Tuesday, August 31, 2010

please, please, please…..

For some reason, it seems every time I see a press release regarding the Palin family, it has something to do with scandal or money, or just something a little unseemly.

Now, we’re finding out that Bristol Palin will be on “Dancing With the Stars”.  Now, that’s what I would expect from the Jersey Shore gang, not the daughter of somebody with the aspiration of leading the free world.

I did a Wikipedia look up on Bristol Palin.  She was named after the Bristol Inn, in Bristol Connecticut, where mother Sarah was hoping to work for ESPN.  You can’t make this stuff  up.

Now, I don’t blame anyone for taking an opportunity and making the most of it, and Sarah Palin is certainly doing that.  This is her Camelot, her opportunity to make it big time.  But, it is up to us to understand the difference between someone who is famous and someone who is qualified.

The Palins hit the mother lode when John McCain chose Sarah as his running mate.  Apparently, her ability to see Russia from Alaska was enough for him, and the fact she was attractive and unknown. 

When she unpacked those stiletto heels and leather skirt, the hockey mom from Wasilla broke out and showed us the only difference between a pit bull and an Alaska governor was lipstick.

So, now we’ve unleashed this person, this Ellie Mae Clampett with ambition.  Please, please, please, will someone bring some adult supervision to this whole thing?  

Monday, August 30, 2010

how did they do that????


Since we’ve been making Convert-a-Couch, we’ve been trying to take out some of the “clunkiness” of the product.  Because you can make something into a bed, doesn’t mean it has to be ugly.

I believe we’ve made some great progress.  This is a pocketed coil product that makes into a bed in just seconds.  And, it’s comfortable as a bed or a sofa, something the futon just hasn’t been able to achieve in it’s lifetime.

There’s no uncomfortable bar in the back, no lumpy mattress, nothing to interfere with a good night’s sleep.     

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Restoring Honor

If you’ve read this blog, you know that Glenn Beck and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  I believe he wraps himself in the flag and positions himself as a conservative, while tearing apart The Constitution.

The crowd attending the "Restoring Honor" rally, ...

Today, the Glenn Beck organized “Restoring Honor” rally was held in Washington, DC, at the same place, on the same day, 47 years later, as the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech.

Parading symbolic speakers of all colors and creeds, the “Restoring Honor” rally produced words of hope and honor while hundreds of thousands watched and listened.  Beck, himself was wearing a bullet proof vest under his shirt as he spoke.

I was prepared to be cynical at something I was sure would turn into a political rally.  I was wrong.  I ended up being inspired. 

While I will probably always be on the other end of the political spectrum, I am grateful for the effort and the event.  I’m glad I was wrong.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

invisible monkeys…

It seems as though PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) got involved in a little stink about Dodge using a monkey to push the plunger on a bomb detonator, causing a bunch of confetti to fly in an ad as the exclamation point to the ad. 

Invisible monkey in Dodge's Year-End Tent Event Sale advertisement

So, to appease PETA, Dodge changed the ad to use an invisible monkey, either to save production costs, or to wink at PETA just a little.  I think it’s the latter.  And, if it is, brilliant.

paralysis of the mind….

A generation ago, I played Charlie Brown in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”  In it, there’s a soliloquy that I’ve somehow identified with and used to help me sort out things.  Here it is, from “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”

“I think lunchtime is about the worst time of day for me. Always having to sit here alone. Of course, sometimes, mornings aren't so pleasant either. Waking up and wondering if anyone would really miss me if I never got out of bed. Then there's the night, too. Lying there and thinking about all the stupid things I've done during the day. And all those hours in between when I do all those stupid things. Well, lunchtime is among the worst times of the day for me. Well, I guess I'd better see what I've got. Peanut butter. Some psychiatrists say that people who eat peanut butter sandwiches are lonely...I guess they're right. And when you're really lonely, the peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth. There's that cute little red-headed girl eating her lunch over there. I wonder what she would do if I went over and asked her if I could sit and have lunch with her?...She'd probably laugh right in my face...it's hard on a face when it gets laughed in. There's an empty place next to her on the bench. There's no reason why I couldn't just go over and sit there. I could do that right now. All I have to do is stand up...I'm standing up!...I'm sitting down. I'm a coward. I'm so much of a coward, she wouldn't even think of looking at me. She hardly ever does look at me. In fact, I can't remember her ever looking at me. Why shouldn't she look at me? Is there any reason in the world why she shouldn't look at me? Is she so great, and I'm so small, that she can't spare one little moment?...SHE'S LOOKING AT ME!! SHE'S LOOKING AT ME!! (he puts his lunchbag over his head.) ...Lunchtime is among the worst times of the day for me. If that little red-headed girl is looking at me with this stupid bag over my head she must think I'm the biggest fool alive. But, if she isn't looking at me, then maybe I could take it off quickly and she'd never notice it. On the other hand...I can't tell if she's looking, until I take it off! Then again, if I never take it off I'll never have to know if she was looking or not. On the other hand...it's very hard to breathe in here. (he removes his sack) Whew! She's not looking at me! I wonder why she never looks at me? Oh well, another lunch hour over with...only 2,863 to go.”

Think of anguish and energy wasted.  Next time, just go for it Charlie; just go for it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

the fly man…..

I’m on a flight from New York LaGuardia to Milwaukee as I write this blog.

Lily, the General Manager of our factory operations in China and I were online talking the other night when she started quizzing me about my week.  I think the first question was something like, “Where are you now?” 

I think I was in New York when I answered.  But, I answered the same question the previous night, Seattle, and two nights before that, Chicago.  And, I said the next day I was supposed to go to Philadelphia, then back to New York, and then to Milwaukee. 

And then, she called me the fly man.  Sounds kind of cartoon hero-ish, doesn’t it?  I might have to lose a little weight to get into the tights.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

the one to watch…..


While the Republicans and Tea Partiers continue to stub their toes on the mosque issue, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is quietly reforming New Jersey.  Christie is a Republican governor in a Democratic state.

He weighed in on the “Ground Zero” mosque issue this way.


As reported by the Huffington Post.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, issued a warning to members his party, as well as to Democrats, on the danger of playing "political football" with debate over plans to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site.

Politico reports:

[Christie] on Monday became the most prominent GOP figure to warn against "overreacting" to the threat of terror and painting "all of Islam" with the brush of terrorism amid the swirling controversy about the Ground Zero-area mosque.

The remarks from Christie, who took office in January, were a striking departure from major GOP players like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, who have been adamantly opposed to the construction of the proposed Islamic mosque and cultural center two blocks north of the northern perimeter of Ground Zero - putting them at odds with people like New York City Mayor Bloomberg and, to a lesser degree, President Barack Obama.

The New Jersey Governor signaled that he wouldn't personally weigh into the debate on what has become an increasingly hot topic for discussion among lawmakers.

On politicizing the issue, Christie said, "All people in our country suffer when those kind of things happen."

The former federal prosecutor says the sensitivities of the families of the 9/11 victims should be taken into account. He also says America cannot condemn all of Islam because of the actions of terrorists.


Those who have underestimated Christie have done so at their own peril.  Basically called fat by his opponent, former governor and bazillionaire investment banker John Corzine, during the 2009 governor’s race in New Jersey, Christie has taken the reins of New Jersey with a plain speaking style and firm hand.

This pugnacious street fighter is what the Tea Partiers and Republican Party need to light the way.  He may not be sexy or controversial, but he is solid.  He governs in a way that reduces spending and keeps discourse out of the political commode.

The main difference between Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Christie is he actually holds office.  Instead of shooting political spitballs from the back of the class, he’s chosen to take the high road.  Maybe we can learn from this overweight underdog who is making a difference.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

irresponsible intolerance….

Where is Teddy Roosevelt when you need him?  Abraham Lincoln must be turning in his grave.  Thomas Jefferson would be embarrassed to what has happened to the Republic for which they stood.

This experiment of the people governing themselves has become a self serving, sound bite, pundit driven piece of pornography in the name of the flag.

Our leaders are puny, weathermen or women who check which way the wind is blowing to find the popular viewpoint, and then sway with it.  They are more concerned about selling a book, about getting the vote, getting or keeping the power that will make them wealthy and self important, not defend the Constitution, religious freedoms,  individual rights, the reason for our country.

We’ve got a  half-term, former governor of Alaska driving political discourse.  We have a former Speaker of the House using Saudi Arabia as our yardstick for a moral compass.  We have a current Majority Leader bowing to the political winds because he’s in danger of not being re-elected.  Garbage!

Reid: Bipartisan Bill Holds Wall Street Accountable And Protects Nevadans

We have almost 10 percent reported unemployment, with the real number being closer to 17.  We’ve got the Gulf of Mexico awash in oil.  We have a deficit measured in trillions.  We have broken bridges and potholes.  We’ve got schools graduating fewer and fewer people.  We have a health care system that is ranked by the World Health Organization as worse than Costa Rica, and yes, Saudi Arabia.   

And, what are we arguing about?  You’ve got to be kidding!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

our duty….

No matter how you feel about war, no matter how you feel about the cause, no matter how you feel about our president, no matter how you feel about the enemy, it matters how you feel about the warrior.

wounded-warrior-project-logo Over the past few decades, we’ve managed to get involved in conflicts around the world.  And each time we do, there are those who pay a price for our freedom, sometimes with their lives, many times with their health and futures.

These are the people who step up and ship out.  Many times they come from conflicted backgrounds, somehow trying to find purpose in their lives.  Many times, they are legacy warriors, people whose families have committed to our freedoms over generations.  Many times, they are encouraged by a recruiter or a buddy with no idea what they’re getting into.  But, in all cases they serve for our freedom.

A few months back I was exposed to the Wounded Warrior Project at a meeting with Overstock.com.  WWP is a non-profit with the charge of helping soldiers coming home with injuries and mental issues that cause issues realigning with society.  After this presentation, it was obvious I could no longer sit on the sidelines.  I needed to help.

I contacted Overstock.com and Angelo Surmelis, a nationally renowned designer about designing a chair that could represent hope, and could be the launching pad for contributions and awareness of this cause.  Overstock was already all in.  Angelo was in the second he heard about it. 

Angelo designed this chair to be subtle, with simple lines, no hard edges, a pillow with a simple yellow stripe going through it, a beacon of hope and coming home, something to hold in hard times.  We’re calling it the Hope Chair.

The Hope Chair will be unveiled the week of Veterans Day at Overstock.com.   Even if you don’t buy the chair, support the Wounded Warrior Project. 

The people who were called to duty to protect us need our support.  That is our duty.

Friday, August 13, 2010

food on a stick…

Last  year, I went to the Wisconsin State Fair.  I hadn’t gone for many, many years.  But, I was drawn to food on a stick, specifically chocolate covered bacon.  I just wanted to try it.

So, I decided if I was going to try the chocolate covered bacon (it was OK), I would make it a mission of trying as many of these things as I could.  I did, and it was fun.

chocolate-covered bacon on a stick mary bergin photo

Now, it’s a year later, and there are a lot more to choose from.  I’m debating, do I want to do this again?  Someone, please talk me out of this.

  • Apple pie (deep fried)
  • Bacon-wrapped shrimp tempura
  • Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts
  • BBQ pork chop
  • BBQ pork
  • Brat
  • Butter cream cookie
  • Caramel apples
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Cheese & hot dog
  • Cheesecake
  • Cheesesteak (deep fried)
  • Cherry pie
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Chicken wings (boneless)
  • Chili cheese dog
  • Chipstix
  • Chocolate-covered bacon
  • Chocolate-dipped frozen bananas
  • Coconut shrimp
  • Cookie dough
  • Corn dogs
  • Corn nuggets
  • Cotton candy
  • Cow pops
  • Cream cheese (deep fried)
  • Cream cheese with bacon
  • Crueller (chocolate dipped)
  • Deep-fried crab cakes
  • Deep-fried PB & J
  • Dove bars
  • Frozen, assorted, mini candy bars
  • Fruit kebab with or without chocolate
  • Frozen grapes
  • Hand-dipped ice cream bars
  • Irish stew
  • Lamb medallions
  • Lollipops
  • Macaroni & cheese
  • Meatballs
  • Mickey Mouse bars
  • Mini burgers
  • Pork shish kebabs
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Rice Crispy bar
  • Ravioli (deep fried)
  • Rock candy
  • Reuben
  • Sausage kebabs
  • Scallops (hand-battered)
  • Shish kebabs
  • Shrimp cocktail (blackened)
  • S'Mores
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Swiss and Colby cheese
  • Swiss cheese
  • Tater totUltimate Cashew Rods
  • Ultimate Pecan Rods
  • Xango on a stick (deep-fried cheesecake)
  • Thursday, August 12, 2010

    if you hate….

    In the past few weeks a plan to build a mosque and community center, just blocks away from the World Trade Center city, led  by cleric Feisal Abdul Rauf, has been debated across the country and the globe.

    Nine years after the attack by Al Qaeda terrorists, there are still very raw feelings and very open judgment against an entire population of Americans, many of who left their countries because of the oppression they felt at home. 

    I know a lot of Muslims.  Most, if not all, have been impacted negatively by the 9-11 attacks.  Most have been looked at as terrorists when nothing could be further from the truth.

    There’s a lot of “they” and “us” discussion going on, as if a religion is the enemy.

    The real terrorists in the latest debate are not the Muslims, but the “real Americans” who divide and pander with hate.  The real terrorists are stoking fear of people who don’t look like “us” and don’t believe like us.  The real terrorists want to restrict speech and access to information.  The real terrorists attack our Constitution by amendment.  The real terrorists lie within our borders and look like us.

    All of these issues indicate the terrorists who did blow up the World Trade Center have won.  They’ve created an atmosphere of distrust and hate at home.  They’ve attacked us at our weakest point, our inability to get past the hate we feel for them and the fear we have of them. 

    In the end, hate destroys the hater, not the hated.  As bad as this was, we need to get past this, or it will destroy us.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    the ups driver didn’t expect this….

    First of all, I have nothing against UPS drivers.  For the most part, they do a great job.  They wear a uniform, are normally polite, operate good equipment, and deliver on time.

    I guess, that’s why UPS  is such an attractive partner to have deliver our products.  It’s that simple.

    So, why then, do we torture the drivers by shipping these?


    Yes, these are full size sofas.  And no, the drivers are not the least bit happy about delivering one of these things.

    Sunday, August 8, 2010

    getting a new phone…..

    Palm Pre.jpg

    I have a relationship with my phone.  I’m on it all the time.  So, the decision to get a new one comes with a lot of consternation, apprehension, trepidation, and downright fear.  Because, making a wrong choice is just….well something that will make me miserable.

    I currently own a Palm Pre.  For the most part, I really like it.  But, it has two deal breakers that I didn’t anticipate, a bad battery and no voice activation.

    Who-da-thunk those two things would cause me to divorce my phone.  But, it seems, they will.


    Now, here’s the new suitor.  It’s the HTC something-or-other from Sprint.  Well, Sprint doesn’t make it; they just put their name on it.

    The first questions I asked were about voice activation and battery life, and then the navigation.  What kinds of cables and cords?  What about bluetooth?

    It operates as an internet hotspot, so I can get rid of my $60 a month Mifi and only carry this.  It’s $30 (the hotspot part) a month.  That’s good.

    It has an eight megapixel camera and comes with an 8G card.  If my math serves me correctly, I can take 1000 pictures before I download.

    It’s got a bazillion apps, almost none of which I’ve ever heard of.   I think it plows snow as well.

    There was one question I forgot to ask.  Can I make a call?

    Can you hear me now?

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    one good chair….


    As part of our participation in the Las Vegas Market, we attended the unveiling of  the “One Good Chair” finalists.

    As a manufacturing sponsor, we have been selected to prototype one of the finalist designs by an Australian designer Tom Fereday. 

    http://www.onegoodchair.com/competition/2010/judge/submission/8 This design really speaks to our manufacturing design  model.   The simplicity of the design uses very few raw materials, but ends up producing an elegant and functional piece of furniture.


    This is design at its best and we are very proud to be part of this effort. 

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    leaving Las Vegas….

    I’m returning home from Las Vegas, and prior to that, China today.  I’ve been gone for 16 days.  There’s going to be lots of laundry.

    I’ve never liked Las Vegas.  Any place or business that requires the customer to lose is a bad proposition in my mind.  They build their businesses on broken hopes and dreams.

    That said, I did have a good time, this time.  I met some terrific people in the Sustainable Furnishings Council, had a great dinner and just a lot of smiles and laughs.

    And, as part of the “One Good Chair” competition sponsored by SFC and the Las Vegas Market, we have been awarded the privilege of prototyping a finalist design.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

    Since I don’t gamble, I guess I won.  I’m tired, but I’m happy.

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    new stuff……

    I just got back from China.  Since I’m not allowed to get on Blogger and Facebook while I’m there, I go through a little withdrawal.

    Well, it’s a new day.  I’m sitting here at the Encore in Las Vegas, jet lagged and not sleeping.    Some might think, it’s not worth it.  For me, it is.

    Wright Klein Laguna

    Our partnership with Angelo Surmelis has yielded some very nice stuff.  Angelo has committed himself to designing furniture that is affordable.  He relies on me to make it right.  And I rely on him to put a spin on it that I could never think of.

    Sutton Top Hat Thunder Denmark Domino

    In our next roll out, nothing is over $500, not a sofa, not a chair, not a loveseat, nothing.  And it all still delivers to  your door via UPS.  I love my job.