Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fantasy Hockey...

Here is my first fantasy hockey team...






I can live with this draft.  Just hope my Saturday night draft is half as good.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lesson Learnt...

Yesterday, I had a great guest speaker come into my classes.  Ken Widmaier (Vice President & Managing Director) of Destination Hotels and Resorts.  One of the best parts of his talks was his notion that the word management is in essence a misnomer.  He discussed with the students how the word management was really a relic and how leadership should really be the term used.   This contention in my opinion is absolutely spot on!  Most of us can be managers but few of us can be leaders.

Leadership is a vastly underrated concept in our culture.  So few people have the abilities to be true leaders.  His talk reminded me yesterday why I want to be a professor.  It is not because I want to teach nuts and bolts but rather because I want to be part of developing our next generation of leaders.  So to you Ken, I extend my thanks for your time, your energy and for the kind reminder of what higher education should really be about.


P.S. I would also like to thank Frank Fredericks of Wild Dunes Resort for setting this up.  I truly appreciate his support.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pet Peeve v.1.0

One of my biggest pet peeves about teaching is how the students really do want everything explained out to them in minutia.  I am trying to prepare them for when they are in the workforce.  A boss is not going to give them a project accompanied by a grading rubric.

For instance, earlier this term my chair came up and asked if I would develop a new MBA concentration related to HTM.   I am pretty sure he didn't give me a hand out with step by step instructions of how to finish the project.  I am certain he didn't give me a rubric of how I was to be evaluated on the assignment because these things do not happen in the work world.  Shock of all shocks, we have to figure stuff out on our own.  That is called being a competent professional. 

Now, I am not complaining about the students per se because I know the school system is not set up in that manner.  They are not asked to think for themselves very often.  I do however, object when they whine about it.  Perhaps they prefer I do not adequately prepare them for the work world? 

Grading rubrics and step by step instructions make life easier for me as a teacher.  It is quick grading and requires very little of my time.  It also reduces how much time I have to put in working with students to help them figure out the assignment.  It is so much simpler to say read the instruction versus actually have to sit down with my more diligent students and provide guidance. 

In the end, while I know they will look back several years from now and be able to see why I laid out these projects in this manner.  It is still frustrating to think how they fight this mentality so.



Monday, September 27, 2010

My First Refereed Journal Publication...

Just for giggles and kicks...this project was a carry over form my Walkerton days...

Canadian domestic travel behaviour: A market segmentation study of rural shoppers


Rural shopping is emerging as a tourism market that is under-researched and offers potential for the economic development of rural regions. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the role and importance of the domestic rural shopping market in Canada as a ‘niche’ market in rural tourism, and to provide a description of the characteristics of rural shoppers. Secondary data analysis of the domestic Canadian Travel Survey (1998-2001) reveals that there are many rural visitors who also participate in shopping, and that rural shoppers display different characteristics from average Canadian domestic travellers. Market segmentation using cluster analysis identifies five activity-based groups that differ on the basis of demographics and trip characteristics.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

NCAA Football - Boise State

As many of you know I am not a big football fan but something has caught my attention, Boise State.  I love the arguments that their current position creates.  Here is my take on it...

If you look at the AQ conferences.  Most observers would agree that Boise probably wins the ACC & Big East Conferences.  They would have one or two tough games (Oklahoma & maybe Nebraska)  in the Big 12 and would be a co-favorite to win that conference this year (especially with Texas in a down year).  That means that BSU would have an excellent chance of winning three of the six AQ conferences.

That leaves the Big 10, Pac-10 and SEC.  They just defeated a mid-tier Pac-10 team which indicates that they would probably be in the top half of that conference this year.  We do not know if they would beat Oregon (though they did it last year) or USC (who can not win the conference due to bowl ineligibility) and that would leave them a chance there.  Most observers agree that the PAC 10 is stronger than the Big 10 this year as a whole, so if one could assume BSU would have a chance in the PAC 10, then you would assume that they would have a chance in the BIG 10 (where really only Ohio and Wisconsin are good).  That leaves the SEC where we would have no idea where they would finish.  In all, if you look BSU from an objective perspective, the case is not as weak as it first seems.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

A long time ago...

Today, I am feeling reflective.  Looking back, life has always been interesting for me.  One of my first jobs was working at a wading pool/ park. Each summer, I used to play games with the local kids, run camp programs as well as coaching various sports.  It was a nice way to spend the summer.  One of the parks that I worked at frequently was Kew Gardens on Toronto's Beaches Community.

One of the primary jobs was to watch the wading pool (really low tech life guard).  It was a great way to get an exceptional farmers tan!  Then again, some of my favorite memories is playing with the kids in the pool, talking to the parents (especially the single moms and nannies) and generally enjoying summer.  The thing I won't miss however, is filling the pool every morning.  You have never felt cold like putting your feet into that water first thing.  I shiver thinking about it (and I still don not think about what was in that water by the end of a day with all those small children in the poll as well).

Every park had a 'hut'.  It was where the sports equipment, chemicals for the pool and first aid materials were kept.  There was so many good memories that happened in those huts.

One of the best traditions in these huts was signing the wall, ceiling or where ever else a signature could fit.  It is amazing to go back today and see all of the signatures.  In some of the huts you will find signatures of politicians, leaders of business and maybe even that of a PhD or two (and yes is says 1991 - 1998).

They have since cut back on these summer positions as a result of budget cuts.  It is sad to think how many kids I was able to keep out of trouble because they were at the park playing with me.  We had kids out actually being active and engaging one another.  We worked as mentors and role models. We provided a safe place for kids to be kids while giving parents an hour or two of peace.   This job taught me leadership skills, how to communicate effectively and the importance of empathy (sounds kid of like skills that would contribute to the development of a good educator).  All of this for a grand total of $5.85 an hour.  


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Exploring Factors Influencing Student Study Abroad Destination Choice

Hi all, here is the abstract from my latest article. To read the whole thing, click here.

Exploring Factors Influencing Student Study Abroad Destination Choice
Judith Eder; Wayne W. Smith; Robert E. Pitts
The College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

To cite this Article:

Eder, Judith , Smith, Wayne W. and Pitts, Robert E.(2010) 'Exploring Factors Influencing Student Study Abroad Destination Choice', Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 10: 3, 232 — 250


This study applies qualitative analysis as a systematic tool for
insight into factors influencing international students’ university
choice. We also develop a structural model for further analysis and
understanding of that choice. Qualitative analysis of data collected
via online chat identifies motivational and constraining factors
that influence foreign students’ decision to study in the United
States. The study applies and explicates a contemporary qualitative
approach to the analysis of interview transcripts for the determination
of choice factors and their importance. Inductive analysis
is used to postulate a model for international student destination
choice based on the travel decision push and pull model. Three
push factors (personal growth, language, and career) and three
pull factors (college issues, physical geography, and U.S. culture)
were determined to influence choice of country and institution.
In addition, structural factors including visa issues and cost issues
were identified as constraints. Personal growth was the most important
push factor, and college issues the most important of the pull
factors. Visa issues were the most important constraining structural

KEYWORDS international student destination choice, qualitative
analysis, push-pull model, inductive analysis, travel decisions

Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation

Last night I had the privileged of attending the scholarship awards for the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to give scholarships to students with disabilities.

The story of how I got involved with the Gavalas-Kolanko Foundation is a fun one (at least for me). I had just moved into my office. Heck, I hadn't even started to unpack when Catherine Gavalas (now Price) called me up. I was shocked that my phone rang because I didn't know it was hooked up yet. Catherine introduced herself to me over the phone and I sat there wondering where in the world she heard about me (I barely knew I was there).

It was from that phone call five years ago that I become involved my first ever James Island Connector Run (the main fund raiser for the organization).

Upon reflection, little did I know when I got that call five years ago, that I would have a son with disabilities. Being at that ceremony yesterday, I will admit that it gave me a hope that my son will be there one day receiving this scholarship. I would love for my son to become like Alex (one of the winners yesterday who I have gotten to know). Whenever I talk with Alex, I see what my son will be able to do and it gives me tremendous hope. Being a parent of a child with special needs, many times doubt and despair creep into your mind. You feel a fear for your child that is hard to describe other than as being terrified for them.

So to the GKF folks and Alex, I thank you for that hope. It is a feeling that I truly treasure and for that, I will always feel that no matter what I can do for you - it will not be enough to repay you for what you give to me.


Post Script: When I first got involved with the GKF, it was the people who were involved in the race that got me hooked, first Catherine and then her dad Nick and his compatriot Ron. To this day, every time I met someone associated with the race, it is a person I want to associate with. These are good people. Even as Catherine has passed on 'race goddess duties' to Dana, the event has not missed a beat and continues to be my favorite event of the year. If you are looking for a charity to support that really does affect people's lives in a positive way, please consider the GKF. Their work is tremendous and the dollars donated really do go to where they should go.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Isn't it Ironic - Don't you think...


[ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-]
–noun, plural -nies.
the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.

Lately, I have had a lot of irony in my life. Par example;

I am happy with life but I am feeling like death;
I feel proud of my colleagues applying for tenure but I am green with envy;
I am interesting but in reality I am boring;
I am confident in my abilities too bad I am pessimistic about the outcomes; and
I feel green but I am perceived as experienced.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Funny isn't it...

I have been thinking about complaining a lot. Now I am trying to write this without complaining but essentially it is. Not such a weird coincidence but could be described as a cruel irony. I do not get it. The last few days I have had a ton of people just complaining constantly to me. Whenever I ask, what they are doing to make it better, most look at me with a blank face. I do not get this attitude. If there is something about your job, relationship etc that you do not like why not attempt to make it better. If you know you can not change the thing, why not just accept or walk away. All complaining does is make you miserable. That seems so counter-productive.

This is not to say that I do not complain. I firmly believe that everyone complains at some point. The question is what do you do with those complaints? I have a ton of respect for people who try to make positive change. Even if they fail, at least they tried to improve their lot. If you are truly miserable at doing something, why are you doing it? I do lots of thing I do not like but nothing that makes me miserable. Okay you got me, I go to committee meetings but even there I try to get one committees that I think can do some good so that my pain is not wasted.

We live in an interesting world. Our time on it is relatively short - why not try to enjoy it?


Monday, September 20, 2010

An interesting story

And they even got the quotes right ...

If you can't see the embedded video, click here

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Favorite Comic

One of my favorite comics is PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper). Here is a great sample of the work found on it...


You Tubing Sunday...

This Sunday, I give you my version of the top five unique music videos...I chose these videos for their presentation effects. It is fun to see the creativeness put into these videos!



3. (since these cheap SOBs won't let me embed the video!) - Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity



Saturday, September 18, 2010


Sleep for any parent is gold. This week between a very busy work schedule, my lovely wife and the children sleep has been lacking. So sorry if I have not been as entertaining the last couple of days but my bleary eyes make it tough to blog away.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Life

Today I found out that a former colleague Chris Hughes is leaving his position with Bruce County Tourism. Working on the First Nations reserve was always an interesting experience but one of the biggest pluses to the job was that it was there that I first met Chris.

In my first meeting with him I knew immediately that I liked him and that he was the type of person I would enjoy working with. I learnt quickly that he was also a visionary and had a great creative mind. He could have been working for one of the 'big boys' but chose to stay in his home Bruce County (the place he loves). I always admired him for that.

Over time and my transferring to the Walkerton project, we got the opportunity to work together even more. In my professional career, I can honestly say that no one has utilized my talents better. He would take my crazy ideas and turn it into something marketable and salable.

So as Chris moves on to his new life as part of BCHughes Tourism Consulting, I congratulate him and recommend him to my partners here in the sunny south that wants to hire a high quality visionary.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happy Day Liam!

Today is my son's birthday. To understand why this day is so important to me for reasons beyond the obvious, I would like to go back to a post I wrote on January 7th, 2009 just after he was diagnosed with Autism.

"Just before Christmas I found out my son (just over 2 years old) has autism. Ever since then I have been having a problem with coping.

  • I know that this changes nothing about my boy. I love him dearly and think the world of him. It does not change the smiles, the hugs or even the cries.

  • I know this is a positive in that now he has access to special services that will help him.

  • I know that since it was caught young the interventions are likely to have a great effect on him too.

  • I also know this makes my wife's life a little easier in now show knows what is going on and can deal with it (she is a stay-at-home mom).

He was diagnosed in the 'moderate to high' category. According to the PhD he is 26 months and is at a 13-15 month development level on most categories. Though I am still not sure what they can actually tell at this age. I look at this as a baseline and we will know more in probably three or so years. He does not talk yet and he does indeed have social issues that are quite obvious (even in my denial stage beforehand - I recognized it).

I am really looking forward to when he talks. My ten year old is adopted (we are her uncle and aunt) so I am looking forward to being called 'Daddy' for the first time. While I know it will happen someday, but what happens if it does not (and yes, logically I know if does not change a single thing)? I know this sounds selfish of me - but I really do want to hear it one day.

I am also looking forward to trying to figure out how to stop the head banging when he gets frustrated. It is very disconcerting and I really do not want him to hurt himself. I can understand why he does it. If I could understand a lot of what is going on around me but I could not find a way to communicate what I need and feel back - I'd be banging my head against the wall too. Seeing the frustration in his eyes is just heart wrenching.

It is strange but this is the first time since I knew officially that I have been really upset by it. I guess the holidays were all about having fun and being together. The reality of being back to work and having to call insurance companies etc. has brought the reality to me I guess.

The real issue is that I think about how nothing in life is going to be easy for him and it makes me sad. I am having a hard time reconciling myself with the issue as a result. I love my boy and want to do what is right for him. I have been told several times to just keep doing what I am doing. That I am doing the right things. I guess it is the powerlessness that I am feeling that really hurts. I just wish I could wave my magic wand and make things all better (like a kiss to the boo boo) but I know that is not going to happen. "

In the time since that post so much has happened to open my eyes to the whole new world. This little boy that is supposedly handicapped is one of the happiest on earth!

Who is thoughtful at times...

and mischievous at others...

but at all times - he is my boy...

Happy birthday've made me the happiest da-da ever!


Post Script:
Check out at the 21 second mark to see Liam surfing! Very cool dude!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top Five C of C T-Shirt Slogans (that will never make a T-Shirt)

This is purely for fun but I always enjoy making lists. These may not make a lot of sense to those of you ouside of South Carolina until you realize that Clemson (with their orange paws) and USC with their Gamecocks are both relatively close to C of C.

Top Five C of C T-Shirt Slogans
(That will never make a T-Shirt)

5. Cocks are for jock, Knowledge is for College...
4. Keep your paws off of my Cougar!
3. Football is not a class!
2. If you a slack jaw, you go to the paw. If you have knowledge, you come to the College.
1. I would rather be a Cougar than a cock!
Post Script: Our president always refers to C of C as the College of Knowledge. This is a great slogan. We could sell ourselves as the 'smart' alternative to the 'football' schools across this state. Why it isn't used more, I do not know.

Monday, September 13, 2010

3:00 AM

It is amazing how ideas can pop into your brain. For me, it is in my thoughts and seemingly in my dreams. Take for instance last night (or early this morning) when I was happily asleep only to dream about a problem I am trying to solve at work.

See the way I deal with problems is that I think about all facets of the issue. They float around in my brain with each aspect being considered against possible solutions. Think of it like one of those pictures that seem to be one thing when you look at them and when you look from a slightly different angle, they are something totally different (see sidebar). It is only when you look at a problem from all angles that the true picture appears.

For some reason, these images tend to clear up for me when I sleep. Perhaps, it is when my mind is freest. It is allowed to explore concepts and ideas that when awake are pushed to the side by the daily milieu. This often leads to an interesting quandary. I know I need the ZZZZzzzz’s (two kids and a pregnant wife will do that to you) so occasionally I try to roll over and get another hour sleep. Like the tide however, the more I fight it, the more it builds in my mind until I give in and am on my lap top pecking away. If I do manage to fight it off, the idea usually leaves my mind and I keep feeling like it was a lost opportunity. So, a 3:00 AM wake up call it is.


Post Script: How come whenever I do manage to get back to bed afterwords, they are always the days my son decides to get up early?

Post Post Script: How many faces and/or pandas do you see in the two pictures below?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

You Tubing Sunday

Hi all,

Today is a Sunday, Funday... Well I am cleaning in anticipation for my in-laws to arrive from Canada today while trying to keep Liam entertained and out from under foot. I must admit I am getting sick of playing...

Cleaning in our house always ends up sort of a war...

and we end of questioning a lot about...

but in the end our family will arrive and we will...


Post Script: On a totally different note, my favorite tune right now is Eminem's - Not Afraid. What a great tune. It is nice to see music with substance again...but that is a blog for another day.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'd rather watch a Cougar than a Cock anyday!

I just got back from taking my 12 year old and her friend to the C of C Woman's Volleyball game. This is the team that won last years SOCON Championship and was playing a pretty good Auburn squad. Beyond that, C of C had beaten a top 30 team in Cincinnati last night so one would think all of these ingredients would lead to a good crowd. Looking around the Carolina First Area however, there was only about 150 people in the stands (mostly friends and family).

I am willing to bet just about everything I own there were more C of C supporters interested in the Cocks versus the Dawgs football game happening at the same time. This is a shame in so many ways. While I do understand that football is king in the south, these ladies deserve better support! So I challenge the C of C and Charleston community to come and support this team. You won't be disappointed if you do.


Post Script: Only in South Carolina would people wander around in 'I Love Cocks' T Shirts and no one seems to notice or care (unless of course they are driving around with an orange paw on their car).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chatting About CHAT...

Last night our Club of Hospitality and Tourism (CHAT) held its first meeting of the school year. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to write about last night. Was it the fabulous turn out (over 60 students showed up)? Should I write about the graciousness of our host Randall Goldman who gave an inspirational talk to the students about networking and opportunities (while also donating the facilities and food)? I also considered writing about how much I enjoyed seeing the younger students and the importance of having freshmen and sophomores as part of the club (I do love my intro class students showing up).

In total, the story of last night was the leadership displayed by our students. So many times I hear people complaining about students, how they are this and that. Last night was a demonstration that we have little to fear from this generation if this is the quality of leadership coming up. So congratulations to the team for asking and getting Patrick Properties to donate both the space at FISH restaurant as well as food for the event (demonstrating amazing sales techniques). Also, kudos needs to go to them for volunteering their time to go to all of the classes, sending out e-vites over the web and creating and displaying professional grade marketing materials to recruit such a large audience for the evening (brandishing an excellent understanding of marketing). Finally, a thanks to the team for putting together what looks like a tremendous schedule of events for the term and for sharing their dedication to helping others and using CHAT as a way to make the world a better place (illustrating the importance of global awareness and business ethics). I personally think that the team certainly demonstrated key skills and abilities we would hope a School of Business student would possess.

So well done CHAT team! I know I am proud of you and it is efforts like yours that provide me all the reasons in the world why I love to teach!


Post Script - It was also awesome to see our faculty show up to the event. One of the reasons I love being at this place is the dedication to the students that our team shows.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Yesterdays post about the start of my undergraduate year was followed by a couple of really interesting talks with a couple of my current students. Both of these occurrences got me thinking about my mentors. What is a mentor you ask? A mentor is a person who you see a positive influence, an individual you trust and expect sage advice from. A mentor is not related to you or sleeps with you in anyway (so no girlfriends or wives etc). A mentor can be a considered a friend (and often is) but still holds an unequal relationship with you - probably based on your utmost respect for them.

In my time, I have had five mentors. My first mentor did not even know she was my mentor. She hired me for my first parks and recreation job when I was 15. She discussed with me way on how to do my job better, skills I would need to develop to be successful later in life and really came down hard on my when I did not do as well in school as she thought I could. She once cut my hours because she thought it was affecting my grades. It was because of her that I went to university in the first place.

My second mentor was a professor I met during my undergraduate years. I was cocky and really thought I was smart. She corrected my mis-assessment of what I perceived to be my skills and abilities. She helped me through probably the roughest time in my life as I struggled to transform from boy to man. When I screwed up, I was told about it but in a way that was meant for me to learn, grow and develop. In total, she is one of the toughest - yet most loving people I have ever met. I appreciate her greatly to this day. It was her that made me want to become a professor. Seeing the influence she had on my life, I wanted to follow her lead be the positive influence on others.

My third mentor was totally different from the first two. He is one of the smartest men on the planet and a person to which I hold in deep respect. He was the first of my mentors who over the years I have now come to call a friend. When I first met him as a sniveling MA student and still very rough around the edges. Even with my rough edges, he was patient and kind, listening to my whack-job ideas. Unlike my previous two mentors however, he was to to let me make my own mistakes and then help guide me to the solutions for the holes in which I dug myself. He to this day, a person whose advice and candor I seek. While my parents are to be credited with raising me to the man I am, I will fully credit my mentor for raising me to be the professional that I am. I do not think I have ever expressed the admiration I have for him but my son's middle name is Stephen for a reason.

My fourth mentor is a woman I care for deeply. She is a totally different kind of mentor than any of the others. From her I learned to care deeply for my family, profession and to respect the gifts that I have been bestowed. While she was my supervisor as well, I always viewed her in a different light. She was the first of my mentors who I really did view as being a team mate. We worked together on several projects and we would listen and respect each others thoughts and ideas. It was with her that I learned to be a collaborator. It was due to her support that I have been able to establish myself in my career yet still keep a work-life balance I probably would never even had considered having without my time working with her. It was her that transitioned me from student to professor.

My fifth and current mentor, I am pretty sure does not think of himself in that light. He is probably my closest friend and someone to who I have a deep respect even though we are so different in many ways. He is probably the most caring and loving person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Everyday when we talk I feel like I am under the learning tree though I am sure that is not the intention. He is not a mentor in the way some of the others have been. We are equals yet there is a respect I have for him that it is sometimes hard to take that position from my perspective. He has taught me to accept and to appreciate the tremendous life that I lead. I would say more but he would not like it.

I always have heard the saying, 'that if you surround yourself with winners, you yourself will become one.' It is by surrounding myself with these talents mentors that I believe I continue to become a better professional, a better family man and a better overall person.

Thank you all,


Post Script The list of people who have positive influenced my life is so long, I couldn't start to list everyone. Over the life of this blog however, I do intend to acknowledge as many of you are possible. So if it didn't happen today, I have not forgotten and I will do so as I appreciate you all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Growing up in Canada, this week represents what was the start of school. It seems like ages ago that I walked onto the campus of Brock University for my first Frosh Week. I was leaving home. I did not know a single person on campus (or in the city), I lived alone in a little basement that afforded a lovely view of a tire. Life was pretty scary.

I was not the best of students in high school. I had never been away from home for an extended period of time. I had a girlfriend in Toronto that I had been dating for three years and had no idea how that was going to go with me being so far away (you know, the whole 2 hours away). It was the first time I had to cook for myself, do my own laundry and manage my finances. I had to find a job to pay some of the bills and not be a total leech on my parents. All of this was for a young 18 year old was pretty intimidating. I remember writing my mom a letter crying about how depressed I was (I think she still has it waiting for a humbling moment to pull it out).

At first, I kept to myself and was pretty socially inept (I guess some things never change). I went to classes and really felt lost. I actually had to work at this stuff (which really sucked). I was took one class in my major but was taking a bunch of other degree requirement courses I really at the time thought were useless and I had no interest in them (little did I know then how much I'd use them in later life). In total, I was a lost, scared little boy for awhile.

The first month went by, then the second and I started to get a little better. I ran out of money in October and had to eat KD for two weeks as result. This lesson taught me budgeting the hard way. I got my first tests back and my grades well, lets just say they weren't stellar but I learnt from them and did enough to be a good average student in my frosh (freshmen) year. I started to make some friends in classes. I found a group of perfect misfits to hang with. By the end of the firt term, I was getting the hang of things. Was it easy? Hell no, but was it worth it, hell yes!

As time went by, I broke up with my first love (and then met many loves along the way concluding with my now wife), had a ton of trials and tribulations (one had me going on a bus to Texas in the middle of the night) and had some wild times (naked snow pitch) but these are stories for another day. I now teach freshmen and I see their stuggles and these memories help me to relate. They help me to be patient and caring. They remind me the importance of a good mentor. Afterall, they are learning more than class notes from me, they are learning about life.


Post Script: I still have the first ever term paper I ever wrote. When I get complaining about the work of the students today, I break it out and read it. A nice reminder of how far we all can come.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


In the mail today, I got a great offer from a bank. I was pre-approved for a credit card. At first I was excited, then I got to thinking. If I was pre-approved why do they need an application? Would they not already have my information to pre-approve me? I have already obviously gone through an approval process in order to be pre-approved. Should there not be just a reply card inside asking if I wanted the credit? My 'yes' or 'no' is all that the company should need if I was indeed pre-approved.

I then got to reading. In the little print (I am guessing about a four point font), it says that if I do not meet certain criterion that I will not be approved. How can this be? I was pre-approved? By its definition that meant that I was already approved at some point. This leads me to think that this may be some marketing ploy to attempt to get me to apply for their card. Would a major corporation ever tell a consumer a mis-truth?

I am guessing the corporate types believe that I am gullible. Perhaps they are right. I get several notices that I am pre-approved and the companies would not do it if it did not work at least occasionally. I am tempted to send back a notice saying that they were indeed pre-approved to receive my business, if they fill out the application. It would be a quick application that may look something like this:
  1. Name of Company:
  2. Name of CEO/CFO:
  3. Wage of CEO/CFO (incl all taxable benefits):
  4. Median Wage of Company Employee*:
  5. Hours of Service:
  6. Penalty to company if I have to wait on hold more than five minutes:
  7. Size of lettering if you are going to send me a notice in relation to changes in the service agreement (including price increases):
  8. What countries are you outsourcing to:
  9. Do you promise not to turn Habib into Mike with the strange idea that I will react better to an 'Americanized' name?: Yes or No
  10. Do you promise not to treat me like a piece of meat that you will drain all of the blood from only to discard me to rot when there is no more: Yes or No
I could go on but I think you get the point. I am indeed sorry, few companies will make it through my pre-approval process but perhaps if the credit card and mortgage companies showed my discretion, we may not be in the economic trouble we are in now.


Post Script: *- is the company CEO/CFO salary and taxable benefits are more than 20 times the median employees salary, I am sorry but you can not be pre-approved.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Good People

It is currently Labor Day and I am sitting in my office obviously pretending to work. As I look around the building I noticed on this pseudo-holiday that everyone in my department members are in today and working their butt off (or at least pretending to like me). So to them I say happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day & Welcome to the World of Corporate Feudalism.

Corporate Feudalism is a concept that I have been thinking about a lot. The basic theory is that we have replaced Kings with CEOs, Dukes with Executive Vice Presidents and Counts with Regional Managers. Of course, playing the role of the Serf, well you know. The government now plays the role of the church at the time to allow us some sense of power (voting and perceived control over the Kings) but as we have seen through the economic crisis that is not really true but it makes us feel good to think so. We are happy to think some ‘higher power’ is creating rules that the rulers must follow but like the age of feudalism enough dollars would surprising changes the rules to their benefit.

A few differences are present of course. In feudal times the primary goal was to acquire property and land. Today, they are more interested in acquiring profit and market share. Once again, they will let us have the perception of ownership (see: 30 year mortgage) to make us happy and credit to further indemnify us to our corporate kings through our acquisition of stuff (which goes to make our kings even more profit). All of this makes for a nice circular pattern that causes the rabble to produce profits for the kings because of our addiction to stuff and need to pay off our credit for fear of losing it.

At least they provide us our jesters (movie stars and sports heroes). It is through those people that they can make the rabble average person happy while using them as perfect vehicles to sell us stuff and to convince us that our corporate kings are indeed looking out for our best interests. Heck, many of the kings let the jesters be their spokespeople and thus deal with all of the pressure that comes from being in the public eye.

Another prime difference is that in the feudal capitalistic model, anyone conceivably with the right idea can become a king. They just need the current kings to provide capital and start up (thus approving your membership into the club). In all, maybe this is the way man was meant to be. In fear of being called a cynic (though I am in this respect), and with this being Labor Day, where we celebrate the serfs workers (unless there is profit to be made then you are working today), I say 'All Hail' Kings Semel (Yahoo! $23.0 million last year), McGuire (United Health Group $8.8 million) and Fairbanks (Capitol One Financial $5.6 million) (please see the Forbes 500 list to worship all of our kings). It is because of you, that we can have our stuff (on credit of course).

Happy Labor Day all,


Post Script – I do hope the kings realize that their power is based on our addiction to stuff and that by eliminating the middle class, it will eventually lead to their downfall as our addiction will be broken by not being able to acquire stuff.