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Thursday, June 29, 2006

what a disappointment..

Usually the NBA draft is one of the best days for unanticipated comedy.   Watching asian guys try and failed ot connect on a high-five.  Watching greasy Eurotrash players nearly make out with their entire family after being picked and the normal fashion disasters or five.
Unfortunately yesterday it didn't happen.  The number one pick was from Italy and all he got was a handshake.  The only thing close was when an African-American player from the inner city got drafted by Utah and his family looked scared when they realized where they would have to live the rest of your life.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

MBAs gone wild...

Imagine for a second that you are in an MBA marketing class and your project is to fix the Chicago Cubs.  As a good MBA student, you want to work to maximize the value for your teams.  Here are a few key facts HBS-style
Andy MacPhail leans backs in his chair in the Tribune building and thinks about the Cubs greats in years past.  then we thinks to the future and realizes that he needs his organization to take the next step in
MBA students would likely come up with the following suggestions.
- Since we already sell out almost all of our games, let's raise ticket prices.
- Since we already sell out almost all of our games, let's raise beer prices.
- Since we already sell out almost all of our games, let's stop promoting our team in the community.
- Since we already sell out almost all of our games, 'let's stop acquiring top free agents.
Amazing, this is what has happened.   The cubs are on track to finish near the bottom of major league baseball this season and may end up in the top 2 or 3 in attendance.  In fact, they probably will.  What does this say about Chicago?

Monday, June 26, 2006

people actually click on his banner ads

check out this guy who makes nearly $1MM per quarter from Google Adsense.  Maybe I should turn my blog into an online dating site.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

so this is what it is like to be cool...

went to a new hot club opening this weekend.  A new "liquor spa" called Stone Lotus opened in River North.  Due to Cheryl's connections at work, we got put on the VIP list.  It was supposed to be the fusion of high-end liquor, 5-star food and the best club music anywhere. Additionally, it was supposed to be populated by hipsters and celebs.
In a word, I was ready to hate.  As a general rule, I dislike any place where you have to wait (or pay) to get in and anyplace that cultivates a reputation for being tough to get into or being an elite place.  (As an aside I have no issues with places which end up being hangouts of people who want to be seen, I just have issues with places that openly cultivate that reputation.   I remember one sorority at Duke (not one of the better ones) which actually played up its snobby image.)
However, I was shocked Saturday night by a couple things-- 1) I actually didn't hate my experience and actually had a fairly good time and 2) anyplace where I am a VIP truly has no VIPs.  The rest of the VIP clientele consisted of either overweight gay men, salty single 35+ women or yuppies from the city trying to act happy that this is the only VIP event that they will ever get into. 
It was a decent place, though it has undoubtedly been overhyped.  Two small floors with bench seating around the perimeter and a few glorified ottomans serving as tables.  There was a waterfall against the wall and some pretty decent foods.
The high point of the experience was probably the waitress service.  The waitress were weating a black pant suit without shirts underneath, definitely showing off the girls.  The breastestss were held in by some sort of plastic apparatus.  Definitely looks uncomfortable but the staff didn't seem to mind.
I think Rodney Dangerfield said it best-- " I would never join any club that would accept me as a member."

life is good...

got a notice from Dish Network Friday confirming my Season Ticket college football package for the fall.   Life is good...

Friday, June 23, 2006

How long can the Windfall last?

Anyone who listens to me long enough knows how much I decry the current state of network television.  I used to love television.  Not necessarily for the acting, but for the writing.  Noone loves good wordplay within the English language for than I.  Other than the Left Wing Sport Night, Freaks and Geeks or Undeclared , I can't think of any consistently well-written television shows.  I know there have to be good writers other than Aaron Sorkin and Judd Apatow, but where are they?
This is why I have started to like Windfall so much.   It takes a simple events are shows the many sides of it without being overdone, predictable or dumbed down to the viewers.   The show and its characters are complexity and the writers realize that issues don't need to be resolved within each and every episode.  Well enjoyable to watch, it is kind of scary.  Almost all television programs that assume the viewer isn't stupid tend to be killed off relatively early in their life.
I am hopeful for Windfall yet.  It embraces the ensemble cast and has multiple storylines which should hopefully attract a diverse.  The basic premise of the show, I believe shoud draw viewers as well.  The inherently possible upward mobility of a free economy leaves people across all social strata wondering when their time for riches will come.  Windfall shows what happens when the dream does come true.
Ironically, this may end up being the demise of the show.  Histoical shows that television shows based around one event tend not to do that well.  After the first season, there is not necessarily anywhere to go with the plot (See My Two Dads, Life Goes On and Doogie Howser, MD).  Hopefully, the diverse cast will enable storylines unrelated to the premise of the show.  Entourage is facing that same challenge this year aswell.
So next Thursday night, I'll be watching Windfall, hopefully you will be too.  Now if only Jennie Garth could make a guest appearance as a woman from Luke Perry's past.
The other piece of must-see TV I have recently discovered is the King of Cars.  This is a reality show about the inner workings of supposedly the most successful used car dealership in the nation and its owner, Chopper.  One of the strange things this show does is actually makes you root for car salesman,  almost in the same way that you root for the girls in The Hills.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Well, they found them.  Weapons of Mass destruction.  Thought at this point public sentiment is still too far again the war for this to make much of a difference some of us true Bush supporters find a bit of vindication in this.  Though I feel the mission is just even without finding the WMDs, hopefully support will increase as a result.
Just as interesting to be is that Rick Santorum called a press conference to release this news yesterday, however, only Fox News has this story on its website today.   And who said there is no liberal media bias.   Regardless of your political persuason, you can't deny that this is an important news story.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

my old favorite airlines

When I traveled for a living, Northwest airlines used to be my favorite airlines. Automatic upgrades for anyone with status, plus a liberal status comping policy. They tended to arrive on time plus their terminals always had the best food. The BBQ in the Memphis terminal is so of the best I have ever had anyway. Even though I primarily fly United now, I have no qualms flying NW. (I still have status on their airline though i hadn't flown it more than 3 or 4 times in the past 3 years).

However, now Northwest has officially lost my business forever. They now have eliminated priority boarding and have embraced the Southwest Airlines herd boarding mentality. Thank you Northwest for ignoring the business travel. Thank you for igoring your consumer who pays more for tickets.

Thank you for making it easier for me to stick with United.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

olympics and brand management

I just realized that being a mayor of a major city and being a brand manager have alot more in common than I previously believed.  One of my biggest complains of working in the Consumer packaged goods industry is that people in order to advance within an organization need to leave their mark on their department.  Some times this means support an idea which may or may not be the best idea for the organization, simply because it will leave a legacy.
A similar thing is going on with this ridiculous Olympic bid for the city of Chicago.  Richie Daley wants to be remembered as a mayor who brought something material to the city, not the leader of mass corruption-- a World's Columbian Exhibition if you will.  However, the World's Columbian exhibition did not involve building tons of structure which would never be used once the event was over, or create a huge publicly financed deck.  The only conceivable positive of the event is a regional rail system, though I doubt the economics of it would work after the event is over.
my thoughts-- richie clean up the mess and city hall and let another city have the pain of the olympics.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Why I would never send my child to St. Charles East

My wife and I talk alot about education. Maybe it is become we have about 36 years of organized education between us. Specifically, where we would sent any potential offspring, both to college and high school.

Cheryl is a graduate of the very small, rather diverse, University of Chicago Lab School and a very passionate alum. I went to the very big, very undiverse St. Charles High School, now St .Charles East.

Grades. One of the biggest selling points of St. Charles was that grades mattered. If you wanted to go to a decent college you needed to take virtually all AP classes and be ranked in the top 2 or 3%, no ifs, ands or buts about it. You knew you needed As and worked to get them. I think having to work in the pressure cooker is a good thing. Admittedly, this was made a bit easier by a curriculum that didn't real challenge you (but more on that later). Cheryl on the other hand, though she probably worked harder than I, didn't have to do it in a pressure-filled environment. People who were ranked in the bottom 10% of her class were admitted to Harvard and Yale. When I graduated, St. Charles hadn't sent a person to Harvard in the past 20 years.

Counseling. This is what you pay your tuition dollars for. Cheryl had a counselor who knew her personally and knew college admissions directors personally. She got SAT prep help that you can't find in any book and knew exactly how to get into any college she wanted to. I rotated through several counselors, one of whom didn't even know what state Yale was in.

Extracurricular activities. Obviously, alot more choices at St. Charles. Plus, any competition event St. Charles competition for state of national honors. (On a related note, I think the drop in athletic performance and academic performance since i graduated go hand in hand.) Lab had limited options. Big difference is that you could do whatever you wanted at lab and didn't need to specialize. At St. Charles, there can only be on newspaper editor or starting point guard. Despite this, kids always wanted to do more. Not sure why this was. Was it because there were more opportunities or because we all knew how stacked the college odds were against us.

Curriculum. Despite its size, Lab offered much much more for someone on the college track. Plus its relationship with the University was nice. St. Charles tried to offer more AP classes, but it had a catch-22. If it offered an advanced class, it needed to make sure that students would actually stick with it. As a result, the teachers couldn't push the students as much as they wanted to. I can really only remember two teachers who really pushed students, Jay Friberg and Lisa Hahns. Sadly, neither one of them is teacher there anymore. Don't get me wrong. I don't blame anyone at St. Charles High for the education I received. I truly believed most of the teachers and some of the administrators really tried hard and did what they could.
So where does that leave us? Obviously I believe that a large school has many selling points. Though from the perspective of a potential parent, you can't sacrifice your child's future just so they had an experience like Dad. In other words, if you live in the Chicago area and wanted to send your child to a top college from a public school, you have very limited options-- New Trier, Stevenson, Hinsdale Central and maybe a few others. There are some very good parochial schools as well like Loyola and Fenwick. But other than that, you are stuck with the big name private schools.

Its a funny game, a prisoner's dilemma of sorts. You want to prove that you can beat the system and get into a great college from an regular old public school, but you don't want to take the risk yourself. You'd like every other parent to send their smart kids to your public school, but you will still send your to the private school. An unfair game, but the one we live in.

Finally.. Some democracy in durham

some one has decided to challenge Mike Nifong in the November elections.
Now, I am not crazy enough to think that a republican could win a citywide election in North Carolina. But to have someone actively challenging him should allow for additional details of the case to come out, which should have been out a long time ago.

10 year reunion

looking at the web this weekend and my high school, St. Charles East is apparently trying to reinvent the way it educates it educates its students (secondary school redesign) . Apparently, it has hired Brown University for suggestions on how to help. Some key ideas--
  • Increase the number of AP classes
  • Add mandatory study halls
  • Increase counseling

No wonder I would never send me kids there. For more on this breakthrough program, go here

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Eureka, I think we've found it...

That is, the reason the rest of the world is crazy and thinks that soccer (excuse me football) is the best sport in the world.
After watching a week of the World Cup, soccer must be the worst managed sport I have ever seen. You have referees kicking players out of the game without a clear reason. And then you have players ineligible for future games based on relatively minor infraction.
Imagine this. What is Shaquille O'Neal was ineligible to play in Game 5 tomorrow because he fouled out of the game. (Don't even get me going on Jerry Stackhouse.)
The organizers on any sport should work to ensure that the best players, the stars of its sport, are eligible to play on the world's greatst stage. I'm not sure if this is true, but someone told me that in the last world cup, Germany's best player wasn't eligible to play in the world cup final.
Beyond the nature of the game which puts a huge amount of the result under the capricious whimsy of the referee, what really irks me is that not even the announcers understand what is going on. For me, this is just a recipe for collusion and match fixture.
At this point I think the WWE has more credibility as a legitimate sporting even than the FIFA world cup.

Etymology of Mark

My favorite words (in no particular order)

  • persnickety
  • parsimonious
  • penultimate
  • diatribe
  • lodestar
  • recalcitrant
  • capricious
  • erudite
  • rapture
  • diatribe
  • dichotomy
  • parsimonious
  • lodestar
  • assuage
  • deify
  • perfunctory
  • seminal
  • concomitantly
  • erudite
  • ebullient
  • assay

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tiger Woods... and Ann Coulter

Tiger Woods is going to miss the cut today at the US Open. This was his first tourney since the death of his father. Based on what I saw, he played horribly both days.

However, as an anti-Tiger advocate, I am faced with a tought situation. If I criticize him, albeit deserved, then I am mean-spirited since I am hitting someone when he is down.

This is just like the entire Ann Coulter issue. Very few people dispute whether or not she is right about 9/11 widows. The issue is just something that shouldn't be said, at least publicly. Worse yet, in both cases, you can't retract what you said since it is true.

The hardest lies to take back are those that are true

The Hills on MTV

... and no I am not talking about LC's breasts, but the latest reality show from MTV.

Got to love this show, its a break from rationale thought. Watch a group of privileged kids without any clue about life. LC's roommate, Heidi, who Bill Simmons calls the breakout star of the year, drops out of school after about 1/2 a day to take a job as an assistant with Bolthouse productions.

Oh, did i mentioned that Bolthouse productions is sponsoring the show? So anyway, Heidi is totally pumped about her new job, until her new boss tells her that she needs to come to work every day (gasp) and that she is expected to do actually work other than hang out with celebrities.She almost wants to quit since she thinks that liking envelopes is not what she though she signed up for. It amazes me how young people (even here in Chicago) think that they will be running the company on the first day.

LC is actually appears to be a somewhat sympathic character. She is the only person there who is taking her life seriously. She cares and wants to do well and feels overwhelmed by her Teen vogue job and school.Unlike my super sweet 16 and laguna, she is a reality character you actually want to see succeed.

question wonderland... part deux

One of my favorite blog post which I will repeat here. Also to see if anyone reads this...

Stolen from Kate

First, recommend to me:

A) A Movie

B) A Book

C) A City to visit

Then: Ask me three questions ... anything you want ... don't be shy ... and I will answer in the comments section.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

great column by michael smerconish

I love Michael S and I think he hit the nail on the head here.
Ann Coulter speaks only for Ann Coulter and maybe a fringe element when she writes, with regard to certain 9/11 widows, that she's "never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much."
Her word choice is appalling, irrational, and indefensible.   
By now you have heard that in her new book, within a chapter titled "Liberals' Doctrine of Infallibility: Sobbing Hysterical Women", Coulter argues that certain Democrat messengers get a free ride because of their tragic backgrounds.  Four vocal 9/11 widows are her best evidence.   Her view that anyone who chooses to enter the fray themselves is open to criticism - regardless of their circumstance - is itself fair comment.  Too bad she didn't leave it at that, and keep the dialogue respectful.  But that's just not the way she earns a living.    
She wrote that Kristen Brietweiser is a "scold", and "Miss Va-Va Voom of 1968".  She referred to the four women as "weeping widows", and the "Witches of East Brunswick".  She had the indecency to ask "how do we know their husband's weren't planning to divorce these harpies?", and wondered "now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy."
Bill O'Reilly got it right when he said that "a no-spin rule is that you don't justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior."  On the Factor, he said that one can easily get the impression that Coulter enjoys the personal attack "but once you get down to that level, you often lose the point".
That is exactly what occurred here.  Too bad.  Lost in the controversy she created to sell books are some otherwise salient, albeit less salacious points made by Coulter on such subjects as operation Able Danger.
Now, in the midst of her predictable vilification from the left, it is time for Coulter to be criticized from the right.   
With an already difficult November just a summer away, Republicans should rush to confront Coulter's comments rather than run the risk that anyone would associate her views with them.  She's a Fox fixture, who some may perceive as the personification of red states and Republican policy.  But that's not the case.  And that perception is dangerous.  Whatever advantage comes from having Coulter ignite a fringe base is far outweighed by the way she will be properly perceived as damaged goods in anything other than small circles.
So far, nationally, the GOP has missed the boat.  Last week, while Coulter's foibles filled the airwaves, the Republicans were busy grandstanding on gay rights, the death tax and flag burning.  Don't get me wrong, each is worthy of an up-and-down vote, but lost in this pure political theatre designed to give GOP candidates the opportunity to trumpet select issues was the damage being done by Coulter who did not face an equally orchestrated Republican response.     
Maybe that can change, beginning right here.
I've found that when asked, Republican office holders are willing to condemn Coulter.   And I am talking about individuals involved in the hottest races in the country: Senator Santorum, and Congressmen Weldon, Gerlach and Fitzpatrick.
A day after Coulter appeared on Today with Matt Lauer, I spoke with Senator Santorum.  I told him I was appalled by her comments and asked if he was?
"Probably more then you are.  I mean this is ridiculous.  I mean Ann is what?  Ann is someone who is out there trying to sell books and, you know appeal to a certain audience and I guess she's doing it," Santorum replied.
I asked if he was in the audience to which she's appealing?
"No, no, I don't consider myself, I'm not a part of that audience at all that's really on the edge as far as I'm concerned, maybe over the edge."
Over the edge indeed.
When Congressman Curt Weldon was equally critical of what she'd written, I told him that I was happy to hear that she was not speaking for his brand of Republican.
"No. I think that is obscene, I mean to take to somebody in their darkest hour of grief and try to say that somehow they're personally benefiting from that is just plain wrong, and while I generally support her I think she stepped way, way over the bounds on this one," said Weldon.
Ditto for Congressman James Gerlach.
"I am most saddened and disheartened by Ann Coulter's hateful statements concerning these widows. Regardless of their views  on any political or policy issue, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and my heart continues to go out to them and all of the families of the 9/11 victims for their tragic loss."
And is she speaking for Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick?
"No she's not, that's unfortunate as well, certainly doesn't speak for me there."
Santorum, Weldon, Gerlach, and Fitzpatrick.
But it was a hero from Arizona, Senator John McCain, who best articulated to me why we as Americans, not necessarily as Republicans, need to respond to Ann Coulter:
"We need to be more respectful of the views of others who disagree with us.  I've been giving a series of Commencement speeches.  The day before yesterday at Ohio State University, it was wonderful, there were 47,000 people there and the subject of my speech was that we should have vigorous debate and dialogue but we're not enemies.  The enemy is out there in Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and the people that want to destroy us."   

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

most improved....

One of my mentors at work had a going away events last week with most of his team or key people he worked with in his three years in Chicago.  As part of the event, he gave out "awards" to his team to give some tongue in cheek thanks to everyone who worked with him.  Lots of awards were given,  "Cy Young", "Venzina" trophy, etc.  Mine was most improved.
Maybe I read too much into things (i know i do), but the negative connotation of the awards can't escape me.  I know it wasn't intentional or anything.  But the idea that I needed significant improvement when i joined the team irks me in a small way.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

are indians asian?

Apparently, there is a debate out there over whether or not Indians (dots not feathers) are in fact asians.  I saw a hysterical website about this issue a few days ago, but for some reason didn't write down the link.
if anyone has the link, please let me know.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

karma's a bitch

sitting on the couch yesterday, the phone rang for the my wife. It was someone in HR from Deloitte, the company Cheryl just left. They asked her questions like "why did you leave" and "would you ever work here again?" (because the people suck and No were the respectve answers.

In related news, a partner was recently fired for the turnover in Deloitte. Apparently, the last 25 people who left (all int he past 2 years from a 35 person group) named him as a reason. Gee, I wonder why the first 24 to leave wasn't a good sign.

In other news, Franco Turrinelli from William Blair has had yet another analyst quit on him. I wonder if he will need to go through 20 more before William Blair fires him or maybe they will be a bit more pro-active. Hopefully, they realize that having a senior analyst insult and demean his staff on a daily basis is not good for business.

my new addiction

got a new favorite website for first thing in the morning.  Its called  Its from my college classmate, Elizabeth Spiers, aka "the only person in Mobile, AL smart enough to find a map out of town".   You may recognize her name from either the New York social scene or from the old days of Gawker (when it was good).
Dealbreaker is all about wall street gossip and news.  really well written and a quick read.  If you ever wanted to understand the problems of people making 500K+ per year, This is for you.