Sunday, November 30, 2008

tough get going



World War II, in my eyes, was America's second industrial revolution. Our country was whipped into shape, (seemingly overnight) from a post depression slug, into a manufacturing juggernaut. The story of the the Liberty ships is a true testament of our nation's competitive flair, resourcefulness and unity.

Similar stories of manufacturing marvels were reverberated across the United States, from Detroit to New Orleans, Boston to San Francisco, and everywhere in between.

It's times like these (our current economic uncertainty) that we, as Americans, need to hearken back to the stories of ingenuity and accomplishment from WW II.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

dude, I don't have a home phone


It's funny how before cellphones, I could remember dozens of phone numbers off the top of my head, now I the only numbers I remember are the ones from before cellphones. I can still remember my childhood buddies phone numbers, even if i haven't dialed them in 10 years.

If and when you lose your phone or SIM card, you're screwed, unless you backed up all your contacts.

I was talking with a friend and he was telling me how he spent an hour in the wireless store waiting to get a new charger for his cell phone. Going to the store was probably the wrong idea in the first place, considering there's usually an hour wait and you can bet their will be a shouting match whilst you are there. Anyways, he tells me that he's telling the guy: "listen, I need this charger cause i'm on call for work and I don't have a house phone". Long story short, the guy still gave him the wrong charger after an hour waiting and he had to go back.

The story made me think about how important cell phones have become to people these days, they are so dependent on them. There's a funny commercial running on TV for a wireless carrier, where they make a pun out of the "dead zone" or cell phone gaps.

It seems like land (phone) lines are becoming obsolete. When I see the phone company trucks these days (verizon in Massachusetts), they are in poor shape and you really don't see phone company trucks like you do Comcast vans and other utility vehicles. I actually like landlines, but I, like so many other people don't think it's worth paying $40+ a month for something you rarely use.

Just as the laptop computer took over the desktop; with the emergence of 802.11 wireless high speed internet, I think this ne, high speed, 3G wireless network will further erode landlines.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Halloween


Went out with Nick Dorris and company on Halloween. I went over Nick's from work, I stopped at iparty to pick up some costume attire. I found a Rudy Giulliani mask for $6.99. I wore the mask backwards and put a shirt on in reverse, with a tie. once our crew was ready, we headed out to fenway to meet up with the annual halloween bike ride through the city.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Boombastic



Yesterday was a proud day for America. Love him or hate him, nobody can deny the fact that Obama (a fellow lefty) has changed our country, for the better. It blows my mind that it was only, little over 50 years ago that segregation was commonplace in the Southern USA and just yesterday elected a black president.

I read a great piece about President Elect Obama a few weeks ago. I can't find the article, but the gist if it was that in eight years, Obama went from being a nobody, watching the 2000 Democratic National Convention and not having enough money on his credit card to rent a car, to President.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another day, another car

I reasure myself with each new car that: "this is the one", meaning the one that is going to drive me into the next millinium. Impossible, but it doesn't stop me from dreaming.

I knew something was wrong when I failed my emissons. I thought it was just the catylytic converter, but after finding out that the valve seals were spent; Claudio, my mechanic told me to drive it till it drops. In other words, don't spend another penny on this shit box. That was in August and i've been driving it strong until last week. I ran the poor little VW for only about 14 months but I put over 20,000 miles on it. WHen I bought it, it was a TMU, true Mileage unknown. The odometer read 148k, but I think it had 250k on it. She was tired.



My latest addition is a 1998 Subaru Legacy Wagon. 5 speed, AWD, Brighton edition. I don't know why it's called the Brighton edition, it must be code for bare bones. This pup does have a factory Tape deck, but no power windows, locks, keyless entry. It doesn't even have a tachometer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

THE PITS



So the story goes... THE PITS was an old wooden boat my parents had in the 70's. I guess there was a storm and it blew up on the jeddy and was ruined. My father, in an attempted salvage operation, managed to save the stern of the boa. He subseqently put it in the basement and used it as a bar. It used to have an old Miller High Life tap on it, but it was pillaged at some point.

The boat was sitting in the tool shed for about 10 years and I rescued it, to fix it up again.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Love and hate


Like most people these days, I can say that technology have leeched into my DNA. I appreciate the connectedness that email, cellphones and internet affort me, but all this communication connectivity has its pitfalls...

I remember being in Ms. Smith's english class in high school and being asked to go to my dean's office because I was acting out and being incogruous. As I was leaving the classroom (which was filled with a host of clowns) I said to Ms. Smith, "Patience is a virtue". She was taken aback by my comment and after thinking about it for a second said: "you're right Mark, now go to the dean". I was just being a punk when I said that to Ms. Smith and I didn't really even know what I was saying, it was just impulse kicking in and me trying to get the final salvo before being tossed out of the class.

The moral of the story is, patrience really is a virtue and I can say my biggest qualm with technology is my impatience with it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ironworker




I took this picture a few weeks ago. I was stopped at a traffic light checking out the construction of this building at the South Shore Hospital in Weymouth. I drive by this site every day and I thought it was a great scene to capture.

Bobby Harvey was a Local 7 ironworker who died this past summer. RIP

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Green Revolution


Energy= the capacity to do work

Power= Rate of energy generation over time.

The past 150 years have been the age of petroleum oil, before that, it was oil harvested from whale blubber. Beginning with the industrial revolution, our country and the world as a whole has been hypnotized by petroeum's high energy output and it's versatility. Virtually everything you touch has oil in it.

I caught a great interview on Tuesday night on the Charlie Rose Show. It was with Thomas Friedman, author of the best selling books: The World is Flat and The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

Charlie was interviewing Friedman about his new book Hot, Flat, and Crowded. http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/bookshelf/hot-flat-and-crowded

With energy taking center stage on the minds, wallets, and media across the globe, it's great to see a writer digging deep into one of the most important issues of our time: ENERGY.

This guy is a fireball. He is a passionate, intelligent communicator who knows what the hell he's talking about. He takes aim at taboo topics like how are national infrastructure is crumbling, while every town and village in America has their own SWAT team. I was watching the news this morning and reminded of three different bridges (around Boston) that are in such bad shape that the state has reduce speed limits and limit the weight on the bridges.

Friedman makes the point that since 911, America has lost it's edge and become a country in slow decline, "the worst kind of decline". He sights the green revolution as being a bastion of hope for the lethargic American economy.

It's like this:
Energy=Power and he who has the energy has the power. Although we're not going to run out of oil tomorrow, it's not going to last forever. Take a look at the CIA's estimates of oil consumption for one day.

CIA Factbook:
Rank
Country
Oil - consumption
(bbl/day)
Date of Information
1
World 80,290,000 2005 est.
2
United States 20,800,000 2005 est.
3
European Union 14,550,000 2004
4
China 6,930,000 2007 est.
5
Japan 5,353,000 2005
6
Russia 2,916,000 2006
7
Germany 2,618,000 2005 est.
8
India 2,438,000 2005 est.
9
Canada 2,290,000 2005
10
Korea, South 2,130,000 2006
11
Brazil 2,100,000 2006 est.
12
Mexico 2,078,000 2005 est.
13
Saudi Arabia 2,000,000 2005
14
France 1,999,000 2005 est.
15
United Kingdom 1,820,000 2005 est.
16
Italy 1,732,000 2005 est.
17
Iran 1,630,000 2006 est.
18
Spain 1,600,000 2005 est.
19
Indonesia 1,100,000 2006 est.
20
Netherlands 1,011,000 2006
1 bbl= 1 barrel= 42 US gallons

These numbers are 2005 and 2006 estimates, so chances are we're using more oil today than two years ago. Friedman said that in Beijing, there are 1000 new cars on the street, every day. Human's are beginning to figure out that if we don't look for new alternatives to oil, we're going to be in a world of hurt.

Although the green movement is on every body's tongues, talk is cheap. The problem is, there aren't proper incentives for development of renewable and sustainable technologies (in the USA), and investors aren't ready to invest in markets controlled by fossil fuels, which have a competitive advantage at this point in time $. It makes complete sense, why would anyone invest money in something that's not going to return the investment? Friedman argues that with the right incentives, our country will be an incubus for energy technology and will lead the world in a change.

One of the reasons why I'm moving to Boston, is to be part of the ensuing green revolution that I feel, like Mr. Friedman, is going to reshape and re-energize our country and our economy.
Everybody's familiar with the rebirth of wind and the advancements in solar and geothermal energy, but there are new and yet to be discovered technologies that are waiting to be hatched.

I think the power is there, it's the storage that we need to work on. I mean, even John McCain realizes that we need to figure out how to store power. In just the past few decades, battery technology has gone from alkaline, to NiCd: nickel-cadmium, to lithium ion batteries that power our cell phones and laptops and nickel-metal hydride batteries storing power in hybrid electric cars like the Toyota Prius pictured above.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hurricane watch



The Atlantic ocean is a busy place these days, with tropical storms and hurricanes stacking up like a rush hour pile up. Each storm waiting to take out their vengance on the eastern seaboard.

Our first contestant is Hanna, who's doing a driveby right now up the coast. She's a tropical storm who just touched down on the Carolinas, so she's not really going to do much more than down some limbs, tear off some shingles and cry up the east coast.

Next in line is Ike. He's been going up and down in strength, but he'll certainly pulverize something. He's been meandering across the Atlantic and will probably pinball through the Caribbean and get slingshot into the Gulf of Mexico, or possibly back into the Atlantic.


Josephine was just downgraded to a tropical depression, from a tropical storm, but she's only 800 miles east of Cape Verde, so her trip is just beginning....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tracking



Thanks to a friend, I was fortunate to catch two shows featuring Don McCluskey. This guy rips it up, period.
enormousd.com

Saturday, August 30, 2008

New slogan

"Use It" (tm)

This would be great for a sportswear company, or any company involved in outdoor gear, sporting goods, apparel or package goods, for that matter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

communication breakdown


o v e r the p as t w e ek m y compu t er and c e l l p h o n e h a v e t aken a t urn for the worse. f i r st it was the keyboard on my laptop, then a few days later the: 2, 5, 8 and zero on my cell phone stopped working. it reminds me of the time my cellphone, bike and car crapped out on me when i was moving out of miami. luckily my new digi still works fine and i can still manage to use my computer (a little) and cellphone to do basic tasks.

Monday, August 4, 2008

August


August, to me has always been about days getting shorter, slowing down and going back to school. Maybe not entirely going back to school necessarily, but a change of scene and a new beginning. A little cliche, but true nonetheless.

For me, it's a cycle that's tough to break, not like i'm packing up my bags and ready to head out Labor Day Weekend to go back to school. It's more like reminiscing of the past and dreaming of the future, in the same thought. Places been, places go; people met and yet to met. I don't know if it's a blessing or a curse, wanting change. But either way, I'm stronger and more complete for it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Moving out


After much consternation, procrastination and back and forth pseudo-promises (to myself and others), I've decided to suck it up and get lost. I'll be moving to Boston this September. Although I don't have a job lined up, It will give me something to work for over the next month to get my act together and pull up my pants, so to speak.

I moved back to the Cape last year, mainly to help take care of my biological father, Jim. Now that he is maintaining and I'm the one who's floundering, I felt it time to bid sayonara to the The Strong Arm. Most Cape Codders grow up here and appreciate it but once they graduate high school, want to get the hell out of here. Alaska, California and Hawaii are three locations that are frequently sought out.

Although it's technically an island, considering it's surrounded by water, it's not really considered one, because the canal is man make. Either way, the Cape has a way of holding on to you, just like Nantucket, or Martha's Vineyard and it's tough to get free. I have plenty of friends who have never lived anywhere else but the Cape. They would say to me: "Mark, that's great that you can just pick up and move around the country. I could never do it" I ask them why and they say: "cause I'm scared to go where I don't know anyone or have a network". Now these dudes are rough and tumble, but their Kryptonite is being out of their element; the unknown.

Anyone who's from the Cape can understand the love/hate relationship you have with this place. In one sense, it's the bomb: one of the most beautiful places on earth (in my opinion), but it's also a black hole vortex, that sucks you in and tough to get out of. I had to go off Cape this week and as I passed over the Bourne bridge, I thought to myself: "damn, it's been a while" (since I have been off this little hook). It was eerie, because it was the same feeling I have when I return to the Cape after being gone for a while.



By the way, I've posted the sunset picture on the top before (Casey) but It's one of my favorites and I thought it fitting to post it again.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Where is my mind?





This past week was Ga-Ga!! It all started last weekend with hurricane Bertha serving up some gang banger waves last weekend. The first real surf we've seen for close to 3 months. Usually when a storm is in town, it usually comes and goes, within a day or two, but this baby was hanging around all F*%#ing week!!! I'm talking about 7 days of: eat, sleep, shitz, surf and work. It was bonkers and the best part was, the water is warm, so there's no need for a wetsuit: paradise.

But that was just the tip of the D. Monday night was Morgan Heritage at the Beachcomber, and I can say that it was one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. A gang of us went down and danced our faces off.

Adding to the fun factor, my college roommates were down from Connecticut for the week and rented a house in the seashore. I was so pumped up that Dan Mac, Das Mule and CO. got down to the Cape finally, Dan did it proper and stayed for the whole week, caught the Morgan Heritage show, tried surfing and had a great week on the Cape.

But alas, all that glitter's is not gold. I actually had to earn money to support myself in between all the madness. Not to mention be home by 9 pm and 6 am ready to go (or should I say blow?!). I've been on a cloud nine, but now I'm a super nova and my energy level is all but spent and I'm emotionally and physically exhausted. Ready to implode.

where is my mind?

Friday, July 11, 2008

007

A few hours ago, I was coming back from surfing and I saw this cool delivery van on the off ramp of the highway. This 'bread' van was sporting a set of nice chrome rims and the funniest part instead of having a traditional roll up door on the tailgate, it was sporting a steel door off of somebody's front door of their house!!!
I tried to snap a pic on the ramp, but only caught the tail end going through the stop lights. I was talking to the infamous, Mike Bik at the same time and I was relaying the spotting to him, over the phone. Mike and I met up at Scotty's Pizza for dinner about 30 minutes later and as we were leaving, Mike says: "is that the van you saw on the highway?" I looked up, and sure enough, he was spot on. I was dying laughing and had to snap a proper picture of the rig. The coup de grĂ¢ce, was the fact that this beast is a registered camper.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Big Bertha!!!


Hurricane Bertha is sending waves our way and the whole eastern seaboard is pumped up. She's still a few hundred miles southeast of Bermuda, but the waves are starting to roll in. Finally, after two months in the doldrums, we will be bestowed with some ample waves. Nantucket is going to be ripping tomorrow, I wish I could hop a boat over there in the morning, but duty calls :( The buoys are starting to spike from the period swells from the storm and if all goes well, it will track offshore and stall out in the jet stream when it gets to the colder waters east of the cape. Should produce some good surfing for the weekend and through next week.

The picture below is from last Sunday, but i saved it, cause i thought it looked like an oyster. Ironically, my roommates from UMass are renting a house in Wellfleet for a week, starting Saturday. They will be in for a treat.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Back on track


Billy

This is the first pic from my new camera, taken today at just after 1:30 pm EST. I have been mourning the loss of my Olympus digital for a few months now, and last weekend I finally sucked it up and bought a new replacement. This little baby is the bomb: she's sleek, red and packing a 10.2 mega pixel punch. It was a screaming deal and I'm elated beyond words. Just need to go out and get another memory card, (cause the one from my old digi isn't compatible) oh well.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!!!! and Shark soup...

My favorite holiday





As I was trolling around the internet I stumbled on an article about a group of seal watchers witnessing a great white attacking a seal off of Monomoy Island, off the elbow of the Cape. http://www.divemaster.com/diving-news/seal-watchers-watch-shark-kill-seal_14323.html

Last summer, I was surfing at Marconi beach with two other kids and one of them says: "i think i just saw a dolphin". I'm like "what??? I've never seen a dolphin out here". I asked him to point at where it was, and as soon as he pointed, a huge 2-3 foot dorsal fin popped out of the water and bobbed up and down with the surf. I thought I was tripping, but it was real. I told them I'd rather try to identify the fish from shore and rode the next wave in. Turns out, it was probably an ocean sunfish http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_sunfish which can grow to well over 1000 pounds and have giant dorsal fins that protrude through surface while feeding.


Surfers are weary of sharks, obviously. Anybody that goes in the ocean and flails their arms and dangles their legs has to be a bit intrepid. I guarantee you, every surfer that's worth their weight has either been scared out of the water by shadows or had an overwhelming fear of sharks at one point or another. I remember talking to a close family friend whose an avid fisherman and sea captain and he said to me: "if you'd seen the things I've seen, you'd never step foot in the water"

Over the past few years, there have been multiple confirmed sightings of great whites; prowling and feeding around the Cape. Mostly in and around Chatham and it's burgeoning seal population (see top pic.) As a a result, I have become more cognizant of the presence of sharks.

In Sept. 2004, an estimated 15 foot great white was spotted off of Chatham chomping some seals only 50 feet from the shore and a week later a surfer told me that his brother was surfing at the second-cut off Nauset beach and came within 50 ft of a great white.

Oddly enough, a 15 ft great white became lodged in a lagoon not far off Woods Hole just a few days later... I went down to see the shark first hand, but instead hopped the ferry to Martha's Vineyard, to visit a friend and surf the Indian summer swell that had popped up that weekend.

Little did I know, this weekend was the 30th anniversary of Jaws, and the whole island (where much of the movie was filmed) was awash in the festivities. I was making ill humored jokes in the water, about how ironic it would be if one of us got chomped during "Jaws weekend".

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Paradox = contradiction

Plan for tomorrow- Live for today.

Paradox = contradiction. I think it's kind of funny that our lives are surrounded by one paradox or another. "Take time to smell the roses", slow down and appreciate the time you have; a great proverb to live by, one that is almost cliche, but very true. Then there's "Carpe diem": seize the day; do as much as you can, cause there might not be a tomorrow.

I guess my solution/answer to this paradox is to live in the middle of both these. Enjoy the moment, live for the now and do what what you can, while you can.


Cycle

the life that you live are the gifts you give
seasons pass like water, through a sieve
mother nature's fluid motion written in cursive

the cresting of a river with an ebb and a flow
a full moon and clear sky
light up the night with a yellow glow

it's all around
from the suburban
to the cities
and back country, rural towns

spring slips in
like an acupuncture pin
there's no pain
only daylight to gain
and a cool April rain
filling up storm drains

it's nourishment for the brain
blood pumping, from the heart
to the soul and through the vein

as the foliage grows
take time to stop and smell the rose
plant a pose
the poetry comes and goes
with rhymes like a prose
melodies, you can smell through the nose

summer time
it's time for the heat
like the candy shop, everything is a treat
so dip your toes in the water
dance in the street
move your feet
to the drum of the beat

autumn blows in
with a nor-easter wind
and trees dropping leaves

after the fall
comes the freeze
a cold blizzard blanket
and an arctic breeze

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mark "Skid" McCormick


I don't know if anyone remembers this show, but it aired in the eighties for a few years http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardcastle_and_McCormick

The main character's name was Mark "Skid" McCormick (on the left). My family has called me Skid for years, how funny!!!! Here is my show:

Friday, June 13, 2008

Left-Handed Living


I go out of my way to learn about people and see what makes them tick, especially lefties. An overall consensus I have learned about this minority, is that they are all versatile people. Lefties process information in a unique manner, not just because they use their left hand to write and throw. "Southpaws" solve problems in an entirely different methodology than our right handed counterparts. We're all familiar with lefty's creativity and being "right brain" vs. "left brain", but that's baloney. Nobody uses solely only your right or left brain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralization_of_brain_function). I think the core ethos of being left-handed is: adaptability and accommodation.

Being left handed, is all about versatility. I think left handed folks are very cognizant of their environment and can rapidly change to overcome obstacles. In a day and age of new ideas and "outside the box" mentality, left-handed people have been "hardwired and designed" to see things differently. Being able to adapt to a world that is run and controlled by the majority, lefties are truly an exception to natural selection. Every organism on earth has to be able to adapt to changing situations and stimuli (or else they will die), and lefties have to work harder than the norm. When confronted with challenges, lefties (in their divergent minds) have the inane ability to analyze, decipher, synthesize and react to issues= through accommodation.

I remember going to a job interview a few years ago and telling the interviewer that I was left-handed. Not a very conventional thing to bring up in an interview, but I thought, (and still do) that being left hand dominant is a character trait that is worth mentioning. It's a subconscious, neurological difference that separates us from the rest of the world.


What is left-handed?

A state of mind

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pressure Drop


"Life gets rough. Life gets tough. So tell me: What you gonna do about it?"

-Toots & the Maytals

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stitch together (part 10): The final chapter



One of the best features of the Minnow office was we were running an Apple network and we all had isight web cams and ichat instant messaging. These are very useful tools for external conferencing and internal communications. We used them to communicate back and forth about what a loon Todd was and what a joke the place was. I actually had a clown face for my icon and my desktop picture on my computer.

The main problem with the company, from day one, was that we were promising machines to customers that we couldn't produce. We were actually producing upwards of 25 machines a week, which would seem like a good thing... But, there wasn't enough demand for the machines we were producing, the only real demand for machines was for the machines we couldn't make, how ironic. Basically, Minnow was running in reverse, instead of producing machines based on customers needs, we were making machines that nobody wanted. I would often say: "you'll have a milk" in reference to a great Milk advertisement from years ago.

It was after New Years now and I was fielding multiple calls from frustrated and irate customers on a daily basis. from Hong Kong to Warsaw.

I was frantically looking for ways out of Minnow. Trying to get another job was priority one, but if I wasn't having much luck. The way I figured it, Todd- the toad, was going to have to fire me because I wasn't going to quit and let him win. After all, he roped me into this bogus company by lying to me and such, I wasn't just going to lie down and quit.

For months, I had been asking Todd to put together a sales plan, marketing plan, any plan!!! But he resisted saying that: "it was too early" or some bull. His tune changed after new years and we were beginning to pile up machines that hadn't been sold. We had a meeting and in a very desperate moment, he told me that I needed to put together a plan to sell machines- by all means necessary. I asked him: "why the change of heart", since he had resisted a plan for so long. And he told me that production was going to out pace sales. I asked how many machine sales we were ahead? That right there shows how crazy that place was, I'm the salesman don't even know how many machines we have sold. Anyways, Todd said that we had six weeks machine production sold, so we needed to act fast.

I knew this was a lie and that we barely had one weeks production of machines sold, so I knew this was going to be great. I set out for a week with my headphones on (to limit the many distractions), getting to work on a sales and marketing plan. I was keeping it simple and efficient, no frills, because I knew Todd wasn't going to spring for any money for actually doing marketing. We had scheduled a meeting with Todd, Teddie (Todd's bro), Tammy (our logistics coordinator from the other side of the building) and myself.

I get all my notes together and print out copies of the sales plan and I was pumped up to actually get to work. We all settle in and Todd asks Tammy how many machines we had sold? She counted up her machine tallies from her spreadsheets and said: Twenty-four, one weeks production. Just as I suspected, the fool lied to me yet anther time, this time I was going to call him on it, I said: "why did you lie to me"Todd: "I didn't lie to you" Me: "yea you did, you told me we had 6 weeks production sold, last week". Todd, trying to backpedal says, "no, no I didn't" and I shot off: "you're a liar, why did you lie to me?". Todd flipped, because I had called him out in front of his little brother and Tammy, who's an unassuming, kind hearted woman.


Todd shot out of his chair like a rocket and got right in my face with his finger and shuttered: "I didn't lie to you, I'm not a liar!!!". He was so mad, his nostrils were all flared up and he looked like a wild bull. I knew this comment really sunk in and he was bullshit. I thought he might take a cheap shot swing at me because he was right in my grill with his hand in my face as I was sitting calmly in my chair.

So I decided the game was over and I said: "Get the f&*$ away from me" and he spouts off, visually shaken, "you no longer work for this company". I was like, great, you'll be hearing from my attorney and went off to pack my stuff and get out of that place, but no it wasn't over yet, because when he heard me say lawyer, he freaked again and followed me out to my computer saying: "please leave the building", over and over... With Teddie chiming in saying the same thing. I was actually pretty calm throughout the whole event and told them that I was just getting my things and was outta there. We are literally talking like 30-45 seconds. Teddie, the brainwashed fool that he was, says: "Mark, just pleased leave" sounding like a little boy, although he's 6foot 3 inch grown man. I had had it with Teddie too, because even though he seemed harmless, he was just as dastardly as Todd and deserved a mouthful too, I shot off: "Ok Teddie. Duh, duh, duh" making fun of his oafishness follower style and mockingbird reiteration.

It was a beautiful winter day, the sun was in full peak, and I was a happy man, never to have to go back to Minnow again. Geoff followed suit within the next few weeks and Rick a few months after....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Srong Arm (tm)


I am proud to be from Massachusetts and a student of the storied history and great people who have called "The Commonwealth" home. I have lived two thirds of my life on the Cape and believe it is one of (if not the) most beautiful places on earth: mired in songs, stories, books and film.

My view of the Cape (and the state as a whole) has changed quite a bit in the past few years, for many reasons.

The reason I write this, now, is because I just read this article online: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/05/20/ruling_may_force_hundreds_out_of_cape_cod_motels/?page=full

As of two weeks ago, I didn't know anything about this business of hotels/motels licenses being revoked for long term stay (over 30 days) of guests. Until, while flipping through the channels before going to bed, I stumbled upon the board of health meeting being broadcast on the local public access channel. Usually these meetings are about as exciting as watching paint dry, but this time it was different, it was about the motel licensing... I saw many passionate and emotional people take the stand and voice their distaste over the town of Yarmouth's (impending) decision to revoke the licenses of the said motels, and throw out hundreds of needy people into the street.

Massachusetts is known as THE Blue state and "the liberal Mecca" among other things, but it's all just a farce. There are many great people in the state who truly care about their neighbors and humanity as a whole, but the vast majority, are just closeted bigots and elitists who want to tell everyone else what they can or can't do. The pudding proof .

More to come, cause I'm not done.....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Stitch together (part 9)


I would ask myself (and others) daily: is this shit for real? It was definitely real, but I still had a hard time believing it.

With the proverbial wheels beginning to fall off at Minnow, I along with my cohorts; Geoff (graphic designer) and Rick (computer programmer) began to loath the unrest and knew our times would come soon. The comedic nonsense had worn off months before and we were just plain sick of Todd. He was the joke and his (farce of a) company was a joke: but in reality the joke was on us, because we were all swindled into working at a three ringed circus.

I said fuck it. If this guy wants to run a circus, I'll be Bozo.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A little slice of heaven

Here is a link to the Coast Guard beach cam. http://www.morebeach.com/cape_cod_beach_cam.html

This camera is located in the second floor of the bathhouse and updates every minute.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Stitch together (part 8)

Exodus: A departure of a large number of people.


After Josh's dismissal, we were realizing that Todd's facade as a cool, hip boss was just a just a front. In Todd's warped mind, he was setting an example by firing Josh. Minnow was Todd's toy and he wasn't going to let anyone try to play with it, let alone change it (even though his game plan changed every day).

This dude was a complex individual and he was hard to psychoanalyze. If a shrink could look into this dude's head they would see a person who suffered from a host of mental problems. I think he suffered from delusions of grandeur, manic episodes that stemmed from latent homosexuality and BSDM (bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) behavior. All in all, he was one sick person, in desperate need of psychological attention.

Jerry, the salesman left shortly before Josh's dismissal. He had endured with the idiocy for more than a year and he was happy to leave with some of his sanity still intact.

Lolly, who had only been with the company for a few months, said Au revoir around Christmas time and decided it was better to be unemployed than work for this nutcase.

Once Jerry left, the company was basically left without a salesman, so I was selected to take his place, which I at first resisted, because I was hired to do branding and marketing for the company. I eventually gave in, because I realized that without a vision/direction/goal or budget we couldn't really market very well. I was also thinking that by heading up the sales deptartment, I could help steer the company into calmer waters. I actually did a great job working with our international dealers and customers, building relationships and brokering deals from Hong Kong to Warsaw (and everywhere in between). The real trouble started when I started to learn about our actual production of machines.


Since I started, I was told that we manufactured hundred of types of machines that could stitch everything from A-Z. In reality, the only machines that were manufactured were "ONE" machine: a 1950's era machine that was made in China, shipped to our warehouse, disassembled, reassembled, repackaged and reshipped. All the other types of machines were used products (bought from dealers and factories) that were repainted and sold as new. Now, even though I had no idea this was going on, it would have been fine if our customers had actually received their machines in working order....

The actuality of the situation was: we were taking orders (and money), for machines that may never get produced, let alone refurbished and sold as new. The machines that our customers wanted, we couldn't produce and they were starting to get pissed, real pissed. As the salesman, it was my job to deal with all the problems that arose from incomplete orders and keep the veil cast over our consumers eyes. As an optimist, I'm thinking "better late then never" we'll get their machines to them, but there were some people that had been waiting twelve months for a machine that would probably "never" get made. This place was turning out to be a nightmare.

The wheels at Club Minnow were beginning to fall off.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Recycling polystyrene


Is it really in a business' best interest to recycle? Yea, it's politically correct and "green" to recycle, but will it help their bottom line and save money? The amount of energy it takes to recycle materials is paramount to the whole ideology of recycling. I mean, what's the point of recycling something, if it's going to use an obscene amount of resources and energy to do it? People want recycling, but they seldom ask the million dollar question: "What's the opportunity cost of doing so?"

Based on an industry report, the current polystyrene market in the US alone is over 7 billion dollars. Polystyrene is a versatile plastic that has been around for over 150 years. A petroleum based plastic, polystyrene is one of the most common organic polymers being produced today. Everything from CD cases, plastic utensils, foam packing peanuts, insulation boards, food containers and coffee cups are made from polystyrene.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polystyrene

When used as a foam (extruded or expanded), polystyrene's attributes are: low cost of production, high insulating value, and low weight. Unlike its virtuous cousin, polyethylene, which is recycled extensively:
"The majority of polystyrene products are currently not recycled because of a lack of suitable recycling facilities. Furthermore, when it is 'recycled,' it is not a closed loop — polystyrene cups and other packaging materials are usually recycled into fillers in other plastics, or other items that cannot themselves be recycled and are thrown away."

I believe EPS and XPS can be recycled simply, efficiently and economically; through a simple three step system:
  1. Shred and wash
  2. Heat and glue
  3. Press and extrude

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I pieced together a few clips (with music) from my cottage at Horseneck beach, for a nice homage to Westport .

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Life's granted


The older I get, the more I reflect and really appreciate the life I have. By no means would I say that my life has been perfect, if anything it's been anything but that. I've made more mistakes than the Three Stooges. I know history repeats itself and I try to learn from the past in order to enlighten the future.

The most precious things to me are love/friendship and time. Love lasts forever, but time is finite. We only have so much time on earth and I try to make the most of time, while I have it. It's a balance act because I love to smell the roses. I don't like to waste anything, especially time- although some would argue that point, it doesn't bother me.

I'm just a left-handed dreamer with aspirations of changing the world for the better. Even though I haven't the slightest clue how I'm going to do it. I just keep on keeping on- as the saying goes. I guess my quest for knowledge and love for people are what my drivers, etched into my subconscious.

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” -Oscar Wilde

Friday, April 4, 2008

Stitch Together (part 7)

The Minnow Sewing Machine Company is comprised of three departments. I chose the flavors of Neapolitan ice cream because it's a colorful way to distinguish between them. The sales and marketing department, of which i was part of was located on the south side, in the pink section. Machine production was in the middle of the shop on the ground floor. On the north side of the building was purchasing, shipping and the parts department. In reality, there was nothing sweet about Minnow, it was more akin to rancid, curdling milk- make you wanna vomit.

Now as I was saying in part 6, the thin facade (or chocolate shell, since we're on an ice cream metaphor) was melting away fast, once Josh (the fashion designer) started working. Josh was a great guy, very humble, sincere, and funny. He fetched a ride in with Rick and Lolly (who all lived in Providence). Josh was working three days a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) and wasn't even making enough to pay his bills.

By this time it was around Thanksgiving and we were all looking forward to a long weekend to get away from the chaos that we called work. On the Wednesday before the holiday, Josh, who wasn't doing anything anyways (because Todd didn't have anything for him to do) decided not to come in and rejoined us, on the Monday after turkey day. We all came back to work, rejuvenated after our holiday and ready to deal with another week of madness at 8:00 am. Geoff and I were the first in the pink section (besides Todd) and we were settling in when Rick, Lolly and Josh arrived a few minutes later.

Josh's dark room "design studio" was attached to our office space through a door, that was in direct line with Todd's office. As soon as Josh walked through the door, Todd caught a glimpse of him and charged after him, like a man possessed. I knew it was going to be drama, by the look in his eyes and the fervor with which he stomped in there, slamming the door behind him. We actually nicknamed Todd: Stompy, because he acted like an enraged rhinoceros, stomping around the office, displaying his (pseudo) prowess like some wild animal.

About five minutes later, Todd came out of the dark room and seated himself in his office not saying a word. Then, about half an hour later, Josh comes through the outside door with his girlfriend, who works in Providence!!! I'm thinking: "what the hell is going on here?" I later found out that Todd cornered Josh and demanded to know where he was the prior Wednesday. Todd stated, he didn't come in because he didn't have anything to do. This infuriated Todd and he blew a gasket and fired Josh on the spot. Showing his true colors, Todd told him to leave through the side door, so as not to let us know what had just transpired. But it came back to bite Stompy, because Josh had to collect all his belongings and get a ride home (because he carpooled). So, when Josh walked through the door with his girlfriend, the cat was out of the bag and we all knew what happened. Todd's plan for a clean break was up in smoke.

Now we, on the pink side were a tight knit bunch, who looked out for each other. After seeing what happened to Josh, I almost blew a gasket myself and gave Todd a piece of my mind. I was ready to quit on the spot to vindicate my friend Josh, but I couldn't- because I needed the money and I didn't have any other job offers. So, I bit my tongue and bid Josh a happy farewell. But as the proverb states: "he who laughs last, laughs loudest" and I knew I would have the last laugh in the end...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Cleaner, greener, cheaper?

Driving a diesel powered car or light truck in the USA is like being left handed: it's an anomaly. Diesel has a bad rap in the United states among mainstream consumers. Visions of big-rigs billowing thick, black smoke and the sound of loud, knocking engines is what comes to mind when most people think of diesel power.
Companies like Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes and others have been able show diesel engines in a new light: As fuel sipping, race winning, dependable, clean and quiet. I have always been impressed getting the most bang for your buck, so when I found out that Ford, an American auto maker, was making a 2.5 liter turbo-diesel Ranger-type pickup in South Africa, I wrote to Ford, suggesting it made these trucks for the American market.

I wasn't born when the US went through the 1973 oil crisis, but having grown up in the 80's, I remember all the little, mostly foreign cars built for economy. During this time, Honda imported a little hatchback that boasted over 50 miles per gallon- highway. Not even the coveted Toyota Prius can say that.
For years I have inquired why cars in the USA weren't more efficient. I guess the Japanese have always been providing a stable of small cars getting in excess of 30 mpg, but the size and power of these vehicles has been increasing over time. To me, Europe, with it's $2.00/liter petrol (3.78 liters in a gallon), have traditionally had the most options in motoring. One in three autos in Europe is diesel, available in everything from luxurious Audi A8 to the compact Toyota pickup. Not to mention, they have always had the best compact cars, with a host of small displacement gas or diesel options.


I read an article this morning about American truckers boycotting against the lost wages due to the fuel prices. Diesel is over $4.00 a gallon nationwide and truckers say they're not being compensated. http://www.fdlreporter.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080403/FON0101/804030422/1289/FONnews

Gasoline prices are high too, but they are more than 50 cents less than diesel. How can it be that diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline? I mean it's just glorified vegetable oil. Gasoline (petrol) must be refined in a process called platforming, the higher the octane, the more refinement. Diesel fuel oil is distilled in a much simpler process, akin to home heating oil or kerosene. Diesel takes less energy to distill than petrol and yields more power per volume. Plus there is are renewable reserves of diesel fuel growing in across our farmlands every year.

Cleaner and greener? Yes, I think.
Cheaper? Not yet...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Stitch together (part-6)

The true colors of Todd's lunacy were about to blossom.

I took my camera to work with me a few times, so I was able to capture some of the madness that was brewing at the Minnow sewing shop. I remember saying to Todd, when I first started, "you should get some video cameras in the building to document the company being built". A few weeks later, I said to Geoff, the graphic designer, that I felt like I Minnow was like a reality TV show, "a cross between the classic movie, Office Space and TV show, The Office. Although this place was even crazier, because this was real. I was ready for the camera crew to come out of the woodwork and tell us all we were on a spoof TV show. This place turned out to be even crazier than make believe and I didn't know anything yet. Once Josh, the fashion designer started working, the place really began to take shape.
From what I thought, Josh and I were going to head around to different designers around the country and be somewhat of a traveling roadshow, preaching the virtues of the Minnow sewing machine to all who would listen. It didn't work out that way.

Todd had Josh laid up in a dark room, creating designs and sketches for clothing, one day it was jeans, the next, chiffon blouses and tee shirts. I'm thinking- o.k. this is fine, now let's get some sewing machines set up, so we can get this party started!!!
The Minnow machines created a purported 1000's of different stitches with their over 300 different sewing machines, but after working there for about a month, I had yet to really see one of these sewing machines sew anything. This vision for a design studio was to have a model of the most popular machines set up for research and development, probably 10 in all.

For some reason, Todd kept stalling with the machines. "Josh doesn't need any machine right now", he would say. I'm thinking, how do you hire a clothing designer and not have a sewing machine for him to work on. That's like hiring a logger and not giving him a saw. After a weeks worth of badgering, I wrestled out the real reason why Josh didn't have a sewing machine., there was none for him to have.

I'm thinking, how can there not be any machines, I see hundreds of them downstairs in the manufacturing space. What I didn't know was that all those machines I saw, stacked on shelving throughout the manufacturing plant, were either used or made in China. They weren't making sewing machines down there, they were buying Chinese knockoffs, putting a Minnow badge on it and shipping it out the door. But these Chinese made machines were only the slow speed 1950's technology machines, used in textile finishing.
The speed demon machines, capable of sewing in excess of 5000 stitches per minute, like the PK-5X, PK-5DRZ-1 and the rest of the PK family were in fact, not made in China. These glorious machines were actually used machines bought from dealers and bankrupt American garment/textile manufacturers, repainted and sold as new. And these were the machines that were in high demand, selling for $2500- $5000 a piece.

The place was a sham and Todd, a snake oil salesman.