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Gripes, Goodies, and Goliath

As much as I love writing, I’ve been so caught up in writing my next book (trying to promote my first book), working, and playing music that I don’t have time or oomph for posting.  In this post, I am going to avoid the ubiquitous topic everyone wants to avoid—the elephant in the room.  You know political symbol with big Trump, I mean trunk.  Random thoughts just to prime the pump.

Phishing: Not as destructive as hackers but almost as aggravating is the persistence of spam purveyors.  They are unoriginal and annoying.  Lately I receive a dozen offers a day for miracle flashlights, gadgets and drugs.  Adding insult to injury is the latest trend to falsely invoke the names of Mark Cuban, Stephen Hawking, Warren Buffett, Christina Aguilera and the like.  Unscrupulous and no style.

Breaking News: Have you noticed how all the news stations flash “Breaking News” before every major story even if the story is days old and has appeared on their broadcasts a dozen times?  Who’s the genius who decided this would increase viewership?

Beer Cans: I’ve noticed that product advertising is rarely about the product.  It’s about mascots, “events”, beer cans with logos.  The largest number of borrowed interest ads seems to be directed at male audiences.  Isn’t the stereotype of a bunch of mindless jocks watching TV getting old?

Goliath: My new favorite series is “Goliath.”  A little like Fargo.  And it has Billy Bob Thornton.  So far a well-written legal thriller.  Great characters.

Save the World: Been reading a lot of descriptions of crime novels and thrillers on BookBub, Good reads, etc.  Have come to realize that when the protagonist “has to race against time to save the world” they’ve lost me.  Just personal taste.  Difficult to suspend reality.

Retirement Time: A number of my friends are contemplating or entering retirement.  Their greatest concern is how they will spend their time.  If you think about it, that should be an overriding concern of life.  Some are worried that they won’t have enough to do to fill the time.  I have too much to do and lack the time to do it.

How do you make $1,000,000 playing jazz?

Start with $2,000.000.

Now an Author

Your Friend is Now an Author!!  Ta-Dum

 

I haven’t posted on my blog since September’s Pillows, Passwords, and Politics.  I haven’t sent an email other than as a musician in just as long.  My life has changed.  Now I am an author.

I have written a mystery, which has character (or characters anyway) and of course humor.  It’s called The Devil’s Jury by D. S. Kaplan.  You can find out more at my site http://www.dskaplanauthor.com.

In print ($15.99) or

ebook ($5.99) on most book selling sites and ordered through stores.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Or my favorite www.lulu.com

I am no longer seeking nor accepting new B2B marketing clients although I retain  a few favorites.  I hope you will still enjoy my DK4M blog on the new site and elsewhere.

Stay tuned for the next novel TEO: Thief Executive Officer.

Pillows, Passwords, and Politics

If a plethora of pillows and passwords were money, I’d be wealthier than Warren, The Donald or Bill Gates.  But they’re not.  Can’t move in my bedroom, no room to sit in the living room because pillows are everywhere.  The first few pillows were decorative or comfortable—useful in some way.  But they have exceeded their usefulness by a wide margin.

Just like passwords.  How many passwords really serve a purpose?  Do they have anything to do with security?  Most involve neither commerce, finances, nor privacy.   Still other passwords have nothing to do with products or any form of protection.

I know that some of these obstacles allow the acquisition of useful marketing intel (a redundancy to those annoying opinion and evaluation surveys).  However, they do nothing to support or serve the visitor/customer/supporter.  So why are we overloaded with them?  Not sure, but I think it has something to do with attitudes—either “chicken soup” attitude as in “it couldn’t hurt.”

There are a number of sites or apps that I have refused to use because they required superfluous passwords.  While the ostensible objective of most of these password purveyors is to gain subscribers or followers, it’s likely that the extra barrier of passwords actually discourages subscribers.  Does this sound familiar?

WINDOWS:  Please enter your new password.

USER:  cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

USER: boiled cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

USER: 1 boiled cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces

USER: 50damnboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character

USER: 50DAMNboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry the password cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.

USER: 50damnBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon’tGiveMeAccessNow!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.

USER: ReallyPissedOff50DamnBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDontGiveMeAccessNow

WINDOWS: Sorry, that password is already in use

That leaves us with the third P of plenty – politics.  There’s too much.  The annoying kind—interminable and shallow press coverage and epidemic of insults on Social Media.  And unfortunately, the critical kind that paralyzes government, makes it difficult for some to vote, and expands the wealth of the oligarchy and the magnitude of poverty.  The state of politics today makes me want to go punch a pillow.  Fortunately I have a lot of those.

Mysterious Waze

The world moves in mysterious ways—the mantra for those who want to rationalize or reconcile all the horrors and disappointments life has to offer.  This foundational slogan of the faithful strengthens and fortifies them in times of need.  Here’s an example:

Horrific flooding swells the rivers of Arkansas.  Houses and cars and people float away.  Everybody who can evacuate, does so.  Post haste.  Others, like Farmer John, are less fortunate.  A deeply faithful ad religious agrarian, he climbs to the roof of his floating house and waits for the Lord to rescue him.  His neighbors call up to him from a rowboat, “Farmer John, jump down and we’ll save you.”

Farmer John replies, “My faith will save me, be on your way.”  Sometime later, a helicopter hovers overhead and drops a rope ladder to the stranded but pious man.  Once again, he waves them off, shouting that his faith will save him.  As soon as they depart, rain comes down in torrents, and the river rises so fast that all Farmer John can do is to climb to the very top of his roof and cling to a shaky weather vane.  But alas, the river swallows up the houses and the farmer with it.

As he takes his last breath, he pleads to the sky, “Lord, why have you forsaken me?  I had all the faith in the world.”

A bolt of lightning streaks across the heavens and a cavernous booming voice rings out, “Farmer John, I sent you a rowboat and a helicopter, what else did you want me to do?”

Faith can be critical, but it can only take you so far.  Some believe the world was created in seven days, the good will go to heaven eventually, the NFL is run for the benefit of the players and the fans, politicians will keep their promises, the bible is all you need, and all good things will come.  Faith will see them through the trials and tribulations of life.

What mystifies me is what we choose to put our faith in.  When the objects of our trust are human—weather forecasters, political pundits, fortune tellers, clergy, and the like, we know we are taking a risk.  So we have turned to higher powers—from the Oracle at Delphi to numerous religions, each claiming to be the Absolute.

Waze is a wonderful app that is kind of like a GPS on steroids.  It enhances the satellite map capabilities with real time input from its community of users—a group approaching 100 million worldwide.  It has evolved from its 2006 beginnings and grown to be a Google-owned app.  Along the way, it has won the loyalty and faith of users who adore it for its ability to uncannily avoid traffic snarls and construction.

I know people who believe that Waze is always right—in the face of empirical evidence to the contrary.  When the miraculous cyberguide misdirects, they say “there must have been a reason.”

Well, those in my life who can’t abide my Luddite, anti-technology contentment convinced me to use Waze.  So I experimented and programmed it to guide me to a location that was familiar to me.  I started out following Waze’s routes and instructions.   Within minutes I was miles away from my destination’s path.  It was worse than useless.  Those crazy wazies in my life insisted that there must have a been a reason.  There wasn’t.

I won’t subject myself to Waze Worship.  I may never get where I want to go, but I won’t go crazy.

BTW, Siri doesn’t know dick.

Reincarnated

I started DK4M in 2009.  The blog originally stood for Marketing, Movies, Music, Mishigas—not necessarily in that order.  It has meandered from time to time, pursuing a laugh, an aha, or a revelation.  The blog has its fair share of followers, RSS feeds, etc.  Page views on the home site are about 3,000.  I have written 75 posts, only blogging when I thought I had something to say.

I haven’t posted since last spring because I have been writing a novel—a mystery novella entitled “The Devil’s Jury”.  The process and the learning have been fun and rewarding.

I’m reviving the blog and hoping that it will provide three benefits.  First, it will establish what publishers refer to as an “author platform”—roughly the equivalent of target marketing or branding.  People who follow my blog are theoretically more likely to want to read the book.

Second, readers will be able to provide input and feedback.

Third, posting helps to affirm my commitment to writing–sort of like people announcing that they’re quitting smoking—in the hope that the announcement will embarrass them into compliance.

I suppose that some of my posts comprise a personal philosophy.  Speaking of philosophy….

PHILOSOPHY is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.

METAPHYSICS is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.

THEOLOGY is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there and shouting “I found it!”

SCIENCE is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat using a damn flashlight.

Looking forward to haunting you with posts once more.

Transaction Counteraction

 We can all agree that the uncertainty created by fast, frequent, and critical change have wreaked havoc on our world. There may be another more subtle cause for stress, anxiety and acts of cruelty. We know more people than ever before and we don’t know them as well. We transact, view, visit, contact, and message. We don’t relate. The 600 contacts on my Linked In, the hundreds on other social media are just that – contacts.

In marketing, we call them touchpoints. Make sure that our prospects, clients and referrers hear our names periodically. So they don’t forget us. The problem is that technology has made it so easy that they get to the point of being saturated.

There are two unfortunate manifestations of this easily reached-but-confidence-breached culture. The first is that we have apparently become so desperate for relationships that we have fixated on celebrities more than ever. Our obsessions have led to reality TV or vice versa. While the practice of celebrities endorsing products about which they have no expertise has always flourished, recently it has mushroomed exponentially. Matthew McConaughey promotes cars and fat Dr. Phil tells us how to diet, Rob Low pushes FIOS, etc.

The second symptom of our Transactional World is that people and businesses try to compensate by increasing the quantity of interactions. In marketing we call them touchpoints. To avoid the cardinal sin of being overlooked or forgotten by a prospect or customer, we try to get our name in front of them as often as possible. The result is notifications or outreaches from email, mail, phone, Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, +1, Google, etc. Even worse are the numerous wasted phone calls from “services” for which you are neither a customer nor a prospect.

Unfortunately, this is the state of our world. The only way to improve the situation might be to prioritize. Focus your time and energy on the real relationships — on those you wish you had more time for and minimize or delete the cursory and casual contacts that suck up your time and your will. Counter act the transaction.

 

 

Typos for a Laugh

I receive these periodically. They just make me chuckle. Church ladies with typewriters apparently actually wrote these and they actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services: PLEASE CLICK CONTINUE READING.

The sermon this morning: ‘Jesus Walks on the Water.’ The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus.’

Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.

Don’t let worry kill you off – let the Church help.

Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM – prayer and medication to follow.

The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM . Please use the back door.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday: ‘I Upped My Pledge – Up Yours.

Promises To Keep

I recently spent some time convalescing from surgery. The trauma and pain pills diminished my mind (perhaps already at a below par level) to the point that the only activity that I could focus on was television. Two observations:

First, most commercials are putrid. They show an extraordinary disrespect for viewers. One of the most annoying tactics is to use repetition in lieu of content. Repeat a (meaningless) phrase ad nauseam — awesome, awesome, steak and eggs, phone number, phone number, etc., etc. What’s really disgusting is that sponsors with adequate budgets (e. g., UPS, Dunkin’ Donuts, AMICA) are paying for these.

Second, police procedurals and most action series go like this: The episode begins with a heinous crime – a kidnapping, murder or robbery. We feel sympathy for the victim or the victim’s family and frustrated at the seeming hopelessness of the situation. Enter the hero – cop, detective, friend, whatever. After a short interview, the protagonist utters these words, “We’ll get whoever did this, I PROMISE.”

He promises???

The only way that promise can be made and kept is because the actor read the script. What are we promoting here? All you have to do to accomplish something is to promise it. Irresponsible pledging seems to emanate from politicians, merchants, and people at large. Is it any wonder that we sometimes can’t trust them? Moreover, determination borne of the false promise usually leads to the hero beating, torturing, tricking or lying to the villain (whom we viewers know is the guilty party). It sets a horrible precedent for violation and violence.

Enough complaints. Next post will make you laugh. I promise.

PLUGS, PEOPLE, PAYMENTS, AND PRESSURE

My post on collaboration and tolerance v. intransigence and narcissism was becoming ponderous even as I was writing it, so I canned it in favor of these other thoughts that persistently crept into my noggin.

Putrid Plugs
Promotions, plugs, and gratuitous publicity have gone beyond intolerable. The more egregious instances include:

  • Guests on talk shows plugging their latest movie or book or cause
  • The subscripted text and images that obfuscate the programming we are watching
  • The 25 minutes of advertising that precede a movie
  • SPAM
  • Product placement on shows and movies (cars, drinks, watches, background billboards)
  • Etc., etc.

More insidious are those plugs that masquerade as news. The network and local outlet flash the bulletin of who was eliminated or advanced from whatever dance, voice or whatever-talent-you-have-up-your keester program appears on their channel. You know, “Stay tuned to find out how many people died from what in what town and who is the latest to be eliminated from the cooking/dancing/funny attire contest.”

Television People
In some ways television is presenting a different view of Americans and other people than it did 15 or 20 years ago – physically and psychologically. Almost every major character’s appearance ranges from attractive to stunning. I’ve mentioned before that if TV shows are to be believed every female cop is gorgeous or close to it. If you peruse the cast of regulars you will find most ethnic and even several age groups, but you generally won’t find anybody too short or tall or fat or unattractive. Certainly not a cross section that approximates the general population.

On the other hand, television’s characters are more realistic — complicated and nuanced than ever before — often morally imperfect, judgmentally inferior, or socially ambivalent. This makes for much more interesting viewing – consider Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Dexter, Justified, Ray Donovan, etc. The trend probably began with the Sopranos. The drawback is that just like real people, they will often disappoint you. At times, it’s so difficult to find someone admirable – never mind heroic – that I have given up. House of Cards is one casualty and Masters of Sex is probably next. However, it’s still preferable to yesterday’s perfect protagonists.

Leased Truth
Car dealers should be prohibited from the practice of advertising fraudulent charges on leases as in:

$200 per month on a 30 month lease

Followed by the disclaimer too quick to comprehend or too small to read –$3000 down and 1st month and last month’s payments due at signing. The real monthly charge is $300. Shouldn’t they say so?

Overbearing Cause Marketing
Like most everybody, I contribute to a number of charities and causes. I am happy to do so. However, although their goals are loftier than most businesses, their methods have become almost as inconsiderate and unethical, at times bordering on ruthless. Beyond the misleading mail “surveys”, repeated phone calls, they have even started falsifying membership due dates. At times the hyperbole strains credulity. The political candidates, parties and PACs in particular are not only insensitive to the needs of those of us who support them, they are also getting as persistent as their commercial counterparts (e.g., Sirius, iTunes Store, several upscale retailers). This persistence extends to the uninformed and unprofessional practice of hiding or omitting opportunities to unsubscribe.

How about envelopes with “second notice” or “final notice” plastered all over them? They are asking for a voluntary donation not collecting and overdue invoice.

Last gripe: Apple has become one of the most arrogant entities on the planet. You turn your iPhone on to make a call (possibly an emergency and get a 30 PAGE AGREEMENT to ratify before you can use the device you paid for and own. They know that no one reads it, but apparently the lawyers are in charge.

What gripes do you have? (Aside from bloggers).

LOM VII Groaners

Here’s another post from the Lazy Old Man.  Puns and Word Plays.  You will groan.
I do not enjoy computer jokes. Not one bit.
I changed my iPod name to Titanic. It’s syncing now.
When chemists die, they barium.
Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
A guy got arrested playing the guitar for fingering A minor.
I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.
I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
They told me I had Type A blood, but it was a Type O.
A dyslexic man walks into a bra.
PMS jokes aren’t funny, period.
Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
Class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there’s no pop quiz.
Energizer bunny arrested — charged with battery.
I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it!
Did you hear about the cross eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?
When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
What does a clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.
I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!
Broken pencils are pointless.
I tried to catch some fog. I mist.
What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.
I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.
All the toilets in the police stations were stolen. Police have nothing to go on.
I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.
Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.
Cartoonist found dead in home. Details are sketchy.
Venison for dinner? Oh deer!
Earthquake in Washington D.C.– obviously government’s fault.
I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.
Be kind to your dentist. He has fillings, too.

Kaplan Marketing