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Social Media Fame Stupidity Knows No Bounds

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

I write posts one day in advance, so this one was written yesterday (Tuesday) and is not the one I planned to write.

I live in Washougal, a small town on the Washington State side of the Columbia River about 20 miles from Portland, Oregon; a town that calls itself “the gateway to the Gorge.”

In spite of its proximity to both Portland and Vancouver, WA, it’s a very rural area.

I woke today to a gray sky, the smell of smoke and everything covered with a mix of fine wood particles and ash.

Apparently, some teens thought it was the height of entertainment to film throwing fireworks into Eagle Creek Canyon on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.

“Even though that kid threw the firecracker, all of those kids he was with are complicit. All of them watched, all of them did nothing. They all were a part of it. One filmed it,” she said. “When I came upon them, and the guy threw the firecracker, I’m pretty sure I heard a couple of them giggle. The guy was filming it like it was another thing to film, no big deal. The whole complacency of that group, I find it so disturbing.”  

They did this in an area that has seen no real rain in months; an area under fire prohibitions.

That was the start of the Eagle Creek Fire.

Then, for the first time since 1902, the fire jumped the Columbia, caught and started the Archer Mountain Fire.

As I write this, that fire is less than six miles from my friend’s house and only 15 miles from mine.

The air, inside and out, is smokey.

Hopefully, the winds won’t start up and neither of us will have to evacuate.

There is so much I don’t like about today’s world that it’s hard to choose the worst.

However, I reserve a top spot for people, no matter their age, who don’t think about / don’t care how much damage they do so long as they get their 5 seconds of social media fame, along with those who stand by and watch.

Image credit: Brent/KOIN TV

Retail DIS-Service

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017


I am a frequent Home Depot shopper, other than during the Nardelli regime, mainly because my Amex points a good conversion rate to dollars for HD gift cards.

Now it seems I only have to deal with corporate purchasing stupidity.

Let me explain.

I live in Washington State, just across the Columbia River about 20 minutes from Portland, Oregon, an area known locally for it’s dozens of micro-climates, multiple rivers and fast elevation changes.

This means that when it’s cold and rainy by me, it’s probably cold and snowy at my friend’s who lives about 15 minutes and 800 feet away.

But in general, we don’t get a lot of freezing weather — but we do get it.

A couple of weeks ago the entire area got walloped with the worst storm in 16 years and it stayed cold, with temperatures in the 20s.

So I wasn’t surprised when I finally got to HD to buy ice melt they were sold out.

However, I was flabbergasted when I went back this week and was told that they wouldn’t have more until October.

A very chagrined manager explained that they had sold out their year’s allotment and had no way of ordering more.

When pushed, he said that central purchasing decided how much of a given product would sell annually and if a store sold out tough luck.

So, based on the weather forecast, it was back to Lowe’s, where I shopped when Nardelli was in power.

Retail DIS-service; better know as retail stupidity.

Image credit: Mike Mozart

How to be Dumb as Google

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016


When it comes to hiring, as Forrest Gump would say, “stupid is as stupid does.”

And stupid is using recruiters who think the only “right” answer to a technical question is the one written on a sheet of paper. (Note that “technical” can refer to the specifics of any field, although in this case it was software.)

No knowledge or understanding of the subject; just the blind focus on the written words — kind of like talking to customer service when the rep keeps repeating their script no matter how you phrase the question — and no recognition that they may wrong.

The call started off well but as the interview progressed, Guathier got an increasing number of questions wrong. His frustration grew as he tried to discuss the answers with the Google recruiter only to find that the recruiter wanted the exact answer in the test book even if alternative solutions were better.

The company is Google and it should be noted that they approached the candidate, as opposed to his applying.

Way back in 2007 Google announce that they had developed an algorithm to screen candidates.

It didn’t work.

Google was also famous for its brain-teaser questions.

Only, according to Lazlo Block, SVP of People Operations, they are a lousy predictor of success.

“Part of the reason is that those are tests of a finite skill, rather than flexible intelligence which is what you actually want to hire for.”

The value of elite colleges and high grades was publically debunked in a 2013 story about the prevalence of grade inflation.

Not all Google’s efforts fall in the stupid category; block’s efforts to educate both management and workers about bias is definitely a smart move.

But locking technically ignorant recruiters into accepting only set responses to tech question rates right up there with algorithms and brain-teasers. And I say this as someone who was a tech recruiter for more than 12 years.

Of course, managers’ interviewing skills won’t matter, since  the best, most knowledgeable, most creative candidates will be screened out before they ever see them.

Image credit: Chris Pond

The Humorous Side of Layoffs

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/searchengineland/2263318234/Michael Smith, CEO of TeraTech and a past client of mine, sent a link to a Medium post about recognizing the signs that a layoff is coming.

Here are three examples.

  • Fresh CEO blood.
  • Loss of eye contact.
  • Earlier rounds of layoffs.

I  would add

  • Lots of smoke and dancing by management, instead of answers.

Obviously, layoffs aren’t funny.

However, management’s belief that no one will notice the signs is funny.


Because you can’t brag about hiring smart people and then assume they will miss the telltale signs around them that something is wrong.

Image credit: search-engine-land

If the Shoe Fits: How Old is an Entrepreneur?

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.


Age is more a mental state than a physical one.

I’ve always said that smart people say/do stupid things and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla is proof of that.

“People under 35 are the people who make change happen,” said, “People over 45 basically die in terms of new ideas.”

The problem is that the data the tech world is so enamored with doesn’t back that up.

Vivek Wadhwa, a Duke University researcher, worked with the Kauffman Foundation in 2009 to explore the anatomy of a successful startup founder. That survey of more than 500 startups in high-growth industries showed that the average founder of a successful company had launched his or her venture at the surprisingly high age of 40. The study also found that people over 55 are almost twice as likely to launch high-growth startups than those aged 20 to 34.

The term “high growth” is key. 2010′s top two fastest-growing tech startups, according to Forbes, were First Solar, founded by a 68-year old, followed by Riverbed Technology, co-founded by entrepreneurs who were 51 and 33 at the time.

He should also inform the Merage Institute, which awards $100K to the top startup by a 45+-year-old founder (more runner-ups at the link).

  • In 2016 it was iSilla – Movement for people with disabilities
  • 2nd Prize –  SonicBone – Bone Age – Ultrasound Device for Bone Age assessment
  • 3rd Prize – Inensto – Aluminum Air Battery

In 2015 they were:

  • 1st Prize – NiNiSpeech
  • 2nd Prize – A new Hydrogen Energy Storage
  • 3rd Prize – Glasses for AMD Macular Degeneration

Brian Acton was 37 when he founded WhatsApp.

Notice that all of them solve a real problem — a problem of which they wouldn’t be aware if they hadn’t faced it directly or indirectly themselves.

Which meant they had real world experience.

Even Mark Zukerberg had real world experience; he wanted an easy way to engage and keep up with his friends. Remember, Facebook was originally started for college kids.

The reason Khosla is so far off base, is that an entrepreneur can only disrupt that with which she is familiar enough to figure out a better way or see a hole and fill it.

Hence young males created Tinder and its clones to hookup and Match and its clones for something more permanent.

If you look at socially oriented startups, many of their founders, both young and old, saw the need first hand, while volunteering and/or traveling, came home and created a solution that answered that need.

It’s not a matter of age.

It’s a matter of three things

  1. See the need/experience the want/desire what isn’t
  2. Think of a way to solve/provide it
  3. Possess the drive, tenaciousness, guts and slight insanity required to turn an idea into a reality and a reality into a company

And those three things can happen to anyone at any age.

My thanks to KG for reminding me of how important it is to help smash these myths.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Should Electric Cars Make Noise?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Matt posted a hair-raising lesson on LinkedIn about electric cars, distraction and gratitude. He wanted to share it here, also.

matthew weeksThis is a gratitude post. No fancy photos and no clever links. Just a shout-out to the universe for allowing me to be around and complain.
I have friends with cancer. I have relatives with dementia, heart disease, mood disorders, I have people in my life with serious injuries to recover from, life disasters, and more. So I don’t have much to complain about that rises to the level of those “legit” complaints.

Today I got a kind of a wake-up call at lunch. I was hit by a car.

While walking. I was coming back from lunch, crossing the street with the light, in the crosswalk. And for some reason my phone was in my pocket— an unusual thing when I’m taking a break or walk during the day. So I had all my wits about me and was presumably paying attention. I was in my suit (I wear suits at client sites, which are typically hospital systems, clinic systems or other large healthcare organizations), and was walking leisurely, not too fast. It was a warm day and who wants to sweat in a nice suit, right?

A gentleman was in an electric car. First alert—people, electric cars make no noise. So you have no warning in your blind spot as a pedestrian or bike rider. A cute little BMW i3 I think. Kind of like one of those tiny smart cars. Same shape, flat short hood. He was on his phone texting or otherwise looking at the screen. His light was red. Mine- green with the white “walk” sign just starting to count down. He swung around and zipped right into the crosswalk to make his right turn… into me. He never saw me until I was on his hood. I was two steps off the curb. I never thought to look again over my left shoulder. I had the light. There were about four or five others ten feet in front of me in the crosswalk, and if he had come 10 seconds earlier he would have hit that bunch of people, including an elderly woman and someone with a dog on a leash. The dog would have been roadkill for sure. I don’t want to think about the slow-moving elderly woman.

Why do I write this? To say “I’m grateful to be alive and grateful to have all of you in my life.” And also to say that my complaints don’t add up to a hill of beans compared to the others with real issues including the big C, and all the rest. Working lately in healthcare has given me great new perspective about how precious good health is. We take it for granted. We think we are immune from the statistics.

As a society, we live careless lives, are overweight, out of shape, putting toxins in our bodies. We think we are unaccountable for the way we treat our bodies. We think we are invincible, or we are just lazy about it. We walk around with our noses in cell phones indoors and out. We don’t notice our surroundings, much less appreciate them. Things like a gorgeous sunset. We’re too busy flipping posts in Facebook and Instagram and SnapChat and Pinterest and email. Liking a post. Making a post. Reading drivel. Is this drivel? Perhaps.

If you want a reality check go work at a healthcare company or volunteer at a hospital or clinic system. That’s where the people with legit complaints are. And they can’t just “solve” them.

Funny thing about this accident. 40-some odd years ago I ended up on the hood of a very nice woman in Palo Alto. I was riding my bike and had headphones on (not unlike many bike riders-especially commuters- today). She did not see me and as she exited a driveway without looking both ways, I ended up on the hood. I thought for sure she would pause and look both ways. Bad bet. She was distracted and was looking elsewhere. In a hurry. Luckily I was a bit more agile than I am today, and a lot more durable, and kind of bounced off and slid to the other side of the car, like a stunt man in a cop movie. She was more terrorized than I was. I was probably too young and stupid to understand what had almost happened.

Fast forward to today. Not as young, not as durable (probably only a bit less stupid) I looked to my left just in time to see this little car with the driver just looking up with a terrorized expression and no time to slam on the brakes in time. I was able to jump up and get just enough elevation to put my butt on the hood and break the force of the impact with my arm on the upper part of the hood.

The good news is that these cars are made of thin aluminum and it crushes like tinfoil on impact. So I left two nice big dents on the hood, kind of bounced off and ended up staggering away. I think my wallet took the blow instead of my hip or rear end. Thank you VISA and MasterCard. “Priceless” padding. :) I was in one of those adrenaline induced states where I was more worried about falling on the pavement and ripping my suit. My coffee was gone. No way to save that. I looked at the coffee spot on the concrete and had this terrible vision of what if that was blood. The mind does weird things.

After gathering myself and determining I was a) still alive and b) in one piece and c) okay enough to be mad but shocked enough to be happy to be in one piece, I was asked for my insurance information…. apparently mister wonderful was going to try to make a claim. There were about three people left around us, asking if we should call 911 and at that point someone made the point that they saw him run the red, looking at his phone and that he hit me in the x-walk. I declined to give my info and allowed as how I was walking back INTO a healthcare clinic and that he should be happy that I was not more banged-up and asking for treatment. I just wanted to get back to normalcy. Probably still in shock.

He took off, I came back to the office and sat down to assess how lucky my life is, to be able to complain about distracted drivers. And to be walking around to talk about it. And to warn my friends and family about electric cars at intersections… you can’t hear or see them coming when they zip around corners.

On a bike I guess I would have been more vigilant, but as a pedestrian I had this kind of invincible feeling of being protected walking with the light and the “Walk” sign inside the crosswalk. That’s not so. Be vigilant. And thank you Sensei Mirko and Senpais David and Jessica and friends for the recent agility work in jumping and spinning this week that probably got my body primed to jump up and turn around to break the impact. Not Kevin Durant elevation but just enough to get up over the bumper and onto the hood with my rear end and upper body. Note to self— practice jumping more. And look both ways twice at busy intersections.

My daughter is learning how to drive this year. I am her teacher. This is a great example of what distracted driving can do. I am not 100% guilt free in that department. I’m taking the pledge to stay off of phones 100% while driving except for bluetooth and headsets in one ear. Just too much at stake and just so many times to dodge the bullet. And maybe the Universe was sending me a reminder message today.

And to my friends with legit concerns… prayers to you that you come out of your battles and win the war. We’re only here the better part of 100 years give or take. It’s not fair what’s happening to you.

And now I’m leaving the office and driving out to watch the sunset. :)
No Instagram post. Just taking it in and enjoying it. I’ve posted my share of pretty sunsets. This one is just to look at. I encourage you to do the same, to honor our friends and family that have bigger problems than the rest of us. We can all enjoy the same sunset in sync from wherever we are. No Instagram/snapchat needed. We are the lucky ones. ‪#‎gratitude

Why NOT to Trust Your Apps

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

When I in college, I remember discussing a newspaper story with my aunts. I remember saying that I didn’t believe something and my aunts saying that if something wasn’t true it would not be in the paper.

They really believed that, because in the world they grew up and lived in it was mostly was true.

Fast forward to today and you find the same attitude being applied to the information supplied by the tech they use.

They don’t question the stuff supplied by various apps, especially if it’s from known vendors.

Vendors such as MaxMind.

Maxmind identifies IP addresses, matches them to a map and sells that data to advertisers.

Trouble is, accuracy isn’t their strong point.

Back in 2002, when it started in this business, Fusion reports, MaxMind made a decision. If its tech couldn’t tell where, exactly, in the US, an IP address was located, it would instead return a default set of coordinates very near the geographic center of the country — coordinates that happen to coincide with Taylor’s front yard.

Taylor is the unfortunate owner of a farm that sits on one of those catch-all co-ordinates.

And although the info isn’t supposed to be used to identify specific addresses, surprise, surprise, that’s exactly how people do use it, law enforcement included.

The farm’s 82-year-old owner, Joyce Taylor, and her tenants have been subject to FBI visits, IRS collectors, ambulances, threats, and the release of private information online, she told Fusion.

As bad as that is, at least the Taylor’s still have their home, unlike the two families who are homeless because a contractor assumed Google maps was correct, so he didn’t check the demolition addresses.

Unbelievable that they accepted the tech without checking.
Unbelievable that they first called it a minor mistake.
Unbelievable that the owners aren’t suing.

Video credit: Business Insider

United Airlines: Unbelievably Stupid

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

It’s amazing to me how just plain stupid some companies are and, worse, maintain that stupidity for years.

United Airlines is a good example.

In 2009 it damaged the Dave Carroll’s guitar. Carroll spent 9 months trying to get United to fix it, which they refused to do.

So Carroll, whose band is Sons of Maxwell, posted “United Breaks Guitars,” a musical video on YouTube.

The video went viral and UAL’s stock dropped 5%.

Six years later the video has garnered 15 million views, 83 thousand Likes, 21 thousand comments and is still being passed around.

You would think they would learn something from that experience.

You would be wrong.

Last month, United personnel once again stuck their foot in it when they first refused to provide hot food to an autistic teen, although they finally relented.

The girl was fine, but the idiot pilot called for an emergency landing, called the paramedics and the cops.

When the officers started to leave, the captain stepped out of the cockpit and said something to them, Beegle said. They then asked her family to leave, she said.

“He said, ‘The captain has asked us to ask you to step off the plane.'” Beegle said. “I said, ‘She didn’t do anything’ … But the captain said he’s not comfortable flying on to Portland with [Juliette] on the plane.”

All of this with the full support of management.

United said its “crew made the best decision for the safety and comfort of all of our customers and elected to divert to Salt Lake City after the situation became disruptive.”

Passengers who witnessed the whole thing and posted videos said it was total bunk.

Of course, what UAL did to this child was far worse than breaking a guitar, but it goes to show their motto is still “the customer is always wrong, no matter what.”

Ducks in a Row: To Die For…

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014


Last year I suggested creating the SMIA (Social Media Idiot Award) as a way to honor all those who assist in their own arrests via social media.

But that was then…

Smart phones have enabled great leaps to previously unreached levels of stupidity.

Last month I shared the selfie stupidity exhibited by spectators at the Tour de France.

I now believe the SMIAs have achieved Darwin Award status.

For the innocents among you, Darwins are given posthumously to people for removing themselves from the gene pool, i.e., their death is the result of their own overwhelming stupidity, such as the couple that went past a barrier set up to keep people off the cliff edge at Cabo de Roca and slipped while trying to take a selfie—and did it in front of their kids.

Here are other recent entrants.

Last week a man in Mexico was taking a selfie when he accidentally shot himself in the head. Others have sustained injuries while taking selfies: A man was trampled by a bull in France while trying to take a photo in front of it, and a reporter was nearly hit in the head by a stray baseball while snapping a photo of herself.

Culture and societal norms change.

Starting in the Elizabethan era people longed to be a “nine days’ wonder.”

Since the Sixties people hoped for “15 minutes of fame.”

These days they are willing to die for 15 seconds of social media fame.

Who said “change equals progress?”

Flickr image credit: Gidzy

Can You Explain this Stupidity?

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Would you jump in front of an object moving at 30 mph or better to take a selfie?

Would you do it knowing that not only you, but others could be seriously injured or even killed?

That’ what was happening at this year’s Tour de France.


What drives people to play this kind of Russian roulette and then brag about it?

I doubt they have a death wish or even consider that they might maim or kill someone else.

Do they have any understanding of cause and effect; action and consequences?

Is it “but me” syndrome?

Is it that they just don’t think?

Can they think?

I honestly don’t understand and would appreciate any insights you might have.

Image credit: Jose Been via Business Insider

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