Thursday, January 31, 2008

Corrupted Youth?

I found these two unrelated articles about Israel to be, in some ways, quite related. I read them on the same day and simply connected the dots. At least in my own mind.

Is it reported that officials from the Israeli government invited the two surviving Beatles (Paul and Ringo) to perform at the 60th anniversary of the country’s creation this May. This seems to be some sort of apology for what the government did some 40 years ago.

Apparently the Beatles had been booked to appear in Israel in 1965, but government officials refused to grant the necessary permits, citing concerns that the band could corrupt the morals of Israeli youth.

Fortunately for Israel, the avoidance of the evil Beatles music played live in the Holy Land has saved the youth and kept them pure and white as the wind driven snow.

Or did it?

Moments after reading this article I stumbled on this one:
Israeli Knesset member Zeev says: “Gay 'plague' could destroy Israel”,7340,L-3500042,00.html

Perhaps if the Beatles back in 1965 had been allowed to perform songs like “And I Love Her,” “She Loves Me” and “Girl” they wouldn’t be having these problems now.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Update: Announced Shoplifting

Wow. My “friend” who I will not name, but is the writer of the wildly popular blog did a favor recently by linking to one of my posts from a couple weeks ago: Announced Shoplifting.

I thought is was a mildly humorous story about my sometimes flaring temper and what I did when I had horrible customer service at a beach store in Ft. Walton Beach FL.

Apparently some of my “friends” readers did not. Had a few comments that were less than complimentary about my behavior. Well, at first I just laughed about them. Then I started thinking more about a few of them. I think the breaking point was when my daughter spoke up for me and defended me saying that I wouldn’t do anything dishonest or wrong.
The fact is, what I did was wrong- even though the way I was treated (or rather ignored) by the store staff that day was incredibly bad. It just does not justify taking merchandise without paying for it. The more I thought about it the more I remembered about that day. While I was in a typical rush to get back to the beach and my family, I had no real deadline. No event at the beach required me to get back at an exact time with a boogie board and sand toys in hand. I was on vacation. And there are 2 or more other beach stores a short drive away. I could have just dropped the merchandise on the floor and driven to another store to buy the stuff.

So there it is. It was wrong, and I’m glad the issue came up. Its always a good thing to right the wrongs.

I mailed a check today to Wings for $60. That should cover the $50 worth of toys plus $10 in interest for the last 46 months.

I also included a print out of my original blog post so they will know why they are getting $60. Didn’t feel like writing a letter to go along with the check.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Never been a big believer in therapy. I know deep in my heart in can be necessary in some cases, but the widespread and chronic use of professional therapy seems a bit, umm, unproductive.

I stumbled on this skit this morning while at the gym. I was channel changing while putting in a brisk treadmill walk at 4MPH with a nice 5 degree incline when this segment from a MadTV episode came on. Loved it. Hope you enjoy it too.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Something Is Happening

There is something going on deep in my very being.

In the deep and secret places of my heart and mind there is a shift going on.

I cant explain it, I cant really even define it.

The last couple of months God has been moving inside me.

Moving out the old comfortable furniture and art hanging in the home of my heart.

The fact is, the furniture there is pretty crappy.

Its old, broken down, and threadbare.
What He is moving in is radically different.

The equivalent of shifting from the décor of a disgusting trashed living room to a brand new brighly furnished home.

That’s about the best way I can describe it.

The last several weeks the words of the Bible I am reading are pounding in my head like never before.

The lyrics I’m singing are almost scorching my throat as I sing them.

I am being moved.
Moved somewhere new.
I need this.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hours Burned

Have you ever had a day that was chocked full of things you HAD to get done, only to have someone call up or pop in and steal an hour of your time with worthless chit chat? How about 2 hours? Well, I had almost 5 stolen yesterday.

I already had a packed day- something I always seem to do to myself on the day back from vacation or the first work day of the new year. Too many things late in the game before a break get pushed to “first thing next year” or “as soon as I get back.”

The result is an insane schedule the first week back that teeters on disaster if one thing does wrong schedule-wise. Well, it all went wrong yesterday. An unexpected call ate up 90 minutes, an unscheduled conference call ate up another 60, then another unexpected call from the same person as the first- another 60 minutes gone.

Then I came up with plan B. I would get it all done that night. Eat dinner with the family then pop down to the office and get a couple hours in to hopefully catch up.

Well…unexpected dinner guests. 2 hours gone.

What a day.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Announced Shoplifting

Earlier this week I wrote a post about how I told AT&T I was about to walk out of their store with merchandise without paying for it unless they at least recognized that I was standing at the counter and started to help me.

I thought of this tactic because of some shoplifting I DID do a year and a half ago at a beach store in Ft. Walton Beach named Wings.

We were at the beach for vacation and decided we needed a few new toys for the beach. A couple foam wave runners, a new shovel and some sand toys, and a few other things. All in about $50 worth of stuff.

I went into the store late morning one day and there were hardly any customers- but there were plenty of staff. Probably 6 or 7 of them all in that 18-24 year old range. There were a couple in the back sitting on top of the air-brushed tee shirt counter, a couple out front smoking cigarettes, and a couple more on the far side of the check-out counter talking away about some party or other.

I brought my purchases up to the counter to check-out and stood there for a minute or so while listening to the two clerks chat away. They didn’t even look at me.

I politely interrupted and said hello. I asked if one of them could please ring me up. One of the girls looked at me and informed me that she was on lunch break. She then left the front desk with the other girl and they went to the back. I was standing alone at the front counter. I then wandered to the tee shirt area and asked if someone could help me. The guy said he wasn’t a cashier, but would find someone to help me. He disappeared into the same back room door the two girls had just entered. I stood there a minute or so but no one came out.

I went to the front desk and waited. And waited. About 5 minutes. I then announced to the store (about the only employee that could hear me was the other guy sitting at the tee shirt counter) I was going to leave without paying. I waited another minute and then walked out with the booty. As I did I ran into a couple staff people coming into the store after a smoke break and told them what I was doing and could they help me. They said they were on break.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Digital Content Consumption

As part of my work for a filmed entertainment company I had to travel to Michigan to meet with a retail group recently. Returning to Tennessee with me after the meeting was a gent I had first worked with years ago at Star Song Records.

We had both been sales reps for the then fledgling record company (before a major music company had bought it and turned it into yet another streamlined soulless label in a big corporate machine) and he had left right when the purchase had gone down. He ended up at one of my competitors, but we had always maintained a cordial relationship.

This past year I have had the occasion to begin working with him and the company he works for in the capacity of distributing some of the films my client makes. It has been fun getting to know him again and working alongside him.

While on this recent trip the conversation turned to the state of the music business. He is still 90% invested in the category (that’s about the percentage of the total sales his company has in music versus filmed entertainment), while after 15 years in it, I finally got out in 2005. We chatted about the massive hemorrhaging in the businesses, huge drops in sales, no growth, poor new artist development, and so much more fun and uplifting stuff.

The conversation wandered into discussing the music and artists we liked, our music collection and things like that. We were each astonished at the others music and video consumption habits. I have been somewhat divorced from the business (and thus the consumer research, trends and other data) so I don’t know if I have moved in a direction most other music consumers have, but my friend seemed astonished at my media consumption habits.

The astonishment started when I asked him “hey, you wouldn’t happen to know how I could unload several thousand CDs would you? They are taking up to much space in my house and the whole used CD business has collapsed so I cant haul them somewhere and get a few dollars each.”

Why in the world would you want to get rid of all your CDs? He asked.

And so I began to tell him how our family is consuming music. CDs are useless to us other than being a transfer device to get music trapped on a plastic disc into the digital world where it belongs. We free the music from its static plastic prison into a series of digital devices, storage pins and network servers in our home. The music resides in a central server that runs in my bottom floor home office and is also backed up on two different mass storage devices. From the server the music, along with our family photos and family videos, are served to 3 different iPods, 4 other digital players, 2 cell phones with music players built in, 2 home entertainment systems, a Tivo player, and can play in the living room on demand through wireless Bluetooth speakers.

Any music we want to listen to on the road is easily spit out onto cheap CD-Rs that we keep in three places (near the three computers in our home). If we want to listen to a particular album, or artist, or playlist of songs, we click a couple windows and out pops a 20 cent plastic disc we can put into an old fashioned CD player in the car and whammo- we’re listening to music. Don’t even need cases or sleeves. When it gets scratched beyond use, or we’re simply done with it, it gets tossed. We can make another the next time we want to listen to that music. And even that practice will be dying out soon as most new cars make it easy to interface portable digital music players into the vehicles sound system.

How do we acquire or listen to new music? Simple. 5 different ways.

1. We subscribe to Rhapsody so on demand we can listen to millions of songs or albums whenever and wherever we want in our home.

2. Free streaming websites. There are now hundreds of websites that provide free/promotional streams of huge hit/current songs and music video on demand. Our 4 kids don’t need or want to buy CDs as most of what they want to listen to that is not on our home network they can get on demand at or

3. Free permanent downloads. iTunes and other sites occasionally offer free permanent downloads of new and developing artist tracks and even full albums. Great way to experience new music.

4. Borrowed/visiting CDs. When they are inserted into one of the computers on our network iTunes automatically grabs the tracks and inserts them into the network. This probably wanders into the shady side of the digital music world, but hey, iTunes does it on its own- blame Steve Jobs.

5. The occasionally (like maybe 2 times a year) purchased CD. Yes, seems we still participate in this ancient tradition of buying a plastic disc with digital files on them. Very rare occurrence.

Next step is our DVD collection. I just picked up a new 500gig storage device and connected it to our network, and probably will pick up a few more soon. The goal is to get to about 5 terabytes of storage so we can get our DVD collection of films onto the network. It will be great to use the remote and scroll through hundreds and hundreds of films we own and play them on demand.

Once we do that we can stop storing tons of plastic cases and DVD discs in the family room. We’ll gain great new space for art and framed photos.

So back to my traveling and meeting buddy. He was shocked and dismayed. He’s still an old fashioned guy- he loves the look, feel and smell of a CD and the booklet/art and tray card. He pours over the lyrics and text inside. He ponders the liner notes. He doesn’t get me, and I don’t get him. If I want to read the lyrics and other information about the artist or record, I can get volumes of updated information online. And the cover art shows up in most of our digital devices as the music plays.

The great evil of the plastic prison of music and movie discs is that they are bulky and hard to make portable. If I OWN the content (or at least own the right to listen/watch the content), I want to be able to exercise that right whenever and wherever I want. If I’m sitting in the car waiting for Michelle and the girls to get out of Kohl’s (which happens way to often), and it strikes me that I want to listen to Ben Fold’s “Whatever and Ever Amen” album, and its sitting at home in a storage box underneath tons of Christmas ornaments, I get a little pissed off. I own it, I want to listen to it, but it’s trapped on a plastic disc somewhere in the physical world far away from me.

In the world of digital music, I just click and its playing.

Love digital.