Hello world!

June 21, 2014 under Uncategorized

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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FOUND: Rabbit the Bunny

April 9, 2014 under Misc. Commentary

photo 3 This black and white rabbit was found off Shoal Creek just south of the 183/Shoal Creek. It obviously used to be someone’s pet and is a really sweet animal.

Please share so we can place this beautiful creature back with it’s family.

Rabbit is currently residing with Keanna. Inquiries can be addressed to Simplyvmail at gmail or Keanna at 512-955-4544.

I don’t know how long Keanna will be able to keep the rabbit safely before turning it into a shelter.

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Laughter is good for the soul

February 14, 2012 under Just for Fun

I wanted to get a happy picture of her, but forgot how much she hates my phone. She hates it almost as much as she hates baths. She was all happy joy-joy until I took my phone out.

It’s days like today that remind me why I love my dog. Not love dogs plural or in general, but why I specifically love my dog.


For those that haven’t met my dog, let me give you a little background into what she’s like on a normal day. She’s normally quiet and congenial. She’s a people-pleaser so she pretty much does whatever that makes me happy. Over the years, she’s learned this means if I’m on my computer she is not to pester me for anything unless it’s life or death (hers or mine). Since she’s not me (and a dog) sometimes we differ in understanding what constitutes a “life or death” situation, but for the most part we live together in harmony.  She knows me and we “get” each other.


She’s also generally a happy dog and loves people. All people. Any people. Children aren’t people. Children are gifts from God sent down to play with her, as such I lose all importance once a child enters the situation. For that matter, people that aren’t me also tend to get priority, unless of course she thinks I might leave her. There is only one real nightmare my dog has, and that’s being abandoned or not being able to be near me.


Anyway, back to today. It’s been a long boring day. So I decided to do all the boring things to get them out of the way. In an effort to subconsciously procrastinate the project I’m supposed to be doing, I decided I needed to take a shower. This reminded me that I was also supposed to give my dog a bath. Her “Aunt” had submitted a couple complaints about how stinky she was. I think she smells like normal dog, but it’s been a while since her last bath so I’d put giving her a bath on my “To-Do List”.


I am not a ritual doggie bather. It’s not like they sweat like we do, and being raised in a small town with inside-outside dogs by a farmer’s daughter, I was always taught that bathing a dog was really only necessary when the dog was actually dirty. With inside-outside dogs, this happens occasionally as the dog finds some doggie “Eau de perfume” to roll in which actually smells like “Eau de Rotten Roadkill”, or the dog decides it’s time to come inside wearing half it’s weight in mud. Since my dog is now a full-fledged indoor dog, she doesn’t really get dirty. So I tend not to bathe her. This is agreeable with her as well.


However, I also forgot that my dog is a stickler for rituals, and as such it’s been way too long since her last bath as demonstrated by her attitude. Since she’s very much a people-pleaser, it takes someone to know her well to catch on to her moods. She’s very much into civil disobedience in cases where she feels she’s being mistreated unfairly.


I should also mention here that she is extremely intelligent and learned early in life the principles of cause/effect. She does not like to get actually dirty or to make messes. Both of those activities she’s figured out lead to getting in trouble and/or baths.


So that she was “clean” prior made bathtime unfair. I also wasn’t packing to go anywhere, so no justified reason for the bath. In her mind, I was giving her a bath for no good reason.


I start the water to get it warm, and ask her to get in the tub. She usually will get to the edge of the tub and refuse to go further. Today, she refused to move completely, and tried to plant herself into the floor as much as possible.


I took her collar off for easy coat cleaning, then picked her up and put her in the tub. She stood in the tub stiffly and then looked back at me.


If it was possible to look at someone and have them burst into flames, she’d have done it. She was PISSED, and I laughed uncontrollably. I couldn’t help it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her that mad about a bath before, and it was hilarious. (I really wish I had a picture of that look.)


Mostly it was hilarious because both of us knew that there was nothing she was going to be able to do about it.  I’m bigger, stronger, most days smarter, and I control the food and doorways.


She continued to glare at me the rest of the bathtime. After the bath was finished, I toweled her off, but she wouldn’t even recognize my presence. She’s passive-aggressive like that.


I took a shower then, and when I went to blow dry my hair, I decided to ask her if she wanted to be blow dried. This is not common place, and usually she could care less, but I thought I’d ask for fun.


Holding the blow dryer where she could see it, I called out. “You want some of this?”


She came running and I turned the blow dryer on. As soon as she was in the stream of air, she planted herself in the middle of the floor (where I normally stand to blow dry my own hair) and let me blow dry her…. and blow dry her… and blow dry her..


By this time, she’s normally bored of it as she usually doesn’t care to be blow dried.  I assumed she would just go away when she was bored. She did not. So I stopped blow drying her, and started to blow dry my own hair, but she was in the way. I asked her to move. She pretended not to hear me.  I moved closer to her expecting her to move out of the way, she did not. Instead she poked me with her nose and tried to get me to continue to blow dry her. Any time she could get in my way without actually moving her body from the floor, she would do so. She wanted to be blow dried, and she wasn’t done yet.


I seriously have not laughed so hard in months. She is so rarely that stubborn, especially over something I know she could really care less about, that I laughed and laughed and laughed.


Evidently, she wasn’t going to forgive me for the bath any time soon.

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Shopping for Jobs, Family, and America

November 25, 2011 under Just for Fun, Misc. Commentary

As it’s shopping season, which is quite possibly my favorite time of year, I couldn’t help but make a post about it.


But shopping anymore isn’t just blind shopping for me.


A few years ago, shopping was frivolous and fun and I did it without a care in the world. Then people lost jobs. I lost jobs. Tens of thousands of people lost jobs, and people got so sick of everything that they picketed, and protested.


The latter there made me realize just how cushy I was, and just how lazy and unbrave I am. I have a severe aversion to anything that might land me in jail, and that includes protesting.


Sadly, I know that I am not alone in this, and as such I’ve found a few ways to help our nation for those of us lazy rebels who want desperately to help out without the slightest risk of being arrested or pepper-sprayed.


Essentially, it’s called “Dollar Voting”. Every dollar you spend goes to someone. How much of that dollar is going to your local town? How much is going to your local economy? How much of that dollar is reinforcing the American workforce?


Step One:

I’m going to make an major effort this season to only shop locally at local Mom & Pop establishments. I already do this to some extent, but I’m going to make a bigger effort.


A few of my favorite’s in Austin:


Instep: A local shoe boutique which carries high quality shoes that are good for your feet.


Cypress Vanguard: Carries a ton of products made by local artists and artisans. Soaps, accessories, fashion.. Definitely a place to check out.


JenHeartsArt: Any social media addict knows her Twitter nametag jewelry is a must have.


Phoenicia Bakery – I’m addicted to their pita bread which they make at their south location fresh every day. Their north location also does some really good Mediterranean fare in the back of the grocery. (PS: Cut up any leftover pita into chip sized pieces and place in the oven @350 for about 10 minutes. Hot, fresh, pita chips. So seriously good with any dip, you can thank me later.)


Coffee Shops – It’s hard not to find a local coffee shop in Austin, so if you’re not already supporting a Mom & Pop coffee place.. now is the time to do it. I will slap you with a ruler if you don’t.


For some good Black Friday and Small Business Saturday weekend specials at local Austin merchants, visit “Keep Austin Stylish“.


(If you’re a local Mom & Pop shop in Austin, please leave a link to your shop in the comments. I’d love to come check out your store.)

You can find more ideas for supporting small businesses here: Support Your Fellow Americans: Shop Small Business 

Step Two:

I really hope everyone takes this challenge. I’m going to make a very concerted effort to buy as much American-made items as I possibly can substitute. At first I was daunted with where can I buy American-made items? Is anything really made in the USA anymore?  Then I found some sites:


As it turns out, the Louisville Slugger is still made in the USA.

Louisville Slugger made in the USA – ABC News


There’s also a couple bloggers who write about American-made products:

Tina Polito of ChinaAteMyJeans.com writes about American-made products and is a great resource. (See her video clip here.)

Bill Sawalich’s “Bye, American” blog details his year of buying only American-made products. It’s a rather interesting read, and a challenge that really changes how you look at spending money. (See his video clip here.)


As I did more research, I found that there are quite a few products that are made in the USA, if you just look.


  • Ashley Furniture (plant in Wisconsin)
  • Lane Furniture (made in Mississippi)
  • Lazy Boy (Michigan)

Shoes: (Check for more selection at: AmericansWorking.com )

  • CAPPS Shoe Company
  • Johansen Shoes
  • New Balance (most are made in one of 6 factories in the USA)
  • P.W. Minor http://pwminor.com/ (made in Batavia, NY)
  • Okabashi

Buy American Gas from American oil wells:

  • Conoco,
  • Sunoco,
  • OA Sinclair,
  • BP/Phillips,
  • Hess,
  • ARCO,
  • Maverick,
  • Flying J,
  • Valero (sold at Stripes or Shamrock stations)
  • Murphy Oil USA (sold at Wal-Mart).

Kitchen Items:

  • Nordic Ware – Minneapolis
  • Pyrex glass products – Pennsylvania
  • CUTCO Cutlery – Olean, NY
  • KitchenAid – Stand Mixers and Blenders only.
  • Vita-Mix blenders
Other Sources – And for more American-made products:
The Daily News Online – article on American-made Products
AmericansWorking.com – Great source for finding American-made products
StillMadeInTheUSA.com - Another great source for finding American-made products


Now if you can buy American-made at a Mom & Pop shop.. that might just make you totally awesome. I’m going to try.


(And yes, I am totally going to use this as a reason to go shopping. I recommend you do too.)


Image: Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Politics: Standing divided we fall

November 10, 2011 under Misc. Commentary

One of the greatest injustices of the way things used to be before social media is that in this large nation we had little way of banning together effectively if the main media didn’t promote it.


We learned what to be outraged at, what not to, and whose fault things were simply by listening to the news, or reading newspapers or magazines.


We did band together over this in our small towns occasionally, or if we felt strongly about it we’d connect to someone in a neighboring town and try to make a movement or stage a protest. Often finding enough people to stage a protest and be heard was difficult. Often it was the lack of effective communication that our efforts never gained momentum and fell on deaf ears.


Our greatest hope if we wanted change was to write our congressman, or possibly convince a media outlet to write a story on it.


Because we were so reliant on the business of media for our information, information could be readily controlled or purchased. Our outrage on events could easily be silenced by a few articles with hope of change, or by simply preventing our story from being published.


Proprietors of evil, or people who wanted to keep secrets that shouldn’t be kept, could easily hide behind money and power. It was easier to keep those secrets from seeing the light of day and to silence those that would find out.


In many ways, it is fortunate for us as Americans that we do have social media and the freedom of speech with it.  Allowing us as people to talk to each other honestly. Sharing the truth as we know it with each other, and finding those of us who share those same life-truths much easier.


In our current hour… In our current nation.. It is essential that we take advantage of our new found voices and speak with each other to find ways to unite and find solutions to our nations problems.  All of our nations problems.


For many years, there has been little way for us to stand as “We The People” to show our government and the world who we as Americans really are. Our time is now. Change is now.


But it’s up to you, to stand up and be heard.


We are The People. We are not a person, organization, belief or religion, but PEOPLE. There are many of us, from many walks of life with many different ideas, desires, and dreams. We can do nothing if we’re divided. So stop letting people divide us. Stop listening to people who want to divide us.


We can only make the change we need, if we work together. It starts with you. It starts with me. It ends with WE.


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The Real Life Farmville feeds the hungry

October 2, 2011 under Just for Fun
Chick Picture at CHF

Just $10

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and I have to say I’ve never been more tempted to purchase Farm Animals.

The Canadian Hunger Foundation (CHF) has come up with a wonderful way to get people involved in providing sustainable agricultural items to those in need.

The phrase “Teach a man to fish” comes to mind.

The site is so ingenious that it reminds me of one of the greater evils of the last 10 years. Zynga’s Farmville.  Very few of us weren’t sucked into that trap at least once,  and in many ways CHF’s new shopping site brings that game to life.

Buy goats to improve the family farms. Oh, they probably need some seeds to plant for feed as well, must purchase those. They should be able to have eggs and milk, those are necessities, so “click” purchase some chicks and cows.  Maybe add some fruit trees to round out the farm a bit.

If you really want to upgrade your real-but-virtual farming, you can purchase things like peanut grinders, educational packages, and clean water.

How awesome is that?

Actually, one person commented (name left out for privacy reasons), “I like giving bees and pretending I am an evil overlord, plaguing the poor of the world with BEES.”

Ah yes, there are many ways to play this new farming game..  Imagine yourself as good or evil as you want. It’s all for a good cause.

(CHF if I may make a suggestion.. when items are purchased add them to a personal virtual farm for us to look at and upgrade. See now that would totally rock. “See my farm? Yep, those are real animals feeding people all over the world. Cuz I’m awesome like that.”)

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Local Austin Polycom looking for awesome software developers

March 17, 2011 under Misc. Commentary

To: All my unemployed software development friends:

Last night I attended a “Hiring Happy Hour” by Polycom, and met some really great people. If I had the skills they needed, you would not be reading this post today, because I’d wait until they hired me. :)


The company, Polycom is an international company, but the local Austin division is mostly engineering and from the employees I met it’s a great place to work. (Seriously, if you could just download the coding skills into my head, I’d be fighting you for these jobs so I could work with these people myself.)


I talked with Virginia Ruff, Technical Recruiter, as well as Kevin Burns, Platform Development Manager… and got the skinny on their needs. To tell you the truth, Kevin seemed much more desperate to get ahold of good quality coders, than Virginia. (But that might be because Kevin’s firsthand responsible for the work being done, and has thus been taking up the slack himself. Can you say overworked?)


So please.. if you have these skills.. and time to do the work.. Please go apply.


They need people who have any of the following skills:


Linux coding

Android coding

Hardware Bringup – if you know what this is, you’re probably qualified. :)

Video apps coding

User Interface design coding


I know some of you know people who are also looking, so please forward the information to anyone you think may be qualified/interested.


PS – More details to be found http://www.polycom.com/company/careers/career_search.html or at http://www.polycom.com

<Disclaimer> The happy hour was free to all who attended, and yes I was given free food and drink. Yes that may or may not have played a part in my making this post. The fact that they know how to throw a party, may also.. or may not have had.. a part in me making this post. It might also be that I woke up today and needed to write something and having had fun last night with them  may or may not have been the first thing on my mind. </Disclaimer>

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Social media and customer complaints: How do you deal with it?

The other night I was out with friends enjoying a beer when I found myself being introduced to a stranger. This is not unusual when you’re out in a crowded bar enjoying drinks with a few friends.

However, he and I started talking about what it is we do. He works for some kind of financial firm. When I mentioned that I work in “Social Media Consulting”, the conversation really began flowing.

He seemed to have a love/hate affair with social media. They use it for his business. While he did not seem to be the one actively doing the social media himself, he obviously was seeing what was being said.

He understood that he “should” be doing social media, but only from the standpoint that it was a “new fangled thing”.

“How do you handle negative feedback?” He asked me genuinely wanting some kind of cure-all to stop his clients or former clients from complaining.

My answer was not what he wanted to hear.

“Thats great that you’re getting feedback from your customers. Dealing with it depends on the complaint.  Is any of it constructive? Are you using it to help correct any problem areas?”

He confessed that the complaints were genuine and known problems within the company.

But rather than change his company practices to get a better customer experience, he wanted a simple method to just stop the complaints.

Unfortunately people don’t work that way, and business doesn’t work that way.

If you’re not giving people what they want, or at least managing their expectations of doing business with you (for example: don’t promise quick service if you know its going to take weeks), then your business isn’t going to last long.

Complaints are actually one of the most under-appreciated and often under-valued components of social media.  Generally a complaint is a hopefully small window between what a customer or client needs and what is actually delivered.

How awesome of a company could you be if you knew exactly what your customers needed and could give it to them in the way they actually wanted it?

This is one of the ways that companies are benefiting from social media.

The key here is to employ a bit of problem-solving:

1. Listen – All feedback is valuable. Listen to what people are saying. Really hear it, no matter how hard it is to do so.

2. Define the Problem – 20 people are unhappy. Why are they unhappy? Was it a simple mistake that you’ve already fixed? Is it a known problem that you’re working on? Is it an old problem you didn’t really think was important? Or is it something new that you’ve never considered before?

3. Find the Solution -  If the problem is already fixed, would an apology or coupon help to ease over the issue? Did you think that the problem wasn’t important? Then now you know it is, and you can fix it. Are you working on the solution already, but can’t seem to find a solution that makes you customers happy? Then maybe ask a few of your constructively complaining customers for their ideas.

Both you and your customers want to make the transaction work, and often your customers will come up with things that not only make it a better company for them to deal with, but a better company for everyone. Customers love companies that care and listen, and value them.

Don’t be afraid of criticism. Often it’s our strongest hardships that help make us into something pretty awesome.

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Amber Mac’s Top 10 Social Media Tips #2 & #3

July 20, 2010 under Social Media Basics
Amber Mac's Book

Amber Mac's Book

These tips really work together.

#2 Make Time:  Social Media takes time. So make sure you set aside some time every day to make sure the conversation keeps going.

We’re all busy with busy lives and many things to demand our time. It can get easy to forget to check your social media sites, and easy to set it aside.

Instead, schedule parts of your day to do social media, even if its just a half hour here and there. If you want to make it work, you have to put in the time.

#3 Be Consistent: Amber compared many people’s social media efforts akin to their approach to New Year’s Resolutions. At first, they start out all excited. They start going to the gym every day. They eat right. But as the days pass, they revert to their old ways of doing things and the gym becomes a forgotten except for a few times when people dip their toe back in now and then.

That method does not work. You have to be present and be involved. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend every waking minute on Twitter, or blog every day, you should have a plan of how often you want to update your social media, and how involved you want to get, and stick with it.

Be present and respond in a timely manner, have an active voice, and that will help you stand out from the crowd.

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Amber Mac’s Top 10 Social Media Tips: Tip #1

July 15, 2010 under Social Media Basics

Last week I sat through a great webinar presentation by Amber Mac (a Hootsuite webinar) promoting her new book, Power Friending.  I haven’t read her book yet, but if its anything like her webinar, it should be a good and useful read.

She had 10 great tips that she gave.

Tip #1

Be Authentic.

Personally I call this being human, but that’s more semantics. She recommended that you be authentic and speak in an authentic voice.  Not lawyer speak. Not sales speak. But talking like a real person and reacting to people like a real person.

This is my top #1 advice as well. Be Real. Be Alive.

The funniest thing to me was that she referenced Dominos as a great example of this. If you remember a while ago the video of employees doing nasty things to pizza, and then Dominos response to it.

I’ll link the video, in case you’ve not seen it, but this is the one example she brought up that I’m not entirely sure was a good one. I wholly agree with her premise, but..

About 3-4 months ago, I also went to a different seminar and listened to experts talk about sincerity in video and its effectiveness. The Dominos video was chosen as a “failed” video in this regard, as it seemed very formal, out of touch and boring. The presenter seemed detached and reading off a card rather than actually feeling the message he was saying. Un-authentic.

Yet, Amber Mac, another expert, used this same video as an explanation of what to do in response to customer outcry as a completely authentic response on the part of Dominos. She also credited this action of Dominos on saving their company, and credited the video as being a good example of being authentic.

I will agree that the mode of reply, a YouTube video, was a fantastic choice of medium for a response. I’ll also agree that the message, “This is not condoned by Dominos, and perpetrators will be faced with the full brunt of the law”, was much needed at the time.

But was this authentic? You watch the video.. tell me what you think.

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