So, I get this random text message…

Anonymous:

Any word on if Carolyn will be around today?

I don’t know any Carolyns, so I consider a polite way to tell the sender.

Me:

She’s said her labradoodle is sick (again!), so she has to go back to Elko and get the Oldsmobile from impound in order to get its meds.

Anonymous:

?

Me:

I know! Can you believe that?

Anonymous:

Return to sender.

Me:

Totally. I keep telling her that the dog is just defective.

So, I thinks to myself, job well done. But then  a couple days later, from the same number comes…

Anonymous:

Walking into a movie. What’s up.

Me:

Well, carolyns labradoodle didn’t make it.

Anonymous:

What?

Anonymous:

Were those texts about her?

Me:

Someone stole the Olds, and she couldnt get the meds out of it, and I guess they were more important than I thought, cuz the next day the dog just up and croaked. Anyway, she’s pretty broken up about it.

I’m still waiting for a reply…


Today I received an email from Obama’s Organizing America about a new site to fight the opposition’s lies about the health care reform bill. This is the wrong approach. Completely.

There are times when a rebuttal is bad strategy. If you allow your opponent to control the debate, you forfeit your chance to tell your story. That is exactly what President Obama, the Democratic Party, and cheerleaders like MSNBC are actively doing.

I already know that the US Health Care system is broken. You don’t need to convince me that there is a problem. But aren’t there great, compelling, positive reasons for the Reform bill? A well-articulated vision of the future should make the idea of Death Panels universally laughable. Win the PR war by selling what we’re going to do/get/have.

If you are not sure what I mean by controlling the debate, please see “Excerpt from Debate 101″ below.

My Reply to Mitch Stewart & Barack Obama’s Email

Please stop rebutting and start leading.

Frame the bill as an Apollo Project, its goal is to make us #1 in the world.

This is worth another 1/2 hour commercial:

  • Appeal to pride: make it unpatriotic to oppose the bill
  • Explain how the top health ranked countries in the world run their public plans…
  • Then show how ours will be better than theirs…
  • Tell how new medical innovation will stimulate our economy and increase our status as world leaders

We cannot win by rebutting the lies. That yields control of the conversation to our opponents.

Don’t think of an elephant.

Excerpt from Debate 101

Watch from 20:40-22:50 as Reagan discards an indictment against him and goes on the attack, landsliding Mondale with several allegations. Mondale falls for it, attempting to respond to one of the several allegations, leaving all the others still in question.

It doesn’t even matter whether Reagan’s allegations were accurate: Reagan controlled the debate.

Of Zombies and Zambonis

July 30, 2009

In my dream, I was being held against my will in the basement of a building. It was something like a clinic with various quasi medical apparatuses in a few different rooms. I was concerned about a middle-aged woman who was not there at the time. She dressed similarly to a nurse, but I perceived she was much more like a warden. I remembered having tried to escape, but somehow I had not succeeded, perhaps because of her or one of the unseen attendants.

In one dimly-lit room, there were about 9 people standing in a few rows. They were vacant, almost inanimate zombies. Their androgynous, naked bodies were slick with blood diluted by sweat and who knows what else. Every few minutes a tone sounded, and they would all adjust a limb or change their stance into a new pose so that their muscles would not grow rigid. I feared that I was to be made one of them very soon.

Then I was showering. Sensing that I was momentarily unattended, I made for the way out, still wet and unclothed. I went up a  stairwell that was painted in white enamel. The stairs came to a glass-enclosed landing. I pushed through the door into a government office with a long service counter behind which stood many gaping public workers. I told them that I am being held captive and need help. They just stared at me uncertain of what to do. I was naked. They could do nothing to help to me. What little compassion or ethical obligation they may have had was not enough to motivate them to action. I exited the same door into the parking garage, then–no longer naked–out through the traffic of a busy New York City street.

A small park was across the street, and there was a stand of neatly-planted  shrubs that formed a canopy of dense red foliage, knee-high above the grainy, dry soil. I momentarily took cover there, and then moved on.

At the park’s far end I met the street that ran perpendicular to the one I had crossed. A slow moving service vehicle crawled down the street toward me. It was made of heavy diamond plate patterned metal with worn yellow paint, an atop were two men operating it. I went between parallel-parked cars into the street and thumbed a ride, climbing aboard as it lumbered past. When I got on, there was only the driver. He wore old jeans and a coat, both of faded denim, and a red and black flannel shirt. He was poorly shaven and had a thick mustache of course blond whiskers that looked very blue collar.

Moments later we were in a parking garage that was painted in glossy white enamel, with railings painted with glossy yellow that accentuated them. It was very clean. I then knew that it was the same building from which I had just fled.

He parked not far from a clear glass door that apparently went into a residential area. He told me about how he was going to have a procedure performed that shrinks the brain to 1/4 its size. As he explained this, I watched a diagram showing an overhead view of the silhouette of a normal-sized brain, and a 25% scale silhouette aligned to the upper left of  the larger image for comparison. It had the appearance of high quality medical marketing material. Very slick and technical.

“Once done, you don’t have to think ever again. They got a TV channel with ultimate wrestling championships 24 hours a day. You can just watch,”  he said.

I then understood the zombies.

I asked him if I could take the Zamboni back out. It wasn’t a real Zamboni. I just called it that, tribute to Schultz’ strange Zamboni period in Peanuts.

The moustache-man handed me a keyring heavily-laden with keys. Then another that was even heavier. The second was so that I could get inside when I got back. I told him “Okay,” even though I knew that if I managed to get out, there was no way I would be coming back.

____

When I woke up, I told Heidi a brief version of this dream.

In 2006, I posted my letter to CareerBuilder.com after seeing their Superbowl TV commercial.

I sent a similar letter to Castrol Motor Oil for their Superbowl commercial this year.

Now, an article entitled “Ape Advocate Cries Foul Over Super Bowl Simians” in the Huffington Post provides some solid background on the issue.

The Greatest Gift of All

December 18, 2008

Okay, so you want :

  1. to get something fun for a kid/the kids/the family.
  2. to really impress your spouse/significant other/love interest
  3. to get yourself something that makes you feel like you know about something special

My suggestion:

img_0114

The pictures show my mother making a big bubble, and the actual bubble she made.

I first used “the Bubble Thing” many years ago while in college. I just got one for myself after all these years and re-discovered the simple, wonderful joys that it brings. And not just to me, my wonderful, beautiful girlfriend Heidi loves to watch.

img_0115

The monster bubbles that you make with the Bubble Thing wobble in the wind and swirl with magnificent iridescent colors. Many sink to the ground and pop, but some find enough lift to fly skyward. (Heidi forms personal relationships with each one I make, talking to them, rooting for them, telling them not to hit this tree branch, or those wires, or the wall of a building.)

It’ll cost you about $12 (not including some Dawn dish soap).

In Praise of Scuba Mau

December 9, 2008

Scuba MauDuring our week long stay in Cozumel, we used the services of a small, local dive shop called Scuba Mau. Owned by a couple named Mauricio (“Mau”) and Opal, Scuba Mau is a relatively new establishment right near the Villablanca hotel, just south of town. We loved them and should we ever return to Cozumel, we would definitely use them again. Exclusively.

My buddy John found Scuba Mau through Internet reviews. People raved about them consistently, so we went to them first. Here’s what we liked about them.

Small, Fast Boats
Opal and Mau are divers, and love the dive scene. As such, they know that smaller groups on faster boats make for better dives. They aim to use a six-pack dive boat rather than a bigger, slower dive boat. This gives them a greater range of sites to choose from, and makes each dive an uncrowded, intimate event.
Scuba Mau recently got their own boat, but they were not using it yet because they are still raising enough cash (~$18K USD) to get permits.

You Decide Where to Dive
If you do your research before getting to Cozumel, you can learn about the various dive sites and creatures you might see around that part of Cozumel. This is really nice with Scuba Mau, since they usually don’t pre-plan their dive sites. Each morning, as we loaded the boat, the dive master would ask whether we wanted to go to a specific site or see anything in particular. Because the groups are so small, and the other divers rarely had a destination in mind, we were able to request what we wanted each morning we were there.

No Guessing on Dive Plans
I’ve been on too many dives with inadequate communication about the dive. Each of the four dive masters that we had with Scuba Mau was articulate and thorough about the dive briefing. (You can tell that Mau and Opal expect this of their dive masters.) And because you’re always in a smaller group, you can easily get clarifications, ask questions or make requests as you need.

Great Istructors
While John and I dove, I put my girlfriend Heidi in school. Since Mau was busy, they brought in a local dive instructor named Mario. (He’s not exclusively affiliated with Scuba Mau, but I got the impression that they call him in fairly often.) Mario was an outstanding instructor for Heidi. His relaxed and friendly attitude, and endless patience, gave her exactly the kind of learning environment she needed. Even on the first day in which she became a bit seasick from the choppy water, Mario’s calm understanding made it easy for Heidi. Best of all, because of the small boat, John and I were able to join for Heidi’s first two open water dives, with no one else on the boat but the captain.

Relaxed and Friendly
The last (and first) word on any dive shop should always be about their attitude toward safety and toward people. Scuba Mau’s team are all very relaxed and friendly, and both inside the small shop and out on its small, street-front lawn everything is nice and casual. You never feel like you’re in the way for hanging out. In fact, they all really seem to enjoy the company of people with an explorer’s worldly mindset. Put short, they’re just not at all uptight.
Does that imply that they’re not careful? Not at all. Their equipment is all in servicible condition. The staff loads the boat efficiently, with all the necessary precautions and back-up equipment. Every member of the Scuba Mau team is always concerned about not only your safety, but also your comfort.

More Information
Scuba Mau’s website will provide you the latest contact information.

Return from Cozumel

December 1, 2008

Heidi and me at 60 below

Heidi and me at 60' below

Heidi and I had a wonderful time together enjoying the tropical air, watching her learn to dive, falling in love in new ways, diving with John Lancaster, dining and playing card games with John and Liz, and generally doing an unlax and rewind.

To take a dive vacation while unemployed is a strange experience. It feels reckless and irresponsible, even if I had paid for most of the trip while I was still employed. I certainly prefer not needing to be quite such a spendthrift.

Pictures from our dive are now online on facebook.

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