bean: "Oh, you need to send those back to us. We'll replace them for you."
Wife: "But it was my mistake. I don't want you to have to pay for my mistake. Can I just place a new order?"
LL Bean: "I'm sorry, ma'am, I can't place your new order for those shirts, you'll have to send them back so we can replace them for you."
Wife: "They're monogrammed though, you won't be able to re-sell them."
LL Bean: "I understand that, but we always want to make sure our customers are 100% satisfied with their orders."

This is truly an above and beyond from LL Bean. We ordered the wrong size monogrammed shirts, called them not to try to return them but to place a new order, and LL Bean refused the new sale and instead is sending us new shirts and eating $150 on the monogrammed shirts. Instead of $300 in sales, they have $150 in sales and three ruined shirts.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The many faces of Kaitlyn

These shots are from today at lunch, she may look pensive but I think that she's a little tired after playing outside.

The many faces of Kaitlyn

The many faces of Kaitlyn

I haven't been taking many pictures with my Olympus E500 lately and was really missing the quality pictures it takes.