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Showing posts from 2016

Seven!

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It must be my year for sports winners. First, my Cubbies lifted the curse and tonight Jimmie Johnson won his Seventh NASCAR Championship. Seven! The only others to do that are Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. Both names that even people who don't care about NASCAR are likely to recognize. That is impressive company and he has a chance to move ahead of them both if he can get Eight.

But, I get ahead of myself. I just want to enjoy Seven.

I've been a fan of Jimmie's since his rookie year in 2002. I've told the story many times because it's so quintessentially me. I was dating a guy who was really into NASCAR. Really. Into. So, I thought I would get on the bandwagon so we would have something to enjoy together.

During the fall race at Phoenix International Raceway, I started my research. It made sense to pick a rookie so that I would have someone to follow for a long time. It also made sense to pick someone good so I looked at earnings for the year so far. That took…

Holy, Cow!

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I've been in Key West before during the World Series. As I recall, we might have stopped in to a bar to check out part of a game here or there. But, I never really cared who won because my team wasn't in it.

Until this year!

We were at an event during Game 7 and I kept sneaking peeks at my phone for a score check. I felt pretty good about it all when it was 5-1 and even offered to stay for a Q&A session if my friend Jim wanted to but he was a great human and said, "I think we should go watch the game."

By the time we got to the sports bar to watch the game, it was 5-3. Yikes.

We bellied up to the bar next to my new best friend in a Cubs jersey and watched every play with great anticipation. A text from friends during the rain delay led us to the next bar.

My new best friend in the Cubs jersey said, "No offense, but I'm happy you're leaving. Things started going bad when you got here."

I couldn't blame him.

We pulled in to the next bar and th…

This Is How Fat Thinks

I was in Vegas over the weekend and Thursday night found me sitting at the bar in Margaritaville with some friends. We were having some drinks, talking to strangers and watching both the baseball and football games. All was well with the world.

Out of nowhere, a young (20s?) guy came up behind me and snapped a selfie with me in it. He moved away before I could even get out "What was that about?" Less than 30 seconds later, another young guy came up and did the same. He also bounded away before I could stop him.

My very first thought was that they were doing a photo scavenger hunt and one of the items was a picture with the fattest woman they found. Hell, could even have been the fattest person they saw if I let my mind take it further.

Now, assuming a scavenger hunt, there are other reasons they could have wanted a picture of me. Maybe they needed a ginger, maybe it was someone with their hair in braids, maybe it was someone in the brightest colored shirt they could find.

Wh…

Frank Abagnale - The Art of the Steal

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I had the great fortune to hear Frank Abagnale speak last week. Yeah, that's the guy who inspired the Spielberg movie, Catch Me If You Can.



Abagnale started the presentation with his personal story. Sobering and full of pathos; I don't remember it being as dark in the movie. While his cleverness at the art of the con at age 16 was entertaining and often humorous, his personal despair at the breakup of his family and remorse over his criminal actions were the overwhelming emotions I walked away with. He feels guilt to this day and has turned down three Presidential pardons.

It was also a powerful story of the preservation of the two parent family and the importance of teaching children lessons in morality. He presented many studies showing the shift regarding the latter. Short story, kids today don't consider things "wrong" as previous generations have. For example, cheating in school is considered no big deal by a growing percentage of youth over time. Sad.

Then …

What I Learned From Star Trek

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Today celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek's first appearance on US television.  It's a big deal if you're in the nerd and/or geek community.

The influence and endurance of Star Trek is nothing short of amazing. Yes, I judge people who blithely, or sometimes proudly, say "I've never watched it". For reals, you don't know what you're missing.

I grew up watching The Original Series in reruns. Yep, I'm too young to remember them when they aired. Yay for me being too young for something. BTW, that's TOS to us in the know.

It wasn't a perfect show. There was a lot of overacting, cheesy sets and sexist costumes. The plot points were sometimes predictable, you really didn't want to be on the security away team - that was a dead giveaway. (See what I did there?)


They weren't perfect characters, either. I mean, anyone who slept with Kirk died and if that's not a major defect I don't know what is. They were, however, a great …

Football Season - The Most Magical Time Of The Year

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Except this year because my Fantasy Football teams are horrible.

The first draft was on the Sunday afternoon of our big local Parrot Head weekend. I can blame the dehydration, hangover and lack of sleep for my poor draft. Or, the fact that I did no research. I choose to blame the ongoing sickness that I would endure for the next nine days.

I'm always the victim.

Here's my Parrot Head league draft in order (I was 11th out of 12):

WR DeAndre Hopkins
RB Le'Veon Bell (Did I know he was suspended for four games? No, I did not.)
QB Drew Brees
WR Eric Decker
RB Matt Forte
WR Kelvin Benjamin
RB Giovani Bernard
TE Tyler Eifert (Did I know he was hurt? No, I did not.)
WR Sterling Shepard
RB Theo Riddick
WR Corey Coleman
D Bengals
QB Tyrod Taylor
K Adam Vinatieri
RB Darren McFadden (Whom I dropped right away to pick up TE Charles Clay.)

Fast forward to Wednesday night and my work league as I drafted with a fever and barely kept myself awake (I was 12th out of 12):

WR De'Andre Hop…

An Exercise in Inspiration and Motivation

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A couple of weeks ago, some colleagues and I headed up to Northern Arizona for an optional offsite activity. Our CFO has a cabin (honestly, big house) up there and he has made it a practice to invite his direct reports up every year. This year, he expanded the invitation list to all of the Senior Managers and Directors of the company. (No, his cabin isn't that big. We were spread out over several places for our lodgings.)

We headed up to the pines on a Wednesday afternoon. The first night was dinner then hanging out. Thursday morning was golf for those who wanted to play while the rest of us sat on the porch and worked. It was gorgeous!

We headed to the main lodge for lunch after the golfers returned then delved into our first "work" activity of the trip. It was a "dusting off of our 360s".

Back in 2010 and then 2011, our upper management group participated in Zenger|Folkman 360 Assessments. Recently, a new group of managers and emerging leaders as well as Dire…

That One Time When We Met Steven Tyler

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One of the cool things at WE Fest were the meet and greets. Everyone I talked to said the artists were wonderful and patient. Jim tried to get us in on a couple but it appeared we were going to get shut out until he got a text from a friend "First 50 people in line get to meet Steven Tyler."

That was all we needed to know to abandon the Apple Pies shots we were slugging at a campsite bar. As we hustled over, a friend of Jim's said hi and, since it was her birthday, Jim told her to come with us, right now, for a great birthday present.

We got there in plenty of time and dutifully lined up. Anyone pulling a cell phone was threatened with getting booted from the line. Do you know how hard it is not to pull out your phone to check the time or messages when you're standing in a line? Hard.

We sent Sandy the birthday girl ahead of us. She told Steven it was her 61st birthday and he told her it couldn't be because she looked so amazing. He then sang in her ear and kisse…

WE Fest

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I spent last week in Detroit Lakes, MN for a Country Music festival called WE Fest. It's been going on since 1983 and my friends, Big Jim and Mary Ann, have gone every year and my Bestie, Jim, has been to all but one. At some point last year, I said "I'm in!"

What a fun event! Very well organized. Lots of music with a mixture of up and coming artists, established ones and a few rockers.

We had VIP seats which included "free" beer. All those Minnesotans were complaining about which beer it was but I was quite pleased. What do those ice fishers know?


Following are my impressions on each act. Jim and I saw all of them, missing a few opening songs for some (long beer lines) and about 20 minutes for one act because we were at a Meet and Greet. We were in the 38th row so my pics were all crap because I only had my phone. Lesson learned - take the camera.

THURSDAY

Amanda Watkins

The only female led act of the event. That face makes me sad. She had a wonderful voice …

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmmmm

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Behavioral Economics is my jam! If it had been a real thing back when I was in college, I would have ditched my Business Major in a heartbeat.

For those who don't know what it is, the short description is that it's the study of how and what effects your economic decision making. What makes you buy one car over another? How will your current experience influence your investing decision a few minutes from now, a day from now, a week from now? That kind of stuff.

What does one do with the results? Well, you can use them for good or evil. As a business type, I always think about how it can increase profits. As a human, I also think about how it could help make people make better decisions for themselves or society.

An example of the latter, say you want to increase the percentage of employees investing in a 401K (assuming that's a good decision for their financial wellbeing). How you do it is automatically sign them up for it as people don't want to do the work of either o…

My New Idol

"A stranger is a friend I haven't met yet." - Will Rogers

Truer words were never spoken when it comes to me. I love talking to strangers even if I'll never see them again. Airports are great for striking up a conversation. Nothing like a captive audience who is probably bored as well!

I was waiting to board a flight to Seattle a while ago when I noticed the family in front of me. Two kids about eight or so and two parents.

There was no way I couldn't talk to the daughter. She was dressed in a pink t-shirt with a grey cat on it, matching leggings, pink Hello Kitty shoes and, the pièce de résistance, a headband with cat ears. Man, she was styling!

I broke the ice with  a "I really like your outfit." The reaction I got was the shy kid face against the parent's leg move. The Mom said, "What do you say when someone compliments you?" That got a mumble from the pants' leg.

Not deterred from the conversational attempt at all, I followed up wit…

Best Buffett Shows

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In case you aren't wired into the world of Jimmy Buffett as I am, he announced this week that he's going to slow down next year. Of course, for Jimmy, that might just mean fewer concerts but more books, CDs (I believe they just announced a new Christmas one coming), plane trips and surfing. I don't think the guy will ever "rest".

A few people waxed nostalgic about their love for Jimmy and I was reminded of three Buffett shows I've been to that were awesome in different ways.

Wasted Away Again In Margaritaville
The earliest show was when Jimmy and Mac came to open the Glendale Margaritaville (RIP) in April of 2008. It was an all day event. Mville gave the Arizona Parrot Head Club 500 free passes and invited a group of us for morning cocktails and some TV time on the local news. A parking lot tailgate followed and then they roped off the courtyard area across from the restaurant and put Jimmy and Mac on a stage in front of the Arena.


It was a fantastic show. Jus…

I Miss Walter Cronkite

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I confess, I haven't watched local or national TV news in years.

I bugged out once all of the stations were doing "death" teasers for their broadcasts. "This surprising item in your kitchen will kill you!" "There are unknown predators in your neighborhood!" "Find about the commonplace product under the third step of your stairs that can give you cancer!" "You MUST watch our broadcast or you're doomed!!!!"

You get the gist. It was all about sucking you in to watch and the teaser segment was always buried somewhere in the broadcast so you had to wait through it all.

Here's another thing that turned me off from TV news; reporters standing in front of a building hours after whatever action happened before. Seriously, you could put that reporter in front of a blank green screen and gotten the same amount of relevance. "What you can't see now because it's all cleaned up is that the bus jumped this curb and ran into an…

Artwork Complete!

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Our wall of tiles is complete! I wrote about the creative process a while back where we all had an opportunity to make the tiles. A lot of work by Kim, our resident artist (and VP), later and the wall is done.

We hired some people to affix the tiles to the wall and do the grout work. They were at it for quite a while.
So, yeah, we thought we had made enough tiles... Kim had to make some more as the space was bigger than what we already had for our supply. She did all the stain and kiln work and most of the final design determinations.
There was careful consideration to placement to make sure the pattern of colors and tile designs flowed well.
After a few of the rows had grout put around them we found that the grout stain was also staining the tiles. So, they had to tape off each tile before putting in the grout. And, we had to clean the already stained tiles. (By we, I mean someone else. I just observed.)
I have no idea which ones I made. They're all a far cry from the gray clay t…

Cologne Cathedral

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We took a little site seeing trip while in Germany last week. My colleague wanted to show me the Cologne Cathedral or, as we almost locals like to call it, the Dom. According to Wikipedia (which wouldn't lie), it's the most visited landmark in Germany.

The Dom is a Roman Catholic cathedral and it took 800 years to build. Construction started in 1248 and ended in 1880. Well, there was a break in there from 1473 to the 1840s.

It's a very impressive structure. At one point, it was the tallest building in the world at 516 feet. The Washington Monument took that title from it in 1884.


We tried to imagine living in the construction era. I suspect generation after generation was born with designated professions as skills were passed down. This family was the stone cutters, this family built scaffolding, this family did the tile work, etc.

This built in the Gothic style so the structure is supported with large columns and has many arches. It's also super ornate. I mean every w…

Kathy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

I never want to leave home again after the week I just had. Oy. Let's recap, shall we? And, by recap, I mean that even though I'm trying to keep it short there was... Just. So. Much.

Monday

I arrived in Germany at 7:20 in the morning and spent the day in the sales office. My only sleep was maybe an hour in the car on the way from Hamburg to Muenster. I had a Parrot Head conference call scheduled for what was midnight my time. I debated trying to sleep first but decided to tough it out.

I'm the Moderator of the calls. I dialed in a few minutes before midnight and it said my PIN wasn't valid to start the call. I tried again, thinking my sleep deprived brain just mistyped. No success. I then sent a text to the person who sets up the calls. She gave me some other PINs to try. By this time, people were emailing - "Are we still doing this? I'm on the call and it hasn't started."

We finally found a successful PIN and started the call late. I hate that. While …