I Hate Ads

•2016.10.21 • Leave a Comment


I hate ads.

When a social media property introduces ads, it’s the sign that they are no longer treating you as a customer. They are treating you as a commodity. The user experience no longer matters, only how many ads can they push without decreasing the commodity.

For the few social properties I access, I would happily pay a resonable monthly fee in place of ads. Unfortunately, that’s not a business model anyone wants to embrace. Its ads or die.


I run an ad blocker in all my web browsers. Surfing without one is insanity. I consider it the single best prevention for malware (and other crap) short of using a Mac.

If I see an ad and I’m given an option to comment, I always peg it as offensive or sexually explicit. I don’t care what it is, I rate them all the same. See the opening sentence.

Facebook has ads, but I only see them if they are in my news feed. The ad blocker addressed the others. Embrace the ad blocker. NOW.

Tumblr introduced ads and suggested follows. They also introduced cutesy popups that displayed when you rejected an ad or suggestion. Unfortunately, none of the cutesy suggestions were ever followed. For every visit to Tumbler I was shown the same suggestion in the same place in my feed. I’m no longer using Tumblr.

Pinterest is actually the smartest of the bunch. If they show ads, I rate them as previously stated and then I’m not shown ads for a week, maybe two. When the ads return, I repeat the process and the ads go away again.

Twitter is the f-ing dumbest of this group (no surprise). The Twitter desktop app has no ads. Don’t know why, but it’s an absolute blessing. The Twitter app on my phone is another story. There is an ad every three to six tweets. I block EVERY SINGLE ONE. If Twitter were smart they would back away like Pinterest, but Twitter is anything but smart.

Youtube is the most obnoxious of the group. They run pre-roll ads with many branded videos. When I encounter such an ad, many times I just abandon. If it’s something I really want to view, then I mute the sound and scroll the page down until all I see is the yellow progress bar. When the bar reaches the end, I scroll back up and re-enable the sound. Those ads that slide in from side? Pure s$%^.

The number of ads I’ve encountered in Instagram I can count on one hand. And for that, I am thankful. Instagram is also the best property of any of the above. BY FAR. I just hope Zuckerberg doesn’t f-it up.


Observations on Las Vegas

•2016.10.14 • Leave a Comment


Everyone should visit Las Vegas once. I best describe the city as excess versus desperation. It’s something you have to experience to understand. Whether you want to return, well…

  • When you step off the plane into the terminal the first thing you see are slot machines. You’re not in Kansas in anymore Toto.
  • Everything is façade. The difference between Paris, where everything is as old as it appears and Vegas, is that in everything in Vegas is replica of an original. If you’re are in tune with your emotions, you will easily sense it. Paris tugs on my emotions. Vegas, nada.
  • Other than gambling (I don’t), your options for entertainment are: shopping, dining and shows. This is not like New York, Seattle or Chicago, where there is an active downtown area with quaint little shops, museums and such. It may have such an area, but it’s not around the Strip.
  • If you’re into high-end fashion brands, it’s hard to beat Vegas for the sheer concentration of stores. From Hermes and Fendi, to Chanel and Gucci, Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and so on. Window shopping is encouraged.
  • The restaurants are excellent, but it will cost you. Figure $100+ per person if you’re including wine. If you want pre-dinner drinks and appetizers, figure $30-$40 per person.
  • B & B Ristorante was the unanimous choice as best meal. You will not taste a better Caprese salad anywhere. The Mozzarella, OMG. HIGHLY recommend the octopus and the gnocchi.
  • The best service award goes to our waiter at the Yellowtail. He was informative, entertaining and his recommendations were spot on. Second place goes to our waiter at B & B Ristorante.
  • I ate Sushi twice. I don’t like Sushi. I do now.
  • Waitresses do not wear pants. We tipped heavily with hopes that they may purchase them.
  • For an utter authentic experience, which is quite the opposite of the city itself, the award goes to the kind gentleman at Le Macaron. I regret I didn’t get his name, but I believe he was the store manager. He was informative, he let us sample and he taught us how to eat macarons (with eyes closed). David was chasing gelato (which they also offer) and sampled a taste of the Violet Flower. UNBELIEVABLE. AMAZING FLAVOR and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Our bonus was being permitted to enjoy our treats in a private dining space.
  • Mollie and I attended Mystère by Cirque du Soleil (thanks for the invitation my dear lady). Absolutely fabulous, a must-see and I would go again if offered the chance.
  • The typical tourist attire reminds me of a cross between a state fair, myrtle beach spring break and prom night gone bad.
  • You will see families on the strip at all hours of the day and night. I seriously question the parenting skills of such families.
  • Some hotels will offer up characters for photo ops on the street. You will see show girls, to Elvis, to cartoon characters. I did high-five Pikachu, much to Mollie’s surprise.
  • One note on the cartoon characters. You will see them on the street minus their heads, which is something you would never ever see at Disney. It’s a bit creepy when you do.
  • Smoking is allowed in casinos.
  • Taxi drivers were friendly and sometimes informative. Thanks to the driver who gave us the heads-up about grabbing a taxi during shows and not in-between (hopeless).
  • Never go from Paris to Vegas. The cultural shock is too much for one to endure.

Observations from France

•2016.10.09 • Leave a Comment

Eiffel Tower

  • You can manage quite well without being able to speak French. The key is to be polite. Being polite will carry you far in life.
  • Your ability to interpret French will improve as the day’s pass (written, not oral).
  • We only dined in French restaurants, bistros, cafés, etc. Some were chosen at random and others by recommendation. We had two rules when making a selection. First, never select a restaurant where no patrons are dining inside or out. Second, never select a restaurant with a cheeseburger on the menu.
  • It was often quite easy to spot Americans, mainly by dress, but also by what they eat and drink (see number 3). If you see a coke, burger and fries that’s an easy giveaway. Go with water, wine and the local fare.
  • Notre Dame is a must for anyone’s bucket list. If you’re not moved by the experience, I’d question your mental state. And BTW, it’s free.
  • The Lourve is also a bucket list item, but please go for more than the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory. While those are amazing, the Lourve has so much more to offer. The vaulted ceilings of the Galerie d’Apollon are absolutely stunning. Plan for a day, but realistically you would need more than one. There’s just so much to see. It was only 15 EU (~$17).
  • For Notre Dame and the Lourve, leave your damn camera in your bag or pocket. There is no way a photo is going to offer you the experience of being inside of either place. Open yourself up and absorb the emotions of what you are experiencing.
  • Those people who walk up to a painting or a statue, snap a photo and walk on are dead to me.
  • Selfies are out of control.
  • Don’t buy “bottled” water from the vendors walking around the outside of the Lourve. Trust me.
  • The shops along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées were a disappointment. The avenue is littered with American brands and the like from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. I only recall a handful of French-based brands such as Chanel and Longchamp. They were surrounded by McDonalds, Gap, Banana Republic, Disney, Sephora, Zara, H&M and so on.
  • While sitting on a bench taking in the Arc de Triomphe, I’m pretty sure Daphne Groeneveld and a friend came and sat down on the other side (it was Paris Fashion Week).
  • Saint-Germain-des-Prés is where to go to shop.
  • Walked into a Burberry store with some intention of purchasing a scarf, but felt so out of place that I declined.
  • A bike tour is a fabulous way to see the city of Paris (thanks, Mollie). Failing that, walk. Nothing else will suffice.
  • Look for the work of Space Invader.
  • We saw where Jim Morrison (The Doors) lived, but not died. This sign says as much.
  • Philip Lim was set up in one of the residences of the Place des Vosges.
  • Lille (to the North) is amazing city unto itself, especially the city center. There is great shopping to be had there as well.
  • Don’t photograph everything you see that is amazing. For one, almost everything is amazing. Second, you’re there for the experience, not to record history.
  • Uber was a lifesaver.
  • No matter how delicious the local cheeses and meats are, you have little chance of getting those through customs.
  • Escargot (snails) is a delicacy.
  • Cat tongue is not cow tongue (bad googling). It is also not from a cat. It’s the center cut of the rump.
  • Rince Cochon is a great beer even if it translates to “pig rinse”.
  • The best waiter/waitress service, by far, was in Angelina’s in the Lourve. The food was excellent as well.
  • The French eat a hamburger with a knife and fork. Using your hands is considered disgusting. Put me down as a crude American in need of manners. Apologies, to my French associates.
  • Sitting outside at a little café with a plate of cheese and a bottle of red is one of life’s great pleasures.
  • There was no such thing as a bad bottle of red in France.

So how was Los Angeles?

•2015.10.07 • Leave a Comment

Direct flight from RDU departing at roughly 7:00pm. I boarded Zone 5 which is like the lowest of the low. I’d never seen a Zone 5 until this flight. I thought Zone 4 was the bottom. By Zone 5 you can count the people remaining on one hand.

As previously noted, there were empty seats on the plane, which was a saving grace being the last to board. I can’t recall the last time I flew with empty seats. Sure sign this flight will eventually be eliminated.

Smooth flight, but zero free food and I’m not paying for what they are offering. Flight had GoGo inflight Wi-Fi, but as well all know its terribly slow, restricted on access and WAY overpriced. I sign-up only to find that what I really needed to do, I could not (those pesky restrictions).

Landed an hour early (yeah!), but got stuck on tarmac for 45 minutes (boo!). American Airlines aka US Air could not find a gate. Furiously slamming AA on twitter and getting nothing but lip service (expected, but what could they really do?).

Somewhere around 10:15ish I take a taxi straight to the hotel (about an hour’s ride for an ungodly amount of money). Taxi driver asked if the open windows in his van were an issue? After 5 hours in a plane, what do you think?

Check in at hotel and subsequently crash in the room. It’s a sealed box, which I abhor, but otherwise not bad. Scan in-room dining offerings but the selection and the cost turns my stomach. Forget food. Email and such until midnight (or 3am east coast time). Nice 22 hour day.

Up early the next day answering email since everyone on east cost has already been at it for three hours. Shower has two options. Cold and scald. Breakfast of protein bar and Gatorade.

Step from hotel over to the convention center into issues, problems and scrambling (setting up equipment for a trade show, which is the purpose of this trip). Mid-afternoon its back to the hotel for a quick lunch of fair to bad pizza (wow, it’s a nice day outside).

Anaheim Convention Center/Anaheim Hilton

Return to convention center. Resolution to most problems, but held hostage by electricians (partial power in one booth). While waiting its back to hotel for Gatorade (severely dehydrated). By 7:30ish all problems resolved. Everyone happy. Call it a day.

I should mention that the hotel and convention center are separated by about 100 feet.

I’m fried.

Dinner? Aware of the in-room dining options I settle for another Gatorade and a protein bar. More emailing and such. Bed about 9pm west coast time.

Up at 5:30am to head home. Left hotel at 6am, but even so the trip to LAX took 90 minutes due to traffic. How LA folks manage it everyday I do not know. Breakfast of another protein bar and Gatorade. Believe me, it was the best option available.

Oh, there was ONE, I repeat ONE power outlet in the entire terminal area. It was occupied by a computer nerd zoned out under oversized headphones and a woman wearing way too high heels for traveling.

Two hours of checking email and such before flight.

Flight home was uneventful and again had empty seats. More expenditure for GoGo. It is so bad, but it’s a monopoly. More email and such for most of the flight until the east coasters hit 5pm and head home.

And that was that. Other than what I saw on the taxi ride to/from the airport, I can’t tell you a thing.

I take that back. My one observation was that it had to be the friendliest place I have visited in quite a while. Strangers smiled. Strangers said hello. Strangers struck up conversations. LA is definitely not New York.

Seeing Europe in the Summer of 2015

•2015.07.10 • Leave a Comment

Observations from my business trip to Lille, France via London, England.


We got through Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, faster than we did RDU. Score one for the Brits.

The food service on the return flight, Heathrow to RDU, was far superior to the food service from RDU to Heathrow. Another one for the Brits.

Early morning U.K. border police can be a surly bunch. Most likely, one two many pints the prior night.

Europe doesn’t ask you to remove your shoes or boots going through security.

Traveling on the Eurostar is what an airplane experience should be. Business class highly recommended.

It takes 20 minutes to cross the Chunnel via the Eurostar.

On the return Eurostar to London, I would have gladly spent my day having the French stewardess ask me questions in French {swoon}.

While you can travel pretty well as a non-French speaker, every conversation start is an awkward moment.

On the return flight a steward and a passenger got into a war of words. For a moment I thought we were going to have one of those headlines of “Passenger Removed from Flight for Unruly Behavior”.


Lille, France

Love the cobble stone streets. Consequently, you don’t see many women in heels {suicidal}.

There’s money in spray paint. Graffiti everywhere.

Meal portions were much larger than I remember. I hope this not a sign of more Americanism corrupting a culture.

There are no peepholes in hotel room doors.

Smoking remains prevalent.

Blowing the car horn in traffic is common, but they don’t lay on it like they do in NYC.


Prince Albert

The Underground was on strike the day we returned, but no one really seemed put out.

When we checked into our hotel, two of us received upgrades to executive suites. The one who did not was wearing a t-shirt. The two, polo shirts.

Had a pint and fish-n-chips in a pub. Did not throw darts (no dart board). Did not eat my mushy peas.

I stood in Hyde Park where Taylor Swift stood for the British Summer Time show, minus the stage and the accompanying super model friends.

In the St .Pancres train station, I had an empty drink can but could not locate a trash can. I asked a policewoman and she said I would not find one. She also said just set the can down. Someone would come along and collect it.

You must re-learn how to cross streets. Remember, the Brits drive on the other side of the road.

When you are walking down the street it is really weird to pass moving cars and not see someone in what would normally be the driver’s seat.

Ice Cream

•2014.01.11 • Leave a Comment

I’m leaving out how this post came into fruition, but in a nutshell a co-worker asked me for a recommendation on ice cream. Having spent the better part of the spring, summer and fall trying various brands and favors, the following is what I answered (with a help from my food buddy on sampling and memory recall).

I shied away from store brands and tried to focus on the high-end to the obscures (although Ben & Jerry’s does make an appearance). Think Whole Foods, Earth Fare, The Fresh Market or your local coop. What I found is that most brands have a couple of real winners with their remaining offerings just being good to fair. What you should take away from that last statement is that price does not determine taste (remember that when shopping for Jeni’s at $12/pint).

2nd St. Creamery – Copper Kettle Caramel
Ben & Jerry’s – Cherry Garcia (FroYo or the real stuff)
Ben & Jerry’s – Pina Colada (limited summer availability unfortunately)
Ciao Bella – Blood Orange Sorbet
Ciao Bella – Lemon Zest Sorbet
Ciao Bella – Key Lime Graham Cracker Gelato
Ciao Bella – Peach Ginger Sorbet
High Road – Mango Chile Lime Sorbet
Jeni’s – Brown Butter Almond Brittle
Jeni’s – Goat Cheese with Red Cherries
Jeni’s – Queen City Cayenne (not currently available)
Phin & Phebes – Banana Whama
Talenti – Chocolate Chip Gelato
Three Twins – Sea Salted Caramel

If you need one decadent winner, take the Copper Kettle Caramel.

If fat content is an issue, forget the ice creams and stick with the sorbets. The fat content in the ice creams can range in percentage from the low 30’s up close to 60. Ice cream and labels do not mix.

The following have been added to the list as of 2014.04.12:

Talenti – Toasted Almond (my current favorite across the board)
Talenti – Southern Butter Pecan

Lofty Ideas

•2013.04.28 • Leave a Comment

I seldom use my own social properties to comment and/or promote anything for work, but this is too good to ignore. If you’re a interior designer or decorator, someone who’s TV seldom strays from HGTV or simply someone with a loft and in dire need of design assistance, this is absolutely for you. Watch it and if you want to learn more, just pop over to the Perspective: Atlanta web site.

State of the Nation

•2013.04.28 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while WordPress. You’re slice of my virtual social life has gone from being quite large to being almost non-existant. You’ve been replaced and I don’t see that changing, no matter how many tweaks you make.

Users have to come to this site to see the content. It’s not something that rolls across their Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr feeds. Does that put the onus back on me? Somewhat, but I don’t have the time to chase/produce the content that would drive this site. The other properties just make it too easy to type a few words and click submit.

And does a 140 character tweet make sense here? Not really.

So, am I killing you off? No. This is just a “state of the nation” post to let you know that you’ve not been forgotten. You’ve only been ignored.

Lost and Found

•2012.03.02 • Leave a Comment

Last Saturday morning I lost my wallet. Last Sunday my wallet returned. That’s how things go.

This is not a post about how I lost it or how I got it back, but about the canceling credit cards and their replacement. With in 15 minutes of realizing my wallet was gone, I started canceling cards. I had an AMEX and Mastercard issued from my employer, an Exxon gas card (which I never use) and a debit and Visa card from Truliant Credit Union.

AMEX – Logged into the AMEX site, quickly located the link for reporting a lost card, filled out the form and boom it was done. As for the replacement, I was given an option of overnight delivery or 2-3 day. I went with overnight. The replacement card arrived Monday at ~9:30am. Grade for AMEX: A+

Master Card (Wells Fargo) – Logged into Master Card site. This site really sucks, so finding the lost card link took a bit of work. I don’t know who designed this site, but it wasn’t anyone who understands usability. Anyway, once I found the link I was able to cancel the card. No options on replacement delivery. Replacement card arrived Thursday. Grade for Master Card: B

Exxon – Welcome to call center hell. I had my statement and called the number it provided. Welcome to India. I start explaining the situation and I’m told its no problem, they can take care of it. As I’m answering questions, the line goes dead. I call back. Different person answers. I start explaining the situation and again the line goes dead. Take three — yet a different person except this time I am told that they do not handle Exxon cards at this center. What?!? Before this conversation goes dead, I’m given a number to call for Exxon cards. Funny how the first two operators could help me, but the third could not. I call the number. It appears I’m in America now. The operator is confused as why I called this number. I explain the situation and she says they also do not handle Exxon cards and to call yet another number. Take five — I finally get someone who can assist and we work through the process. Total time I would put at 30 minutes. I will say that everyone was personable, especially the final operator (Donna). Card arrived today (Friday). Grade for Exxon C+.

Truliant – Logged into their web site. Located the cancel cards link. Its was a damn email form which means its not an immediate action. Someone would have to receive the email and then act on it. Did I mention that this was a Saturday? Screw that. After hunting and finally locating a phone number (why are these so hidden?), I reached a live and very helpful person. She efficiently walked me through the entire process. Delivery? Not yet. Still waiting… and waiting… and getting more mad. Grade for Truliant, who I absolutely love in all other aspects, D.

p.s. Having no useable cards, I had to go to Truliant to cash a check for funds. The cashier made an off-hand comment about it taking two weeks to get replacement cards. I thought he was joking at the time, but its not turning out to be a joke. It it appears to be a customer service failure.

Shearwater (Not)

•2012.02.13 • 3 Comments

If one of your favorite bands shows up at your local venue and 4 of the 5 members are different is it the same band? Should it even be called the same band?

Let’s say you bought a ticket to see the Pixies. The band walks on stage and you have Black Francis, but in place of Kim, Joey and David you have three people you have never seen in your life. Is it the same? No. Should they be called the Pixies even if they play Pixies songs? No.

So this is the scenario I encountered last night at the Cat’s Cradle. The lights dim, the band walks on stage and what do I see. I have Jonathan Meiberg and four questions marks. No Thor. No Kimberly. So this is Shearwater?

I don’t know the reasons. Maybe Thor and Kimberly either had conflicts or didn’t want to tour, but this is not Shearwater. And what’s bad here is it should not be sold as Shearwater. I’d been okay if it had been sold as “Jonathan Meiberg” — I have seen him solo — but to show up with a four unknowns is not acceptable.

Was an explanation offered? No. Was there any indication there would be a difference in players? No. Look at the NPR article that accompanies the stream of the new album. It shows the five members I expected to see and even talks about Thor’s and Kimberly’s contributions. So what gives?

From the moment I realized I wasn’t getting who I expected, it became an immediate disappointment. I was done and it was all I could do to stand there and take it. This is not to say they weren’t good – they were – but my engagement was zero. I just wanted it to stop.

This may seem like harping, but this is a band I have seen more than any other band. This was show number six (or was it?). I had planned to buy the CD at the show and I didn’t and at this point I doubt I ever will.