Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Picture Blog

What began as a way to store interesting pictures that I had saved in my computer on the internet is now a collection of pictures I have found on the WWW. Very few of them I own, they're just there for fun, amusement, and introspection. You can find the ScLoHo Picture blog at

Here's a sample:

Friday, January 04, 2008

Is it Over?

There are no perfect, or even best days to break up with someone. But there are some ground rules you should follow. Don't wimp out on these:

The Art of Manliness

How To End a Relationship Like a Man

Posted: 16 Dec 2008 11:53 PM CST

breakuplike-a-man1 How To End a Relationship Like a Man

“Matt’s relationship status has been changed to ’single’ :( .” The first time I saw this on Facebook I nearly choked on my bagel. Not only was Matt experiencing the black pit we call “breaking up,” but he had to face the uncomfortable reality that his new status was being shared in real-time with 437 of his friends, co-workers, and associates.

I felt terrible for him, even thought about giving him a consolatory call…until I found out from a mutual friend that his status change was actually his cowardly method for breaking up with his girlfriend. No phone call, no meeting, just a quick status change to let his partner know that things just weren’t working out.

The amazing part of this story is that most of you reading it probably aren’t all that shocked. It’s not the first time you’ve heard of this dastardly deed or something similar. Somewhere along the line it became acceptable to hide behind the curtain of technology when faced with the unpleasantness of ending a relationship.

There’s no doubt that breaking up is hard. We’ve all been there. The awkwardness, hurt feelings, disappointment and vows of future singleness often play out like a heartbreaking movie scene — except it’s real, and instead of getting to fast forward to the happy ending, you’re stuck in the queasy-stomach present. The truth is, no one likes a breakup, but ending relationships well is a necessary part of life and a skill every man should know how to carry out with dignity and respect.

The following are some guidelines to follow when faced with ending a relationship. These guidelines will hopefully help you end a relationship like a man, rather than a Matt:

1) Talk Early and Often - The time of the actual breakup should not be the first time your partner is made aware that you have issues with how things are going. A good friend of mine is fond of saying that relationships are much like driving a car. As long as small steering corrections are made as one rolls down the road, a large jerk of the wheel should never be required.

So, rather than staying silent and suffering through a dreadful relationship until you can’t take it anymore, bring up issues with your partner as they come along. The prospect of conflict can be incredibly uncomfortable for some, but everyone deserves to hear where they are falling short. Real men aren’t afraid to clearly communicate their grievances when it is necessary.

If the relationship must be ended, your partner may still be hurt, but at least you will be able to lay out a strong case as to why you would be better apart than together.

2) Always End It in Person - There is nothing more cowardly and pathetic than ending a relationship over the phone, or even worse, through an e-mail or text message. Yet, more and more men are finding this an acceptable medium for cutting ties.

If you can’t handle the prospect of ending a relationship in person, you shouldn’t start one in the first place.

Set a time and place to meet, and make sure that you give her your full attention (no texting or checking e-mail in the middle of the discussion). She deserves it. Will the situation be awkward and uneasy? Absolutely. But, being a man means giving everyone you enter into a relationship with the basic respect that comes with a face-to-face discussion.

3) Be Clear - The breakup is not the time to be vague or mysterious. Your lady friend will most likely want some specific reasons why you want to end the relationship, so be ready to provide them. A non-answer like, “I’m just not feeling it anymore,” only shows that you are either a coward or a narcissist, but definitely not a man. You don’t necessarily need a record of wrongs, but having a mental list of things that led you down this road will help the discussion move in the right direction.

One of the most telling signs that a break-up was not handled in the proper manner is when your partner walks away still unsure of exactly where the relationship stands or why things played out the way they did. A real man will leave a relationship settled in a way that the woman understands why things were ended - she may not agree, but she is not confused, and if there are things for her to work on, she knows about them.

4) Be Considerate - While clarity is necessary, being cruel is not. Breaking up is hard enough without being demeaned or berated in the process. The breakup is not the time to be telling her that the dress she wore on your anniversary actually did make her look fat or that you’ve met dogs with better breath.

If possible, point out some of the positive things that came out of the relationship. Unless it was awful from beginning to end, there are most likely some good attributes of your partner that can be mentioned. In the end, try to be as much of a gentleman when ending the relationship as you were when you started it.

5) No Hanging Chads - No one likes uncertainty. Remember the hanging chad controversy during the 2000 presidential election? The most frustrating aspect of the situation was not being able to tell who citizens had actually voted for. In the same way, men often leave the relationship in an unsettled manner with words that indicate a possibility of picking things up again in the future. Is it over? Is it not? No one knows.

While phrases like, “Maybe down the road,” or “Just not right now,” may seem like a kinder, gentler way of breaking up, they are actually quite cruel if they are not an accurate representation of your feelings. It may sound brutal, but if you don’t see the relationship ever going anywhere, don’t leave even a glimmer of hope when you breakup.

If you aren’t clear, your partner may think you’re simply wanting a break, that things will come around when you’ve had a little time to cool down. She’ll spend her time waiting on you to get through your “phase” while all along you’re wanting to get far, far away. Be fair to your partner and cut ties completely so they can go on with their lives and you can go on with yours.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sandbag season

Fort Wayne is covered with all kinds of white stuff we call snow. The temp is currently in the single digits. 5 above to be exact. This weekend and the beginning of next week we are supposed to have rain and temps in the 40's and 50's!

Now is the time to prepare by filing sandbags if your live where it is prone to flood. Don't wait for FEMA or anyone else from the government. Just do it.

There is a reason this town is also called Flood Wayne.

Here's what it looked like in 1982:

How to really start fresh in 2008

From my email is the following column by Harvey Mackay. I have posted items from him in my other blog (Collective Wisdom, dedicated to advertising, marketing and the creative process), but this is advice for all of us.

And the good part is any of us can do this anytime, but don't make that a reason to procrastinate.

New Year a good time to get organized

I am a habitual packrat. My filing system is piles ... one pile for each project. And that's a lot of piles. I like to joke that I never lose anything; I just misplace things. But I am vowing to do better in 2008. And if I can do it, anyone can do it.

Is one of your New Year's resolutions to get organized? Here's some incentive: January is Get Organized Month, a perfect opportunity to streamline your life, lower your stress and increase your profit and productivity.

If you want even more incentive, a recent poll by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) found that an impressive 78 percent have found money or un-cashed checks during an organizing project. A fairly remarkable 26 percent of respondents have even found $1,000 or more. It proves it literally pays to get organized!

Getting organized also saves money. I remember some years ago that the Wall Street Journal reported that the average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year retrieving misplaced information from messy desks and files. For an employee earning $75,000 a year, that translates to a loss of $9,221. For a company with 100 employees at that salary, it translates to nearly $1 million in lost productivity.

The new calendar year is an ideal time for most of us to get organized. Face it, if your office is a mess, putting it off won't make matters better.

Productivity guru David Allen, author of "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity," says we need to get organized so we can do what we need to do. Allen says the mind stores up all the things you have to do and then constantly reminds you on some level. That's when the stress kicks in, because these reminders come at times when you cannot take appropriate action. Sounds pretty familiar so far!

Allen's advice is to both think and stop thinking about the things you need to do. Sounds contradictory, but it's not. Think in a concentrated way so you can accomplish the necessary tasks. Stop thinking about what you need to do at other times because that is a huge time waster, which contributes to disorganization. Making lists takes some of the clutter out of your brain so you can concentrate instead on performing tasks.

Sounds simple enough—so why aren't we doing it now?

Well, the first—and hardest—part of getting things done is getting started.

A friend of mine has a novel approach. She declares "Out with the Old Day" the first working day of the year. After her staff has a couple of hours to handle the routine chores that can't be ignored, the rest of the day is dedicated to cleaning out offices, files, desks, even the break room. It gets the year off to a fresh start, and sends a very important message to employees: she values order and organization and is willing to support their efforts to do their jobs efficiently.

At another company, Friday afternoons are clean-up time. An hour or two allows staff to clear off the week's completed projects and organize for Monday morning, when it often takes a little longer to get in gear.

Whatever way works best for your situation, I think it's important for employees to have some work time set aside when they are not only allowed but also expected to clear out the clutter.

As a manager, you must also provide the tools your employees need to get organized and stay organized. In this cubicle-oriented world, managing information and files and general stuff requires some planning.

It's amazing how the industry of getting organized has taken off. We now have huge stores dedicated to supplying the perfect box, hook or rack to store our stuff. There are huge filing cabinets that slide every which way to fit in any size space. There are websites, webinars, teleseminars and podcasts, all about getting organized.

There will always be individuals who claim they can find anything in the midst of the clutter that has overtaken their office space—and amazingly, they can. Believe me, they are the exception to the rule. You may have to relent and overlook some messiness if their contributions to the organization are otherwise valuable. But trust me, most of your employees will welcome your efforts to help them stay organized. It's a great way to start your engines for the New Year.

Mackay's Moral: A successful organization depends on good organization.

Miss a column? The last three weeks of Harvey's columns are always archived online.

More information and learning tools can be found online at

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Macy's closing in Indy, but not Ft. Wayne

Update for 2009, 11 more stores closing. Click here for the full story.

The following is from my email:

Macy's To Shutter Nine Stores
Monday, Dec 31, 2007 5:00 AM ET
JUST DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS, MACY'S says that it will close down nine of its underperforming stores, including locations in Indianapolis; Lake Charles, La.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Riverdale, Utah; Dallas; Houston, and three stores in Ohio. Final clearance sales are schedule to begin within several weeks. "While the decision to close stores is difficult, it is necessary that we do so selectively in locations with declining sales and where we have been unable to identify sufficient growth opportunities," the company says in its release. Like most department stores, Macy's has been clobbered by weaker consumer spending trends, and has said it expects December same-store sales to decline 4% to 7% compared with last year.

Meanwhile, the company is still expanding in key markets--opening 10 new stores and one furniture gallery in 2007, with plans to open five new stores in 2008, and between six and eight stores in 2009.

--Sarah Mahoney

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Snow on the train tracks - Watch more free videos

Cats, Computers, Crappers, and a wonderful family

After a self imposed computer sabbatical, I'm back to report the gory details.

1. Cats. We still have two, Puddy, also know as Pimp Kitty, due to the limp he has had for the past several years with a dysfunctional right front paw. Puddy has a new place to hang instead of the walk ways in the house, he has a cat tower, with a view to the backyard and a stuffed toy that is affectionately know as his "mama". Ya got to be there. 2nd cat, Napoleon around Thanksgiving became an indoor cat. He had been roaming the neighborhood, coming in for a bite but staying out all night and a lot during the day during the warmer months. He apparently was unaware of boundaries, because an upset neighbor, warned Kathy that if he appeared on his property (several houses away), Napoleon would "disappear". So I went to work on taming this wildcat. He howled for a few nights, we took extra steps to prevent him from running out the garage door and he has gotten used to the warmth of the inside of a house. He is still a little rough in his playing, but he is learning.

2. Computers. I wrote last year about my repeated attempts to keep a computer running and working properly. Well, my back-up laptop, the Acer Aspire 9500, kept crashing after I had our engineer at work do some modifications so I could get on the network at the radio stations. Just about every night, I would spend time working on the computer to fix the crash problems to no avail. It was taking too much time. So I was checking into the cost of having my old Toshiba with the faulty screen repaired, and trying to hold out as long as possible. Over the weekend I found out it could cost $500 to $600, and knowing in the back of my mind there were a few other things wrong with that computer, I decided to start shopping. My son still has his original laptop from college that had been covered under warranty and has lasted him for a good 4 years.
During that same time frame, I have had three laptops. Now I am also a heavy user. It goes with me everywhere. So I decided I needed a smaller laptop; instead of the big 17 inch screen, this is 14. I also wanted power, 2 gig instead of 1/2 a gig of RAM. And it had to be around $1000. Extra money would be spent on service contracts, so I bought the three year, full protection plan from a store that I trust will be around in three years, Best Buy. Best Buy also has the ability to do in-store repairs on H.P. laptops which was also an important part of the equation. As I write today, I'm in the process of moving files from my old computers to the new laptop, (which incidentally can automatically access my work network). Plus I am in the process of moving to online storage of files so I will have full access to stuff I need no matter what.

3. Bathroom. Almost 2 years ago we moved into our current house. It's an older home, around 45 or 50 years old. A three bedroom ranch. Sometime in 2008, I will redo the master bathroom sink and vanity. However, we have had another bathroom problem since we moved in. The toilet in the main bathroom was a "poor flusher". Original toilet perhaps, but it probably had been replaced once before. We were told by a drain specialist that it would need replacing. So after ignoring it for a few months, I decided to replace the toilet this weekend.

Now I have done this before so I knew the basics of what would need to be done. Problem was this is a house on a concrete slab and there were additional repairs that needed done that I was not qualified to do. I really did not want to mess up the situation worse than it was, and well, I finally called in the professionals to finish the job. He'll be here tomorrow. (This toilet thing was also part of my computer sabbatical, as I told myself that the crapper would take priority over the piece of crap computer.)

4. Family and Friends. Christmas afternoon, Kathy and I went to a movie. Did the same yesterday afternoon. Abby was having friends over and with just one bathroom, we decided to take off and leave. We saw Charlie Wilson's War, then went downtown for an early dinner with friends and wrapped it up with a game night with more friends. Made it back home by around 10:30 New Years eve and fell asleep before the clock struck 12. I also talked to all the kiddos and we all did "phone hugs" as they went to their new years celebrations with friends.
Kathy is working today, the snow is falling, and all is well as we kick off 2008!