Wednesday, May 31, 2006

KT Confronts UN Ignorance

At the behest of the one and only Laurence Simon, I offer up this just-released photo of UN creep Alvaro de Soto facing off with our Maximum Leader. Mr. de Soto is cozying up to terrorists and maniacs in typical UN fashion. K T is most displeased.

"It is a battle of wits, Mr. de Soto. And you have already lost."

Feel free to leave alternate captions in the comments.

World of Good Blogburst, Mentoring Style

Welcome to another World of Good Blogburst here at The Scratching Post. Each week we highlight acts of kindness in the hopes of encouraging more. We believe that good deeds are contagious.

The statistics regarding single parent families are staggering.

*Among long-term prison inmates, 70 percent grew up without fathers, as did 60 percent of rapists and 75 percent of adolescents charged with murder.

* Fatherless children are three times more likely to fail school, require psychiatric treatment and commit suicide as adolescents.

*They are also up to 40 times more likely to experience child abuse compared with children growing up in two-parent families.
Once the car has gone over the cliff, who is there to help pick up the pieces? One group of people who are doing something about it is Long Island Youth Mentoring (LIYM). LIYM volunteers provide full-spectrum mentoring for at-risk youth. They help these children improve in school and grow as responsible citizens. They specialize in matching volunteers with children. The volunteers time each week with their child helping them with schoolwork, sports and socialization.

Children growing up in very difficult circumstances need to experience love that is expressed over time. Our mentors spend 2-4 hours with these children each week. The consistency of this commitment speaks loudly. It says, "You are valuable. What you think about and the things that bother you are important."
LIYM also has a mother’s ministry in which they give assistance to single mothers who need time, counsel and support. They also have a jail ministry that seeks to help youth who are incarcerated break the cycle of crime and self-destruction.

A vast majority of the children in the One-to-One program of Long Island Youth Mentoring come from single-parent homes and are being raised by their mothers or grandmothers. It is our belief that oftentimes if we want to effectively minister to troubled families, we need to reach not only the children, but their mothers as well.
Lastly, LIYM has a pen pal ministry wherein you can give some aid and comfort if you can’t be there. It allows you to interact with these children and show them that someone cares even though time and distance prevent you from being physically present.

The sad truth is that many kids stay on the waiting list (for a mentor) until they 'age out'. This ministry is a great blessing to many who have asked for a mentor but would otherwise not receive one.
Hollywood and TV show you the pleasures and freedom of a libertine lifestyle. It’s up to people like those in Long Beach Youth Mentoring to clean up the mess that gets left behind.

Photos used without permission. That is, they will be used without permission as soon as Blogger stops fighting me when I try to upload them!

Be sure to visit A Tic in the Mind's Eye for his WOG post, too!


Bloggers who link to our WOG posts get to join the WOG Squad. Membership in the WOG Squad has many mysterious benefits, including cures for halitosis and the ability to transfer millions of dollars of Nigerian money into your bank account! We also offer attractive blog link incentives. Feel free to drop us an email if you'd like to join. Operators are standing by!

Previous WOGs at The Scratching Post:

WOG, Navy Style
WOG, Aussie Style
WOG, Katrina Style
WOG, Hospice Style
WOG, Boy Scout Style
WOG, MS Style
WOG, Amy Hawkins Style
WOG, Chiapas Style
WOG, Special Olympics Style
WOG, Hats for Cancer Style
WOG, Love on a Leash Style
WOG, Recovery Style

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Evil Glenn Celebrating June 6

The Alliance has asked a question. It would be rude not to answer it. On June 6 this year, the date will be 6-6-6. The Alliance has asked for thoughts about how Glenn Reynolds will celebrate this event. An alert reader, Marci, suggested that he will buy a spa from and enjoy his day.

How true, Marci. Sad, but true.

That spa will be modified, Marci. The directions say it should be hooked to 110, but will that stop Evil Glenn? Of course not. He will hook it up to 220. The heating coils will be modified, too, as will the base of the tub so that will be able to withstand higher temperatures. The lid will be modified so it can be latched down to prevent unwanted things from getting in. Or wanted things from getting out.

Glenn will be celebrating the day by making a gigantic puppy crock pot.

Imagine his neighbors’ conversations on the night of 6-6-6.

“Honey, have you seen Rover?”

“He’s over at the Reynolds’ house, dear. Glenn invited him to go hot tubbing.”

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Monday, May 29, 2006

This Week in the Theocracy

Greetings, all!

It's me, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, loyal beadle of the Feline Theocracy here for another set of our favorite posts from members of the Theocracy.

Feline Empress and Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish has a great post about Britney Spears. Britney and cats. Enough said.

Our Knight Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls has a surprising post about a recent Supreme Court decision. The blogosphere is a better place because of his insight.

The Grand Almoner of England is living the Napoleon Hill life. Focus, focus, focus!

The Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses checks in with a great post about a High School commencement ceremony and the ACLU. What a combination!

Sister Jane did her first Thursday Thirteen this week. Way cool! She also has a post worthy of the World of Good.

After the Monsignor of the Breweries posted this, he must have needed a drink. I saw it, but I still don't believe it!

Our Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media has an unusual, but interesting, Memorial Day post.

Wow. Our Official Artist outdoes himself.

Wideawakes Radio is coming! Heidi has more.

Prayers and condolences for The Anchoress.

An exhausted Holy Scholar Mark Shea visits Lopez Island.

Tootles from Holy Scholar Georgette. I love the picture!

It's all Chesterton, all the time for Holy Scholar Eric Scheske! Don't forget, our Maximum Leader has issued a catwa about this.

Happy Julie has a Texas-sized joke for us.

And finally, our Court Jester checks in with hysterical captions for photos from a recent papal visit to Poland. I loved it!

Until next week,
Jacob the Syrian Hamster

The Feline Theocracy Issues a Catwa

Hail penitents, sinners and true believers of the Feline Theocracy! Today we issue our very first catwa.

Yes, I know I'm mixing metaphors here between Moselm and Catholic, but this is my blog, not yours and it won't take long for you to be fitted for a shovel and work gloves and have you sent to the tuna mines, so back off and let me continue with this.


As I was saying, today we issue a catwa!

One of our Holy Scholars, Eric Scheske, has uncovered ancient documents which hold deep wisdoms and bits of learning that get stuck between your intellectual teeth and require mental floss to remove.

Help! I'm being carried off in a flood of metaphors! Quick! Pass the "No Pet Left Behind" bill now!

Um, where was I? Oh yes, here it is. The catwa.

Go ye and visit his G K Chesterton team blog now and gain lovely bits of wisdom and delight in some splendid prose. I think you'll enjoy it.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Iraqi Cat

I'm sure most of you catbloggers have seen this one already, but just in case you haven't, here's a photo from Iraq.

Please be sure to visit the 114th Carnival of the Cats.

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The National Review Owes Us All an Apology

It’s a total travesty, an injustice worthy of marching in the streets and Internet petitions. The National Review’s John Miller published his picks for the 50 greatest conservative rock songs of all time and he left out the very best of all.

The best conservative rock song of all time is Mike Nesmith’s “Admiral Mike” from The Monkees reunion CD, Justus. You can listen to a sample of it here. The song was written in memory of the late Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Boorda, who committed suicide after he learned that Newsweek reporters were going to smear him by revealing trivial inaccuracies in his Naval record in their magazine.

Admiral Boorda was a well-liked officer who had risen from the enlisted ranks to CNO, an amazing feat. His biography is here. The reporters’ story had no effect on the way in which Admiral Boorda did his job; it was just muckraking and character assassination.

Mike Nesmith’s song is just raw disgust for the Newsweek reporters. They lyrics can be found here. Here’s one stanza:

Go back to hell you giddy fools
There is no truth you cannot maim
He killed himself
You killed him first
Because you're only
'only selling ads'

You can buy the CD from Amazon here.

From the Goldmine review of the CD, here’s their take on the song:

Did we say "pissed off?" Well, the brings up the album's two angriest songs, Dolenz's "Never Enough" and Nesmith's "Admiral Mike."…"Admiral Mike," on the other hand, is a furious growl propelled by snarling guitar and a manic Dolenz vocal that may convince you he's about the grab Davy's red maracas and beat some deserving "stupid twit" to a messy death. Hey, aren't these guys supposed to be too busy singing to put anybody down?
It’s pro-Navy and anti-Newsweek. I demand a recount.

Update: John Miller linked to us in his article on NR and we are very grateful. NR Readers, please have a look around. We do posts on charity, politics, comedy, business, cats and more! We are also the headquarters of the Feline Theocracy.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Opening the Books to Your Employees

A few years back I was asked to take over management of a troubled division within our organization. It was racking up huge losses and upper management was considering disbanding it. When I first met with the staff, I discovered that only two people in the organization knew about the situation. The entire rest of the team had no idea that there were problems at all. Furthermore, they knew nothing about how the organization functioned financially. They just did their jobs and figured everything else was being taken care of.

The view from the outside did not match the reality I discovered on the inside, either. There had been very little transparency to upper management. It is possible through accounting chicanery to conceal the mechanisms of financial loss. The bottom line had become obvious, but the details were murky.

The losses were due to several factors. There were bad debts on the books as accounts receivable. We had excess office and lab space and we had purchased several items on credit whose payments didn’t match their productivity. What I did not find was any indication that the organization needed to be dismantled. In fact, the employees had tremendous esprit de corps and well-deserved pride in what they did. They had a great reputation with their customers, too.

To make a long story short, we went from loss to profitability in 9 months. The thing that had the biggest impact was presenting the financial situation and mechanisms to everyone in the division. Once they understood the situation, they pitched in with glad hearts and made the sacrifices that were necessary. Important staff members gave up individual offices to save space costs. Technical gurus pitched in to clean out underused facilities so we could divest ourselves of them. A team within the division whose customers had not paid their debts, but whose product was legendary, voluntarily disbanded themselves and moved on to other jobs within the organization. No one wanted to let their fellows down and see the division divided up and cast to the four winds.

I spoke with the owner of one of San Diego’s largest brokerage firms recently and he told me a similar story. As the sole owner of the company he decided to open his books to his employees. His CFO counseled against it. He was warned that doing so would cause jealousies among the staff when they found out what each other were paid. He did it anyway, incrementally over time. The result was a team that worked even harder. They could see the exact relationship between their efforts and the success of the company. They also had a direct interest in success as they saw how pay was linked to achievement. The result was a more motivated workforce and growing profits.

We routinely ask our coworkers and employees for added effort. When we do that, do we also show them the precise linkages between cause and effect?

More busienss and financial posts can be found at the Carnival of Business and On the Moneyed Midways.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Not an Open Thread

This is not an open thread. I would never stoop so low as to put up an empty post and tell my visitors to “talk among themselves.” That kind of chicanery is fraud of the worst sort. So please do not put a comment or comments in the comment section below. That’s the hyperlink at the bottom of this post entitled “comments.” I do not screen my comments, so anything you say will be posted immediately, giving the entire Internet access to your wisdom and perhaps bringing you fame and fortune, but still, resist this.

There is no truth to the rumor that I am inundated with non-blogging things to do today and won’t get back to the computer until late. No, even now I am working on a post of such magnificence that it will delight and astound you. Really. Blogging is all I do. Every day. So please, do not click the hyperlink that takes you to the comments section and allows you to express yourself in a free and spirited manner, perhaps textually exorcising some long-help demon that keeps you from operating at peak efficiency. That is not the purpose of this post.

The reason I took the hyperlink for the comments section below and sprinkled it throughout this post is to experiment with the link tools in blogger. It is not a cheap attempt to generate comments.

So again, please, no comments.

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Petting Hypnosis

Look deep into my eyes. You are under my control. You will kneel down and pet me, slowly going with the grain of my fur. You will rub my cheeks and scratch under my chin. You will tell me what a very good cat I am. You have no will. You have given all power to me.

When I bite you to tell you I've had enough petting you will forget everything that has happened. Then you will go downstairs and put tuna in my bowl.

Please be sure to visit the 114th Carnival of the Cats and this week's Friday Ark.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday 13, Favorites Edition

1. Favorite vacation spot – Ulua Beach, Maui, Hawaii. Snorkeling! I’ve vacationed in many places, but I keep going back to Ulua Beach. You snorkel there until about 11AM and then you hop in the car and ride over to the other side of the island and hike in the jungles in the afternoon. Glorious!

2. Favorite song – The Girl I Knew Somewhere, The Monkees. Don’t ask me why, I just love the song.

3. Favorite sports team – The New Orleans Saints. I’ve been to N’awlins once. For one day. How I got to be a Saints fan is a story for another post.

4. Favorite drink – Abita’s Turbodog beer. I make a good martini and a good cosmopolitan, but I prefer a cold beer to those.

5. Favorite food – My own homemade Jambalaya concocted mostly from Terry Thompson's Cajun-Creole Cooking cookbook. I love to cook and I love throwing New Orleans Saints parties. You can’t scream at the TV without a bowl of jambalaya and an Abita! I’ve perfected my jambalaya recipe through years of research.

6. Favorite place to live – San Diego, California. I grew up an Air Force brat and lived all over the place. I love the weather and the neighborhood where I live right now.

7. Favorite hotel – Marriot Courtyard in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a modest, no-frills hotel. I just want a clean place to sleep that is conveniently located with wired Internet in the room. I travel a lot for work and this is my ideal hotel.

8. Favorite time of day – First thing in the morning. Coffee and blogging. Yum!

9. Favorite color – Blue. Blue like the sky, royal blue, teal, any blue at all. Just no pastels!

10. Favorite newspaper – The Wall Street Journal. I’ve given up reading anything else. The more I learn, the less I get out of the other newspapers. I find TV news to be worthless.

11. Favorite restaurant – Southside 815 in Alexandria, VA. This was a close one, with Sushi Ota in San Diego second, but Southside’s menu is just nonstop good. Every coworker I’ve taken there has raved about it.

12. Favorite BBQ Restaurant – Buz and Ned’s in Richmond, VA. I love good BBQ. Everywhere I travel I try new ones. I was driving through Richmond once and I called the Richmond Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to ask for the best BBQ in Richmond. They recommended Buz and Ned’s. Awesome.

13. Favorite blog visitor – You!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Help San Diego Save a Landmark

For those of you who don't know, there's an old San Diego landmark that is doomed to be taken down due to the actions of a couple of nuts and the ACLU. It's the Mount Soledad Cross. Stoptheaclu has a post on how you can help. As a San Diegan, I really appreciate what they're doing and would be grateful for anything you do to help. Go over and read their post and if you would sign the petition, you might be able to help us save a landmark.

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World of Good Blogburst, Recovery Style

This one's for lawman who works to provide boundaries for those who need help.

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) Blogburst here at The Scratching Post. Today we take a slight deviation and focus on some recipients of acts of kindness instead of the givers. Previous WOGs have shown people raising money for MS, helping disaster victims and bring comfort to the elderly and disabled. What’s it like on the other side of the charity?

People are not pets. Jacob the Syrian Hamster lives at our house and we feed him and take care of him, but the only thing we expect of him is to be cute and furry. (He’s good at it, too.) One of the things I learned, particularly from the Special Olympics, is that some of the people receiving charity were working hard to be worthy of it. The Special Olympics athletes had practiced for the events and were determined to do well. They weren’t objects of pity. They were people who were doing their best to help themselves. It made all the difference in the world.

The news is filled with stories of drug addicts. It’s easy to report because the news media can just subscribe to the police blotter and read straight from it. The people involved become faceless objects on a newscast. This is misleading. They’re struggling with their own problems and need help. Some of them work their way out of their addictions and it took no time at all to find stories of recovery on the Internet. The website for Recovery Month has a bunch of them. Here’s a portion of one.

I was eight years old when I was first exposed to drugs. My mother and her boyfriend were selling pot out of the apartment and the police came and busted the house. My mother went to jail…My siblings and I were questioned by the police as to whether or not we have ever noticed green stuff or white powder in the house. We were small children and didn't have a clue…my father…died from an overdose of heroin…(I had a friend who) taught me how to roll a joint and we smoked it. I was so high and everything was so funny. When mom came home she knew someone got into her stash. She confronted me about it, I told her yes, and she said it was ok for me to smoke pot, but only in our house.

…I met my 17-year old daughters father, who is Jamaican, and he gave me all the cocaine I wanted for free. Little did I know that it would lead me to a life of hell and destruction. I started off by snorting. Then I made drug trips for him, flying to Tampa Florida, carrying kilos of coke.

…I stop making these drug runs. Then my mother started doing the trips for him. He paid her $2500.00 but make the money back from her since she was buying it from him and smoking it. I didn't know about smoking cocaine just yet. Then when I did learn about this, I tried smoking it. My mother and I were high every single day.

…(I began to) prostitute myself for the drugs. My two children were born addicted to cocaine. My daughter had to stay in the hospital because she had the shakes so bad. The social worker wanted to take my son away from me. I had to sign papers stating I would make sure he got special care for the withdrawal for an infant.

I said to myself I was going to stop then, but I didn't. I continued to use for another two years. I hit rock bottom with a heart attack at the age 29…(At the hospital) they put me on the psych ward. I didn't care I needed help, and I knew if I went back home, then I would use again and die leaving my three children at that time.

I went to meetings, got a sponsor, and went to a recovery house called Safe Haven. THANK YOU LORD for those women. They taught me how to live. I was the first to graduate without being kicked out for using.

…I am a counselor now, and I work with people who have disabilities. I am so grateful that I am able to help someone, just as someone helped me, unconditionally. For those who are reading this story, if you are using, stop now. There is an easier and softer way of living without using anything to change your mood. And if you are not using and know of someone who is, please share my story with them. I will be 11 years clean in January 2005. For all the grace of God, keep clean it will work if you work it. Love Lachele
I have a very good friend who is a recovered alcoholic and drug addict. He told me his story once and it was much like this. He now donates his time to AA and works to help others recover. In his own, quiet way, along with people like Lachele, he’s doing a world of good.


Bloggers who link to our WOG posts get to join the WOG Squad. Membership in the WOG Squad has many mysterious benefits, including cures for psoriasis and the ability to transfer millions of dollars of Nigerian money into your bank account! We also offer attractive blog link incentives. Feel free to drop us an email if you'd like to join. Operators are standing by!

Previous WOGs at The Scratching Post:

WOG, Navy Style
WOG, Aussie Style
WOG, Katrina Style
WOG, Hospice Style
WOG, Boy Scout Style
WOG, MS Style
WOG, Amy Hawkins Style
WOG, Chiapas Style
WOG, Special Olympics Style
WOG, Hats for Cancer Style
WOG, Love on a Leash Style

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How to Get Iran to Give Up the Bomb

Uranium enrichment. Nuclear reactors. Fission. Fusion. This can only lead one place.

Iran is foolishly trying to join the club. They want radioactive materials. We all know what comes with that, don’t we? Radiation, that’s what. And what comes with radiation?


We’ve got to warn them to stop before it’s too late and Tehran is reduced to rubble and all of the inhabitants run screaming towards the cameras with their lips forming many more syllables than are coming out of their mouths.

Bullets won’t stop them. The army can’t stop them. We know this from countless Roger Corman documentaries. They’ve got to be told.

Once they understand the terrible things they are getting into, they’ll quit.

There are things Man was not supposed to know.

Explanation here.

Justin has his take on it, too.

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Complacency Leading to Disaster

I recently gave our vision brief, the one we give all visiting VIPs, to a group of engineers and scientists at our company. The brief shows our vision of a new and glorious future and our major part in it. It is very, very popular. I explained that this vision was what separated us from our competitors. Our customers bought our products because they could see that they were buying part of something larger. I also explained that this vision was the way people saw us.

The audience worked on projects not represented in the vision. They could easily have been a part of it, but they had never put the time in to even seeing the thing, much less participating in it. They enjoyed the presentation, asked good questions and when it was over, sat in uncomfortable silence until their manager got up and led them out the door. I do this all the time. At least once a week I give this brief to an internal group of 15-20 people who have worked with us for years, but never bothered to see the presentation.

I’ve said before that we are the best in the world at what we do and it’s true. We are fully employed. We even have to turn some work away because we lack resources to do it. We are not hungry. Not at the top and not at the bottom. This is a prelude to disaster.

We are in a high tech industry. High tech firms live on very short time scales. The time between success and failure is one product cycle. We are crushing everyone right now, but if one of our competitors gets their act together, we can go from boom to bust quickly. All it will take will be a unifying vision that excites people. It doesn’t have to be technical achievement at the product level. When that happens, our people will become very hungry very fast.

While our business cycles are short, our marketing is still done through personal relationships. The time scales for personal relationships haven’t changed since the time of Oorg the cave man. When the downturn comes and our product line no longer excites people, it will take time and effort to rekindle atrophied marketing relationships and recover. At our company, there will be angry meetings and accusations in all directions about who lost this or that customer. All the while, our competitors will be pulling away.

It would be a lot easier to prevent that than recover it. The question is, how do you motivate complacent people to work a little harder and help reinforce the corporate brand?

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Corporate Cheating with Stock Options

The Wall Street Journal has an outstanding piece today on how some companies might be gaming the timing of granting stock options to executives. Stock options are a form of payment to the executives designed to give them a financial incentive to lead the company to success. In the cases described in the article, the stock options seem to have been timed to match periodic lows in the stock price. The easiest way to do this is by backdating the stock options.

In essence, you grant stock options to the CEO and date them on the date of the lowest price of the stock. Increases in the stock price from there out are all profit. Since you pick the lowest share price, the CEO is bound to make a profit. This completely short-circuits the incentive to do well. If I made you CEO of any company in the world and allowed you to pick the day you get the options and the day you sell them, you could be the biggest bonehead in the world, run the company into the ground and still leave with a huge amount of money.

It’s an outstanding article. Bully for the WSJ for researching and publishing it.

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A Must Read

I have decided to significantly reduce my posts on politics. I also made a conscious decision when I started this blog to do very few link posts. Michael Fay has written a piece that is so good that I gladly break both of these rules for him.

Please take a few minutes and read his post.


Process Improvement as Decision Avoidance

From my previous posts it is possible to get the impression that I am against process improvement programs in general. I am not. Process improvement techniques such as Balanced Scorecard, Lean Six Sigma, High Performing Organizations and Whole Goals provide frameworks around which you can improve. There are times when you need such a framework.

In the most elemental sense, a company exists to fill customer demands with products in a profitable way. I sell something to you and you pay me more than it took me to produce that product. I then go off for a week on the Riviera. Oops! I only meant to think that part.

When corporate management is unsure of how to go about improving their company, process improvement techniques can provide a structure for that improvement. Balanced Scorecard guides management in developing a balanced way to improve. You set simultaneous goals for customer relations, internal financial processes, employee learning and growth and so on. You assign metrics to each area and measure them over time. It’s a well thought out methodology for improvement.

It is not a substitute for leadership. If you are totally adrift, you cannot whip out your balanced scorecard map and suddenly find yourself rocketing off to success. It is also not applicable in all cases. Plenty of firms have a strong grasp on their business and don’t require such help. Process improvement techniques add inertia to your organization. When decisions are made by measuring them against a scorecard, it takes extra time and effort.

Process improvement techniques pay off for organizations that need a structure for improvement. They pay off for companies where leadership is struggling with organization and goal setting prior to making decisions. One example would be a young company with technical leadership that is unused to making business decisions, such as a video game company started by brilliant computer programmers. Without a business background, they could profit tremendously from using a foundation developed by much more experienced professionals. In the absence of such a framework, the company might make many serious mistakes.

Once a process improvement technique has been chosen, it is crucial to follow it and not get sidetracked into yet another and another. Each of these techniques has a start up cost. Each is a tool that takes time to learn before it begins to pay off. When you try several at the same time, it is like being at the rifle range and going “Ready, aim, aim, aim, ready, aim, ready, aim, aim…”

Be sure to visit this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

This Week in the Theocracy

Greetings, all!

It's me, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, loyal beadle of the Feline Theocracy here for another round up of the best posts from members of the Theocracy.

Today we go in reverse order.

Our Court Jester, the Curt Jester is concerned that he is being stalked. By monkeys. Albino monkeys. You do the math.

Holy Scholar Happy Julie warms our heart with a post about how and why God created the cat.

Holy Scholar Eric Scheske has a post about beer worthy of Ogre. Eric, try Abita's TurboDog.

How many bloggers post about Michaelangelo? Holy Scholar Georgette does!

Holy Scholar Mark Shea hits one out of the park about The Da Vinci Code.

Here's a soulful post from The Anchoress.

Heidi, still on the Protected List, rocks out with this post.

Our Official Artist takes Pat Robertson out into the alley and smacks him around.

The Theocracy's Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media suggests that it might take defeat to find our way again.

Ogre, the Monsignor of the Breweries, shows why he fits in here.

Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring gives Mexico's President Fox some suggestions.

The Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses has some outstanding photos of the recent flooding in New England. Never boring, indeed!

Carl Morgan, the Grand Almoner of England, has a great list of things he's learned about Internet Marketing and other things as well. I hope he posted this to the Carnival of the Capitalists. Well done!

Our Knight Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls sallies forth with this witty post. Did you try submitting it to the Carnival of Comedy? It's worth it!

Feline Empress Kukka Maria who is also Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish describes how her bean teases her unmercifully before finally giving her treats.

Thanks to all of you for you support for the Theocracy. We had a glorious moment this week, described here.

See you next week for another This Week in the Theocracy!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Process Improvement As a Current Liability

In a previous post, I described how our organization was trying several management techniques simultaneously. While driving in to work yesterday, I got to thinking about the general case and I came to the conclusion that these management techniques, in an accounting sense, are current liabilities.

A current liability is any debt that must be paid in the current fiscal period. If you begin a new management technique, such as Balanced Scorecard, you are not just investing the money required to hire trainers and have a couple of offsite instruction sessions, you are committing to pursue the effort into the future. That commitment is a current liability.

In the previous post, I argued that from a scheduling point of view, running multiple process improvement programs at the same time was counter-productive. I think you could make a similar argument from a financial perspective.

Assume you have 6 VPs or division heads and 1 CEO. Assume each has a staff that costs 3 times that and a workforce that costs 10 times that. They all decide to start a new process improvement program, let’s call it Categorical Asset Tracking (CAT).

You knew I’d get cats into this post somehow, didn’t you?

The following chart shows the qualitative, cumulative costs of CAT as a function of time. In week 1, the VPs and CEO go to training. The cost is training plus their time. In week two, their staffs get trained. In week three, there’s the company-wide employee rollout of CAT. Starting in week four, you begin to have people devoted full-time to the implementation of CAT.

Think I’m joking? Check out Lean Six Sigma. It requires an army of people to implement.

Every other week, the VPs and CEO devote part of their meetings to discussing CAT. Every 8 weeks, each employee devotes some time to CAT.

When I started working this out for one example for my organization, the numbers became cosmic. The costs seemed unreal, so I removed the dollar values and went with the qualitative graph instead. You just would not have believed it.

Layer four to six of these on top of one another, staggered in time over several years, and you get an absolutely back-breaking cost.

To be continued…

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Nothing Can Spoil My Day Today

The Scratching Post just got a hit from someone who Googled "feline theocracy."

How unbelievably glorious!

K T Cat in Flight

Please fasten your seatbelts and turn off all electronic devices for takeoff.

Our flying time today will be 30 minutes. Just enough time for a nap in a sunbeam.

Now that we've reached cruising altitude you are free to use approved electronic devices. In your seatback in front of you you will find K T Airways Magazine. In the back you will find some fascinating shopping opportunities. We offer things like purring, head bumps, kneading and slow eye blinking at very reasonable prices.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday 13, Random Thoughts Edition

Rather than come up with a theme or purpose, today's Thursday 13 is completely random.

1. I recently had to rearrange the desk with my computer so K T Cat has a place to lie down so she can be close to me while I work.

2. I’m very happy that I’ve moved away from posting about politics and into business.

3. I spend much less time shouting at the computer after reading a blog post now.

4. The comments in my posts have become much more friendly.

5. I read fewer and fewer political blogs.

6. Even the funny ones.

7. In the car, I only listen to one political talk show now, Hugh Hewitt’s.

8. Life is better with fewer conflicts.

9. I finally got a good picture of K T Cat in her “flying” pose.

10. I love it when she does that.

11. We’re going to try a beach bonfire this Friday with another family or two.

12. I’m open for suggestions on things to bring.

13. I can’t wait for the NFL season to start. The New Orleans Saints have set a record for season ticket sales with 4 months to go before the season starts. That gives you an idea of how much all of us are looking forward to it.

Wow. That was easy.

Other Thursday 13 Sites

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Feline Theocracy Adds a New Convert

Let the cats rejoice! Let there be chasing and batting of catnip-filled cloth mice! This is another glorious moment for the Feline Theocracy. Today we admit another blogger into the Theocracy.

Jeff Miller of The Curt Jester has been very kind to us and has linked to many of our World of Good posts. He is hereby named a member of the WOG Squad and is granted the title "Court Jester of the Feline Theocracy."

Get it? Curt Jester - Court Jester? Hahaha! Haha! Ha. Ahem.

If you want to display it, here's our coat of arms drawn by our Court Artist, Justin:

Thanks, Jeff.

World of Good Blogburst, Love on a Leash Style

Welcome to another World of Good (WOG) Wednesday here at The Scratching Post. Today I, K T Cat, Maximum Leader of the Feline Theocracy, reach out to my fellow animals, dogs.

The purpose of our WOG posts is to highlight and honor acts of kindness and charity. Good deeds are contagious.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to tag along with a group of volunteers and their dogs who participate in Love on a Leash. Here's how they describe themselves.

As members of "Love on a Leash", we take our Certified Therapy Dogs to visit residents in assisted living homes and Alzheimer's facilities as well as patients in hospitals and hospice situations. Some of our dogs and owners also work with special needs children. We are all volunteers. Using non-verbal communication, our dogs provide moments of joy and a connection that is truly special.
Here are my favorite photos from the event and a few things I observed. To see larger versions of the pictures, just click on them and you'll get a bigger view.

Gordon the small black dog and Walter the pug greet one of the residents in the courtyard before going in.

Meisje says hello to a fellow in a wheelchair.

The first thing I noticed about the volunteers was how seriously they took their jobs. Once the dogs had greeted one another and gotten their normal doggy behaviors out of the way, they and their owners stopped and took time with everyone they met. It wasn't superficial, either. The owners knew many of the residents and took their time to converse with each. No one was in a hurry.

Gordon gets a ride to the door.

Little things like this happened all along the way. They were casual, offhand actions that one would take with good friends. The warmth and connection were immediately obvious. The other thing that struck me almost immediately was that the relationships were as friends, not as if the volunteers were doing a favor for the residents.

After another short doggy break on the lawn, we went inside to the hospital where the residents needing the most care lived. We went to a common room where a group was gathered watching TV. As soon as we arrived, the TV was ignored and the dogs did their stuff.

Stolle doing what he does best.

Gordon reflects the affection given to him.

Stolle and Molly looking for petting. Mmmmm. Petting.

Stolle, Molly and Meisje hold deep, wordless conversations with the residents.

Doubles, anyone?

The volunteers had trained some of the dogs to do tricks. After an initial round of greeting and conversations, they put on a show. Walter was the most talented of the lot. Unfortunately, most of my photos of him did not come out well due to his black fur and the dark, indoor setting.

Gordon leaps through a hoop of fire! Well, not actually a hoop of fire. Really just two of the owners making a ring with their arms.

Joey jumps for a bit of apple.

My favorite photo from the trip.

One more dog came along, Star, but I failed to get any good photos of him. Sorry about that, Star.

Prior to participating, the dogs go through some training to acclimate themselves to being around the elderly and serve a short internship before being certified as Therapy Dogs. There are ample opportunities to participate and I could see how even a busy professional could find the time to join in one of these trips once a week. Later that evening, some of the dogs went to a local library where children with learning disabilities read to them as part of the Paws to Read program.

If you have a dog, I forgive you. No, that's not what I meant to say! If you have a dog, this looked like a great way to make some friends, spend quality time with your dog and get a huge payoff in happiness.

Bloggers who link to our WOG posts get to join the WOG Squad. Membership in the WOG Squad has many mysterious benefits, including cures for inflamed cuticles and the ability to transfer millions of dollars of Nigerian money into your bank account! We also offer attractive blog link incentives. Feel free to drop us an email if you'd like to join. Operators are standing by!

Previous WOGs at The Scratching Post:

WOG, Navy Style
WOG, Aussie Style
WOG, Katrina Style
WOG, Hospice Style
WOG, Boy Scout Style
WOG, MS Style
WOG, Amy Hawkins Style
WOG, Chiapas Style
WOG, Special Olympics Style
WOG, Hats for Cancer Style

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Too Much of a Good Thing

How many management techniques can you use at once?

In high school and college I worked as the tropical fish expert at a few pet stores. Guppies are pretty fish that are prolific breeders. If you put one male and three female guppies in a tank you get lots of little guppies. If you put one male and twenty females in a tank you get no babies and an exhausted male guppy.

At our firm we are currently pursuing several management techniques simultaneously. Among them, we use High Performing Organizations, Balanced Scorecard, Lean Six Sigma, Whole Goals, and at least two internal efforts as well. Even if each of them held all the secrets of the business universe, how effective could you be if you tried them all at once?

Assume your typical executive has one day a week to devote to strategic planning. The rest of their time is devoted to tactical matters such as budgeting, VIP meetings, program reviews, travel and the like. With 6 simultaneous management efforts going on, that means that each gets 80 minutes of their time per week.

Each of these techniques is a new tool. Like any new tool you need time to become facile with it. How good would you be with a scroll saw with only 80 minutes per week of practice?

Individuals do not use management techniques. In order to be effective, management teams must use them. That means that after each individual manager learns the technique, they must learn to use it together. They can’t really start learning to use them together until a majority of them have mastered the tool. Then they can’t use them until they can synchronize their schedules to meet and discuss it.

Meetings are inefficient things. Before decisions are made, everyone has to achieve a common understanding. That takes time. Remember, you’ve only got 80 minutes a week per tool. How long do you think it will take to achieve results from any of these techniques? Will you ever achieve results?

Most of these management techniques are mandated upon us by our parent organization in answer to some specific incident or need. They each have strong track records. Individually, they should improve our performance. In the aggregate it’s like the guppies. A lot of work with little payoff.

I attempt to give an accounting perspective discussing the costs to the organization for one such effort at this link.

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Let's Educate Sony

Maximum Leader K T Cat of the Feline Theocracy meows in agreement with our Holy Scholar Georgette of The Chronicles of a Meandering Traveller. Let's help Sony see that honor pays better than insults.

I can understand the frantic need to find a winner in today's movie environment where money is being lost hand over fist and the quality of movies is declining. Robert Brown's Da Vinci Code seems like a slam dunk. With financial wolves at the door, the temptation to make it into a movie was going to be too great for one of the studios. If you're making a movie from Starsky and Hutch, you'll do anything.

Presenting the movie as fact is an insult to Christianity and, for that matter, your brain. There have been such insults before and there will be again. The difference here is that this fictional movie is being packaged as researched fact to a credulous audience. Why? I guess they figured they'd make more money if they got a "serious" discussion going in the media. Bad press is better than no press?

In any case, a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie wasn't too much to ask. Sony has refused to do this. Well, I can live a long time without Sony products. I bet we all can.

You can find the education plan details here. I've never written letters or participated in a campaign like this before, but joining this was easy.

Thanks, Georgette.

Holy Scholar Happy Julie suggests the Othercott. I'm good with either.

Georgette has posted about the Othercott as well.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Boredom is Learned

A few weeks back I took my daughter to Old Town in San Diego where there are historical exhibits from San Diego's past. We were there to get an idea of what life was like in colonial Jamestown for her schoolwork. From the artifacts you can see how slow the pace of life had to have been 100-200 years ago. It struck me that boredom must be a learned habit. I don't see how you could have functioned back then with a short attention span. I went back yesterday and took some photos to illustrate this.

"Will that be paper or plastic?" "Neither. I'll just weave a basket out of twigs and leaves."

"You should see the cool new video games, Dad!" "I've got one right here for you, honey. I carved it out of wood with a knife and painted it with pigments made from clay."

"Mr. Johnson, we'll need to fix your wheel." "How long will it take?" "About a week. I need to make spokes out of that tree over there with an axe and a knife."

"Charming hillside cottage with canyon view."

"Joe, hand me the nail gun, will you? I've got over a hundred joints in this cottage." "I don't have a nail gun. Will some sticks and twine do?"

Just thought I'd share. I would have shared earlier, but this !!@^&#%@^ computer is so slow! :-)

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This Week in the Theocracy

Hail and well met, fellow theocraticians! Theocracites? Theocrazies?

Ahem. Let's start again.


It's me, Jacob the Syrian Hamster, loyal beadle of the Feline Theocracy here for another round up of the best posts from members of the Theocracy.

Feline Empress and Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish Kukka-Maria opens her mailbag with typically marvellous results.

Knight Protector and Defender of Yarn Balls Lawman shows the dangers of going on vacation.

The Abbess of the Priory of Small Princesses, Romeocat, has some lovely photographs in her walk with Uncle Charles.

Sister Jane of Perpetual Purring has a beautiful story about a soldier and his pen pals.

Monsignor of the Breweries may need a drink after posting this one. This isn't funny. Not at all.

Our Most Holy Ambassador to the Court of the Mainstream Media, Peggy Noonan, hits the nail on the head again as usual. If political parties tried to do what was in the best interests of the country instead of working to get re-elected, they would find themselves re-elected without a problem.

Our Official Artist has a new project. I must say I am very impressed.

Heidi, still on the protected list with a sofa in a sunbeam waiting for her when the Feline Rapture comes, shows us a video I hadn't seen before. I laughed, felt guilty for laughing and then saw some deeper observations in it.

The Anchoress has a touching Mother's Day entry.

Mark Shea, Holy Scholar, struggles to make it to Ireland.

Holy Scholar and inventor of the term WOG Squad Georgette recommends some, er, spiritual reading.

Holy Scholar Eric Scheske is turning to voodoo. Or is he? Note to Eric: it hasn't worked for the New Orleans Saints yet. I'm hoping Reggie Bush is the answer.

Holy Scholar Happy Julie makes us smile. As usual.

The Grand Almoner of England, Carl Morgan took the week off.

That's it for this week! We would love to have some new members of the Theocracy, so keep those links coming!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

What Do the Simple Folk Do?

I live in the corporate world. We are a mighty and sophisticated lot, us corporate types. All the world's knowledge is at our fingertips. The engines of the economy roar at our command. We are omniscient.

That's why we constantly have new management fads and team building retreats to teach us how to "team up with the customer to create a synergistic, win-win scenario for lasting business growth." And lots of other assorted gibberish.

A scientist by training and a marketer by a series of career opportunites, I have decided to step out of my ivory tower, or perhaps ivory cubicle, and interview some local business owners to see how they handled things. Here are the first of my interviews.

Business Marketing Interview - Upholstery
Business Marketing Interview - Guitar Store
Business Marketing Interview - Tropical Fish Store
Business Marketing Interview - Florist

At my firm, we are very good at what we do, arguably the best in the world. We are not sophisticated marketers or business people. These four had been at their craft for years and had continually refined their strategies based on experience. When we do this as an organization, we invariably use some pre-packaged solution, such as Balanced Scorecard or Lean Six Sigma. Much of our time is spent learning the tool rather than honing our craft as managers and marketers.

For omniscient people, we've got a lot to learn.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Business Marketing Interview – Guitar Store

In an attempt to learn more about retail marketing, I’ve embarked on a series of interviews with local businesses. Here is what I discovered from one such interview.
This was a treat. There was a single owner and he had owned the store since 1961. He sold acoustic guitars and repaired all manner of guitars. I asked him if he made guitars and he gave me an earful about that.

Making guitars is not worth the effort unless you are famous or you have a million dollar operation. Handmade guitars are labors of love. You lose yourself in building one and find your day gone as you carefully craft them. When you’re done the customers want to haggle with you until you are insulted as your time is taken as nearly valueless and at the end of the sale you realize your hourly wage was about $1.50.

That’s a step up from blogging! :-)

He had tried making guitars in the past and now used that specialized knowledge in repair. People would buy guitars at yard sales or on ebay or as antiques and they would need repair before they could be used. People knew about his store by word of mouth. He didn’t need to advertise. He had been there for 45 years.

He had no employees and no hours. He said that at his age he didn’t want to have to answer to anyone. I asked him if he gave lessons. That triggered another very enjoyable lecture.

He most definitely did not give lessons, nor did he allow others to give lessons in his store. He said that guitar teachers were frustrated performers and spent their time outside of lessons whining about how unfair life was and how they couldn’t get gigs at the local clubs or how one band or another didn’t let them join. Lessons required a sound proofed room, but one where the door was ajar since most of the lessons were for kids and parents don’t like their kids alone in a room with the door close. Finally, if the student was an adult, then the lesson times convenient for them was late at night and this meant he had to stay at his store late.

The guy was a real character. What he sold was specialized knowledge. He could repair guitars quickly and easily. He had been doing it for decades and people who needed them repaired knew where to find him.

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Business Marketing Interview – Tropical Fish Store

In an attempt to learn more about retail marketing, I’ve embarked on a series of interviews with local businesses. Here is what I discovered from one such interview.
Neon tetras! I had missed seeing them for years. For me, there is little in the natural world more beautiful than a school of neons. That alone was worth a visit to this store. It was a very modest store, small by tropical fish store standards. There was a single owner and no employees.

He had been at this location for over a decade. Most of his business came from the phone book, walk-ins or word of mouth. On occasion he advertised in bulletins at a local school. He was very reluctant to talk about his business.

One product he sold was uncommon – koi. Koi are large and require an unusually large tank that most stores don’t have. If I had been in his position I might consider working local home and garden shows or advertising in koi magazines. He might already be doing that.

He was not a very good ambassador for his store.

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Business Marketing Interview – Florist

In an attempt to learn more about retail marketing, I’ve embarked on a series of interviews with local businesses. Here is what I discovered from one such interview.
The florist was the most fun to interview by far. She was positively radiant with enthusiasm for her work. Her biggest customer group was brides. She ran a one-person shop with a very modest storefront in a location unlikely to get much walk in traffic.

She told me that her best marketing tool was a satisfied bride writing on message boards on the Internet. She also worked bridal shows and advertised on The Knot. I asked her if she was affiliated with any local churches and she said she had advertised in a local church bulletin with disappointing results. Bridal flower orders were much more likely to come from word of mouth than any other way. The girls all talk to their friends and there’s always one more with a wedding coming up. Customer satisfaction was key. An unhappy customer would let people know in many, many ways.

A friendly attitude and an excellent product is what sold for her. She mentioned that she had worked for a larger organization and left it when an operations manager had been hired to cut costs. As she spoke it occurred to me that for an artistic worker like her, a cold-blooded accountant type would be the worst possible person to work with. Her warmth and gentle nature blossomed, so to speak, in an environment where she could work her craft for happy young women.

I’ve seen that one in my own job. Harsh, unpleasant people rarely make good teammates. On occasion their skills are worth more than the bruised feelings they cause, but not often.

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Business Marketing Interview – Upholstery

In an attempt to learn more about retail marketing, I’ve embarked on a series of interviews with local businesses. Here is what I discovered from one such interview.
The upholstery store I visited did custom covers for furniture, pillows, drapes and related home decorations. The owner was somewhat reluctant to talk to me and seemed to wonder just what my purpose was. Having worked at stores like this I realized immediately that this woman probably gets a couple of salesmen a week just walking in and trying to get her to buy something.

The store was quite modest. The staff seemed to consist of the owner and one employee. It was more of a workshop than a store. They had arranged furniture and completed pieces of work in the front window to both display the quality of their work and to conceal the working space behind it.

After a bit of convincing her that I hadn’t shown up to sell her anything she told me that she markets not to the end users so much as interior designers. She works with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Here in San Diego there are regular events where the ASID gives tours of private homes that have been decorated by their members. The houses are always spectacular. This woman always has at least one room in one house on the tour where her work is highlighted. Her contact information is prominently displayed there.

She also gives discounts to interior designers that work with her regularly. To her, it was the quality of her work that sold it. When the interior designers were happy, she got return business.

It’s easier to sell to existing customers than it is to sell to new ones. The existing customers know your work and if they are satisfied then they are unlikely to try and find someone new and risk being disappointed.

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Staring Into Space

It looks like K T is seeing things that aren't there. Is she communicating with the Spirit World?

Be sure to visit the Friday Ark, Weekend Cat Blogging and the Carnival of the Cats!

Course Correction for The Scratching Post

This weekend we chart a new course for The Scratching Post. I will be de-emphasizing the political posts and focusing more on business posts. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons.

I'm writing this as a free thought exercise, so saying "a couple" means I don't have to have the whole thing planned out before I write it. I am so clever! :-)
The first reason is that I am trying a new line of work and I want to use this blog to share my experiences with you and to provide myself with a diary of my discoveries. I am currently the lead business development manager for a $1.4B organization. I do strategic planning and marketing at the corporate level. It is loads of fun. I want to start moonlighting as a business consultant for small businesses. I will be the first to admit that I don't think my specific training translates well. For example, I know nothing about direct marketing like mail, radio or flyers. After having read books and journals, today I start the direct education process by meeting and interviewing business owners. This blog will detail what I learn.

The second reason is that political blogging is a crowded field. It's also a noisy and contentious one. So many others have valuable things to say that I'm not sure I add anything to the mix. Many of my blogging friends do this better than I do, so I'll just haunt their sites and leave comments when I'm inspired. Unless something really hits me as needing a post here, I'm getting out of that line.

Some things will stay. Cats, hamsters, the Feline Theocracy, the World of Good and Thursday 13s will stay. I know that flies in the face of the advice of more seasoned business bloggers who recommend tightly focusing your blog, but I enjoy those too much to give them up. In any case, this blog isn't making any money anyway, so there's not much point in tuning it for that purpose.

If there is something you like or something you would rather me drop, let me know.

And thanks for reading this blog. I can't tell you how fun it is to turn on the PC and go to sitemeter and see how many hits I have for the day. When you read this blog, you're giving me an irreplaceable gift - your time. I am very grateful for that.

Is My Font Readable?

I recently changed the template for this blog. When I start up IE and go the blog, the text is illegible because it is so small. For some reason, my IE starts with View->Text Size = Small. Once I set it to "Medium", the blog is readable. I've considered moving to a fixed font instead of a scalable font, but I don't know if anyone else is having this problem.

I would be very grateful for any comments you could leave. Also, if you know how to set the default text size in IE to "Medium" I would appreciate hearing about it.

Thanks in advance!

More on Blog Advertising

Or is that "Moron Blog Advertising?"

There's one place where the print media has an advantage over bloggers and that's advertising. A recent post about Adsense posting ads for hair loss was a joke, but that and a comment from Zeus the cat touches an essential truth. Advertisers are scrambling to find what works on the Internet.

[Digression]Congratulations are in order for Zeus and his human. She just took the GRE and did quite well. Outstanding![/Digression]

In the newspapers, advertisers pay to be seen. If this were a newspaper, I would earn money for simply hosting the ads you see above and to the left. It wouldn't matter if you read them or clicked on them or if they lead to any business. I would still get paid. In that model, it's the advertiser's problem if the ads don't work.

On the Internet, where results can be measured much more accurately, we only get paid when someone clicks on the ad. Having seen the results from my Adsense effort over the last few weeks, no one clicks on these ads. Even on days of huge traffic, like when that troglodyte, Patriot Boy, linked to me and thousands of his unwashed minions tramped across my site, all I got was a distinct need to shower. No clicks on the ads.

In the newspapers, the measurement of advertising success is much more indirect. A company runs an ad campaign and then weeks or months later examines their sales. Cause and effect is murky because in those intervening weeks and months, any number of other factors could have led to sales fluctuations. With bloggers, they can cut through the fog and see exactly where buyers are.

There are a few ad companies that pay on the old newspaper model, such as Blogads, but they don't seem to have the client list that the Pay Per Click (PPC) groups have. Blogads spots are often found empty, waiting for buyers.

I've spent a lot of time reading other blogs about how to make the advertising pay and in essence, you have to attract a readership that is shopping at the same time they are reading your blog. At least then they are interested in the ads at your site. Social, political and pet blogs don't seem to attract that kind of clientele.

Another blogger even used posting pictures of hamsters as an example of what not to do if you wanted to earn money on a blog.

Oh well. What can I say? I'm just a really photogenic guy.