Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On assvertisment....

My post on Exciting Business Opportunities and the Waistline-Age Continuum got me to thinking about butts and money for some reason, two things that aren't often closely associated with one another.  Nevertheless this is how my mind works; it's the cross that I must bear.

You've probably seen the shorts and pants with stuff written on the butts.  I don't really understand the rationale behind them; I personally don't want to draw any unnecessary attention to my buttocks, nor do I want my daughter drawing attention to hers, but to each his own. In case you don't know what I'm referring to, here's an example:

Like I said, I don't really understand why anyone would want anything written across their butt, but being a guy that tends to roll with the punches I think that I've figured out a way to cash in on the pant writing craze.  Instead of some nonsensical term or word, why not sell ad space on your backside?  After all, if you're going to have writing on your butt, you might as well cash in on it, right?  Here are some samples of what I propose:

After the idea came to me I broke out my abacus and slide rule and did some cyphering to try to figure out if the numbers would work.  I didn't want to go off all willy nilly investing my hard earned fortune on some crackpot idea that came to me in the shower; I learned something from my failed Port-a-Hottie venture.  And I don't want you to lose money either because this isn't about me, it's about you. 

I took a class or two in Quantitative Business Analysis when I was getting my Bachelor's in Business Administration at a highly prestigious business school (Spoiler alert:  I've just started my sales pitch, the first part of which is to point out and grossly exaggerate my business qualifications) and came up with a chart that I believe accurately reflects potential assvertising revenue projections.  Here is the chart:

Don't ask me to interpret this chart because that would just confuse and disorient you, and I don't want you to be confused or disoriented just yet, that comes later.  The important thing here is that it's a pretty chart, and pretty charts sell.  All that you really need to understand is that this is a cottage industry in a growth market.  There is a ton of low hanging fruit out there and I expect incremental growth if you're willing to take it to the next level and think outside of the box.  I just used six catch phrases in the last two sentences, which should illustrate to you that I know what the heck I'm talking about.

So I'm looking for business partners, people who are willing to absorb all of the risk in exchange for the empty promise of future rewards.  It's time to quit working for the man and instead make the man work for you.  This is a limited time offer, so don't miss out on this exciting opportunity.  Supplies are limited and callers are standing by.

Disclaimer:  Offer not available in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.  Past performance is not indicative of future results, people can and will lose money.  Contents may be hot.  Exposure to this offer may cause lightheadedness, hair loss and trouble breathing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On The Waistline-Age Continuum....

The left half of this graphic, sans the age ranges, was posted on a friends Facebook page a couple of weeks ago and it reminded me of a concept that has been bubbling around in my noodle for a number of years, so I added the extra people and the age ranges.  I guess that if I had to put a name to this concept I would call it the Waistline-Age Continuum.

This concept first started to blossom while I was working at a group home for "troubled youth" (politically correct term for thug) in Chattanooga.  One of the kids ended up there because he held up a fish market.  The visual on that always made me chuckle.  "Give me all your cash and two of those lovely tuna, and tell me, are they best served with white or red wine?" 

A couple of times a year I would have to take these young men shopping and they always wanted to buy pants that were several sizes too big for them; all of the Klumps could have fit into some of those pants.  Try as I might I could never convince them that they should buy size appropriate pants, and since I was always of the mindset that adults should let kids be kids (until I had two of my own) I never pushed it very hard.

I would take these kids to the YMCA to play basketball and they would have to hold up their pants to run and dribble.  Some of them had legitimate ball handling skills, even with that self-imposed handicap.  I tried to introduce them to the belt concept, explaining to them that it would take their game to a whole new level, but to them having their pants fall down while playing was just one of the costs of being cool.  Two handed basketball was just a little too progressive for them I suppose.

I used to work with this guy that was on the other end of the pants spectrum; me and a co-worker referred to him affectionately as pappaw.  We called him this not because he was old enough to be our pappaw, but instead because he wore his pants in such a way that the waist of said pants fell just below his chin; if his zipper was open you could see his Adam's Apple, and I don't mean that euphemistically.  It was as if that waistband was some kind of shield that would protect him from us young whipper snappers.  Pappaw looked kind of like a turtle in those pants.

So I've come to the conclusion over the years that, not unlike the rings of a tree, you can tell how old someone is by how they wear their pants.  The lower their waistline sits, the younger the person.  Think about it for a minute, have you ever seen a teenager not named Urkel wearing their pants up to their nipples?  Have you ever seen an older person with their crack showing?  Okay, have you ever seen an older person with their crack showing who wasn't working on your sink?

You never really have to ask a man how old he is.  Instead, start by asking yourself a series of questions.  First, can you see his shoes from the back?  If the answer is yes, then he's between the ages of 23 and 90.  Can you see his socks?  That narrows his age range down to between 40 to 90.  Can you see his shoes, socks and most of his leg?  If so then he's clearly between the ages of 50 and 90.  After 50 the immutable laws of physics won't not allow you to wear your pants any higher.

People over the age of 90 tend to abandon pants altogether in favor of the jogging suit, sweat pant or pajama bottom; when you get that old you just don't care, it's all about comfort.  Women are pretty much the same at that age.  I saw a woman the other day who had to be all of 115 wearing cowboy boots and a pair of sweat pants with "juicy" written across the rear.

I turn 45 this year, so by my count I have 5 more years before I have to figure out a way to get my belt line up around my nipples.  I don't know how to accomplish that yet, but I'm resigned to the fact that it's something I must do; it's as inevitable as the tide.  Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Friday, February 10, 2012

On "exciting business opportunities"....

The other day someone who I had previously unfriended on Facebook sent me a new friend request.  This probably sounds mean, but I have a habit of unfriending people who annoy me, and I'm pretty easy to annoy.  Don't get me wrong, I like this person, but if you post a bunch of stuff about politics, religion, your relationship or how crappy your life is you're setting yourself up for exclusion from the club.  Not that they did all of this, but they did enough of it to try my patience.  I post about those things on occasion, but those posts are the 15%, not the 85%.

Call me a cynic, but the minute I saw that request I knew that I was in for more aggravation; that they were working an angle.  I got the friend request and thought to myself "self, why is this person, who I exiled to the desolate landscape of the Facebook wilderness, forcing them to fend for themself without the comfort of my witticism's, friending me again after such a lengthy, and no doubt painful, banishment?"  Surely this banishment made them bitter and jealous of those left behind.  I learned what the angle was about 15 minutes later when this was posted: 

Call me if you want to have your own business & be your own boss. No set hours. Not a juice or pill company. No inventory, No experience, No employees, No Boss, No territories, No LIMIT To GROWTH. UNLEASH your potential! A real business dealing with brand name Fortune 100 companies! Unlimited Income Potential, BMW car program, Vacation program. Call me & let me show you the vehicle that could give you financial freedom, 256-XXX-XXX Why wait? Where will you be this time next year? Again, call me. Always looking for partners.

My mistake was responding with this:

I logged on to Facebook and stumbled into an infomercial.

What I really meant was "I didn't log on to Facebook to be subjected to an infomercial, take that crap somewhere else", but my comment wasn't taken that way.  Instead, it empowered them to use that response as an excuse to message me and invite me to an event in Huntsville where all of the secrets of this phenomenal income opportunity would be revealed to me.  I had been invited into the secret society, and this secret society would teach me how to get a BMW and vacations. (Spoiler alert:  there are BMW distributors all over the country that will sell you a BMW and you can call a travel agent for the vacations, but like everything, it ain't free). 

Ironically, she also posted the above image.  The picture pretty much sums up, for me anyway, what all of these "exciting income opportunities" boil down to.  I had to chuckle at the notion that the person who had just friended me because they saw me as a fat plum ripe for picking had posted this picture as an expression of their disdain for corporate life when in fact it is an accurate, visual representation of what these pyramid schemes are all about.  Let's be real here, people don't try to get you involved in their "opportunities" because they're concerned about your financial freedom, they do it in an attempt to move up to a higher perch.

Probably all who read this have been offered at least one of these exciting opportunities before, and some of you have probably taken the sales pitch, spent $250 for a kit, and converted your homes to the products that these companies peddle, only to realize later that you were paying $20 for a pound of laundry detergent that can be picked up for $10 at Wal-Mart and not making a penny off of it.

These "opportunities" make money for the people at the top of the pyramid because, as P.T. Barnum once said, there's a sucker born every minute, and a healthy percentage of those suckers are going to be spend the $250 and buy the product, thus benefiting the top birds.  Eventually, though, these suckers experience that moment of epiphany where they realize that the fruits of their labors and the profit from their purchases only benefit the upper layers.  Barnum's observation is truer today than ever before, and the supply of suckers will never be exhausted because people these days want to take short cuts rather than putting in the time and toil needed to be successful, which makes these opportunities very attractive.  After all this is the Occupy Wall Street generation, remember?

I've noticed one thing in common with all of these opportunities; when you ask for specifics the person recruiting you gets all cloak and dagger on you and says something like "you'll just have to come see for yourself, but I promise you won't be disappointed."  If you don't know the secret handshake they won't tell you anything until you're sitting in a room with 50 other marks listening to their best salesperson giving his spiel.  They say it's a great opportunity and that you will not be disappointed because they believe these things, they've already had the Kool-Aid and it tasted good.  They won't detect that unpleasant after taste until later. 

There are great products out there that are almost exclusively available through direct sales.  Pampered Chef is a good example.  I have several Pampered Chef pans and I would buy more; it's a great product, if you're willing to pay a little extra for it.  However, you're not going to get rich selling Pampered Chef to your small circle of friends because eventually your friends will have all the Pampered Chef they can handle, and you'll run out of friends.

I like to consider myself a pretty good investigator, although more in the tradition of Inspector Clouseau than Sherlock Holmes, so I did some looking around and figured out the name of the company, which turned out to be FHTM, a company I had never heard of.  Here's a snippet from their website:

You may have also heard the term multilevel marketing (MLM).  MLM is not a type of company or industry.  Rather, MLM is a type of compensation plan found in the direct selling industry.  Instead of using a single-level compensation plan, FHTM utilizes a multilevel marketing compensation plan. This allows compensation to be based on a Representative’s product and service sales, as well as the sales made by a Representative’s downline.   This helps FHTM to encourage Representatives to build a business, while still placing an emphasis on product and service sales.

This also encourages people to bend the fabric of reality just a bit, stretching the truth about their own success so that they can suck you in.  They their dreams with you, but present it as their reality. 

Here's a screen shot from a video that was labeled "Here are the people who earned their trip to Tuscon, AZ:

Do you see anyone in this clip?  I don't.  All of those people in these empty lounge chairs earned their way to Tucson though, which I have to admit is impressive.  To be fair, here's a picture from the website that they said was taken in Tuscon as well:

Did you notice Waldo standing beside the girl who apparently was told that she was posing for Playboy?  If not, here's that part of the image blown up:

Odds are that in 2 years Waldo will be easier to find at an FHTM event than the rest of this crowd; by then they will have figured it out.

Don't get me wrong here, this soon-to-be Facebook friend twice removed, person is a well-meaning soul, but since the dawn of mankind folks have lost their shorts looking for those "great income opportunities" and I'm rather fond of my shorts.  They aren't pretty, but they're mine if you know what I mean.

Here are a couple of things that I've learned in my 44 years of existence:

  1. The saying "if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is" is incorrect.  See #2.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true, then it absolutely is too good to be true. 
  3. There are no short cuts. 
  4. If this opportunity was so great, everyone would know about it.
  5. If this really was a phenomenal opportunity the secret society stuff would be out the window.
  6. Just because someone you know is doing it doesn't mean that it's good for you.
The only vehicle that is going to be driving me to financial freedom is the one I drive to work in.

I'll leave with this, the last sentence in that initial post:  "Always looking for partners".  Partners are the birds sitting at the bottom of that first picture.  No thanks.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Granthall Day....

Today being Groundhog day I remembered, and I look forward to it with eager anticipation, that next Friday is Granthall Day; I can't wait to find out if the Granthall will see its shadow.  What's Granthall Day you ask?  I'll tell you.

My wife and I moved to Grant about 14 years ago and for about the first 9 or 10 years we had a Mr. and Mrs. Hall who lived beside us.  Mr. and Mrs. Hall were an elderly couple who lived a quiet, peaceful existence, never making any commotion and never bothering anyone.  With one exception:  Mrs. Hall was a bit of a snoop, and when I say a bit of a snoop I'm being kind; she made your business her business and she had years of experience at it.  She was at the top of her game and all the other snoopers envied her.  She was to snooping what Alabama is to college football..

Mrs. Hall's nosiness quickly caught my attention.  When we were in the pool she would stand at her garage window and stare at us.  When I mowed the lawn she was right there with me, staring wistfully from her garage window, her eyes reaching across the distance to the man on the Cub Cadet lawn tractor.  In short, anything that we did in our back yard was watched..

Now I'm a good guy, but it became extremely annoying.  One day I was particularly aggravated so I got out of the pool, bared my posterior and shook it in her general direction, much to the dismay and embarrassment of my wife.  Yes, I mooned a 150 year old woman and I'm not proud of it...much.  What happened?  Nothing, she didn't move a muscle, bat an eye or make any effort whatsoever to modify her behavior in the least.  At other times I would wave and gesticulate in obvious signs of distress and displeasure and it did nothing; she didn't skip a beat.  The woman was the consummate professional in the realm of snoopery.

It got to the point that I couldn't bear it any longer (and didn't want to bare it any longer, pun intended) and with no previous construction or brick laying experience I built this:

Not the prettiest job ever, but if nothing else I could sit out on that part of the deck without being watched.

During the typical viewing I would be out in the yard for no more than 5 minutes before she would pop up to stare at me from afar.  She would do this for hours.  Her ability to sense my presence was uncanny, it's like she had flying monkeys hovering over my house just waiting to report back to her the minute I walked out the door.  And flying monkeys don't come cheap, but she was really into her watching.

Over time I began to understand that there was a seasonal pattern to her behavior; she watched almost exclusively from spring to fall, but not during the winter, probably because she didn't have a heated garage and the cold was hard on her old bones.  Year after year in the early spring she would take up residence by her door whenever I was outside.

I began to joke to my wife that we could tell when spring was over because Mrs. Hall would come out of hibernation and start staring at me again.  I realized that, unlike Puxatony Phil, I could rely on Mrs. Hall to accurately predict the end of winter and the beginning of spring, so I began to call that time of year Granthall Day.  If she came out to observe but it was still cold, she would scurry back inside until it warmed up a bit more.

A few years ago we built a privacy fence around our yard and Mr. and Mrs. Hall are no longer our neighbors, but every February I think back to the Granthall Days of yore.  Do I miss it?  Not in the least.

On puppies....

Recently I broke down and agreed to get the family a poopy, I mean puppy.  She's a cute little thing that I actually got to name this time (Gabby), but I feel a little like Nostradamus because the things that made me not want to get a puppy in the first place are coming to pass.  I realized that I had accurately predicted how all of this would go down while standing in the yard at 1:20 in the morning waiting for Gabby to do her business.

Puppies are poo factories; their waste to weight ratio is astounding and most days it seems like they poop in excess of their own body weight.  Teaching them to poo where they're supposed to is not something that I have ever had on my bucket list, and cleaning up when they miss the target is no fun either.

I believe that if you get a pet though, or have one thrust upon you, you're obligated to take care of it like it's one of the family.  I don't like to see people go get a dog only to chain it to a tree and never give it any attention.  I want to take people like that and chain them to a tree to see how well they like it.

Someone once told me a story about a guy who chained their dog to a tree like that.  When the dog came up pregnant and they were asked what they were going to do about the puppies the guy told him that he guessed he was going to have to plant more trees. 

Perhaps the worst part of the new puppy experience, and I'm not sure that any degree of hell is better or worse than the other, is crate training them.  I'm a guy who likes my sleep, and hearing a puppy screaming its head off all night isn't much fun.  One night Gabby screamed for about 15 minutes and then stopped.  "She's fallen asleep", I thought to myself, but of course that wasn't it, she was just taking a short break to catch her breath, and in short order the cacophony began anew.  There is no sound as horrible as the screams of a puppy.

Having a puppy is like having my daughter's boyfriend over; I have to stay vigilant and can't let my guard down for even a moment.  It really does wear a person out.  The boyfriend is only here for a couple of hours, puppies are forever.

This summer I have a couple of sprained ankles to look forward to when I step in the holes that she will dig.  I will dirty my shoes at least a dozen times, and there's no telling what I will find chewed to pieces; last time we had a dog it chewed the wood around our deck.

I guess I'm really not a pet kind of guy; I like animals, but I like them when they belong to someone else.  If there was such thing as a dog rental I might pick one up for a couple of hours occasionally to go hiking with, but beyond that I'm not really interested in having one of my own.  Of course it's kind of like I have a rent-a-dog anyway; it's the family dog unless it's 1 AM and then it's my dog.  I know a guy who takes care of his neighbors dog; he feeds it and even has a doghouse for it.  To me that is the perfect arrangement.

My wife keeps telling me that I need to bond with Gabby, but if going out with her at 1 or 2 in the morning isn't bonding, I don't know what is.  I'm sure that there will come a time when the annoyances start to decrease and I'll start to warm up to the idea of being a dog owner, but before that days comes there are a lot of things to be chewed, ankles to be sprained, and shoes to be washed.  She is cute though.