Sunday, November 20, 2011

here we go again…..

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

So, we’re here again.  The scabs from the bitter wounds of last winter have been re-opened.  

Opposition teams to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are pounding the pavement to get the requisite 540,000 signatures for a recall election. 

Based on all of the shenanigans going on both sides of the aisle, I can see dirty tricks happening on all fronts.  It’s already started. 

Understanding that fund raising for a recall effort can only start when papers are filed, the Walker camp started a recall effort against its own candidate so they could start fund raising earlier and get the TV ads on earlier than their opposition.  Interesting tactics.

And, on field trips going to the Capitol, protesters have been engaging school children in their chants for “Scott must go!”, hardly the high ground we would hope for in our educators.

With an expected $100 million pouring into the state over the next few months, this could very easily be the most expensive political effort in Wisconsin history, and this is just for the opportunity to hold a new election. 

While I disagree with how Walker handled the labor issues with public employees, and no matter how badly he bungled it, there were plenty of co-conspirators.

I’m getting tired of this.  I’m tired of everyone being an activist.  I’m tired of reading points of view vilifying the other side.  I’m tired of the whiner-take-all approach to government. 

We have elections.  For governor, they happen every four years.  There are winners and there are losers.  And, there are consequences for both sides.

Government used to be about compromise, about reaching a consensus with neither side getting all of what they want.  Government used to be about leadership, about standing in front of the electorate and bringing the best solution. 

Today, it seems to be all about winning, with constituents watching on the sidelines as our elected gangs do battle to control the turf they so badly want. 

That we are in this process just one year after the last election bastardizes the process and the integrity of our government.   

That $100 million going to media outlets could just as easily go to wages, or poverty, or building a railroad.  But, no.  We are getting another election.  What a bargain for everyone involved. 

It’s just what we need, again. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

ignoring the protest…..

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward  Flynn, as reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, "We're not going to fulfill the martyrdom fantasies of people who insist on being arrested while they disrupt the lives of this neighborhood."

Asked about the economic issues in the protest, Flynn told reporters, "If they're angry about the economy, go to Wall Street. There's 35% unemployment in this neighborhood. Who are they disrupting?"

Referring to below-freezing evening temperatures, Flynn said, "They can sit and freeze their butts off, I don't care."

Flynn then pulled police officers from the site and ignored the protest.  

I think I like this guy.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Standard and Poors, the credit reporting agency, “accidentally” downgraded France’s bond rating from AAA to AA.  They regret the error.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

say it ain’t so, Joe….

Chicken Little was right.  The sky is falling. 

Amid the sex scandal surrounding the Penn State football program, and the apparent cover up by university officials, Joe Paterno finds himself in the middle of something that none of us could have imagined.

That one of his coaches, Jerry Sandusky,  was caught in the middle of a sex act with a young boy in the showers of the Penn State football complex, and the reporting of this act up the managerial ladder, including Paterno, exemplifies the hand washing of everyone involved.

Call the police?  That would be embarrassing.

The stench is palpable.  Much like the Catholic Church cover up, officials at Penn State are lawyering up.  They’re  circling the wagons.  They’re setting up protective layers to cocoon what was once a beacon of integrity.

Too bad the kids couldn’t lawyer up while they were being raped.  Too bad the kids couldn’t speak for fear of reprisals.  Too bad, these kids are scarred for life.

I’m not agruing that Paterno was personally involved, but that he turned his head, that he didn’t do enough, that he allowed this act to continue going forward without going to the authorities when it became apparent his superiors didn’t.

Paterno?  Really, Joe Paterno?  He’s the guy who stood for something, who meant what he said, a man you could trust.  He was different. 

Things seem to be upside down.  It’s as if Mount Rushmore turned out to be Hitler, bin Laden, Stalin, and Pol Pot.  What’s good is bad.   Up is down.  In is out.  Black is white. 

second fiddle….

Smokin’ Joe is dead.  A son of South Carolina, Joe Frazier made the bright lights and the big city in Philadelphia his home for the past four plus decades as a fighter and ex-fighter.

Frazier was a great fighter, feared by all.

Forever linked with Mohammed Ali, Frazier played the unwitting boob to Ali’s quick tongue and even quicker hands.  Ali mocked him, berated him, and humiliated him, and eventually, diminished him as a man. 

Frazier’s only sin was beating Ali in 1970 during Ali’s comeback.  The country was divided and Frazier represented the “dumb” establishment, while the cocky, ambitious Ali took up the case of the young, progressive part of society.

To be caught up in that mess was unfair to Frazier.  He was a decent man who was unprepared for what lay in front of him.  Eventually, Frazier found solace in the bottle, and eventually, liver cancer beat him.

Frazier never found the glory of Ali, never walked the steps of Atlanta to light the Olympic flame, never met with leaders of other countries.  And yet, he will always be measured against Ali. 

What a shame.

a time for leadership…..

Each time I listen to Bill Clinton speak, the more I believe we have amateurs running our country.  It feels like the kids from “Our Gang” took over and Spanky’s in charge.

I know Clinton’s been making a fortune making speeches and writing books.  I saw him speak earlier this year.  It was rambling, thoughtful, insightful, and above my head.  But, it was clear he thinks about everything.  His appetite for knowledge is insatiable. 

Change the Constitution and get this guy back in the driver’s seat.  We are a nation in crisis and we need the best.  Today, Clinton is the best.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

a $400 cup of soup, continued…..

You’ll remember me paying $400 for a blender for myself.  And, I actually took one home for my son, who likes to try things in the kitchen. 

That purchase made me think about what I do, the products we make, and the value they bring. 

When we design a sofa, is it about being something that serves it’s owners in a better way?  Can it make our customers, our clients, feel better about their lives?  Can it improve their circumstances like the blender did for me?  Will it help them sleep better?  Will they feel better?  Will they be better?

I paid $400 for a blender.  Can that translate to other products.  Would people be willing to pay $3000 for a mattress?  If you can demonstrate they are buying better sleep, yes!  Just ask the folks at Tempurpedic.

Will I be more comfortable if I buy this recliner?  Yes!  Just ask the folks at La-Z-Boy, who’ve been selling comfort for decades. 

In fact, consumers are willing to pay when given a good reason.  Offering something for 50% off, buy one, get one free, no interest for a million years, is not an argument that leads to a better purchase.  It leads to the bottom.

The next time we offer a click clack sofa for $199, we need to ask ourselves if we’ve done the best we can for the consumer.  When we sell someone a mattress for $199, have we really helped that consumer to a better life? 

We need to do better.  We need not to commoditize everything, but make products that make a difference.  By making price the prevailing reason for purchase is not marketing or selling, but the laziest approach to retail there is.

So, like that blender, we need to remember what it is we’re really selling.  It’s not the blender.  It’s the soup.  And, it’s not really the soup; it’s about better eating.  And, it’s not really about better eating; it’s about quality of life.

And, if you have a product that can sell that, you’ve got something.  It made me pay $400 for a blender. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

a $400 cup of soup…..

I’ve always been a picky eater.  I guess you could say I’m a carnivore’s carnivore.  Meat, meat, meat.  Potatoes, I love potatoes.  Bake ‘em, fry ‘em, mash ‘em, just bring ‘em.  And, I like soups, just about any soup.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Vita Mix). Photo by PaulaG

But, vegetables have always been difficult for me.  If they’re on the plate, I eat them.  But, they’re not the first thing for me.  If I could hide them under the gravy, I would. 

In any case, I know it’s important to eat a balanced diet.  And now, with me getting into my middle fifties, I know I need to change.  But, how?

A couple of weeks ago, I was going through a Costco, when I came across a demonstration of some high powered blender.  I’m a sucker for any live presentation.  Sort of like how a magician wants to watch another magician do his thing, I like to watch how other products are sold.

So, there I was, in a semi-circle around this guy who’s cutting up some tomatoes, onions, peppers, a little cheese, cilantro, and maybe a few other things.  He adds a little seasoning, water, and a tiny bit of vinegar to this solution in this blender.  “Touch the jar”, he tells me.  I comply.  It’s cold.  “Touch this button”, he says, and I do just that.

In an instant, this machine, with the ferocity of a chain saw, starts emulsifying all of those things, most of which I don’t like to eat by themselves, into something that’s steamy hot.  He adds a few tortilla chips, touches a button for a second and voila.

“Hold your cup out”, he says.  I do.  “This is the best tortilla soup you’ll ever eat”.  He was right. 

Now, blenders are all over the place for under $50, some even under $20.  But, I’ve never run into a blender than did THAT.  I wanted one.  No, I needed one.  And, my son, he’d use something like that as well. 

So, as I left that Costco with two blenders at $400 each, I started wondering if I’d made a wise choice.  Of course I did. 

This purchase wasn’t about the blender, or really the soup, but about my ability to make something that is good for me, that can give me better health, that can change the way I eat, and do it in a way I can do.   In selling me the blender, he sold me the soup, and better health, and eventually, a better life.

to be continued….