Tuesday, February 28, 2006
So, when I was a kid I absolutely devoured the Mr. Men and Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves. I read those books over and over again. There is something great about being a kid and having a brightly colored, unusually shaped identifier for a single trait. The characters were not complex mixtures of several personality factors. No, they completely embodied their name and attribute. Come to think of it, I liked Smurfs also. Once again, these little boogers mostly looked identical with a small prop to differentiate their personality, which their role revolved around. Poor "Swimmer Smurf" could only appear in the action if they were near water. What if he had something valuable to add in non-aquatic situations? The Smurf nation would never know.
While I greatly appreciate what these characters did for me in helping to understand these various traits, they may have had quite a detrimental effect on my development. Now, I say that tongue and cheek, but seriously, I wonder how it influenced my perception of individuals. I work in a world of "audience" or "consumer" segments. I have to observe how people act, categorize them and then predict future actions and behaviors. I have had to work VERY hard to break down the walls of stereotypes and assumptions about how people will react to a certain situation, and I think these characters played a bit of a role in building those barriers. Why can't Mr. Silly, be a bit smart now and then? Or, Mr. Happy can show concern over the war in Iraq? Oh sure, there were the occasional examples, but they were always extreme opposites, like Mr. Messy getting completely straightened out. It is kind of like the world of AA, you either drink and ruin lives because of your disease, or you go stone cold sober.
Anyway, above are my top 10 favorite Mr. Men of all-time: Starting with Mr. Tickle, Mr. Nonsense, Mr. Messy, Mr. Silly Mr. Strong, Mr. Happy, Mr. Jelly, Mr. Greedy, Mr. Bump and Mr. Impossible.
George L. San Jose, president, founder and COO of the group, sent me a book to get me prepared for my new job, Hispanic Marketing: a Cultural Perspective. It’s nice to have a good understanding of the company’s perspective right off the bat. The book explains:
Part of the problem is marketing to Hispanics or any other culturally diverse group is even members of those cultural groups have a difficult time articulating how they are different. Think of fish in the water, a part of their existence which is completely taken for granted. The water is a constant to the fish, like the air is for those of us who live outside of the water. In the same way, culture is a constant for its members. It is hard for them to articulate how they are different because it’s just the way people are. (8)
I just thought I would clear that up since many people have reacted to my announcement with, “But, you aren’t Hispanic? How will you help them with insights?”
Anyway, I am very excited and look forward to the experience. Please excuse the lack of blogging that may occur in the coming weeks, with my brother Eric’s wedding in less than two weeks, the family visits that accompany such an event, finishing up my JWT work and preparing for San Jose Group … I may be a bit busy to provide my normal mundane “musings.”
Monday, February 27, 2006
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Considering I am a Dutch-American, my favorite part of the winter Olympics is always Speedskating, of course. Team Netherlands and America have won almost 50% of the total medals in the sport with only one event to go. However, I have to give props to the orange team here. I mean the whole country is around the size of Illinois alone ... yet it manages to focus on this one sport and dominate. Some combination of dedication, passion and genetic adaptation for speedskating has led to their uncanny prevalence of podium presence. Anyway, I am in my orange jersey pulling on my "winter sports socks" and ready to hit the ice. Vancouver, here I come!
"I have always felt that the moment when first you wake up in the morning is the
most wonderful of the 24 hours. No matter how weary or dreary you may feel, you
possess the certainty that ... absolutely anything may happen. And the fact that
it practically always doesn't , matters not one jot. The possibility is always
there." -- Monica Baldwin
Here is Sam (with friend Malcolm) in that moment of wake-up wonder. The brain is truly impressive how the type of thinking you do shifts dramatically through the course of a day. The wonder of the early morning shifts to the concern of the start of a day to the organized process of the mid-morning to the future gazing of the afternoon and finality of the late afternoon to the reflections of the evening and peace of the night and then finally dreams of deep slumber, where it will all cycle upon itself again. I have of late promised myself to use my brain for activities which best match its state in time.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The other night we made some fish tacos. Yum. We got 4 catfish filets and covered them in olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and cilantro. We baked them for about 20 minutes at like 350, I think? Served with whole wheat tortillas (underneath the green towel, this is a must for tortilla serving. Heat each one individually on a skillet, flipping once, looking for the slight puff. Then just keep them under a folded dry towel; it is brilliant insulation). A sushi-style-sliced avocado by Mary, shredded four Mexican cheese mix, coleslaw mix sans dressing and some limes make great accompaniment. Mary liked the spicy salsa and ranch dressing; I took a nice pineapple salsa with a dash of Tabasco. And of course a margarita on the rocks. A good meal was had by all.
We are reading Watership Down as a family right now, so I had to grab this shot.
Sunset over the Puget Sound
Various crustaceous beasts
Why is the sound of crashing waves so incredibly soothing? I need to look that up ... somebody must have an interesting evolutionary theory.
The remarkable thing is how close to the city I am at this time. Seattle really lets you escape it all. I wish I could have had Mary and Sam tag along...
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Seattle seems to be growing quite intensely. Flights are full and rental cars are all booked. In fact, I had to pay an extra $4/day for my car in order to support the new rental car center being built. Do I at least get my name on a brick?
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Friday, February 17, 2006
Yeah, Spring is peeking its head into our world.
Tonight: Some passing clouds. Very cold. Wind chills approaching -15F. Low 1F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph.
Tomorrow: A mainly sunny sky. Very cold. Wind chills may approach -15F. High 13F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.
Tomorrow night: A mostly clear sky. Cold. Low 9F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Oh ... never mind. That groundhog knows its business.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
#5 Million Dollar Baby (2004) It would be ludicrous to have a list about movies that revolve around fighting and not have Clint Eastwood in the credits somewhere. The key to this movie is the brilliant acting, and the superb real feel of the training gym.
#4 Cinderella Man (2005) A true story of overcoming odds set in Depression-era NYC. This story just has to tug at your heart. After L.A. Confidential and The Insider, I began to think Russell Crowe may be our best modern day actor (along with Philip Seymour Hoffman) He continues to come through.
#3 Rocky (1976) Duh. I think Rocky III was my first experience with this story. Being a kid, I just wanted to watch Mr. T. Similar to how Milton's Paradise Lost did more than the Bible to build the collective images of what the Garden of Eden and Hell are supposed to be, Rocky does the same for the sport of boxing. My whole context for the sport uses this movie as its foundation. For instance, side of beef does not equal food; it is a boxing tool. The film really is amazing. Plus a sports Oscar movie ... well done.
#2 Raging Bull (1980) Duh II. This one gets the #2 nod over Rocky because while Rocky's cliches stick with me, Raging Bull's actual scenes are embedded in my mind. This is one of the few classic movies that I clearly remember seeing for the first time. The pace of the movie does such a great job of mimicking real boxing. I am not film-knowledgeable enough to say anything more than has already been said about this movie.
#1 The Set-Up (1949, The only one on the list made before I was born.) OK, this is not my "shocker" pick. Let's face it ... just about ANYONE would pick these 5 movies. There were few tough decisions here. However, there are probably a few people reading this who have seen the above 4 movies and not this #1 pick. This movie is quite amazing. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale piggy-backed it for their Daredevil: Yellow story for good reason. Robert Ryan's Bill "Stoker" Thompson is about as authentic of a character ever put to celluloid. It is a gritty film-noir which is beautiful to watch. Most impressively, the filming and editing give the movie a non-stop, real-time feel. See this movie if you have not.
Being a "guy" this list is I'm sure the first of many "movie lists" that I will make. Did Darwin ever explain why making ranking lists is such an important evolutionary part of the male social pattern?
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
It is physically impossible to make this face doing anything but waiting in an airport. I believe this poor gent was one of the people who was on the 5pm flight that boarded, then deplaned due to technical difficulties, then had the flight cancelled and was left looking for an alternative flight. Considering the standby lists to O'Hare from La Guardia was at about 120 people, I don't think he had a pleasant night. Speaking of which, when I deplaned in O'Hare at 10 pm last night, I saw about 100 people waiting at the United Customer Service line. I realized I was lucky to be in my final destination only 26 hours late. OK, next week Seattle ... I'll probably bring them some stunningly shocking weather phenomenon as well, like ... a sunny day, perhaps?
So, Friday morning I was packing for the trip, and I came to a crossroad. I knew I would be carrying my luggage around with me on the interviews on Sunday. I wanted to bring as little as possible. Therefore one pair of shoes.
I decided upon the ultra-hip, perfect for the hotel gym adidas shoes. 2 feet of snow later, I regretted that decision. I climbed 3+ feet mounds of snow, stepped in ankle deep ice water puddles, hiked scores of city blocks in these thin shoes. My two pair of socks helped it all stay sane. I did have only that one fall, while talking with Anthony about 20 feet from the final hotel. (Great thing about the blizzard ... there was a movie theater around the corner from the hotel. I saw Capote. My new pick for favorite movie of the year. Truly remarkable.) Anyway, I decided to document the shoes pre-, during and post-snow storm hiking.
OK. Sure I was in NYC because of a Starbucks project, but I do owe them some thanks, the actual retail experience. After my usability interview on Sunday morning, I needed to contact United to rebook a flight and then call Amex Travel to find a hotel room for that night. I went down to the lobby of the building I was in to make some calls, but was informed "no cell phone use in the lobby, sir." Great ... no problem... I'll just head out into the 2+ feet of SNOW and call from there. I would hate to disrupt the lobby sprites with my cellular technology. I mean the waiting time for these services on a Sunday afternoon when the largest U.S. city shuts down is only like 30-60 minutes or so. Luckily, Starbucks was there to rescue me. A latte one trip, a nice Odwala juice the second trip, hot chocolate and biscotti for #3. I was able to plug my cell and laptop in ... nice employees who smiled, showed concern and kept the sidewalks manageable. They really helped me get through the experience.
It was strange being in my room seeing the reality out the window and on the TV.
Hats off to the snow removal crew (although I think NYC may be second city in THIS regard)
I remember thinking, yeah, right! Like it is going to snow that much. Huh, ended up being a conservative estimate.
I watched this flag hold on to dear life from late Saturday evening ... to bedtime ... to 3AM bathroom break ... to 11AM Sunday check-out. I don't understand how this storm did not officially make it to "blizzard-level" because of the lack of wind??
Sunday, February 12, 2006
3) gravity-defying and multidirectional
4) blinding (through sheer volume of stuff in the air and then the eye-freezing of flakes and wind)
1) When you get a NYC address and enter it in Yahoo! Maps, it will randomly pick the boro for you. Therefore, double check that appointments for the Upper East Side ... don't land you in WAY OUT Brooklyn. (A 20 minute commute turned into a 200 minute commute!)
2) The worst thing about a blizzard is not the snow or cold ... it is the 50 mph winds. That and the fact that it makes it very difficult when your job is to walk to people's homes and talk with them about the usability of a website.
3) Don't buy magazines underground. Apparently there is a time warp down there and you will get issues that are 8 months old.
Picture by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times; I will post some of my blizzard pics once (if) I make it back to Chicago.
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
This beauty was made by the heating of olive oil (SSSSSssssss), add some chopped garlic (ShShShShSh) ... and a sliced up medium onion (KshKshKshKsh) ... throw in a bag of spinach that overflows the entire pot ... until 3 minutes of cooking have reduced it to a minor ingredient. Some mushrooms (I like to saute separately to reduce the water) and then two 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes ... a touch of basil, salt and black pepper. Yum. Serve over whole wheat pasta on night one ... and then over turkey filets on night 3. Mmmm-mmm. Healthy too.