Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Just returned from another trip, this time trying to convince someone to outsource the remainder of a particular piece of work to my team overseas. It would result in a doubling of our headcount on this line of business.

I almost have new favorite 'business travel' hotel after staying at a Hilton Garden Inn. It was very nice but I am not quite ready to give up my current top pick.

Hilton Garden positives included a VERY comfortable bed, free freshly baked cookies and coffee in the lobby 24/7, free made-to-order breakfast and one free bar drink of any kind in the lounge between 6-10pm

Negatives? None. Unless you count free freshly baked cookies in the lobby 24/7 (Goodbye Diet, Hello Gut)

I normally try to stay at a Drury Inn when possible (Southern and South Western USA) but the Hilton Garden may give them a run for the money. Why do I like Drury so much?

Truly amazing staff and customer service. You get this at almost any hotel but something about Drury makes it seem more genuine. I am on a first name basis with the Managers at the locations I stay frequently. Free dinner including 3 free drinks and also the free breakfast.

Now the "free" food is nothing special. Breakfast is a buffet of eggs, sausage, biscuits, french toast and waffles. Plus some healthy stuff like yogurt and fruit that I try to stay away from. Dinner is a combination (depending on the day of week) of chicken wings, spring rolls or meatballs and a variety of sides (potatoes, salad, etc.) Plus three free drinks is ALWAYS a good way to wind down after a long day.

I like the free food at Drury because it means I can pocket my Per Diem ($35/day). If I play my cards right I can not spend a time on food. Every trip I take adds a couple hundred to my wallet that I can spend on souvenirs for the kids or alcohol at the duty-free.

Now the Hilton Garden may not have free dinner and they may only give one free evening beer instead of three but a made to order breakfast counts for something. Freshly made eggs are 10x better then anything that has been sitting on a buffet. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day when it is done right and I always like to have a real breakfast when traveling on business. You never know if you will get a chance to eat again if you are running from meeting to meeting all day long.

Final verdict? I think Drury will still be what I request via my corporate travel team but Hilton Garden was very nice and I would recommend them to anyone.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I've been looking everywhere for any media outlet to cover in detail the Greek debt crisis, the root cause, and what it means for Europe (and the economy of the world at large) and I've been left feeling like a girl who gave a blow-job on the first date and has been left sitting at home waiting for a phone call.

Plenty of sites are talking about the riots, and in general terms about the debt itself, but very few are providing true analysis on the situation. In the end the best analysis I found was Wikipedia and even they are lacking.

European Debt Crisis

In the end the Greeks have no one to blame but themselves. Nobody likes paying taxes, but the Greeks make cheating the tax man a national sport. Yet while they avoid paying their fair share they are quick to demand the benefits those taxes provide.

A Greek citizen who works in a job defined as "dangerous" is allowed to retire and start collecting a government pension at the age of 50. What is defined as "dangerous"? Well, occupations such as: hairdresser, musician, and television reporter. I shit you not.

Years of weak governments and strong unions have literally bankrupted the country. Years of demanding benefits that they are unwilling to pay for.

I believe in the concepts of a mixed economy, I believe in the importance of a social safety net, and especially socialized medicine. I believe in unions that are strong enough to protect the rights of workers against ruthless corporations who only care about the bottom line and care nothing about health and safety.

I also understand that nothing is free, you need to have a strong work ethic and understand that the government being there to give the less fortunate a helping hand does not mean you get a free pass. People need to take responsibility and accountability for their actions and decisions.

Greece needs to stand up to the protesters. Frankly someone needs to turn the entire country over their knee and give them a good smack on the ass. If they are unwilling or unable to get their finances in line or at least create a plan that starts that process...

...then Greece should be expelled from the EU.

I am not suggesting they must become an economic powerhouse like Germany. They will never be that. Countries like Portugal, Italy, or Greece will never replace France and Germany as the true economic leaders of the EU. In the same way that Cape Breton or Manitoba will never replace Ontario or Alberta as the primary economic contributors here in Canada.

There will always be "have" and "have not" provinces in Canada, and there will always be "have" and "have not" states within the EU. The whole concept of this shared responsibility is that we gain more by being together (and helping the less fortunate) then by existing alone. We just need to remember that is not an excuse for a "have not" to be irresponsible.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


We were treated to another celebrity overdose death today with the passing of former teen heart throb Corey Haim. According to reports from the likes of reputable news sources such as TMZ it is suspected the cause of death is an overdose of prescription medication. I have to ask myself... what the hell is wrong with this country?

There was a time when celebrities overdosed on cool drugs... like heroin. Nowadays they are all dying from taking too many pills they were prescribed by a Doctor. Where is the glory in that? Even the drugs they are dying from suck... antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills mixed with a little Oxycontin? If it is not prescription drugs it is a strange and twisted combination of horse tranquilizers and anesthetics you would find in a Mexican black market plastic surgery clinic.

They say Tiger Woods was addicted to Ambian! That sleeping pill they advertise on bad cable television with a commercial filled with rainbow butterflies? I think that is probably more embarrassing then getting caught sticking yourself inside Jayden James.

Whatever happened to street drugs? Does anybody even use them anymore? Remember the 1970's??? John Belushi and his lethal "speedball" injection of heroin and cocaine. Richard Pryor almost killing himself when he set his beard on fire while freebasing?

The government talks about the "War on Drugs" but it turns out the war is really just on anybody who doesn't have a publicly traded company or wear a white coat and carry a prescription pad. Street drugs can't compete with that.

Monday, March 08, 2010


If the new Gorillaz album is any indication of what we have to look forward to during the Summer of 2010 then I say... BRING IT ON!!!

In other news...

Get this crazy story out of Florida... why is it that pretty much every story out of Florida starts with "crazy"?

Neighbours of long time and semi-famous eccentric Robert Hodges are upset at what he has done to his house in their quiet little suburban oasis. This isn't the first time either... Hodges used to live in Memphis and has a bit of a reputation in that city as well.

Hodges goes by the name "Prince Mongo" and claims to be a 333-year old alien from the Planet Zambodia. His mission is to save the earth from self-destruction, which apparently he can do by painting his house funky colors, covering his lawn with mountains of sand, and decorating the whole thing with woman's underwear.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


Just one week ago 29 million Canadians, millions of people world wide, and about 300 Americans watched one of the most exciting hockey games ever played.

Of course I am talking about the Vancouver 2010 Gold Medal final where Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner for Canada.

I am clearly making a joke about the size of the US television audience. By all accounts it was a widely enjoyed game, and a ratings bonanza for NBC. Far more people in the USA watched that game then any NHL game ever played in longer then anyone can remember.

Now, only a week later we have Gary Bettman musing aloud that NHL players may no longer compete in future Olympic games unless the IOC is willing to apparently make some concessions.

Bettman (and the NHL owners) have some valid points, but mostly it just seems like sour grapes. One of the better ones is that they do have millions of dollars in player salaries tied up in this tournament and their insurance policies would not cover injuries sustained by the players. Imagine losing your best player to a freak accident during an Olympic game. There is a very real risk to the team bottom line.

A few folks have tossed around that the IOC made $30 million in ticket sales at the Vancouver Olympics and the NHL wants a cut of that pie. Frankly this is a bogus argument. Sure the Vancouver Olympic Committee made plenty of money selling these tickets, every game was a sell out. Yet you wait until the final bill for this party comes due. I suspect we will be hundreds of millions in the red when all is said and done.

Now it would be nice if the NHL could use some of the positive publicity that the Olympic hockey generated in order to find an audience for their Southern US franchises. The problem is the IOC owns the rights to everything. How many times have you seen Crosby's winning goal replayed since last Sunday? Not many... because the IOC wants a cut every time it gets played. YouTube videos of the goal are taken down as quickly as they come up. It is even getting difficult to find the game online, so unless you feel like shelling out big $$$ for the commemorative boxed set I suggest you grab it now.

Then last night it came to me. Bettman can complain it is about money, or the risk to the players, or the schedule chaos caused by an Olympic tournament. The real reason is the competition. You see last night I was treated to a rather uninteresting (and typical) game on Hockey Night in Canada. It was Toronto vs. Ottawa and it was full of bad plays, missed passes, clumsy offense and dirty hits. It just simply was not a good game, despite Toronto pulling out the win via shootout. The quality of play was simply not there and stood in sharp contrast with those Olympic games fresh in my memory.

That is the real reason why Bettman wants to turn the 2014 Olympics into a glorified World Junior tournament. He knows that when you compare the current state of the NHL against what we saw in Vancouver, the product he puts on the ice comes up short. Which is a shame, because if we could make NHL games as exciting as those Olympic matches then you would see far larger television audiences for the NHL in the USA, which we all know is something Bettman would sell his soul for.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


The month of February passed with no updates thanks to my business travel schedule. The worst part is I am just getting started. I've been back and forth to our offices in the USA a few times over the past 4 weeks and more still to come. I also apparently have been tasked to visit our offshore facility in Manila in order to help with some planned Q3 expansion of my existing campaigns.

I spent last week in Texas, land of Beers, Steers and Queers. I ate plenty of steak and BBQ, enjoyed several local micro brews, my favorite being Shiner Bock. Long gone are the days of American beer being like making love in a canoe. Sure there is still plenty of piss-water varieties available should that be to your liking but every time I visit the USA I stumble across more and more great brews.

Some other favorite Yankee breweries of mine (in no particular order):

The food was great, and I even made it to a big steakhouse that served USDA Prime, and while it was a good steak (18oz Porterhouse Med-Rare) and no offense to Texans, the best steak I have ever had is still the one served at Cabana Las Lilas in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I made the drive from San Antonio (where I was staying) up to Austin, TX to catch some live music and the buzz of 6th Street, which is a hotbed of bars and live music. As cool as I found Austin to be I could not live there. To many @#$%ing Hipsters. If I was 15 years younger I would probably think differently. I did catch several different Rock/Blues and Country bands as I wandered around. Also picked up a Keep Austin Weird t-shirt.

Also while in Austin I visited the Museum of the Weird, which is really just the back half of a store that sells some curious goods, souvenirs, etc. The museum itself is a collection of old-style "freak show" memorabilia like two-headed cows, mermaid skeletons, etc. The kind of stuff that P.T. Barnum would have exhibited at a county fair back in the 1800's. I would recommend you buy a t-shirt here (free admission) otherwise its $4 to get in and the "museum" really only takes about 20 minutes.

And just to tie this post into what my blog theme is supposed to be about:

This guy in California is facing $1,00 fine and 6 months in jail because he replaced his front lawn with wood chips and drought-resistant plants in an attempt to reduce his water bill. You would think that in California that sort of progressive thinking would get you a tax break.