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Where I Stand.

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

So there is an issue in Polk county! Some sheriff gave some churches some basketball hoops. And in good old American fashion, the Atheists of Florida, Inc decided to sue. Here’s the article that brought the issue to light for me – Atheists of Florida Take On Grady Judd: Where do you stand?

This is the specific kind of crap that is taking the magic out of America. Lets look past politics for a minute and look at the story. There were some hoops(pole and basket) in a jail. The sheriff removed those hoops and put them near or on church property in economically challenged areas. In places they knew would be safe and taken care of, where they would be used by people, voting tax paying people or the children of taxpayers.  For example, the physical location of one hoop was in the parking lot of a church and was open to all, for free. That sounds pretty swell to me.

But to the Atheists of Florida, Inc.  it became a right wing plot to use our hard earned taxes on frivolity. So they decided to do what now seems more American than apple pie, they started making noise about filing a lawsuit. They felt that it was a misappropriation of tax payer funding and felt a desire to prove it in court.

I think they are full of it. I think they want to be in the news and could care less who they hurt and what communities they affect. I think they are much more concerned about themselves then the actual impact on the communities that are being affected.

I also believe that the Atheists of Florida, Inc. general membership is unaware and uninvolved with this kind of crap. This doesn’t help anyone that considers themselves an atheist. We need understanding and togetherness not hate and divisiveness. Atheism per Wikipedia is in a broad sense the rejection of belief in the existence of deities, not the attack or limiting of charity for those that choose to believe or being against those that choose differently.

Where’s the common sense? What was the intent of the action? Was it to further the religious agenda of a few churches by providing them with basketball hoops or was it the easiest way to get the hoops to people that would use and appreciate them.  The sheriff did a good thing. He helped people. If it helps you sleep at night he helped tax payers. To me, he helped people and someone found a way to twist that around for a little branding opp.

Our New Toy

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Well we got Kinect late last night and I must say I am very impressed. It aint perfect. But its damn good. And It will get better.

If you haven’t heard of Kinect its Microsoft’s venture into Motion Gaming. Kinda Like the Wii or Sony’s new Move system, But with Kinect there is no controller. The controller is your body. You set a sensor bar up that has some cameras and a microphone(the sensor bar system is actually Kinect) and calibrate to your house and your body and go play. Not every game is Kinect ready there are special ones that can take advantage of this new system. I list a few below.

The set up was easy and not technical at all. Took 5 min for me to unpackage, set the sensor in place, connect the wire and reboot. There were a few updates I had to run through but the whole process probably took 10 min. After the last update it rebooted and Dorothy took over. She loved it. It was easy as hell to configure and tune to each person.

The UI control needs a bit of work. But that’s to be expected with any 1st iterate technology. I really think they will tighten it up quickly. To be honest Playing with Kinect was kinda like realizing a dream that I first saw in minority report. It was fun, fast easy to use and very responsive.  We were able to test the video chat and it was very easy and the camera was smart. 1 person in the room it would zoom in and follow you as you walk around, 2 people in the room and it would stay zoomed out to get everyone in frame, all with no setup and just plugging it in.

The games are where it shines. We bought 2 – Dance Central and Kinectimals. It comes with Kinect adventures. We experienced each game for a few minutes spending the majority of the time laughing. It was good times. The photos that Kinect takes while you are playing are gold.

In Dance Central There is a freestyle zone in the middle of each song where the “dancer” can do what ever they like and after freestyle ends they show the pictures that were taken in a stop motion style that is very seemless and enjoyable. if the player falls out of synch the screen dancers body part will start to glow red to indicate where the player needs to tighten up a bit. It seems very good at determining correct body position and Dorothy was able to learn with out much frustration.

Here is a video of D knocking it out with Dance Central. Tonight supposedly I am having a “Dance Battle” with her. Not sure how I am gonna survive but I am guaranteed to laugh alot.

Kinectimals is just nuts. I cant say enough about it. The cats are cute, graphics are fab. They recognize faces, respond to voices, act like cats and my little girl loved it.  We didnt play it much(it was after 1 am) but with the bit we did I was impressed with how they seemed to bring every aspect of the Kinect experience together in the game.

Kinect Adventures was a blast. I am terribly out of shape and almost died from playing 1 round with my overly energetic 8 year old. We were in a raft and you have to work together to navigate down a river. You can collect different points as you do so. The fun comes in when you are both jumping up and down like maniacs and yelling “Left! Left!” and a picture gets taken of yall together.

We obviously have alot more exploring of this new technology to do but the impression that I was left with after 2 hours was……WOW! It is a fun system especially for families. I will be interested to see how they get hardcore gamers into it but really they have that segment well covered. They needed the Wii demographic and this will bring them in droves.

Stand alone Kinect costs 150 but you can buy the new Xbox Kinect bundle for 299.

One thing that I did notice is you need alot of space. Like a good 6.5-9ish feet from the sensor.

My Lakeland vid

October 30, 2010 2 comments

This is a video I made for Show us your City. I am pretty happy with it. Wish i had used a filter for the filming but Oh Well.

How can Blogging help in an insurance agency?

July 27, 2010 Leave a comment

With time an insurance agencies blog can help retain business and bring in new clients.

There is no better place to put the ideas and ways that you are different from the agency down the street than a blog. A blog that looks and reads well, that provides timely information and  tackles interesting topics can be a valuable resource to everyone. This is an agencies chance to show the world and  local community the ideas and ideals that set them apart.

An insurance agency can describe why a client or prospect should stick with A rated carriers or explain what AM Best ratings are and why one might care. Topics could and should range from coverage issues and new concerns to things that are happening in the agency and community initiatives the agency  partakes in.

Generally the difficult part of the blog is the process.  Who is going to write it? What are they going to say? Can we be sued for it? Are all the checks in place to ensure we are as protected as possible? Answering these questions take time, energy and can be a real pain, but the pay off in the end will be well worth it.

After you have the process down then it comes to content creation. That is as easy as looking into the resources for your individual state or risk specialty. There are tons of new coverages and products coming out monthly, so many that it’s hard for even the agent to keep abreast of everything.

There is a slew of opportunity to use health care reform to educate your current clients with brief weekly or monthly synapses.  Use the blog to write about something cool a client or prospect is doing. Could there be a better way to endear the agency to them?

Blogging can be a great way to educate the public about a new product or risk. Think “Cyber Liability”. Providing a service to educate prospects and clients on the risk and pitfalls of not being covered may open up the chance at a crossell. Of course there is the old guard that will want to hold on to that information and will say “We can’t give that great knowledge away for free! People will come and learn from it and buy insurance elsewhere.” Bah on that. If folks want the information, they are going to get it. But if it is your information they are getting educated on, over time a percentage will choose that it’s  a wise decision to buy from the agency that is unafraid to spread the word.

There are a few keys to a successful blog. First and foremost a blog needs to have a voice. Not some monotonous boring lecturer but a voice that clients and prospects can connect with. The content needs to be fresh, timely and relevant. There is nothing worse than visiting a blog that hasn’t been updated in months and months. Posts needs to be as short and information filled as possible while retaining personality. The information needs to be important to the industries that are within each agencies sweet spot.

There are a few things that dont need to be in a blog. This CSR getting a designation or the cool salesman of the year award to producer x are all better served being spread through different media.  A blog is the agencies time to shine, a time to offer the community a service and access to some of its insights. Through the open exchange of information the agency has a oppurtunity to become a trusted resource. Once that happens the sales will follow.

How I learned to like gays and country music

July 6, 2010 3 comments

I was talking to Sarah about prejudice, how idiotic it is and how could it still exist in this day and age with all the science and information we have and I thought of two articles I had read recently.

The two are not related but I see a relationship in them that I would like to explore. The first was brought to my attention by @etherielmusings(twitter poet) -Its a New York times article by Errol Morris, about not knowing what you don’t know. The second article by blogger David McRaney was found by @newmediajim. It is about Confirmation Bias – the human phenomenon where we tend to agree with the things that are known in our lives and certain conclusions are drawn because of what we have been previously taught or know.

I believe that we don’t know what we don’t know because we allow confirmational bias to create preconceived notions that thinly  answer  questions. If those answers were not available the questions would remain but with the answers provided to us they are no longer needed.

Lets take prejudice as an example and kinda run it through this little test I have been devising in my head using these two arguments. So lets take a gay person. Good ol homosexual, easy target for anyone. And truly one of the last minorities to earn the respect they deserve. (How crazy it is that gay people cant be married! It drives me nuts. We have heteros getting married, having babies, beating wives, cheating on each other, getting divorced, leaving their kids and we dare dictate to someone else how they can love. What the hell.) So Lets say I was brought up thinking homos were bad. That they were sent by someone sinister to make me gay. That they were unnatrual and all that other  hogwash I hear. So lets apply our two conditions above. First the confirmation bias kicks in and answers any questions I have about the origin of gays. I know they were sent from a bad place, I know they are unnatural and that’s all there is to it. So I don’t need to ask anymore questions. And any that come up will be discarded easily by my bias.  So I kind of enter into a self-induced “Not knowing what you don’t Know” condition.  Now, take confirmation bias and reapply- Everything I have been taught about gays, I see in them. I was taught they are femmy and flamey, so I see gays that may be more flamboyant. I was told they all want me, so if I happen to see a gay on the street I feel he is ready to pounce on me. I was told they break up families, so I knew a guy that knew a guy that was gay and left his wife. All the things I perceive strengthen and confirm my already prejudiced beliefs. These two conditions feed on each other. Until a life-changing moment occurs this cycle will continue.

These phenomena apply to more than just personal prejudice. Ever since I read those articles I have tried to become more aware. I didn’t like country music, it was weepy, sad and whatever else. But then I really sat and thought about it and could find no logical explanation why I would totally cut off a genre of music just because I didn’t like a few songs. Maybe I would have liked them had my own confirmational bias not kicked in. So I went back and listened to some country music and it’s not all bad. I have plenty to learn about it and am excited about a new option I have added to my musical repertoire.

At work I have attempted to look past the I “don’t know what I don’t know” rule. Trying to see the things that I don’t know but only don’t know because I have already answered a half-heartedly-asked question with answers from my preconceived notions that originated with my own confirmational bias. In every experience we have, these conditions hold some sway over us. Looking at the way people feel about race, religion, music, video games or even food I find them at play time and time again.

I now know that I must take a longer glance at situations both new and old to understand more, listen better and judge less.

Blame

June 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I am tired of folks blaming BP, Tony, Halliburton and any other for profit companies out there for the oil spill disaster. Just sick of it. It smacks of the lack of accountability that is dragging us to hell. Yes they are evil bastard companies that only want to make money. Yes Tony is a PR bafoon of epic proportions but and I hate to say it, this is not his fault. He may not be the most sensitive of people and he sure doesn’t have many political friends now but he exists to ensure a profitable return to the shareholders of BP. He is nothing more than a poorly controlled puppet at this point. His job is to make the company make as much money as possible.  That’s what big companies exist to do. Make money. To provide a service, to satiate a demand. And that’s where my problems begin I think,  who created the demand?

I created the demand. I am responsible for the oil spill. You created the demand, you are responsible for the oil spill. We have become a people of excess and over abundance. To live this well and be the great nation we are we have to have a few things to make that engine go.  One of those things is oil, lots and lots of the gooey black sludge that is destroying our beaches. What I don’t understand is our reaction to accidents that occur and our belief that we have the power to control all the variables to eliminate accidents from happening. On the odd occasion we don’t stop the accident then by god we need someone to blame. Someone has to be at fault!

Not really, no they don’t.  Its life, shit happens. If you do something enough times chances are the percentages will catch up to you. Of course in retrospect you can go to any scene of any accident large or small and find something that helped create the problem. But its not the root cause.

The root cause of this accident is consequence free consumption. We pitch a bloody fit when oil prices rise 5 cents, politicians start to cringe and people start to stampede so we say drill baby drill, keep the people happy, give them what they want. So they dig thousands of wells to ensure the steady flow of oil. And when one of those wells, that our demand created has an accident we look everywhere except where we need to for someone or something to blame. The sad part is we all know, in the back of our minds we all know, its our own damn faults. We love our cars and our planes, we hate public transportation, we don’t buy local because its a bit more expensive and not as convenient, we haven’t embraced recycling and the list goes on. We can not have our cake and eat it too. You cant poke holes into the earth all over the place and not expect accidents to occur. We are not all powerful or all knowing.

So lets stop pointing fingers. Figure out what you are going to do to help reduce your personal consumption. what will you sacrifice for the betterment of the whole. And if you cant find something or  if you are unwilling to change then so be it. But don’t get pissed off at black beaches and oily hurricanes of fiery doom.

10 Awesome Sketches using the iPad

April 22, 2010 1 comment

So a few days ago I caught a tweet from Jim Lee(@jimlee00), comic book guru extraordinaire mentioning a sketch he did on the iPad. Well I was impressed as heck, enough so that I wanted to post up a few examples of the wonderful work that is being produced by artists with an app or 2 and the iPad… and a ton o talent.

The Joker - by Jim Lee on iPad

Catwoman by Jim Lee on iPad

Wonder Woman by Jim Lee on iPad

iPad Sketch One - Lawrence Yang

First Sketch on iPad - idsketching.com

First iPad painting with sbp - Mikedia

Grizzled Colored - Mikedia

Poppy Field iPad painting by Corliss Blakely with ArtStudio

Old Cupboard iPad Painting by Corliss Blakely created with ArtStudio

Devil In The White City - KevinBee

Unfolding - Anti_christa

Those are all just bad-ass. It blows me away what these folks can do. My attempts look more like a drunks exorcised exuberance.

Here is another talented traveler showing leet skills on video.

Hope yall enjoy. Thanks a bunch for reading.