Archive for October, 2010

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2010

~Mike

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Would you answer a text during sex?

October 28, 2010

You see it every day and so do I.

Technology and mobile devices have infiltrated our lives. People may be physically shoulder to shoulder, but has technology brought us closer together or is it making us more isolated? Eugene Ramirez responded to that question via Twitter. “For the singles group, we’re forgetting how to approach people out and about. We socialize/flirt better online. Sad!”

I see it every day on the Metrorail. People are butt cheek to butt cheek, but are on their devices and don’t even know anyone else is there.  Here are some shots I took during my short commute today.

I see it in the gym. How do I say hi when I can hear Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It” blasting out of the iPod? HOW?!?

I see a couple at a romantic dinner and they’re both on their PDA’s.  In the back seats of cars, a brother and a sister are watching two different DVD’s on two different players with headphones on. And I see it in meetings. People are responding to texts, e-mails and even taking phone calls in a formal meeting setting. I call it, “The new rude.”  According to an article published in Advertising Age,  even one in 10 under the age of 25 said they would answer a text during sex!

Look at this shot I grabbed at breakfast last Christmas morning at Roasters’ n Toasters in Pinecrest:

Is this gentleman waiting for a phone call from Obama? Santa? Aren’t the stock markets closed?

Is this theater patron in the midst of a hostile takeover of Microsoft and waiting for Carl Icahn to call?

Do people really get this happy when they score an iPad?

I’m kind of at a loss so help me out here. Are we suddenly like cats and always want to be on the other side of the door? Have we lost touch? Would you answer a text during sex? Has technology brought us closer together or farther apart? Why?

~Mike

“Love the one you’re with.” –Stephen Stills

Some like it hot

October 25, 2010

In my series of oft eccentric post, this one’s up there. I attempt to eat 20 of Wingstop’s hottest Atomic wings in less than 20 minutes.  And here we have it all edited on film for your viewing enjoyment.

While I have not yet received a call from the casting directors of Jackass 3D, this one might get me a slot on their speed dial. Please read the warning below before attempting any stunt like this.

And here’s the film:

What’s the hottest thing you’ve ever eaten? Do you like it hot?

~Mike

Shot in Miami on location at Beber Silverstein & Partners.

Edited by Mitch Koch, ACE

Babysitting A Gorilla: A True Story

October 23, 2010

“Whatever you do don’t go in that room,” said Mrs. Gillespie before leaving for the party. “Don’t go in that room!”

You see when I was growing up, our neighbor was a gorilla keeper at The Bronx Zoo.  And every night Mrs. Gillespie would bring home Julia, a 27  pound lowland gorilla to bond as her surrogate mother.  She explained that baby gorillas don’t survive without their mother’s constant body contact. And so we had a baby gorilla as our neighbor.

We could not tell anyone there was a gorilla living next door because they feared a kidnapping as they were very valuable.  That was kind of  a tough secret to keep as a kid. And I’ve never told anyone until today.

Weekends were special when Julia spent the day at home.  We would go over and play with her in the back yard, not the front yard so she wouldn’t be seen. And for 27 pounds, she was amazingly strong. One time she pinched me and I was black and blue for a week or two but we made up and moved on. So since I knew Julia and Julia knew me I was asked to gorilla sit one night. She was about this size at the time, perhaps a little bit bigger.

I went with Mrs. Gillespie into the bedroom and put Julia to sleep in a pen that was an old style wooden baby crib with a plywood board fashioned on top to keep her in.

There I was gorilla sitting, reading the charts they kept about Julia at the kitchen table.  The notes were incredibly detailed and there was an entry about every hour. Her mood, activities, what she ate, favorite snacks and how her stool came out. About an hour later I started to hear some whining. It started out soft then it got to be full-on jungle whining. And you’re smart enough to know what I did next. I went in the room to check on her.

I calmed her down and was real proud of myself. Then the whining started again. So I went into the kitchen to get what I read was her favorite snack, grapes. I opened the door and Julia went silent. I fed her grapes through the bars and we were having a special private moment together and the she went back to sleep.

As I was walking out of the room Julia started shaking the cage, pushing on the top and bending the plywood.  Then a loud snap. The top flew off and Julia ran around the room on walls alone! I ran out of the room, slammed the door, ran out of the house, slammed the front door, ran into our house and slammed our front door. I called Mrs. Gillespie and told her Julia got out. And that’s my gorilla babysitting story.

I called the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society to get an update on Julia.  A spokesman would not comment other than to say that “their facility is state-of-the-art and that no animals leave the zoo at any time.”

Gorilla photo credit: Caters News Agency

Farts and pink elephants

October 19, 2010

I’ve never seen a bad picture of my son. And I bet you’ve never seen a bad picture of your son, daughter, niece, nephew or your dog.  But the truth is some pictures are just better than others. Here’s some advice how to take great photos of kids.

I can’t tell you how many times I hear frustrated parents talk about how they can’t get great pictures of their kids.  So I thought I might give a little “how to.” It’s a lotta work, but it’s worth it.

1) Flush your point and shoot down the toilet.

Kids move fast. Point and shoots don’t. Get yourself any DSLR. I’m a Nikon shooter so I’ll recommend the cheapest Nikon kit to start you off: the  D3000 SLR with 18-55mm lens. Really, you would would be better off using an iPhone than a point and shoot as the shutter release is more predictable. Please, I don’t want to get into the Canon/Nikon fight here. Thanks.

You don’t really have to huck your point and shoot, but it’s not the best way to get great shots of kids.  Use it for scenics, vacations, landscapes and drunken parties.

2) Take a lot of pictures.

I learned this one from my pop.  Way back before their was anything digital in photography, he told me he took pictures without any film in the camera, just for practice.  It’s like going jogging with a basketball. You just get better at running and dribbling. If you shoot on a regular basis, you will get better at “anticipating the moment.”

Perhaps you  want to take a look at the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson. To quote him, “the decisive moment, it is the the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.” Pretty deep. Let me translate that for you: With practice, you’ll learn to press the button at the right time.

3) Let your camera do some of the work.

Camera’s today aren’t just cameras–they’re little information processors that capture images.  It’s a computer and can “compute” many things like light readings and focusing better and faster than us mere mortals.  PLEASE read your manual. I can’t tell you how many people ask me this or that about their camera before reading the manual. The more complex cameras get, the more important it is to do so. But having a capable camera is no replacement for #4.

4) Learn the basics or your toast.

Photography is photography is photography. It’s actually so simple, I taught myself and you can too. Start with a book by John Hedgecoe like John Hedgecoe’s Photography Basics.

5) There are three people in every picture.

There’s the subject, the viewer and the photographer. Yes, I’ve heard stories of the great kids photographers who are screamers on set, but they are the exception. So I guess you could say here are some pictures of me…

6) Farts and pink elephants.

Some final advice to help you get your shot. Approximately 6 hours before your photo session, stuff yourself with the spiciest chili you can handle.  And bring your most ridiculous thoughts too.  If you young’uns are giving you a hard time, tell them not to think about pink elephants and shoot away.  And if all else fails, let one rip and sit on your motor drive.  You’ll get your shot.

There you have it! Now it’s your turn. Have any questions? Comments? What works for you? Any way I can help, let me know.

~Mike

Congratulations South Florida!

October 17, 2010

I think we officially made it.  No more feeling like we’re walking through hot yogurt. We’re in the 60’s at night. What a weekend!  Here is an unretouched  picture of the sky yesterday from my Blackberry:

It’s a day when blue was only surpassed by pink  when 21,000 people participated at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure downtown. It was a day for the top down. A beautiful day for a birthday party at The Venetian Pool.  And a beautiful day to take pictures. Even pictures taken in the shade looked nicer!  Here are a few snapshots of this beautiful day:

Now if we could only Xerox this weather for about 6 months.  I’m getting away from this computer and heading out. What’s your favorite part of having weather like this?  Congratulations everyone!

~Mike

Reality Check: Coral Gables

October 14, 2010

I’ve never really agreed with all the rules and regulations Coral Gables imposes in its residents.  But this latest one is insane.

A proposed ban on leaf blowers because they make too much noise and pollute. Not to mention how they spread mold spores and pesticides. But under this proposition, there’s a beacon of light for the homeowners:  they can use electric leaf blowers.  Apparently, by some miracle of physics, electric leaf blowers don’t spread mold spores and pesticides.

I can somewhat understand having approved colors for home exteriors. There are over 200 approved colors to choose from.  I can understand trash cans being put out the night before pickup.  But I don’t understand having to hide your pickup truck like it’s some eyesore. It seems like Coral Gables wants to be like Ralph Lauren Country- “The City Beautiful.” Well, here’s what Ralph Lauren Country looks like. Oh no, a pickup truck!

You want to stop pollution in Coral Gables?  Make every home’s car fleet have an average of 30 mpg or more.  Coral Gables, what’s next?  Washing roofs with toothbrushes? Or mowing lawns with scissors?

What do you think?

~Mike

The world holds its breath

October 12, 2010

It feels like the night in 1969 when my parents woke me up to watch man land on the moon. I sit here now as a sat there then hoping all will go right.

They’ve been underground since August 5th. Before they were located 2,257 feet underground they stretched a 2 days supply of food for 17 days. Two spoonfuls of tuna, a sip of milk, a bite of crackers and a morsel of peaches. Every other day.

Hopefully, they will be soon be hoisted one by one to the surface. If all goes right, it will take 15 minutes per man and it will be the longest 15 minutes of each of their lives. I’ve written on Coal Miners before in a post called “Where will you be at 3:30 today? I hope to write a completely different story than that one soon.

I’d like to keep this one light, so pray for 33 miracles like this:

The most amazing thing to me: each man wants to be hoisted up last.  What’s the most amazing thing to you?

~Mike

A little boy’s dreams

October 11, 2010

Sometimes it’s Daddy’s bat.  Sometimes a football or a pop up book.  Or a new backpack.

Over the  years, I have found him sleeping with so many things that somehow magically appear after I have left his room.  I’ve found him in the strangest of pretzeled positions.  And sometimes I just pull up a chair and watch him sleep.

Happy birthday my son.  I hope all your dreams come true.

Love-

Daddy

Word Of Mouth

October 7, 2010

There’s good word of mouth and there’s there’s not so good word of mouth. Yesterday I saw some bad.  And today I saw some good.

The Bad): Yesterday, when South Florida Daily Blog’s Publisher Rick tried to send flowers through FTD his order was mishandled and he posted: FTD Pretty Much Sucks (Updated). FTD’s response was less than stellar, but the comments it generated were.  One poster went so far as to say, “FTD is evil.”  Granted many of us like Rick, but that is what Social Media is about: gaining trust, influence, engagement and popularity. So it’s no surprise that many came out to comment and give their opinions.

According a 2007 document published by the  WOMMA (word of mouth marketing association) titled WOM 101, WOM is: “Listening to consumers: Engaging them in open, unfiltered conversation promptly and honestly responding to their concerns valuing customer opinion, whether it is positive, negative, or neutral.” FTD did none of that and sent him a form letter response pictured here:

Funny, one Wikipedia entry cites  FTD as “Fails to Deliver.”

Too bad that FTD fails to recognize that they are not delivering flowers; they are delivering sentiments. My grade for FTD? F. Sorry guys.

The Good): Today I saw a dissatisfied customer named Shannon Schiner contact AutoNation via Twitter (her Twitter handle @shanfishes) about a recent  Certified Pre-owned purchase.   AutoNation Social Media Coordinator, Mallory Colliflower, responded quickly and took a page out of the Bill Clinton playbook. AutoNation made Shannon feel like they she’s the only person in the world. And I’m sure Shannon would agree. Just take a look at the exchange and the speed of the response at left. 9:24, 9:33, 10:02. 10:03, 10:09, 10:58 and 11:03.

So there you have it.  AutoNation gets the A grade for gaining trust, influence, engagement and, I would imagine, popularity.

So what are some of your best word of mouth stories,  good, bad or otherwise? I’d love to hear what you have to say and I’m sure a lot of other people would too.

~Mike

Word of mouth Photo credit: Media Bistro