Saturday, February 28, 2009

King County Sheriff, 15 year old assault video

Anne Bremner, Schene's attorney released this statement:

"We had argued strenuously that the video tape released to the media this morning not be released because it does not tell the whole story of the incident. As we argued to the judge, it will inflame public opinion and will severely impact the deputy's right to a fair trial. We will defend this misdemeanor case in court. No story can be sliced so thin that it does not have two sides. We hope that judgment will be reserved until all the facts of this case are given fair consideration in court."

Do you see two sides to this?

Creating “Five Rules For Life” [Guest Writer]

(This is the first post in a new series of guest writers.)

Jon D. Andre is the creator and editor of Five Rules For Life. I know we would get along, when I saw his profile picture on Facebook:

The caption reads: "I normally hate photos of myself, but this one turned out ok."


At the end of 2008, I was thinking about how fortunate I was and what I could do to give something back. Many ideas ran through my mind…I could:
  • end world hunger
  • save the environment
  • bring peace to the Middle East
All are worthwhile causes, to be sure. But aside from doing my part, I didn’t think I could make the serious impact of people much smarter than me already working on those causes.

I continued to reflect on my life (thus far) and the one constant through many years, many jobs, and many relationships was my study of self-improvement and motivational materials. I figured out at an early age that I can get further in life if I study people more successful than me…those who have already achieved things I want to achieve. The thought occurred to me that I could compile a “database of rules” that people think are important to follow for a happy, successful, and fulfilling life. And “Five Rules For Life” was born!

The value it brings people is twofold:

1.) We get to read the thoughts and rules of people from all walks of life – people with different experiences and different backgrounds. And not just high-profile people with publicists and books (though much can be learned from them), but the “everyday” person like you and me. The people who aren’t famous, but are leading – or strive to lead – a happy, successful, and fulfilling life. The guy that sits in the cube next to you, the waitress at your favorite restaurant, the parents working hard to raise their children, the person who has made mistakes and learned from them.

To have access to that information and be able to process and incorporate it into our own lives has tremendous value.

2.) The exercise of writing your "Five Rules" is itself a positive experience and a great start on self-improvement. It forces you to sit down and think about what is important based on your background, experience, and environment...but more importantly based on who you are now and who you want to be in the future.

Your rules don’t necessarily have to be something you are following at the present moment. They carry just as much – if not more – impact if they are rules you know you need to follow to achieve your goals, but currently don’t. So you commit them to writing and then submit them for the entire world (theoretically) to read. If that isn’t a catalyst for you to take action, I don’t know what is!

Fast-forward to today, and I am excited that what started out as an idea has now grown into a passion and has already garnered tremendous attention and participation. When I launched the site, I had two concerns:

1.) I knew everyone would enjoy reading other people’s rules, but would they be moved to write and submit their own?

2.) Would there be enough diversity in everyone’s rules to keep the site fresh and interesting?

The answer to both questions is a resounding “yes!” It is great to open my Inbox daily and find new, unsolicited submissions from people all over the world. And regarding diversity – there are commonalities in many rules but there are always unique insights in the supporting thoughts. Then there are rules that most people never think of …and those are often times the most intriguing and beneficial to implement; for example:

  • Drive with your windows down and your radio turned up.
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze.
  • Our lives are the stories we tell ourselves.
  • Appreciate death.
  • Don’t judge your insides by other people's outsides.
  • Learn how to make one recipe really, really good.
  • Get a dog.
  • Buy a kayak.
Go to the site to read the supporting thoughts and rationale for each. While you are there, take the time to read through the other submissions.

And go that extra step – submit your “Five Rules For Life”.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lyrics on your iPod

When I first started buying CD's back in the late 80's, I distinctly remember how I would rush back to the car, [spend 5 minutes trying to open the damn cellophane], pop in the disk and read all the words as the songs played.

There was something about it that made those songs *mine*. Somehow by knowing the lyrics - I was connected to the artist and the song. Maybe this way when it came on the radio - I could belt out the lyrics like I was an American Idol. I digress.

I don't buy CDs anymore and you probably don't either, so what's missing are reading those lyrics while listening to the track. You probably already know that you can add lyrics manually in iTunes, but I have over 1,200 songs and that could take up a few decades.

Enter the iTunes Lyrics Importer. It does exactly what it says and is so easy to use. Click the link to download, install, open, select songs, click "Get Lyrics" (make sure the Update Automatically box is checked) and watch the magic. (screen shot of it in action is above)

How does it work? LyricWiki is constantly being updated and iTunes Lyrics Importer compares the songs you select in iTunes, automatically polls LyricWiki and imports the lyrics into iTunes. (I suggest selecting less than 100 songs at a time).

iTunes Lyrics Importer and LyricWiki are totally free and with them you'll be singing to Paula Abdul (or Coldplay) in no time.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

My paperless office setup

I am working at being 100% paperless in my home office. If you remember this post about my zero inbox, you may have already guessed I enjoy zero visual noise. I'm not obsessive about this (am I Beck?), but I am always trying to find ways to make things easier to find and visually cleaner.

It all started with a blog post from and has evolved into a really easy and effective system for scanning, filing, and keeping my paperless office.

Step one: Get yourself this scanner: It's the ScanSnap S300 from Fujitsu. Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 Color Mobile Scanner

Not another one, THIS exact model. It does everything it says and it has scanned thousands of pages for me with basically no problems.

Step 2. Get yourself another Gmail address. Call it something like [yourname]

Step 3. Download Thunderbird or use Outlook and connect it to your current Gmail account, NOT your new one. Enable IMAP.

Step 4. Get a shredder.

Here is the process when you have paperwork that needs to be filed:

- Open notepad and grab your pile of paperwork.

- Enter the name of each document and any details you would like to be able to search for in the future.
- Each day, week or month grab all your papers to be filed and scan every single document into one huge file, don't worry about the size - I've done over 100 pages on one document. Now, you may be thinking that you should scan every document separately - but there's really no reason to. If you need to access that Verizon bill in 3 months, who cares if it's scanned right behind your 2009 tax notice or your car payment?

- Select Scan To Email. - Email the file to your new GMail backup account and paste the text from the notepad into the body of the email.

-Shred the documents.

- I have a filter set up in GMail to automatically delete any messages sent from my main account to my backups account. Otherwise all your backup files will be jamming up your main GMail account.

The benefits of using GMail are obvious, the search feature is well... google, there is more than 5 gig of free storage with every account, and it's accessible from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Like this setup or have ideas you want to share? Leave me some comment love.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How do you keep track of your personal finances?

For the last 15 months or so, I've been using the fantastic and FREE service to track our personal finances, budgets, and most recently our 401(k)s, auto loans, mortgages, and even our home's value.

I am a data lover and previously kept a detailed spreadsheet that had 20-30 entries that I had to manually update whenever we got a bank statement, credit card statement, etc.

Here is what does for you: You link your bank accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts, real estate, etc in your account and every night mint downloads the transactions and categorizes them. In the beginning, you need to identify the correct category for each entry, but after that - mint begins to recognize where you spend and automatically assigns the category (and does a great job of it too.) You get access to detailed spending and savings reports, graphs, charts and net worth figures updated to the minute.

One of the ways mint makes money is over in their "Ways To Save" tab. Here, they analyze your account and offer you better programs based on your current situation. For example, right now I have an offer for a zero percent credit card from Discover and a Virgin Atlantic "Black" American Express card with a $200 sign up bonus.

We have been using the great budgeting feature for our grocery bills. Our new years resolution was to reduce extra spending here and since mint downloads all of our transactions (we use debit for almost all purchases), we can see immediately where we are in spending vs budget.

Concerned about privacy? Check out their privacy policy here. It's rock solid.

Give a try, you'll love it.

Five Rules For Life: My Five

A few days ago, I posted Gina Trapani's Five Rules For Life after reading it on her new blog.

Jon Andre's new blog is a huge hit and it's "premise is simple - people from all walks share what they believe are the most important rules to follow for a happy, successful, and fulfilling life. At one time or another we have all said "if I only knew then what I know now..."; now is your chance to share. What are your "Five Rules For Life"?"

After seeing my post, Jon invited me to contribute my Five Rules which are here.

1. Take things lightly.
I try not to get bogged down in how terrible something is or how great something is either. It really helps me to see things much clearer and as a result as I get older, I know this to be a fact and wish someone taught it to me a long time ago.

2. Laugh a lot.
People naturally mirror others who they respect and enjoy being around. I use my sense of humor to get the juices flowing in meetings or just because it feels really great to laugh with someone! Not only does it drop their defenses, it increases happy hormones that they unknowingly associate with YOU.

3. Make a plan.
The greatest things in life are the hardest to get: It is nearly impossible to get something worth having unless you have made a plan to do it. Use measuring techniques along the way, and reward yourself when you are on track or have done it! This can range from losing weight to the mundane of meeting a budget you created.

4. Save for tomorrow.
See rule number 3, this HAS to be included in your life. I learned at a young age that when I got a raise or a bonus to put that away into retirement or long-term savings. It's amazing how this money isn't missed and how fast it grows (then it becomes addicting).

5. Learn from others mistakes/triumphs.
I have a large family and learned this little tidbit early on by watching my brothers and sisters. It carried on into friendship, love and business. Whenever something goes wrong or wright: Stop and ask yourself - What could I do in the future to insure that this never happens to me or always happens to me.

If you would like to contribute, you can email Jon at fiverulesforlife [at] gmail [dot] com

Sunday, February 15, 2009

View from below the water. WATCH OUT FISHIE!

Facebook folks: direct link here

Rush Limbaugh and the facts

Rush Limbaugh said this on his national radio show February 13th, 2009:

Summary: Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that Democrats "have reformatted the [economic recovery] bill -- they've made it a PDF file when they posted it. ... And, so, you can read every page, but you cannot keyword search it. It's not a text file as legislation normally is as posted on these public websites. They don't want anybody knowing what's in this." In fact, as Adobe Systems notes of PDFs: "You can run a search using either the Search window or the Find toolbar. In either case, Reader searches the PDF body text, layers, form fields, and digital signatures."

What an ass. Hey Rush! Type Ctrl+F or use the "Search" function in Adobe.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Totally good stuff. I love Todd.

I have no idea how I came across this stuff from Todd, but I was laughing so hard - I thought it would be fun to post here.

Back story: Todd and I were in the Bahamas together and shared a door that opened into each of our rooms. I left to go to meet Beck in Key West, and Todd's wife, Amy flew in the next day - so Todd ended up staying the in the same room.

Here is the email I got from him the next morning:

Subject: How My Saturday Went

8:00 AM - Amy wakes me up and tells me to turn off the alarm. Alarm I say, that must be coming from the room next door.
8:05 AM - That alarm is really bothering me.
8:10 AM - Is that alarm coming from Kaine's room? That bastard
8:12 AM - The alarm turns itself off. Thank God!!
8:21 AM - Oh great, the snooze is over. Could somebody turn that fucking alarm off!!! For the love of God.
8:30 AM - Chicago
8:31 AM - Thank heavens the alarms turns itself off every few minutes. Did I just say thank heavens. How long can this alarm actually go off for?
10:12 AM - I had no idea the beeping would actually last this long. Something has got to be done about this. "Amy, go get someone to turn off that damn alarm!"
10:13 AM - I'm walking the halls looking for a maid.
10:15 AM - I've found a maid and she thinks this is much funnier than I do.
10:16 AM - Plotting how I'll get back at Kaine for this.

PS - You left shorts here. The maid gave them to me. I considered bringing them back with me. But that was prior to the whole alarm thing.

Then I get a link to this video:

Then this video:

Lastly, this one:

So we reply:

Fly over water.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk, originally uploaded by -SPK.

This red-tailed hawk is a welcome visitor around our house. We enjoy watching him hunt and how all the other birds react when he's around.

Yesterday he must have been extremely hungry because he was trying to get the chickens next door. Hence the nick name Chicken Hawk :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Five Rules For Life

I've often noticed that when something drastic happens in one's life, whether it be for good or bad, change occurs. Maybe the drastic thing that's happening in your life now is the economy, a family issue, a job issue, a health issue, or something else. I'll challenge you to take these 5 rules and make them your mantra.

Take control, you'll feel a whole lot better and you'll have a much more positive outlook on things. The list, taken from this blog was written by Gina Trapani:

1.) "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Mahatma Gandhi's famous edict is especially relevant in the U.S. right now, as President Obama kicks off a new era of change. What change do you want to see? How are you living it every day?

2.) DO something.
Theodore Roosevelt said, "The only people who never make a mistake are the people who never do anything." Get over your fear of failure and try. Failures are necessary stepping stones to success.

3.) "To thine own self be true."
For me, Shakespeare's famous line means that I should be able to look at myself in the mirror each day and feel good about what I see there, as well as anything that bears my name.

4.) Our lives are the stories we tell ourselves.
If you don't like your life, tell yourself a different story. There's a reason the notion of "positive thinking" gets bludgeoned to death in the self-help section
at any bookstore - the ability to consciously direct your thoughts to the good side of things is the ultimate mental black belt skill, and it makes a world of difference in your attitude and effect on others.

5.) Don't live by anyone else's rules.
Not even Gandhi's, Shakespeare's, Theodore Roosevelt's, or mine. Go make your own!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2 satellites crash 500 miles over the earth

Watch your head!

NASA is reporting that 2 old satellites crashed yesterday over Siberia. 500 miles over Siberia that is.

What I find amazing are these factoids:

- At the beginning of this year there were roughly 17,000 pieces of manmade debris orbiting Earth.
- There are people with the title "orbital debris expert".
- orbital debris is now the biggest threat to a space shuttle in flight, surpassing the dangers of liftoff and return to Earth.

So this begs the question: How the hell does a satellite orbit anyway? Basically once it is placed in motion at the right velocity - it falls towards the earth at the same rate the earth curves. So, it never comes back to earth - eva!

I love stuff like this.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Joseph Stiglitz: ‘This is worse than the Great Depression’

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The economy, job loss, the future

I'm feeling pressure about the economy and I'm not alone, either. These are the three top connections I have:

1. I own a small business. Our daycare has seen a drop in enrollment directly due to job loss of the parents.
2. I sell payroll to small businesses. Since the summer, start-up businesses are way down and existing business clients are expressing price concerns more than ever before.
3. Family members and good friends are really struggling with jobs and bills.

Let me clarify. The pressure I feel isn't fear, it's more like waiting for the impending arrival of a kick-ass thunderstorm. You see the lightning from one end of the horizon to the other and the thunder rolls constantly; and you just know: "This is going to be serious." It's cautiousness, concern, and curiosity.

What will it be like in 6 months? A year from now? How will the landscape be different?

Obama's trying to make a difference with a new TARP bill. I hope it has more impact than the last one where Citi bought naming rights to the Mets ballpark and BOA bought Merrill Lynch and fired people, or where basically every bank in the US came to Capitol Hill with their hand out and got cash. I ASK YOU THIS? Did that ever get to the street? Not that I saw. My clients are still struggling with cash-flow and the banks were tighter than ever.

The new stimulus package that's trying to be passed has some great parts, hybrid vehicles for the government, spending on infrastructure, rebates, and more. It won't be enough. I don't believe that the government can and will do enough to make a dent in the decrepit state of America's economy and job losses.

Click to enlarge this graphic from The Office of The Speaker:

If you think unemployment is out of control based on the above graph wait until you read this piece done by In addition to the "real" unemployment rates, in the 1930's unemployment didn't peak until 4 years after the market crashed. Ohhfa.

So, what's the actionable item here? Hell if I know. I do know that the only thing we have to fear is fear it self.

Maybe this is the forest fire our economy needs to clear out a lot of small problems today and avoid a future "greater depression". Maybe this will cause our government to close the trade deficit gap. Maybe businesses will stop outsourcing jobs to other countries and Americans will stop standing for it. Maybe housing will be more affordable again. Maybe people will respect money more. Maybe Americans will start to save money again. Maybe we won't just put it on credit cards and plan our spending better. Maybe.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The huge spider on the stairs

Spider on the stairs

As I climbed the stairs today when I came home from work, I saw this toy spider and screamed because I knew the girls put it there just to scare me.

How do I get rewarded for playing along? Paige bolted up the stairs and yelled "Daddy! You sounded like a girl!"

Sunday, February 1, 2009

You're NOT my friend anymore!

This is a phrase that my girls have yelled often at each other when they're angry about something the other one did.  I always get a kick out of it because in 30 seconds, they are playing together again like nothing ever happened.

In the case of Facebook, it's not this easy.  

Let me clarify:  I wanted to text a friend of mine and didn't have her number stored in my phone so I went to my Facebook address book to get it.  

Search for her first name.  "You have no friends named 'xxxx'".

Search for last name.  "You have no friends named 'xxxx'"

What the hell?  I know I'm not spelling her name wrong.  Then it hits me.  SHE UNFRIENDED ME!  Just to be sure I do a search for new friends and there she is.

Now, I don't know how to feel.  SHE UNFRIENDED *ME*!   It's at this point that I begin the 5 stages of grief.  

1.  Denial:  No way.  Facebook is down.  There's a problem with search.  
2.  Anger:  Bitch.  What did I do to her!?
3.  Bargaining:  I could just add her as a friend again and assume it was an accident.  I know, maybe she unfriended me for a whopper?
4.  Depression:  It's me.  I posted too many videos and pictures and she was tired of seeing my updates in her feed.
5.  Acceptance:  Well, it's ok.  I still have, like 100 other friends - who needs her as a friend anyway?

Here's the real question:  Why does this matter?  Why is it upsetting to me?  I have no idea.  Here's one thing I do know for sure.  Facebook friends and real life friends (with whom you really care about and do *real* things together) are definately not the same thing.

The lesson to be learned here?  I'll let you decide, becuase Joy is actually still friends with me and search really doesn't work for her name.