Campfire songs

Life in the country
  1. There are three hundred sixty degrees in a circular fire pit, why must all 5 children stand in one spot to roast marshmallows?
  2. The swirls of flames dancing against the shadows of trees
  3. Billie Holiday
  4. The sound of kids playing in the dark
  5. Crickets
  6. Clear sky star gazing with the aid of Google Sky
  7. Primitive
  8. Relaxing times with friends and family
  9. Cool summer evenings
  10. I'm OK with where life has me right now

Permanent reminder

It's been roughly eight years, I'd forgotten how it feels.  Once the burning subsides,the smell of fresh ink is euphoric.  This time, a permanent reminder in simplistic terms. 1. "I'm in a hurry to get things done" (I'm In a Hurry by Alabama) mostly so I can move on to the next thing on the list 2. "Never gonna slow down" (Barefoot Blue Jean Night by Jake Owen) life is short, there's a lot to do 3. "I just want to live while I'm alive" (It's My Life by Bon Jovi) and will not sit back and let the world pass me by, time goes quick 4. "Now the race is on" (The Race Is On by Sawyer Brown) you don't need to be 1st, 2nd or 3rd, you only need to finish 5. "He's going for speed" (The Distance by Cake) See #1, #2, #3, #4 But what I really need to work on is... 6. "Gotta get myself right outta here" (Rush by Big Audio Dynamite) so that I can kick back and 7.  "Look(ed) at my life - where it's goin, where it's gone" (Old Blue Chair by Kenny Chesney) and 8. "The only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair" (Knee Deep by Zac Brown Band) really, what a life that would be 9. "None but ourselves can free our mind" (Redemption Song by Bob Marley) and 10. Let go, breathe. RELAX

Technically selling software

I'm not in sales, so don't count me as the expert.  I'm not even technically in technical pre-sales, although I've done my fair share of late.  These are my observations that have come from the half dozen or so most recent engagements where I have been filling the pre-sales technical role coupled with my new fascination on how we communicate.
  1. Knowledge: The thing is, you are not going to know everything, and you need to come to terms with that.  You customer, however, expects you to know everything.  So what do you do in those situations where you don't have an answer?  Simply stating that you would need to reach out to someone with specific knowledge about the question is an acceptable response and helps to build the trust between the customer and you.  Their perception is, "Hey, he's not going to bull shit me with some made up answer."  This works only when you...
  2. Follow through:  Never fail to deliver (or over deliver) on what you promise.  End every meeting with revisiting the next steps, who is responsible for what and when.
  3. Confidence: Going back to #1, there is a specific way to answer questions where you have uncertainty.  The is a huge difference in "I think that can be done with product X" and "Product X has a lot of flexibility, however, to meet that specific requirement, I'll need to check the product documentation to see what options we have."  Choose your words carefully, "Let me contemplate that for a minute" can buy you precious seconds to formulate a response.
  4. Honesty: If you sugar coat it, the project will fail.  You may be able to make a product fit into the requirements, but when it comes time to execute, the reality of a 2000 hour development effort will surely bring a bad taste to your customers mouth.  Do not hesitate to tell the truth, if it takes X amount of time, it takes X amount of time.  Be up front and avoid surprises later, I promise, the relationship will be better for it.  Additionally, never hold back when you feel there is ...
  5. Risk: Risk is a reality.  Be ready to recognize it and respond, but do not react.  Reacting to a situation can change your tone and relay the wrong information.  Letting a customer know when what they are proposing could be a risk is the perfect time to...
  6. Repeat:  In your own words, repeat back to the customer what you heard them say.  This accomplishes two things, first, it let's them know that you were listening and not checking Facebook.  Also, it confirms that you understand exactly what they have said, and what better way to propose an engagement than to understand what you are going to be doing.
  7. Constraints:  It may be time, it may be budget, but everybody has them, respect that.  Which is why sometimes you will have to make a call to...
  8. Plan B:  If at first you can't succeed, try and try again.  If you still cannot succeed, call in the troops.   This technique is used extensively in jewelry sales, the hand off when you just cannot close the deal on a $10k engagement ring (been there, done that, hated sales at that point in my life), new face, new approach.  If you still cannot succeed, it's time for plan B.  Plan B is not as extravagant (the $5k ring), but it's an engagement none the less (no pun intended).  But with every plan B, you must have a...
  9. Roadmap: To get to plan A.  In these scenarios, both parties must compromise, however, if you can deliver plan B and a plan to get to plan A, you have just made two sales, enough said.
  10. Demonstrations:  Do them well, but not too well.  Whether in functionality or your presentation, if your demo too closely matches what your customer needs, it will be hard to propose any sort of services engagement, you have already done the work.  My point, demo's are risky (see #5).  I guarantee that if your demo goes too well, you will be all over #8.  I'm almost asking you to sabotage them, in little ways, here and there.  Spend your energy over delivering once the contract is signed, until then, keep it simple.
There you are, take it for what it's worth. Cheers from the middle of nowhere, Indiana. "Talk hard, I like that. It's like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind."

Random combat boots & karaoke

The things I get myself into. "I'm feeling rough, I'm feeling raw, I'm in the prime of my life" - Time to Pretend by MGMT Last week, I was chasing airplanes. It happens sometimes, and for one reason or another, your connecting flight just doesn't make it on time and you go find a bar. Which happened to be Crossroads Tavern. First, it was convincing the cab driver that I knew where he was taking me. I love technology, smartphones with GPS, specifically! #CantCheatOnCabFareForTheOutOfTowner Secondly, I had no clue what this place was like, but it was (My) Crossroads, so it couldn't be that bad. Third, I was carrying my suitcase and backpack. I found an unoccupied seat at the bar and waited. And waited. And waited. While I waited, I struck up a conversation with a guy sitting next to me who was continuously bumping me with his crutches. I hope he wasn't hitting on me. Fourth, I finally had the bartenders attention. I asked if I could park the carry-on behind the bar, which was answered with a "Hey, you were the one that called to ask when last call was?" Why, yes, that would be the stranded geek in Baltimore that verifies the destination is serving drinks. Fifth. Right in the middle of ten, which is exactly how I felt, right in the middle of "you don't belong here." Which is the moment where I didn't care, but wanted to understand. So I decided to observe and engage. Sixth, this place is dark and twisted, reminding me of high school, well, slightly after. Pool tables, lots of bar stools, a little bit of neon for effects. The people, tight knit clics, I observed a few distinct groups right away. Then the karaoke began to play. Seventh. The stage was full of wanna be American Idols singing Iron Maiden, Eminem and others that I've never heard. The mood, angry. Then the boots came in. Black, sequin, a little bit country. The mood swings, but not before the leader and her cohert speak every word of "Short [explicit] man." Then nothing but country music running words across the screen. Eighth, It's time to engage. I've never been the karaoke king, nor do I really want the title, but sing I did, what did I have to lose? There was something, some kind of strange feeling about being on stage where no one knows you, my few minutes of fame? Maybe. I have no clue what I sang, but does it really matter? Ninth, this is where the evening got a little interesting. Dressed in combat boots, mohawk, more piercings than should be legal and I struck up an old fashion conversation. What an interesting character. We will never agree on politics, religion or her, but this was an educated man with life stories that was comfortable enough to be himself, and I respected that. Tenth, as the night moved on, I engaged in friendly conversation with a few dozen people at a random bar in Baltimore. I learned a lot. Mostly, I learned that we are all individuals, with different tastes, wants and desires. But, I also learned that there is a little bit of country in us all! "Comfortably numb" Don't sugar coat it, keep it real! Note: This is the first post written entirely from an Android phone.

And other hotel oddities

Just when you thought you had seen it all...  The Just10Things reasons to have an exit sign on the floor as well as the ceiling. And other hotel oddities
  1. So the roaches can see the way out in case of a fire (probably not, this is no roach motel)
  2. Aesthetics and design principals (think balance)
  3. Short people
  4. Ordered too many exit signs during construction and there was a no return policy
  5. Babies who have not yet learned to walk (yet somehow have learned to read)
  6. To reinforce the way out
  7. Some people don't listen well and you need to repeat yourself
  8. Cheaper than neon lights (think Vegas, baby)
  9. There are two exits, one to the left and one to the right (although both have arrows pointing both directions)
  10. For a drunkard who has fallen to the floor and is trying to get back downstairs to the bar

The java diaries

Can we say lost in a small town? 1. Enter "navigate to recent destination" 2. Cruise right past "you have reached your destination" 3. There is a Starbucks right next to where we had lunch yesterday, I recall how to get there, right? 4. Which way do I go on this roundabout? 5. This doesn't look familiar, search "POI near you" for Starbucks 6. Wonderful, 17th Street is closed due to construction, "recalculating" 7. "Recalculating" 8. All I want is a Venti Americano, "recalculating" 9. U-turn, this is NOT the Starbucks I saw yesterday 10. Late for work over a cup of coffee. Addiction!

Marketing or me, the real world test

After punishing my new shoes, I'm finally getting the opportunity to put them to the real world test.  Let's go, NYC. Day 1. I laced up my brown Merrell's and revved up the pickup after throwing the suitcase in the back.  Driving with these as extensions of my feet really connects me to the pedal, I can feel every slight movement.  I parked, 4A, don't forget!  Arriving at the airport I wonder how security will go, they don't just slip on like boots do after you've been scanned, patted, otherwise violated, but I for once had plenty of extra time.  Walking through the airport, I honestly felt like I was barefoot, which is a little on the nasty side considering how many people walk on that same floor.  I checked a couple times to ensure my feet were indeed in shoes and felt better.  A layover in St. Louis and 6 hours later, I arrive in beautiful Newark, hop in a cab, speed through town and finally check into the hotel.  Results: no pain, no blisters, feet happy, legs a little cramped. Day 2. Destination Manhattan, repeat nasty feeling walking barefoot and checking to make sure I have shoes on multiple times.  Results:  distance walking = 4.2 miles, no pain, no blisters, feet happy, legs moderate. Day 3. Long day ahead which starts in Jersey City.  The day goes well and finally wraps about 4 at which point I head into Manhattan.  Who needs a subway when your feet are engulfed in shoes that were made for them?  Results: distance traveled walking = 3.4 miles, no pain, no blisters, feet happy, legs happy.  I think I'm in love with my shoes!  I cannot wait to try Chicago in these babies... Day 4. A more walking day, unfortunately, the city at 95 degrees is brutal so I must maintain my water intake.  Results: distance traveled walking = 2.7 miles, no blisters, feet happy, legs happy Day 5. Today I only needed to make a quick run into the city to retrieve my laptop and have a short meeting, then off to the airport.  I'm very pleased at the end of the day, finally sinking into the couch at home successfully completing a real world test of a superb pair/pairs of shoes.  My feet are thanking me and although my legs are a little cramped, I feel confident that I will never put another shoe on and the cramps will subside over time. Day 6. The lazy barefoot day at home.  I slipped an older pair of standard tennis shoes on for about an hour today.  The muscles in my legs are killing me and my feet hurt.  I think it's time for them to be tossed. Day 7. I learn today that I can sprint through the airport like a cheetah as I make it to the gate with only minutes to spare.  Did I mention that between the pair on my feet and the two pairs in my luggage, they take up less room that a pair of boots used to, and weigh so much less. Day 8. Not much walking today, but I'd like to point out how much you can really feel the terrain beneath you.  It's almost like you are able to grasp the ground as a monkey would a tree limb.  There's not much need to report results any longer, it's basically the same.  I have come to the conclusion that tying my shoes is an art, too tight and it completely changes the shape of the shoe, but it's easy to tell right away. 9. May as well post my results now, I can tell that things are going well, and I'm eager to post my findings.  So what had started as a ten day test ( and the longest span of time to write a single post ) has ended two days short. 10. For sale: 4 pairs of boots Tunage:
  1. Barefoot Blue Jean Night by Jake Owen

Essence de mass transit

You should be 18 to read this post, if you are not 18 and decide to read this post, you will have 14 years of bad luck and an angry Canadian (technically Canada goose, but dictionary.com says Canadian will work too) goose will chase you in your sleep! "And I thank you for those items that you sent me The monkey and the plywood violin I practiced every night, now I'm ready First we take Manhattan..." I wake in the morning, slightly delirious from a late night working and the two vodka tonics to slow my thoughts down and take me to slumber, knowing the day would be long.  I shower the night away and cleanse my mind.  I feel protected, wrapped in a bubble, untouchable. I thrust myself into the train, breaking the bubble as I navigate to the best spot, the mass of bodies raise the temperature to an insane heat.  We brush gently against each other standing face to face grasping for dear life as the train rocks us.  Strobes enhance the effect as we go deep into the ground, the sound of steel grinding masks the words, then silence.  Slow, rhythmic clanking as we switch tracks and back to full speed.  I feel dirty for doing it standing up.  The sweet vapors of sweat swirl in the semi darkness.  Water pours off my forehead, I don't know you, but I need you.  I almost lose my position as we bend into a turn, faster.  I want this again, the essence of the city.  We do it again tonight and at last, we stop, and I get off to wait for the next ride and watch the sun go down, breathless and tired. "Those were the reasons and that was New York, we were running for the money and the flesh." The reality:  The pungent smell of sweat dripping makes me feel dirty as I draw the line between real and fantasy.  I'm connecting to the city to the extent where I may need to [proxy, much obliged for the analogy] pull out the bookends and face the crossroads. "Everybody knows that the dice are loaded Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed" The PATH
  1. Penn Station
  2. Newport
  3. Walk
  4. Porsche
  5. Wicked Willy's
  6. Walk
  7. Caffe Reggio
  8. Walk
  9. WTC
  10. Penn Station
It starts and ends the same. I am exposed. Note:  I owe Q for a statement on a goose and for proofing this post, which hopefully does not offend by being to risque - xoxo my friend. Interesting fact on #7: Where Louisa May Alcott sometimes wrote. Drinkage:
  1. Gin lemonade
Spinning:
  1. Leonard Cohen

Bring on the window washer

I had a pretty heated argument with Me last night, so I slept on the couch.  The thing is, when I awoke this morning, neither Me nor I really could remember what the argument was about.  We had consumed a glass of wine each and were laughing and having a grand time and then it just all went south. I just don't know!  Overall, I think our relationship has been pretty good, I mean, we've been together almost 36 years.  Wow, that's a pretty good bit of time! Meet Myself, the window washer, with the sole responsibility of ensuring that the view is clear, and when I say clear, I mean crystal.  There are, as with any job, varying degrees of excellence in execution while performing this task, sometimes good, sometimes [to borrow from a 4 year old] gooder.  Myself as the window washer for Me and I (yeah, you get me, you get three), he's pretty efficient most of the time.  Thing is, Myself can only keep the view clear, but cannot do anything for what is seen by Me or I. The more Me, I mean, I, write, the more it starts to come back to Me, the argument, that is.  Simple, what's next? Legitimate question, but apparently, we have conflicting answers. 1. I just finished reading The Guinea Pig Diaries by A. J. Jacobs, and I would highly recommend it.  From posing as a woman for a month to outsourcing his life, Jacobs kept me entertained and laughing out loud (LOL in case you didn't understand). 2. Which, through a reference in the book, gets me reading How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk.  So I'm temporarily putting down my fascination with books on cellular stuff, and big bang theories, and evolution to concentrate for awhile on communication.  How we, as humans, communicate to each other and to ourselves through words and gestures. 3. I'm not out to change Me, Myself or I, I would just like to understand more and evaluate something that I think we all take for granted.  We do it every day, by way of voice, texts, email, Facebook, quite possibly even sitting down and writing a letter (it could happen), but do we really understand what we are saying?  Are we being efficient and effective?  Are we getting our point across?  Do we understand and comprehend? 4. Take texting, for example.  How much meaning is lost in words with zero context.  The missing context here is the lack of tone, the lack of emphasis.  The same words can be completely misinterpreted without a voice behind them. 5. Does this mean different forms of communication have their place?  I believe so.  I have a Twitter account, but rarely log in unless I'm in Chicago or New York and communicating with friends on plans for dinner.  I certainly could call or text "I'm at Starbucks, 195 Broadway," but Twitter is more efficient for both parties in this situation. 6. In this electronic age full of email and all things internet, are we losing our ability to talk?  I can tell you that no matter who you are, if you call me right now and were to ask me to dinner, I would say yes because you took the time to call. Mental note, don't give out your number.  But in all seriousness, so much of what we do every day is essentially silent. 7. There are people whom are very efficient at talking, people in sales and lawyers come to mind, but there is a large bucket of people who cannot get up in front of a crowd and speak.  I fall somewhere in the middle after years of forcing myself to learn how to talk.  When your primary interaction is with computers, why use your words? 8. Which I've found is a very good way to get children to talk about their emotions.  I have a list of emotions (Create your own for free @ Survey Monkey) such as happy, sad, angry and when my daughter cannot tell me what is bothering her, I ask her to check off the emotion that she is feeling with me out of the room.  When she is done, she will come get me and we will talk about what is making her feel this way.  Expressing emotions can be a private experience, but the underlying cause for them can be expressed publicly. 9. Over time, she has become more open, and so have I. 10. The mind battle.  Are you doing what you should be doing, are you making the right decisions, is your life where you want it to be?  Can you communicate this effectively to the right person or people?  These questions we ask ourselves constantly, and sometimes, when we cannot agree on the answer, we sleep on the couch. Hmm, this post was kind of all over the place, maybe I need some exercises in staying completely on topic.  No, that would not be fun.

Interactions

Pushing the limits... 1. Interactions with insects: I had heard on some radio show trivia contest the other day that the average human gets 17 insect bites per year.  I'd like to know where their sample pool was, I had 17 last night. 2. Interactions with software: Hacking it up because it never does exactly what I need it to.  There is a great challenge in taking something that partially fits the bill and mold it. 3. Interactions with computers: Does not compute!  Kidding aside, I have moved from a traditional laptop to a touch screen tablet with full laptop processing power and no keyboard (well, there is a wireless keyboard that I'm trying not to use).  Getting used to alternative input methods is nothing short of crazy difficult.  Typing on the on screen keyboard is getting better, but I'm still not very accurate.  Not having a cursor is just, well, odd.  I do believe that I will become accustom to this after a few more posts and work day emails. 4. Interactions with Carolina sunshine:  Yeah, so, we had a huge fight this week.  I almost broke up with Carolina in favor of Chi-town after my AC went out and it's only 98 degrees with a heat index of 105.  I love you Carolina, but Chicago treats me so well, is beautiful and pretty "cool." 5. Interactions with caffeine: I'm addicted to coffee, there, I admitted it.  (See #4) Yesterday, I survived with none, today, two cups. 6. Interactions with fragrances: For the last few nights, my yard is covered with the overwhelming smell of gardenia.  There is something about it that is refreshing, ranks up there with jasmine, honeysuckle and wormwood. 7. Interactions with words: Words can hurt, be truthful, but ensure the filter between your brain and mouth is in check. 8. Interactions in the dark: You may really think you can navigate your dwelling in the dark until someone leaves something in the middle of the floor. 9. Interactions with water: We are composed of a lot of water, respect it! 10. Interactions with people: I've realized this week after a brief encounter with my health that I have a lot of people in my life to thank for a lot of things.  In staying with the traditions of the medium, yet also breaking them by nesting Just10Things within Just10Things, here goes a few shouts to people I've interacted with that I may or may not have thanked properly (full names withheld, but you know who you are) (this is not a complete list, but I'm not breaking any more rules tonight) :
  1. For just being there, for support, for a shoulder to lean on - ND, KD
  2. For bookends, I never knew what they were used for before this week - HW
  3. For front porch moments and "My butt itches" - AO
  4. For kicking the town, good food, good drinks, and keeping it REAL - JD
  5. For being a best friend - RT, ST
  6. For saving me when I didn't know what was happening - RH, JW
  7. For Shadowboxer - VW
  8. For the best extended family anyone could ask for - DB and family
  9. For a wreck that was forgotten and you made me remember, it's all good - SS
  10. For showing me that there are still beautiful people in this world - CM
Breaking them anyways: 11. For being the best kids (I'm biased) - ED, JD