Friday, May 30, 2008

Leadership Test

Well, we made it to another Friday, and it is almost the end of the month as well. May sure flew by. Since I have been doing some reading and thinking on the topic of leadership (mostly over in the scratch pad blog. See the right hand column for link), I figured this would be a good quiz to along with the theme. It is not exactly the most scientific quiz, but there are some questions that may make you think. I am not sure where they got the idea that I have a sense of diplomacy, given that I have always said anyone would be crazy to put me in charge of anything. But there you have it. Perhaps some of you may want to try it out as well. If you do, feel free to let me know.

See results below:

Your Leadership Test Score : 85

The above bar graph [not displayed] indicates your score on a scale of 0 to 100 where 50 is considered a normal degree of the symptom/trait being tested. The higher the score, the higher the prevalence of the symptom/trait.
The ExpertRating leadership test score indicates that when it comes to leading people, you are on the top of your game. People follow you, and feel proud of doing so. Leading people was what you were born to do and what you have nurtured yourself to do. Diplomacy, humility, honesty, commitment and competence are all what you have and what you work with. You take firm decisions and are ready to face the music if things go wrong. Accepting responsibility should be one of your biggest assets if you want to lead people. Share the credit and bear the liability alone. You have all the qualities that are required to be a god leader, both in attitude and in work. However, you must remember that you can lead people only as long as they let you do so. Therefore, you must always treat your team right and make them feel involved when the decisions are to be taken. Be congenial to all and you will see yourself reaching the stars with your team following you closely behind!

Find the test here.

Am I Hyperconnected?

My answer is probably no. I recently saw this posting from the "Church of the Customer Blog asking "Are you hyperconnected?" Here is the criteria:

Are you hyperconnected? The magic number for devices is seven. That's seven devices for work or personal use while using at least nine applications like IM, text messaging, web conferencing and social networks.

The author of the post lists her devices, so let me see if I can do mine as well:

  • The devices:
    • Computer at work. I have mine in the office, plus I use the one at the reference desk.
    • Cell phone. They say to count this. However, I only use my phone for. . .wait for it. . . phone calls. I do not surf the web on it, and if I text message, it's maybe once in a blue moon to the better half. In fact, we use texting so little, we may remove it from our plan on the next cycle. Who knows? I am not one of those over-connected people who need to have everything from the web sent to their cellphone because heaven forbid they miss the latest twit.
    • Computers at home. I have a laptop in my work station, but it does not leave the house (i.e. I am not one of those self-important people who have to carry a laptop everywhere). There is one other computer the family uses. We only use it as needed. I use mine a bit more for blogging.
    • Land line. We barely use that, but giving it up for a cellphone would invite all sorts of annoying calls from marketers, spam, etc. Better to screen the calls at home than get some a**hole on your cellphone. And before you point out to the DO NOT CALL list, trust me. We are registered, and we STILL get the a**holes.
  • Applications (she lists a bunch of stuff like Twitter, which I don't use):
    • Firefox is my browser of choice.
    • Yahoo! messenger, though I do not use it a whole lot to be perfectly honest. Unlike a bunch of 2.0 librarians, instant messaging is just something that has not really caught on for me.
    • Facebook. I have it, but again, another thing that is just there. While I check on it, not something I am terribly active with either.
    • a few other social apps. that, again, I use only occasionally.
In other words, based on that, some people might say I am underconnected. And you know what, that is just fine by me. I know of the applications and tool. I can use them if I need to, but my life sure as hell does not depend on them. When it comes to those hyperconnected people, I agree with Mr. T, "I pity the fools!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So, where would they send me?

Usually, I only post to this blog once a week or so, but this week has certainly seen some action. So, could I get deported next? I have no idea where they would deport me to since I am an American citizen, and Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. Maybe strip me of citizenship? But that would still leave the issue of where to send me. Guantanamo? Of course, that would not be deportation, more like a disappearance. Anyhow, with a story like this one, "Britain to Deport Scholar Who Downloaded Al Qaeda Guide at U.S. Government Web Site," one cannot help but wonder. And then some people in the U.S. wonder why we get nervous over things like the PATRIOT Act. In brief,

"An Algerian academic is awaiting deportation from Britain after he was arrested for downloading and printing out an Al Qaeda handbook from a U.S. government Web site, The Independent, a British newspaper, reported."

So, just for printing out material that would be used for research? Keep in mind the material is freely available on the Internet here (PDF file. Oh, and it is also here. Hell, even Wikipedia talks about it over here with a link to it in the references.). So, I have to wonder.

You see, I read quite broadly. One of the things I read up on is current events and history. I like to stay informed. It's a librarian thing. What I am reading lately? I am reading Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden. Lock me up and throw away the key. Yea, right. Now, someone out there would be asking why I would be reading that book. Well, I happen to believe that one should get to know their enemy. And what better way to know the enemy than to read what he has said? It does not mean I am a terrorist. It does not mean I am planning the overthrow of the government (regardless of how I feel about certain dweller of the federal executive mansion). It does not mean I am leaving my library job to go join "The Base" (did you know that is what "Al-Qaeda" translates to in English?) It means that I am curious, and that I would like to learn more on the topic. I am sure that curiosity and a desire to learn is what would drive scholars, with Ph.D's or not, to go find the manual as well. You don't learn and become better informed by censoring or being paranoid about information. You learn with more information and ideas. And if you think stuff like what happened in Britain could not happen here, maybe you want to talk to people in places like Deming, Washington or those librarians in Connecticut. At least for now, we can read what we want, and it is not the government's (or anyone else's for that matter) business. Let's make sure it stays that way.

I am going back to my book.

Update note (6/2/08): Seems Britain has put the deportation on hold.

If you are an atheist, go buy your car someplace else

Ok, so first we had a car dealership giving out guns with a car purchase. That I could certainly handle. This I definitely cannot abide. Now, in the interest of disclosure, I will say that I am spiritual but not religious. I also have no tolerance for bigots of any stripe. Does that make me intolerant? Maybe, maybe not, but I don't think that ignorant nuts should be tolerated in the first place, especially when they are trying to impose their ignorant beliefs on the rest of us who still use our brains. Case in point.

This car dealership in California is advertising on the basis of telling a segment of the population to shut up. Let's be honest, if you advertised a product telling an ethnic group or better yet a Christian group to shut up, you would probably not stay in business long. But since it is just atheists, apparently it is alright for them to tell them to shut up. Is it Freedom of Speech for them? It sure is; they have the right to say it, but they should also live with the consequences like getting denounced for their ignorance and bigotry. No, I am not giving the car dealer any link, but if you follow the link to the story, you can find other links there if so moved.

By the way, the advertisement is throwing out the following number: "But did you know that 86% of Americans say they believe in God?" The number probably comes from this old Gallup Poll (only reason I used that link is it has an actual document facsimile.). Other similar polls from Fox News and Harris I found on a quick search. Of course, the arrogant assumption on the part of people like that car dealer is that the 86% all believe in his brand of "God." I am sure that Jews, Catholics, and even Muslims may have questions about the number given their belief in God as well (in case anyone wonders, "Allah" is the Arabic word for, you guessed it, "God," and yes it is the same "God of Abraham, Isaac. . ." etc.). Now personally, I am very much live and let live, but this kind of b.s. is the stuff that gives organized religion a bad name. And then those people have the gall to complain that some more intelligent people look down on them. Maybe if you stopped acting like bigoted idiots and had a clue, not to mention stopped using alienating advertising, some of us might hold a more charitable view. The scary thing? That the ad may actually be effective for them and a lot of people will go buy their car on that basis. I don't know who is worse: the dealer for promoting his jingoistic arrogance or the people who enable it.

Found via Pharyngula. By the way, this comment by SC over at Pharyngula's says a lot of what I am thinking nicely: "Ah, the courage to speak out on behalf of the overwhelming majority to seek to silence the minority. . . ." Well, at least for now, this minority is not staying silent. And I am sure others won't either. Sure, I understand it is a private business, the whole "they can do what they want." I am sure a lot of other people can do what they want as well and buy their cars someplace else too.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Buy car, get a gun too

Just when I thought I had seen everything, along comes another story to prove me wrong. This auto dealership in Missouri is having an offer until June. Buy a car from them (new or used), and you can choose between a $250 gas card and a gun. Guess which bonus item is real popular? The gun. Below you have the promotional image from the website.

Why are they doing this? Well, the dealership owner claims he was inspired by Obama of all people. From the BBC story:

He added that the promotion was inspired by recent comments from one of the Democratic nominees for the presidential election, saying: "We did it because of Barack Obama.

"He said all those people in the Midwest, you've got to have compassion for them because they're clinging to their guns and their Bibles. I found that quite offensive. We all go to church on Sunday and we all carry guns."

If you look at that statement closely, he might actually seem to be confirming what Obama was saying. Don't you just get visions in your head of all those pious people holding on to their guns while attending church? I should note that I am in favor of people's right to have their guns.

So, how much gun can you get? The dealer recommends a Kel-Tec .380 pistol, like this one. I guess 250 bucks or so does not buy a lot of gun. Then again, 250 bucks does not go too far when it comes to gasoline either. The gun, with proper care, will probably last you a lot longer, and the ammunition for it is likely less costly than the gas in the long run. Plus you can use the gun to shoot the son of a bitch who tries to steal the gas out of your car.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ah, so THAT is a suppository

This is so funny, it should be illegal. Mercifully, it is not illegal, so we can have a laugh. From the blog Not Always Right, the story is entitled "Where the Sun Don't Shine, Bungholio."

And if there is someone out there who does not what a suppository is, here is the necessary info. Scary thing is, I may have met a patron like this at one point or another.

On being a gentleman

It's Friday once again. And the two readers for this blog know what usually means. Yep, it's silly internet quiz time again. I found this quiz particularly interesting because of some of the statements it provided. They seemed to be things or values from a past era. Things like you never ask a woman her age and you never talk religion or politics at the table. I actually grew up on things like that. Given the current lack of manners and civility overall in society today, there are days I think that my generation was the last one to be taught some manners and behavior in the home. But let us not go there today. 88% though, I have to wonder why not higher? Then again, I am only willing to go so far. . .

You Are 88% Gentleman

No doubt about it, you are a total gentleman.
You please the pickiest ladies, and you make everyone in a room feel comfortable.

The "Muy Macho" Reading List

Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey!
Macho, macho man (macho man)
I've got to be, a macho man
Macho, macho man
I've got to be a macho! (dig the hair on my chest)

--Lyrics to "Macho Man" by Village People

I came across this "100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man's Library" from The Art of Manliness site. It is practically guaranteed to make you grow some chest hair if you are lacking it (or in my case, it could get even more hairy). Seriously folks, as one commenter on LISNews, where I first got the link, says, "Real Men read whatever they want to and don't give a fat crap about some list or what other people think." The list overall seems to be geared mostly to dead authors and thick classics that I highly doubt a lot of men these days would read unless forced to. But it is a list that contains, according to the blogger, "the top 100 books that have shaped the lives of individual men while also helping define broader cultural ideas of what it means to be a man." Sure, if you say so. I think some books may do a bit of that. Others are just plain fun like H. Rider Haggard, but there are authors missing, like Jules Verne. How can you have adventure books and not have Jules Verne? Anyhow, I think a lot of the choices here are somewhat predictable for a manly kind of list. You know I have to ask if a 100 list for women is coming. Any ladies out there making one? Let us know. I will make a note to see if I read them too or not.

So, here is the actual list, which I took the time to compile in a simple list for your convenience, with my usual snarky comments in parenthesis:

Bold= read it

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (read in college)
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (anyone interested in leadership without the touchy-feely kumbaya crap should read this.)
  • Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • 1984 by George Orwell (read it when I was teaching in high school, so likely won't be reading it again anytime soon. Good book, but dissecting it for teens sort of ruined it for me).
  • The Republic by Plato
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (been meaning to read some Dostoevsky.)
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (hated this. I read it to say I did. I should have skipped it. I have mentioned before: this book is way overrated. What people see in its loser protagonist is beyond me.)
  • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (skip this. Read P.J. O'Rourke's On The Wealth of Nations instead. It has a good overview, plus some humor, and easier to digest).
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (I have mostly read his short fiction. One of these days I may pick up one of his novels.)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (another guy I read the short works.)
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London. (I did read this as a boy.)
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann D. Wyss.
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer.
  • Catch-22: A Novel by Joseph Heller.
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  • Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. (I read it. Hated it. By the way, The Fountainhead is not on this list, curiously enough, which might be a bit more appropriate. Not that The Fountainhead is great either, but if you have to read Rand, it is better than Atlas Shrugged, and shorter.)
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
  • White Noise by Don DeLillo
  • Ulysses by James Joyce
  • Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy
  • Seek: Reports from the Edges of America & Beyond by Denis Johnson
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Steppenwolf: A Novel by Hermann Hesse
  • The Book of Deeds of Arms and of Chivalry by Christine de Pizan
  • The Art of Warfare by Sun Tzu. (I read it and own it. This is definitely a must-read not just for guys, but anybody interested in leadership.)
  • Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes. (I read this in Spanish, in high school. And by the way, I read it in that original 1600s Spanish, not some modern rewrite. That little fact is what stops a lot of people from reading it. Ha! If you can actually read this as Cervantes wrote it, it will definitely make your chest hairs grow. Ladies? I am sure if you read it, something will grow too.)
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
  • The Divine Comedy (The Inferno, The Purgatorio, and The Paradiso) by Dante Alighieri. (Yep, read all of this too).
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. (read The Lord of the Rings trilogy too.)
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck (I did read Harry Harrison's West of Eden years ago. Does that count?)
  • Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
  • The Thin Red Line by James Jones.
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. (I also read Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I read both of these back in 6th grade.)
  • Politics by Aristotle
  • Boy Scouts Handbook: The Official Handbook for Boys , The Original Edition by Boy Scouts of America (have not read the original, but I did read the handbook at one point since I am an Eagle Scout).
  • Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
  • Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  • The Crisis by Winston Churchill
  • The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell.
  • Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton.
  • Moby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville.
  • Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do It, and Why by Peter Post (have not read this one, but I have read enough to know my manners. Plus my parents actually made sure I knew my manners. I think these days a good number of parents fail severely in teaching manners to their kids.)
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. (What? No Dracula? No Jekyll and Hyde? And yes, I have read those two as well.)
  • The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.
  • John Steinbeck's the Pearl (Barron's Book Notes) by Carol Forman. (I have read The Pearl. Not sure why the blogger picked a Book Notes text of all things.)
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac. (read it. Another overrated book.)
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco. (I did read The Name of the Rose. Pretty good actually, but it is a book you have to make time for.)
  • The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
  • Fear and Trembling/Repetition : Kierkegaard's Writings, Vol. 6 by Soren Kierkegaard
  • Undaunted Courage : Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose. (have not read any Ambrose, and after some of the recent plagiarism allegations, not sure I will. I pretty much dislike plagiarists.)
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton.
  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
  • The American Boy's Handy Book: Build a Fort, Sail a Boat, Set a Trap, Throw a Boomerang, Make a Telescope, Fish in the Ice, Camp Without a Tent and Discover 150 Other Adventurous Activities by Daniel Carter Beard (have not read it, but sounds like a cool book.)
  • Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer
  • King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard. (And I also read Allan Quartermain. I have She on the TBR pile. By the way, I also notice that Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs is also missing from this list. And no Carter of Mars series either? What gives? It does not get any more manly than Edgar Rice Burroughs. And while we are at it, no Robert E. Howard either? There is some serious lack of manliness in this list it seems.).
  • The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • A River Runs through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells.
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X. (ooh look, a Black guy. Needed to have some diversity I guess?)
  • Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (after reading a lot of Crane's other stuff, such as Maggie, I think I can do without this for a while.)
  • Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Plutarch's Lives by Plutarch.
  • The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses by Theodore Roosevelt
  • Holy Bible. (Yep. I actually read the Bible cover to cover. And by the way, as a recovering Catholic, I read the Catholic version when I was younger, so that means a few extras protestants leave out. I think regardless of religious belief or heathenism, one should read the Bible just to have an idea what the book contains as well as other religious works.)
  • Lonesome Dove: A Novel by Larry McMurtry (This is one I would like to read.)
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. (I have read some of his other short works. Cool stuff. Have to read this sometime. And what, no Mickey Spillane? What would be more macho than Mike Hammer?)
  • The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. (Read his short fiction too.)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. (This is one of my favorite books.)
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin.
  • The Histories by Herodotus.
  • From Here to Eternity by James Jones
  • The Frontier In American History by Frederick Jackson Turner
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
  • Self-Reliance and Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Well, I have read 35 books on the list. The issue with classics for me is that for a good number of them I already know the plot. Thus I have no incentive to pick them up. For other authors, I have read their short works, so not as urgent for me to read the work listed, or I have read a different novel. And, as with many lists like these, I always notice works missing, or rather works I would have included instead. Some of those I noted above. Anyhow, a nice look at some of the things I have read.

P.S. John Klima picked on this list as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Maybe a couple more airlines do need to go broke

That I have no sympathy for airlines is pretty well known to my friends and family, and anyone who will listen for that matter. I avoid flying like the plague. Last time I flew was when I was in the job market, and it was only because the potential employers paid for it, and I had to if I wanted the interview. But voluntarily, I do not fly. Pure and simple. Though I find security at the airport annoying, actually that is not what keeps me away. Taking off my shoes and belt is not as bad as what follows. What follows is a lousy flight on a packed small plane with bad service. So when airlines rise their costs to consumers yet again, like checked bag fees, it just pretty much reinforces my desire not to fly.

Some of the stories I have seen today on this:

And that is just a small sampling. The bottom line is that American Airlines will start charging a $15 fee for checking in your first piece of luggage. So, go ahead and alienate the people that you need to make your money. While I understand there are increased costs, and that a business would need to pass the cost on to the consumer at some point, treating people like cattle (actually treating them like bovine excrement would be a better term, but let's stay polite) is not the way to stay in business. How many readers can relate to this?

  • Consistently delayed flights?
  • Cancellations?
  • Extremely uncomfortable and small seats?
  • Lack of food? Or forget food, even a drink?
  • Poor service from the flight attendants?
I know I have experienced all of those in one form or another in my last venture with an airline. At this point, I have no more sympathy for airlines. If a few of them do go broke and shut down, I say good riddance. Maybe then, and only then, they will get the message that in order to have a viable business, you have to treat your customers, the reason you are in business, decently and well. It seems that when the prices go up, that service and decency in the airlines go down. And right now, since airlines pretty much have a monopoly (pretty much what one does, the others follow), they think they can get away with it. Well, they are not getting my money as far as I am concerned.

Some of the comments I have seen in forums are particularly interesting. They range from right out hostility ("I won't fly again") to suggesting people be charged by their weight. Yes, some people actually suggest charging the obese more. Regardless of where you stand in terms of weight issues, the pure viciousness of some commenters towards people who may be a bit heavier is simply atrocious. I only hope that those "thin" people never gain weight because karma has that funny way of coming back to bite you. That did catch my eye.

However, in the end, those who say they will not fly go ahead and fly anyways. I do feel sorry for business people who have to fly for their work. They have no choice (though they may get to fly business class, which is a bit better, though not by much at the rate things are going). But if you are a leisure passenger, I would seriously consider simply not flying. One of the commenters I saw mentioned that with a family of four, it may be cheaper to do the drive, even with the 3+ dollars a gallon for gas. Now that is not something an airline exec wants to hear. I would think so. Then again, I may be wrong given how airlines as of late pretty much treat passengers like annoyances rather than as reason to be in business. So yes, I am saying a couple more airlines, and I mean the big legacy ones, not the little puddle jumpers, should go out of business. Maybe then they will finally get a clue.

They are not getting me on a plane anytime soon. And if more people got smart, maybe they would not fly either. I would hope most people are not masochists.

And let's not even go on the rude behavior of some passengers. That could be a separate post in itself, but it is certainly yet another reason I avoid flying.

Here is one other thing I saw recently to airlines recently, which may be of interest:

Update note (Same day): A sampling of other bloggers:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So, people might use rebate for things like gas?

This is definitely one of those "duh" moments. Let's be honest; with the nation's economy the way it is, did anyone really think that most people would take their tax rebate checks (also known as "money the government took from us and now is giving us back expecting us to give it back to them") on things like electronics? Now, keep in mind, this is a survey (note: you can find the full survey results at that link) from the National Retail Federation, the nice folks who are more than happy to take your rebate check money in exchange for all sorts of unnecessary crap. So take it with a grain of salt. However, the headline on their press release definitely qualifies it for a "Department of the Obvious" label on this blog:

"NRF Survey Confirms Consumers Plan to Spend Much of Rebate Checks on Necessities"

To which I say, "no shit, Sherlock." Let's look at things a bit, shall we?

  • "Because of the increasing prices of gas and groceries, consumers plan to spend more of their rebate checks on necessities like gas and food rather than on discretionary items like electronics and apparel." Oh really. I wonder why.
  • Here is what the NRF finds really depressing I am sure: "As a result, fewer people plan to spend rebate checks to buy furniture (2.7 million vs. 4.0 million in February), purchase a vehicle (2.4 million vs. 3.2 million in February), or use it for “me” time at a salon or spa (2.9 million vs. 3.5 million in February)." All those spa owners may be a little devastated when they find less people treating themselves to "me" time.
  • And who is more likely to do what with the money: "According to the survey, women are more likely to spend and/or save portions of their rebate check, while men are more likely to pay down debt. Young adults 18-24 will spend more of their checks (43.5%) than any other age group."
Just another sign things are getting ugly. Previously, we mentioned the concerns of the Miller CEO. Will it ever end folks?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Just funny: stuff younger than McCain

This is just funny, yet it also makes a point if you think about it. Anyhow, don't take my word for it. Go look at it yourself:

Things younger than John McCain

It is now added to my feed reader. A hat tip to the Dirty Librarian.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Now the economy is REALLY in trouble

Signs that the economy is in trouble:

  • Gasoline prices reaching four dollars a gallon? Nope, not yet.
  • The housing market meltdown and mortgage crisis? Not there yet.
  • A credit crunch crisis? Not even close.
  • People not being able to afford good health insurance? You kidding? Not yet.
What is the real sign that the economy is in trouble and the nation going up the creek? According to Miller CEO Tom Long, here is the REAL sign the economy is in trouble:

"Cash-strapped drinkers are starting to trade down to economy beers, the chief executive of Miller Brewing Co. said Thursday."

Yes, you read it here. According to this report from the Associated Press, via the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, things are so bad people have to start drinking cheap beer. What's next? We'll have to start brewing our own at home? Maybe a little bathtub gin to save on buying a fancy brand. You know that things have to be bad when the CEO of Miller says that "the company expects to sell more lower-priced beers this year if gas prices continue to rise." That damn expensive gasoline keeps messing everything else up. Will it ever end? My goodness, the humanity!

And things weren't bad enough, according to the same report, "
Americans also are spending less in bars and restaurants, and Long said Miller is seeing declines in sales to those businesses."For me, that is not an issue because I don't drink out in bars and restaurants. Once in a blue moon if I am with company, I may order something, but otherwise I prefer to do my drinking at home. I buy my own liquor, and I pour myself, which is cheaper in the long run anyways. I will admit that I do try to buy good stuff. When it comes to your drinking, you should take the effort to get something a bit better.

So, there you have it. Now you know the economy is really up the creek. And here is some advice for people to cope with the tough economic times:

Photo credits: Found in Flickr, and used by terms of a Creative Commons license. 50 cent beer photo taken by user michaelallroy. Beer cheaper than gas photo taken by user cavalier92.

How Facebook Really Works

This is an amusing little video that illustrates how Facebook works. Quite accurate if you ask me as it picks up the annoyance factor. I am still learning about things like FB. Anyhow, go amuse yourselves for a bit.

A hat tip to the Library Garden. I crossposted the video on my Facebook and MySpace pages (too good not to).

Friday, May 09, 2008

Quiz says I should visit Thailand

This quiz gave a few choices that could have given me a different result. For instance, on the question about what I like about Asian culture, I said the spirituality/religion, but I could have chosen any of the other answers probably. So, for me at least, some tough choices. If I had a very comfortable plane to ride in and plenty of money, I would probably love to travel to Asia and see different countries. Heck, the restless itinerant nature is calling to me, but alas I have work to do. Would be nice to be able to take off sometime, would it not? So, happy Friday to readers out there, and here is the result for this time:

You Should Travel to Thailand

You may enjoy getting spiritual at a Buddhist retreat...
Or just feasting on a ton of cheap and amazing Thai food.

Friday, May 02, 2008

My 80s film

To be honest, I do not particularly like films from the 80s. A couple of films, like Predator, are a rare exception. Overall though, I could not care less about the stuff that came out of that decade. Anyhow, it is Friday, and I made through the tornado warning unscathed, so time for some amusement. See the results for the quiz below:

Your Score: Predator

You scored 37% Justice, 28% American Way, and 54% Truth!

If it bleeds, we can kill it...

Did you feel goosebumps reading that? I felt goosebumps.

Link: The Which 80s Action Flick Are You? Test written by TheKoolAidMan on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Booknote: Love 'em or lose 'em

I already made a brief review of the book over in my GoodReads profile. But this book, Beverly Kaye's Love 'Em or Lose 'Em, made me think a little, and I ended up making a few extra notes that I would like to add here.

The first chapter is pretty obvious. If you want to know something, then ask. My father used to tell me this, and it is advice I have always tried to follow. Why more managers do not do this with their workers is beyond me. This seems so basic, and yet it is neglected so often. Simply ask: "What would make you stay here? What might lure you away?" And do so in a timely fashion. Though the book suggests asking when the career development meetings happen, I am not so sure that may be the best time. You see, those types of meetings are usually tied to an evaluation. In academic librarianship (and I am sure in a lot of other places), we have the dreaded annual review. It is often during this process that something called "goal setting" is supposed to occur where the worker (me) sets some goals for the manager to approve. Let's be honest here. Very often this is not exactly the most honest moment for either worker or manager. Depending on the workplace, I could simply put something down that would be enough to get my manager off my back for another year. Sure, it would be measurable, thus making sure I got it done. But would it be my best work? Maybe, maybe not. You see what I am trying to say here? Tying discussions of career growth and goals with an annual performance review? Not a great way to foster some honest dialogue about what might keep me at the workplace or make me leave.

There was also the point that the local manager, i.e. your immediate supervisor, has the most control over retention, more so than senior management or the larger corporate culture. I think this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Even a good boss, if his or her hands are tied by a bad corporate culture or incompetent senior management, will be able to do little for retention of a star worker. Good people in a bad environment will leave anyways. What a good boss might be able to do is to forestall the person leaving for a bit longer, i.e. they may like working for the boss, so they stay a bit more. But after a while, even a good boss cannot make up for a lousy workplace. I don't think the book gives much thought to that issue. And I know, that, as good as a boss can be, if the place overall has a bad culture, higher management who are incompetent, or a serious lack of resources, I would probably move on to better conditions.

By the way, do read the chapter on respect. This should be evident as well. Without respect, everything else falls apart. And it should go both ways, but it is also earned. The difference is this: everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity (I am thinking here basic decency or common courtesy). Respect you have to earn. This is something a lot of bosses tend to forget, and they often do not treat anyone below them with dignity or respect. And for me, I always go back to bosses who allow their workers to be disrespected by their clients. This is very present in libraries as well, and it is something that should be stopped. A manager should always look out for their workers.

There was a list of recognition options on page 145 that I found interesting. I kind of looked at it, thinking, what would work for me. Here are some things that might work for me, from the list:
  • A thank-you, in writing, from my boss.
  • A note to my boss's boss about my excellent performance (actually, this would be better than the simple note from the boss, which may or not be sincere).
  • Words of praise in front of my family (actually, I would be very shy about that, but the gesture itself says something about your boss. My father at some points of his life was very lucky to work for bosses that often sang his praises to the family when we came over. However, and here is the detail, those bosses were also very family-friendly people).
  • More freedom or autonomy.
  • Some flexibility in my schedule.
Things that not work, from the same list:
  • Awards or plaques. I dislike being put on the spot (ironic given that I used to be an instruction librarian). Plus, these often feel artificial.
  • A chance to be on an exciting cutting-edge project. I don't think this is much recognition as much as it should be a boss giving a good worker a chance to grow, which should be a given.
  • A bonus of some sort. Well, depends on the bonus.
  • A day off. Maybe, maybe not. You see; I accumulate comp time at a fast rate, and I often don't take it. Not because I am some workaholic, but because either the work I do means I need to be there (for example, I can't take a day off if there is a major program going on in the library since I am the outreach librarian), or more likely, coordinating to get free time with the better half is a pain (her schedule is worse than mine). So time off, for me at least, while nice, is not an incentive. If the day off is one of my choosing, more likely to work.
  • A raise. Nice to have, but not necessarily something that would work in terms of recognition. I could make a comment here about librarians not being paid what they are worth, but I will refrain. My point is, that for me, a material reward like that would not be as meaningful.
  • A chance to go out with senior management. You are kidding, right? What employee wants to hang out with the senior management? I know last thing I want is to have lunch with my director's bosses, and I don't care how nice they are. What would be the point?
  • Opportunity to work with people from other parts of the company? Nope. In some cases, I want to avoid those people.
  • A promotion. Not really. That would probably mean more work, more politics, more administrative b.s. with no raise in pay or recognition.
  • A change in my title. Whoop dee doo.
Actually, that list looks pretty crappy from my point of view. Is that the best the author can do? Do keep in mind, different folks work in different ways. I am sure some of those would work for some people.

The chapter on space had a nice small section about giving your employees the space to dress as one wishes. Now, I am not saying dress in tank tops and flip flops to work in the library, but, especially here, we can go pretty casual, and the work will go on just fine. Just because some old fud left some anonymous card about how he can't tell the librarians from the library workers apart because they all dress casual is not reason to be firing off memos about the dress code. Here is the relevant passage from the book, which I think a lot of bosses should be looking at:

"We have all read about the high-tech environment where people with creative, brilliant minds dress in all kinds of bizarre outfits. Some wonder if it is appropriate or professional or conducive to productivity. The results seem to speak for themselves. Just take a look at Microsoft or Netscape, where there are no dress codes in many departments. How successful and productive have they been over the years? Managers in those environments say that their employees often work long hours (sometimes 70-hour weeks) by their own choosing, as they strive to complete a project or get a new product out the door. Allowing them to dress as they wish seems a small concession, considering the commitment and high level of productivity" (158).

I am a pretty casual guy. However, when I have a function or some other important event, rest assured I dress up. But let's be honest, if I am mostly going to be working in the office to get online guides done or just at the reference desk, my jeans and a nice shirt will do just fine. The world will not come to an end, and the students and faculty will still get the service they expect (and hey, have you seen how some of the faculty dress?). Anyhow, something to think about.