Digital assets, seriously….

To my cousin Fred I leave Grandmas wedding ring…..  To my good friend Homer, I leave my snowmobile and to my housekeeper, Alice, I leave my Facebook account.  Does this sound preposterous?  Well think again.  Have you ever given any thought about what is going to happen to all your social media content when you pass away.  It’s sad but, when you leave this earth, your posts, emails, blogs and photos remain in cyberspace forever.  Last time I checked, forever is a very long time.

Here are some questions you need to ponder. When you die, should your electronic trail also die? Does everything you created, digitally, have the right to stay when you are gone? Do you want to continue to live through cyberspace so future generations know about you?   These are becoming very important decisions to make.    Does Facebook have the right to pull the plug when you pull the plug?

We are probably the first generation that has had to tackle these questions.  Besides there being legal concerns I think there are some issues concerning what is morally correct.   Should this be a decision you should make; one your family should or do we allow the government to decide for us?

Take a moment to consider all the information you control with passwords.  I for one have my passwords hidden in secure locations.  Should you leave those passwords in your safe deposit box? Should you leave a copy in your will?  Maybe you should just make arrangements that when you are gone so are they.

What if someone managed to get a hold of your information after you die and pretends to be you?  It would be like you were posting from beyond.   This gives new meaning to communicating with the dead.   Well, so much for mediums and Ouija boards.

Now on the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice for your future generations to see what you were like and the things that you did?  You could be an inspiration for years to come, long after you’re gone.  Rather than open up the old family photo album you could just have a link to Great Grandpas Picasso album.

If this sounds too complex, you can even purchase digital asset management software.  This makes it easy to put all your personal information in easy to use formats and secure it safely.  Just think you and your digital assets will be resting safely in a cloud somewhere.  I doubt if it’s the same one, but you could be neighbors.

Many cemeteries now offer a service where you can have a QR code put on your tombstone.   Visitors can scan the code and be redirected to a webpage that shares predetermined information you have decided to share.   Why not take this a step further and allow people to write on your wall (that would be your Facebook wall) or upload photos for other family members when they visit.  No sure that you (the deceased) will see them, but I can’t guarantee you won’t.

I personally store all my files in a program called “Dropbox”.  How fitting would that be if my Dropbox files accompanied me when I’m dropped in a box.  Many people have requested to be buried with strange things like their Ferraris and Maserati’s and sometimes personal trinkets such as a necklace or a favorite piece of clothing.  Now many are requesting to have their iPhones and iPads.  Really, don’t they realize they will need to have a way to charge them?  I guess graveyards will now have to come with WIFI as an option.

Hopefully, you haven’t found this too morbid. It’s not something we like to talk about, but eventually you will have to give it some thought.  When setting up your will, please give thought to your digital assets.   We all eventually want to rest and “tweet” in peace.

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Published in: on March 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Where are the goats?

For the past eight years my wife Linda and I make our annual trek to our secret hideaway, St. James Club, on the island of Antigua.   We fell in love with this tropic paradise and each visit brings us back to a life that is stress free and simple.  All the trials and tribulations of our life in New Jersey seem to fade away if only for a brief time.

One of the first things that usually greets us on the short drive from the airport to our destination at Mamora Bay are the goats that seem to graze effortlessly on the banks of the winding roads.    For some reason on this drive we saw no goats.  That was really strange.   What happened to the goats?

One of the reasons we come back here every year is that it’s always as we remember it,  Beautiful beaches, wonderful friends, good food and a feeling of belonging.   The days are simple and relaxed and the evenings are even more calming.  What more can one ask for.  No hassles  or problems to deal with.

Over the years we have seen subtle  changes but none that completely changed the ambience we have always cherished.   At home life changes at a pace faster than we want.    Here at our island retreat change is not something we want or anticipate.  Although change is inevitable no matter where one resides its amazing as we age how we just want things to remain the same.

I developed a routine many years ago that fit our island life style.   I would get up about 30 minutes before sunrise to take a nice walk to the top of a mountain and watch the sun come up.  I would then head back to our villa and place two towels on lounge chairs at our favorite palapa where we would enjoy the rest if the day.   This year we brought our good friends with us so the routine was changed slightly to include four lounges and towels.

Our leisurely morning always includes fresh made coffee on our patio overlooking the beach then a leisurely stroll to a fine breakfast buffet. We then walk back to our villa to enjoy the day under our palapa on the beach without a care in the world.

Well change sometimes happens when you lease expect it.  When we arrived back at our  Palapa last week I felt as if all of the coconuts in the tree above hit me in the head.  Apparently someone wanted to stake claim to our spot so our towels and personal items where taken and dumped to the side and they moved in.   Mind you this is an exquisite island destination not the Jersey Shore.   When I asked the invaders that blatantly laid claim to our spot what they did, all I received was attitude . No remorse, no apology…..nothing.   Needless to say I was VERY UNHAPPY!

I felt the stress level climb and the blood pressure rise.   Here I am thousands of miles from home having to call security.  Remember this is supposed to be a vacation not a turf war!   Security handled the situation wisely by bringing us more chairs.   I still lost the palapa for the day. I would of preferred the squatters being banned from the island; but that was just my anger brewing.

Has change finally worked its way to this remote corner of the Caribbean?  Has the place that has served as our peace and serenity retreat for all these years gone to crap?   Has the change in towel policy contributed to this  chair stealing problem? And/or perhaps there are not enough chairs for the amount of guests visiting the resort? Maybe I’m just getting older and cranky.  Today my personal space is violated. What will be next?

Seems we weren’t the only ones this was happening to.   Many of our island friends shared similar stories.   We all come to this island resort year after year because we have been made to feel special and would never expect anything like this to happen.

After a few days we all cooled off and our island adventures calmed.  We became more alert and guarded our spaces with a bit more precision.  Now in the morning our spot was reserved with a giant blow up killer whale.  Hopefully this was a sign that said “Don’t ____ with my space” .  I think the message was received.  No more issues .

I guess nothing stays the same and change will hit us when we least expect it.  Will this change how we feel about our peaceful hideaway?  Maybe a little, but we will be back.   You never know,  sometimes things change for a reason.  Sometime change can bring about better things and every once in awhile a change can make things go back to the way they were.   These are the things that make life an adventure

On the next to the last day of our trip I was returning from my walk down the mountain and I heard a familiar sound.  I turn and looked down the road and there they were, a huge heard of goats.  I came in close for a look and for that moment I felt reassured that even with change something’s can stay the same. 

Texting and Walking, not perfect together

If your iPhone junkie like me, you probably have heard the canned phrase “there’s an app for that. Yesterday I came across an app for texting. Now this isn’t anything new, we all text from our phones but this app shows you the ground while your texting. The app is called Text n Walk (See photo). Seems hospitals have been reporting a major increase in accidents due to people walking and texting at the same time. We thought walking and chewing gum was difficult, now we have to learn to text and walk at the same time. Apparently people are walking into obstacles, other people, and even incoming traffic. Not a good thing. Besides being extremely embarrassing, injuries are adding up.

The internet has been flooded with comical videos of people walking into cars and falling over themselves while texting. My favorite video is the one of a woman walking into a shopping mall fountain (http://youtu.be/w69s6Yhba5Q) . Although these may seem funny, many cities and towns are passing laws restricting texting while walking. Seems we have some liability issues. Hard to believe our insurance rates can go up for “texting accidents”

Our society has been focusing on rules and regulations for talking while driving, but who would have thought we would ever have to think about texting and walking issues. I remember growing up and learning the jingle “Cross at the green and not in between”. I guess that will have to be modified to say. “Text on the red, otherwise you could be dead”.

One city in Idaho has started fining people $50 if they are caught walking across a street and texting. I wonder if they will be installing texting cameras at street lights. Can you imagine the revenues that could be collected in NYC! We could bring down the national deficit in no time flat.

It was reported in 1980 that cell phones were helping to reduce fatality rates because people were using them to call in emergencies, now these same devices are causing the casualties. Go figure.

In London, city officials are placing padding on light post; apparently to many people have been walking into them while walking and texting. I would love to see the line idea explanation for that one on the city budget.

Even Lawyers are taking notice of this serious situation. Check out the wording of this ad I discovered; “Even if you were hurt while texting, you may be entitled to compensation from others whose actions contributed to your injuries. If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident, contact a San Diego personal injury attorney to explore your legal options”. What can you say to that: Only in America….

I’m thinking about inventing an app that I can rent or sell that would make your cell phones unable to text while you’re in motion. The device could also be used during business meetings, dinners, weddings, special events and whenever it is no acceptable to text. The device would send a small electric charge through your body, similar to a dog zapper collar. The key is the app can be remotely engaged from anyone around you, so you have no idea of knowing when it’s activated. Now that might put some fear into you.

Agreed, texting has become a part of our lives. It’s direct, to the point, timely, easy to do and it’s cost effective. Has the day come when we have to place rules on a freedom we have come to enjoy? Maybe some common sense can be the short term solution. I do believe we will start to see warning sign posted in public areas. Picture this at a busy intersection ” Texting can be dangerous, watch your step”.

Over time, I think our society will master texting, walking and chewing gum. Hopefully you are reading this while seated and not walking near any Shopping Mall Fountains. Would love to hear your opinion, you can text. Really. Just be careful.

Baggy Pants leads to arrest but not flip flops.

Recently a story of a 20 year old college student who was arrested in San Francisco on June 16th for not pulling his pants up while boarding a plane caught the media attention. Apparently, Deshon Marman was told by a customer service agent to pull up his low-slung pants as he boarded a Phoenix-bound flight at San Francisco International Airport. He refused and was again asked by another flight attendant as he was boarding the plane. He again refused. It was at that point that the pilot placed Mr. Marman under citizen’s arrest.  I guess a pilot could do that.  I sort of like that idea.  Well to make a long story short he has arrested and held with bail set at $10,000.  He has since been released, but the story is far from over.

In the news now is the family’s plan to sue the airlines, the police department, and the city of San Francisco for racial discrimination. Give me a break!  Talk about a waste of tax payer dollars and court time. This case has nothing to do with racial discrimination.   This is simply a matter of RESPECT.  That’s right, spell it! R-E-S-P-E-C-T.! All of this could have been avoided, if Mr. Marman would have simply pulled his pants up out of respect for the other passengers who were also on that flight.

Not too long ago, I remember my parents placing my brother and me on an airplane to go visit our grandparents dressed in sport jackets and dress pants. There was a day when airline travel was considered an important social event. Over the years the dress codes have become more relaxed for both travelers and airline crews.  What hasn’t changed and should never change is respect in public places.  Airlines are entitled to have dress codes and they are also entitled to enforce them.  The airline was following correct procedure.   Mr. Marman was just being disrespectful. END of STORY.

It does not matter what nationality, religion or color Mr. Marman is, the airline was right in their actions.   I RESPECT the airline for its decision.  Rules and regulations are part of our daily life.  I agree, some are not good but they are put there for a reason.   When there is a regulation or a rule that you are not comfortable with, there are better ways to disagree than with pure defiance.   By refusing to pull his pants up, Mr. Marman was not showing any maturity.  Maybe Mr. Marman should have “tweeted” or “blogged” his discontent with the rule and regulation and then presented his case to the airline at another time. This is how change comes.

For years I have been traveling to a time share in the Caribbean with my wife for our vacation.  One of the rules is, men have to wear long pants, collared shirts and shoes at dinner.  At first I found this to be a hassle. It involved extra packing and it really cramped my style of dress.  I would have preferred shorts, t-shirt and flip flops.  After a few years of this routine, I actually got to the point of looking forward to dressing up.  I enjoyed the experience of shopping prior to the vacation and planning out what I was going to wear.  The rule was enforced, although I never witnessed a citizens arrest by the hotel staff.

This week I just received my Island newsletter and guess what! As of July 1st, the dress code is being relaxed and now men will be allowed to wear shorts at dinner, although no jean cutoffs (does anybody wear them anymore?).  Casual shirts and open shoes will now also be permitted.  Believe it or not, I’m sort of bummed out about this.  I wonder what happened. I guess several guests decided to write letters, tweet, blog and send emails to the resort voicing their opinion on the dress code.  I never once witnessed a guest refuse to take his shorts off at dinner.  I also believe as new generations of guest and hotel staff arrived they brought with them new styles and trends.   As they say change is inevitable.   I think when the day comes that baggy pants down to your knees are allowed during dinner at our time share, it might be time for me to search out a new island.

So Mr. Marman, I hope you reconsider your lawsuit and just grow up a little bit.  I suggest you invest some time in learning proper manners and learning to respect the feelings of others.  If you want to wear your pants down to your knee, for now you will not be welcomed at my time share.

Respectfully,

Steve Kohn

Published in: on July 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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100mph to zero in two weeks

Many of us live life in the fast lane. I’m sure you know the type. Why put off for tomorrow what can be done right now, even if it means working late or starting the next day early. Type A personality doesn’t go far enough. It’s more like triple type A personality. We’ll if you haven’t guessed by now, I’m one of those. In the office I’m sometimes referred to as TAZ. That’s the cartoon character that leaves a trail of dust in his wake when he enters a room.

Unfortunately I don’t consider this a character flaw, it’s just who I am. After doing this for so many years, it’s basically a part of what I’m about. Those that know me, expect it and those that don’t learn quick. Is it a bad thing? There are those that might think so, but there are others that seek me out. If you want something done right and have it expedited then give the task to the busiest person you know. That would be me.

So how does one slow down a person like this? Everyone needs a down period to recharge the mental batteries and clear the mind for new tasks that are just around the corner. Like it or not!

You could always stick that person on a plane and send him away to a tropical island for two weeks. The destination would have to have limited contact with the outside world and be tucked away from any reminders of the stress left behind. Well that is exactly what happens and it works.

Writing this blurb somewhere over the Atlantic heading home after two wonderful weeks away is an opportunity for me to prepare for what awaits me upon my return and also to reflect on how important it was to get away and to let the mind clear. I know the closer I get to landing the restful aura that I have will slowly start to fade. It would be nice if I could bottle this peaceful feeling and when the stress that will eventually rears it’s ugly head, I can open that bottle and let some calm out.

I’ve already composed the back to work “to do” list for tomorrow. Feels kind of strange putting work related items to text. The list for the last two weeks have basically been limited to. 1) take morning walk 2) check email and download daily issue of WSJ. 3) jump in pool 4) quiet breakfast with my lovely wife, Linda on private deck overlooking the Caribbean sea 5) claim a beach hut 6) soak up sun 7) read for enjoyment 8 ) head to gym 9) quiet time back at villa which does include a cocktail 10) peaceful romantic dinner sitting near the water 11) good peaceful night sleep. 12) repeat tomorrow. Not a bad list

The best way to get back to reality is to be prepared. Each year I do this, it seems a little bit harder to get back in the groove. How long will it be before I say ” you know, I think it’s time to make some changes”. I guess we all yearn for a simple life. But the bottom line is we all need to work hard and then rest. So as long as I’m physically able, I will continue to find and pursue an enduring work spirit and ethic.

So as my ” back to reality” list is growing as Newark airport gets closer, I still have to reflect on my list from yesterday, especially #12. God willing there will be a tomorrow and many more “to do” list in the future.

Now returning to 100mph from 0 is a job for TAZ. Prepare for dust. Landing shortly . Fasten your seat belts.

Published in: on March 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm  Comments (2)  

Gas cans for Dummies

Now that we have had our eighth snowfall of the season and I have been using an unprecedented amount of fuel to keep our snow blower running, I decided it was time to invest in a second gas can. I Figure this would save several trips to the local service station to refuel. Our current trusty and very functional plain old simple gas can, circa 1980’s has worked flawlessly for many years. Very simple to operate. I follow these simple steps. Step #1: Unscrew lid on can, fill will gas. Step #2: Pour into gas tank of snow blower. That’s it! Now have any of you purchased a new “state of the art, OSHA approved, gas can lately?

Seems when I went gas can shopping at the Home depot ( always good material for blogs) there are not a lot of options when purchasing a gas can. They are all red, they are all plastic (no more metal ones – like I have) , they all come with a detailed manual on how to operate them, and they are basically pretty darn cheap. Sounds like a no brainer, right? Well so I thought.

On the way home , I stopped at the service center to fill our new gas can with fuel. You would think this would be a simple task. After trying for a few minutes to open the cap I actually had to read the instructions. Now, I find it amazing that I can take a computer apart and put it back together again but for the life of me I could not figure out how to open this darn, circa 2011, gas can. According to the manual, while pressing down , you have to squeeze the two sides and then twist in the opposite direction. Please explain to me why I can’t just turn the cap and be done with this. After several choice curse words, the cap came off and the can was fueled. Now that should be the end of my story. NOT

With all the snow we are having in NJ, it didn’t take long for the need to use our new gas can to arrive. Let me paint a picture for you. It’s bitter cold out, the wind is howling, I have been outside for over an hour plowing away. I have on a heavy coat, thick gloves, hat and scarf. The snow blower goes silent. Fuel has run out. Its time to fill the tank. I grab the new “OSHA approved” gas can. I unscrew the cap on the snow blower fuel tank. I place the nozzle from the gas can in the tank and gentle tilt upwards. NOTHING comes out! The gas can is full, but NOTHING comes out. HOW CAN THIS BE! Its freezing out, my hands and feet are numb and I cant get gas to pour from a gas can. Is this a bad dream? Am I imagining I’m outside in the snow? WHAT is going on?

Before hypothermia set in, I retreated to the garage. I pulled out the manual for the fuel can and turn to section 6, page 18, paragraph 46 which reads; “When attempting to pour fuel into an “OSHA approved fuel tank”, place edge of nozzle on lip of tank, press down gently while turning nozzle to the left and tilting can upwards.” Has anybody ever tried to do this in the bitter cold with thick gloves on? Now on my old can, you opened the lid and just poured . I wonder if the person who came up with this method for pouring fuel ever attempted to plow snow in the freezing cold! I challenge that person to attempt those steps while wearing gloves and standing outside in artic conditions.

Here is what happened next. I located my trusty old 1980’s gas can and a funnel. I took the new gas can, unscrewed the cap, according to the manufacturers instructions (section 3, page 18, paragraph 12) . placed the funnel in the old gas can and poured the fuel from the new can into the old one. I then took my old can of gas (now full of fuel) and filled the tank of the snow blower.

I’m sure there are several reasons why a gas can can has to be designed this way, but frankly I really don’t care. Some things are better left alone. Anybody want a new gas can, its yours.

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm  Comments (6)  
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Need a show shovel?

For those of you that live in the Northeast, I’m sure you are quite aware we are having our fair share of snow already.   Only a couple of weeks into winter and we have had four snow falls.   I can recall entire winters when we haven’t had that many.    The global warming factor seems to have gone into hibernation.  The best we can do is deal with it.  Having said that,  let us move on to the point of this blog

For the past four  seasons I have survived at home with a seldom used snow blower and  one very inexpensive, but very effective snow shovel.  After the first snow storm the day after Christmas I decided it might be a good time to pick up an extra snow shovel.  You never know when the current one will just say,  “That’s it , I’ve had enough”  . Luckily I am fortunate to have six Home Depots within a ten mile radius of my home.   I’ll just pick one up. That’s a no brainer…

Better said then done.  Apparently all of Middlesex County, NJ must of had the same idea.   Trying to find a snow shovel after a December snow storm is like trying to find something healthy to eat at Burger King.  This was not going to happen.   You would think that Home Depot might stock some extra snow shovels this time of year, but that was not the case.  They did carry plenty of over priced rock salt and ice melting paraphernalia . These are all great, but not when you just want a cheap inexpensive snow shovel it’s no help at all.

Day after day I would try different Home Depots all with the same results.  “Sorry no snow shovels”.   It began to get really frustrating.  Did I really have to go on to Amazon and order a darn snow shovel online.  Just didn’t seem right. Well the snow keep falling and  the probability of my four year old shovel that cost $9.99 breaking was rising.

Finally three weeks after my first visit to a Home Depot a big sign appears in the window at a Home Depot.  Guess what it said. “We have snow shovels”.  Could it be true.  Yes, Happy days are here.   I went into the store and yes. plenty of snow shovels displayed…..  PRICES STARTING at $37.95 and up….   Yes,  you read that correctly. You see these weren’t your normal everyday snow shovels, these were top of the line industrial grade, gold filled, super heavy duty, built to last, platinum level snow shovels.

I politely asked ask the sales associate (which is almost as difficult to find as a snow shovel) where are the economy snow shovels  located?.  His reply. “Oh we don’t have any of those” .  “Why not” was my reply.  Not sure he knew how to answer that one.    Apparently Home Depot was playing the supply and demand card.   Basically, I need a snow shovel (that’s the demand part) and here is what we have (that’s the supply part).

I bet you anything that if I was to go to the back warehouse at Home Depot I would find cases of those $9.99 snow shovels.  I’m not going to be suckered into this.  So much for those Home Depot commercials  with the tag line, “We’re here to help”   Help what! Empty my wallet!

So much for probability and statistics. I’m going to wait until spring to by my next snow shovel (or two) .  I guarantee you Home Depot will have plenty to sell then.

What will I do when Home Depot comes into my store and ask to rent a tent this summer? Will  there will be plenty of tents for them to rent?  hmmmm let me see.   Let it snow, Let it snow………

Respectfully,

Steve Kohn

Published in: on January 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm  Comments (3)  
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Who needs a good laugh today? Need Health Insurance

For those of you that are small business owners there comes that day each year when it’s time to renew your companies Health Insurance.  Today was that day. It’s gotten to the point that I, along with my partner and brother, know that what we are going to hear from our insurance sales representative is not going to be good news but rather how bad is going to be this time.   Well today we were quite surprised.

Obviously your thinking, WOW! did the rates go down and your company is saving bucket loads of money?   Not exactly.  Usually it’s how much more is it going to cost us this year to get less.?    This year it was not much different.  It is definitely going to cost us much more to get much less.   So why is this something to laugh about?   (well almost laugh) What is wrong with this picture?

If you have been following health care in this country, you certainly understand the giant mess we have created. Over 70% of the country wants the new (Obama) health care policy repealed that took literally decades to create.  The law is so confusing I don’t think there is a soul that really understands the whole package. The doctors certainly don’t like it, and many are abandoning ship by either retiring early or joining private health care groups that don’t accept insurance.   Hard to believe that a typical driver on a Coca Cola route without a college education can actually make more than a qualified physician today. Who is the smart one here?

Just trying to understand how health care is going to work can make you sick.   What have we done and what is going to be the end game?   The bottom line is small businesses like ours will be paying through the nose and this will continue to keep our economy stagnate with little growth.  Is there a solution that will work?   When will we be able to have affordable health care for small businesses?   We believe there are ways to do this, but we are going in the wrong direction.  Let’s put the politics aside and come up with a plan that is small business friendly and that the typical business can grasp and offer to current and new employees at a favorable rate.

Today’s meeting with our insurance representative was not so much of a meeting but as a good dose of reality.   It only took a few moments while thumbing through the numbers and the various plans available that we really aren’t buying insurance anymore, we’re  just buying a premium.   No matter which plan you look at they all have greater co-pays, less coverage, more out of network cost, extremely high hospital coverage  and generally more rules and regulations. So basically as a small business the choice is very obvious. There is no choice.  The only option is to take the plan that is affordable.    Any other choice will simple put you out of business and then there would be no reason to have health insurance.

In a way you have to say this is almost comical.  Imagine if you’re the insurance sales rep and your job is to come in and explain this situation:  “OK Steve and Stuart,  here is your choice.  You can spent 200% more this year and get 300% less coverage or you can spend 100% more  for this year and get 200% less coverage.  Which one will it be?  Hmmm let’s think about this.   Bottom line is there is no choice but the one that will keep you in business until at least until next year’s meeting.  Insurance is now a matter of shopping for PRICE not for services.  Our rep did a great job in helping us see the picture and believe it or not we actually felt pretty good coming out of the meeting.  It would of been nice saving those bucket loads of money but coming out with a clear understanding of what health insurance is about today was a great reward.  Although it’s going to cost us significantly more and we will be getting less, we are still providing our employees health insurance.

As American’s we have come to accept that change is inevitable in our political system and along with it will come mandates that will impact us all.  Health care regulation is  the “Genie out of the bottle” and if we don’t do something to get it back in,  it just might make small business disappear.

Respectfully

Pinball Machines and Water Buffalos

What in the world could these two items have in common?  They are as far apart in similarity as Democrats and Republicans (lets save that for another blog).  Why are these items of interest? Believe it or not, we can learn so much from these two objects.  Let’s take a look at the brief history of each.    When I’m done you might be thinking about a new career path.

For those of you that can remember the first coin-operated pinball machines were invented in 1931. They became popular very quickly and really grew in popularity after World War II. The ten year period of 1948-58 is referred to by some as the “Golden Age of Pinball”. Once video games emerged onto the scene; the popularity of the pinball machine declined.  By the late 1980’s the classic pinball machine, as we know it, was no longer even being manufactured.  The classic pinball machine has been replaced by video machines that are more electronically progressive, with video screens and computer technology.

Amazingly, “Classic Pinball” has become almost as popular as it was back in the day. It has become an “in” item with high-profile celebrities, baby boomers, business executives and families. They have become a fixture on many TV shows, commercials, movie sets and many magazine shoots. Perhaps it’s due to the nostalgia factor or the advent of personal home game rooms. Or maybe the realization that an individual can now easily purchase a used pinball machine, or  even the fact that playing a few good games of pinball after a hard day’s work can be a tremendous stress-reliever!

Now the Water Buffalo, I’m pretty certain, has been around much longer than a pinball machine. For hundreds of years, the water buffalo has been used in the fields to pull plows and help in harvesting tasks.  Around the mid 1980’s, about same time as the demise of classic pinball, the water buffalo began to be replaced with industrial farm tractors. They seemed to be more efficient.

Now let’s move to the present time. Low and behold, you have just become the proud owner of a classic pinball machine and a water buffalo.  Now how cool is that?!  There seems to be one slight problem though and it apparently is a big one.

You go to use your pinball machine for the first time and guess what, it’s broken.  So you go outside and try to plow your field with your new water buffalo and yes, you guessed it, the water buffalo has absolutely no clue what to do.  What do you do at the point?   Can you go call the neighborhood pinball machine repairman or locate a water buffalo trainer?  I don’t think so.  You want to know why? Few if any exist anymore!

It seems as new technologies develop the need for the old ways of doing things diminishes. With it so does the means to keep them working and performing.   This would be ok, but what happens when we find the old ways are better. Apparently, the farmers realized that the tractors weren’t exactly what they bargained for. They were costly to maintain and fuel is expensive. They would get stuck in places that a water buffalo would not, and my favorite, the tractors couldn’t provide the natural fertilizer that the water buffalo did.  Do I need to draw a picture?!

Now with all the high tech gadgets and video games out there, why would anyone want a classic pinball machine?  Because it’s fun!  It brings you back to a time when life was simple.  Nothing beats a great game of classic pinball.

So where have all the pinball repairmen and water buffalo trainers gone?  Well when the need for them disappeared so did they.  As for the pinball machines many “tinkerers” or “MacGyvers”” out there are finding new careers that they never dreamed they would be doing years ago.   Recently, in parts of Asia they have opened Water Buffalo training schools; apparently they have located some old timers that are now teaching the new generations “the ways of the water buffalo”.  From what I’ve read, teaching an 800 pound water buffalo to make a left turn is no easy task. It’s not as easy as flipping your blinker on.

So as you can see the Pinball machine and the water buffalo have quite a bit in common. Old methods have found a place in the land of new technology.  I have a strange feeling we will be seeing a lot of this in the coming future.  So hold on to your knowledge of the past, you never know when it will be needed.  If you’re thinking of a career, imagine the possibilities if you could train water buffalos and fix pinball machines.

Published in: on October 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stories that get you going

Ever read something in the paper that just makes you think, what is going on around us?  Well this morning was one of those days.

First headline that caught my eye was that concerning a car that got a ticket on the streets of NYC yesterday. Now for me this is nothing new, our vehicles get ticketed on a daily basis.  Ticketing is a major revenue flow for the “big apple”.   What is unique about this story was in the car there was a dead guy slumped behind the wheel.  Now let’s think about this.  If you were a cop don’t you think you might just notice this? I guess apparently not.   Obviously, this is not funny for the guy in the car and it is pretty morbid when you think about it.   So what happens now?  Does the estate have to pay the ticket? Will there be late fees?  I guess the lesson to be learned here is if you are visiting NYC and you are planning on checking out in your parked car, make sure you have plenty of money in the meter.   What I gather might happen is the family of the deceased will end up suing the city and collect a six figure settlement Then guess who pays the ticket!

Second headline of interest concerns a letter that will be waiting for residents of NYC sometime shortly. Apparently a heated political campaign is going on for governor.  Carl P. Paladino, a Republican candidate for governor is sending out over 200,000 pieces of mail that state “Something stinks in Albany”.  The kicker is that the letters will be scented to smell like foul garbage.  Is this what you want to find in your mailbox?   Would you vote for a guy that does this?   Is this going a little too far?  Have politics crossed the line on this one?  Beware of what is in your mailbox.  Something stinks alright and it’s not just the mail.

The third article that just makes you sit back and wonder what is going on concerns a situation that happen in a Hospital in Maryland yesterday.   A person apparently unhappy with the diagnosis a surgeon gave him about his mother pulled a gun and shot the surgeon then barricaded himself in a room and shot and killed his mother and himself.  The doctor will survive.   This one really has me thinking.  Aren’t hospitals supposed to be safe places to go?  Isn’t this were you go to get better?   Have we reached a point where we need metal detectors in Hospitals?   A hospital is where we go to have bullets removed not put in, correct?

So I guess September 16th will be one of those days that I look back upon and wonder what can cause such events to happen?  Was there a full moon?  Maybe there was shift in climate conditions or just a bad day for some.

One of my favorite authors says it best ““You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.” — Dr. Suess

Published in: on September 17, 2010 at 3:45 pm  Comments (2)  
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