I’m sure half the country has heard about Santa Monica’s smart parking meters. The city of Santa Monica touts them as a great technological advancement in the ability to improve their parking… PUHLEASE! If the city of Santa Monica ever uses the data collected from their parking meter sensors to actual *improve* parking conditions, I’ll be the first to congratulate the city.

We all know what’s going to happen. The second Santa Monica figures out that they can squeeze another peso from your wallet, it will. I’m sure that parking rates will adjust (only upward) based upon their historical data that they collect. Anyone remember the Coca-Cola vending machines that were going to charge more when it was hotter outside. Ya, imagine paying $8/hour for parking in SM during the busy season. I’ll bet money (maybe a parking ticket’s worth) that will happen.

I do have a story about how I think this could eventually be fought and won against the city in the courtroom (unless someone already thought of this and lost – I don’t really keep up too much on a city like Santa Monica since I plan on never visiting that BFE beach town very often). The other day I was in downtown Los Angeles. I got myself a meter (for two hours) near a company that I was visiting. Of course it wasn’t close enough to the company to where I could lug the mountains of merchandise I was purchasing from them from their location to my car. I figured I’d get two hours because it was nearing lunch and I was hungry.

Better Parking in DTLA than Santa Monica

Better Parking in DTLA than Santa Monica

I walked over to my bank, took a picture of ridiculous parking signs right around the corner (oh, the irony!!!), visited the company’s office, conducted my business, went back to my car, drove my car to the loading zone in front of the business, loaded up the merchandise, and then drove back to my parking meter. At the time that I left the meter, there was an hour and 45 minutes left. I figured if someone else ended up stumbling upon my meter, it was a nice gift for them.

By the time I made it back to my meter, it was about 10 minutes later. Nobody had taken my meter (although, there was some poor schmuck who parked in the meter before mine that didn’t have enough time on it). I still have an hour and 35 minutes (which I paid for!!!) left on my meter so I could go enjoy a nice mac & cheese lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. The fact that parking in DTLA is better than Santa Monica puts the city of Santa Monica on the top of my list of craptastic cities for parking. Keep in mind, I have received more than a dozen tickets in DTLA for various reasons and even been towed (well, almost towed) after the crooks changed the parking times that hadn’t been changed in more than 10 years.

Had I been in Santa Monica, my hour and 35 minutes of parking that I had already paid for and had every intention of using would have been stolen from me completely! Would that be any different from someone swooping in and stealing my spot? Yes! Because at least that person would have benefited from my generosity. Instead, the city of Santa Monica is just stealing money from me. Would I have put 2 hours worth of parking in a Santa Monica parking meter? Of course not! I’ll never be visiting that thieving town anytime soon, and I’ll certainly be looking for parking structure parking instead! Or maybe a guy sitting in an alley taking parking donations.

Defensive Driving

Strange experience on the freeway last night. I was heading home from my office and I’m driving along when a car comes up behind me and goes to pass me. They change lanes and then disappear into my blind spot. Then they just decided to sit in my blind spot for a few miles. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was dark so I saw their headlights, I would have never known they were there until I needed to change lanes. But that wasn’t the strange part. If I sped up, they would speed up. If I slowed down, they would slow down.

I pulled a Maverick. Hit the brakes, and they flew right by. I changed lanes so I could make my way towards my exit. Then things got really weird… They kept slowing down and speeding up so that I was in their blind spot! I’m guessing this has something to do with it being dark and they wanted the extra set of headlights, but this driver was pretty weird.

Drunk Christmas Tree

Go home Christmas tree, you’re drunk


Just about the most awesome polar bear video I’ve seen!

In my world the American Dream is the ability to pursue whatever personal and financial aspirations I may have with limited interference from governments, protection by our judicial system against those who intend to defraud, harm or infringe on the freedoms we are all born with (including our own governments), and eventually create a better future for my family as well as future generations of Americans.

I wasn’t born into money. I spent the first 5 years of my life in a trailer park and my entire childhood living off Hamburger Helper, clipped coupons, and food stamps. I started working at a very young age. I helped my older brothers with their paper routes for the local paper when I was 8. I aspired to have my own paper route when I turned 13. I knew there was an expanding neighborhood development nearby (within bicycle distance), and I wanted to have that new route! I got that new route! It was honest work every single weekday. Eventually I ended up working with my brother for an L.A. Time distributor. We inserted local advertisements into the Sunday edition of the paper. Again, honest work.

All that work allowed me to buy my own lunches in high school, purchase my first motorcycle, and enjoy a movie here and there. It also inspired to know that if I really put everything into what I was doing, I would succeed. After failing to become a Harley Davidson mechanic, I took training from my older brother on computer programming. I read and studied as much as I could to comprehend enough to get a job with upstart Internet companies. I worked ridiculously long hours, helped businesses succeed, and made a good/honest wage.

I moved on to working for a public company that eventually saw most of it’s top brass arrested for defrauding investors. I changed career paths and got into marketing, taking an entry level job for a product development company. Within a year I was running its catalog and direct marketing division. I started my own marketing company a few years and then was tapped by the owner of the current company I work for to come back and become a managing partner of a brand I had turned into a success. The business had completely fallen apart and was collapsing. I’ve spent the last 3 1/2 years turning it around. Again, not easy work, but I’ve always known that if I put everything into it: I’ll make it work!

So, when Obama dropped his famous line about business owners not being responsible for their company’s success, that somebody else made that happen, I was a bit baffled. Certainly, no job that I’ve had have I been the only contributor to that business (even when I had my own marketing company). My paper route required the printing of the local newspaper for me to have papers to deliver. My LA Times job required the LA Times. The computer programming jobs required computers, the Internet, other businesses, etc. The current job requires employees, customers, manufacturers, shipping companies, and so much more. Along the way, I have had the need for our judicial system to settle disputes and enforce contracts. That’s what the judicial system is there for.

I listened to the full Obama speech and that’s not what he was talking about. He was echoing the speech made by Elizabeth Warren several months earlier. Hers is about “the rest of us”. Obama’s is about “somebody else made that happen”. People claimed Obama was taken out of context, but what was taken out of context? I felt the context actually made it worse because it showed that Obama doesn’t understand the role of local government in our lives vs. federal government.

I was having a conversation with a liberal friend about the topic and explained the problems I saw with the Warren-Obama rhetoric (local/state vs federal government account for all the services they refer to). So, I asked my liberal friend (a devote Democrat) what the logic was. She was very passionate about it!

My liberal friend started talking about the American Dream and how Warren and Obama were talking about the American Dream. She even threw in a comment that “I might be too young to appreciate the American Dream” (she has 9 years on me). I was a bit taken aback. I thought *I was* living the American Dream… I was born in a trailer park. I now own my own house. I was born to an unemployed mother and a father who lost his job when I was about 9 years old. I’m now the managing partner of a small business.

Then something dawned on me… For Warren, Obama, my liberal friends, and millions of Americans who support the Warren-Obama doctrine the American Dream really is embodied in the whole “rest of us speech”. I’m still at a loss for exactly what the American Dream is in that world, but it made one thing clear to me. The Warren-Obama doctrine supporters are just as passionate as I am about the American dream. Rather than it being my ability to pursue whatever personal and financial aspirations I have with limited interference from governments so that I can succeed and make our country better for future generations, it’s something that “the rest of us built” or that “somebody else made that happen”. It’s something outside me.

In their world the American Dream is something outside of ourselves. It’s something that comes from being in a democracy where you are required to pay taxes for programs and wars that you don’t support. It’s something that comes from somewhere outside you. It comes from something that we don’t have to be accountable for as individuals or as a government when we fail (government bailouts, bankrupt social programs, unjustified wars, unemployment, social inequality, etc.) but can thank our government when we succeed.

I wasn’t going to argue with my liberal friend about this topic. This wasn’t a topic that either one of us were going to win. This wasn’t a topic that we were going to find legitimate common ground on at anytime in the near future. There is an abundant divide between these two ideas of the American Dream. The only thing connecting us is a commitment to bettering America for future generations. However, the means to the end differ so dramatically between mine of reliance on self and hard work and Warren-Obama or reliance on government and entitlement. It’s a divide of the American Dream as something that you dream for yourself or one that someone else dreams for you.

The cloud fails when you’re in the clouds. For anyone who travels a lot or takes overseas flights, you quickly learn the value of apps that will work locally on your smartphone or tablet. Sometimes I have brilliant ideas that come to me in the middle of a flight. On a long flight, I have a lot, which kills my laptop battery. This flight was short, but the ability to blog this without access to the internet is awesome… Makes me wanna blog more while I’m traveling. And pickup a Bluetooth keyboard for my android!

Warren Buffet said it. Nick Hanauer said it. The rich should pay more taxes.

I have great news for them any *anyone* who wants to pay more “taxes”!!! They can do it right now! At this very moment!

Purchase more US Treasury Notes. Here’s the link: US Treasury Notes.

Guys like Hanauer can easily afford the tax accountant to ensure that any additional tax deduction from the Treasury Notes can be offset by purchasing even more of the Treasury Notes. Best part is that you don’t have to wait for Congress to pass a bill. They can start today!

Hiring office workers can be a bear! So, I have developed a simplified screening process…

  1. Post a job requesting that they specifically send you their resume in PDF format only (delete all other submissions)
  2. Pre-screening: If they have a Yahoo or Hotmail email account… (No interview)

By this time, you’ll have about 500 submissions and only 50 to spend more time on.

First interview question: What are the keyboard shortcuts for cut? Copy? Paste?

Second interview question: What web browser are you most familiar with: Firefox and Chrome are the only acceptable answers

Third interview question (more of a request): Please type the following sentences on the keyboard in front of you… Of course, you’re going to read this to them and not show the typed sentences. You’ll be able to see if they chicken peck the keyboard or have a solid QWERTY skill-set.

They’re shopping at our store to discover what the best prices are and how much their savings will be compared to the stores over there. When they see two links for the same item, they’ll think it’s too many and then purchase one item rather than two.

That last one narrows the race to maybe 5!

Fourth interview question: I can fit 8 widgets in a carton, 50 cartons on a pallet, and 18 pallets in a 40 foot container. Customers must purchase a minimum of 1 carton every 4 weeks. The widget costs me $40, and I sell it for $100. How many customers must I have to sell my entire 40 foot container of widgets in 120 days? And what will be my gross profit?

The fourth one is actually a trick question. It will give you great insight into the mindset of the individual…

The pragmatist will do all the math and figure out how many customers you need and how much profit you’ll make at the MOQ. That type of person fits a very specific need for any business. His/her attention to deal is extremely valuable!

The person who is really going to make things happen, someone who will move and shake your business in a positive way, will point out the fact that you really need just one great customer to purchase all your widgets in a single day to make the same GP as those buying at the minimum but ultimately a higher net because selling everything in one day requires much less overhead than keeping it for 120 days. This is someone you want in sales or marketing.

Of course, every business is unique with their own needs, and there are legitimate candidates who use Yahoo or Hotmail. Every business should make sure that it has solid interview questions to help find the candidates that fit the specific needs of the position.

We Out Here Tryna Function

We Out Here Tryna Function

It’s the annual nonsense that we all have to deal with: Vehicle Registration. Every year, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has to send out letters requesting payment. Then most of us go on-line, make the payment, and wait for our tags. Meanwhile, the average length of vehicle ownership is more than five years. Why doesn’t the DMV offer multi-year registrations?

Think of it like a domain name registration. When you register your domain name, you have options to register for years at a time. Most places give you a discount when you register for three or more years at a time. They took Econ 101. They know that money today is almost always worth more than it will be in three+ years. You give people a little bit of a discount and they will take it.

The DMV would still have to issue new tags each year, but it could save a ton of money in postage every year by not having to send out the annual reminder. Not everyone would opt-in to multi-year renewals. Maybe the family or individual doesn’t have the money all at once. But for people who don’t want to have the hassle of registering every year and want to take advantage of a 10% discount on their registration over a five year period, it would be great!

This would also give California a shot in the arm if people started doing long-term registrations right now. Of course, the logic should be that the money would be received now when there is a massive budget deficit and bad economy and not relied upon in five years when the economy would recover and the state would make money from other methods of taking money from our pockets.

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