Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Great Trash Can

A European firm has found a way to encourage people to not only use the trash bins but to pick up litter that is nearby. Enjoy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mini-Vacation Ahead

Evie and I have been in PA for the weekend. The next two days we will be repacking and getting ready for our mini-vacation. We head direct to the airport on Wednesday. Wednesday evening Evie and I fly to New Orleans from where we will travel to Baton Rouge to see Josh for the weekend.

Before heading to Baton Rouge we will be staying at a old elegant hotel, the St Louis, in French District of New Orleans. http://www.stlouishotel.com/photogallery.html

Thursday afternoon we will drive to Baton Rouge to take Josh out for dinner...the pep band is playing for Friday's volleyball game so we will take him to dinner to a nice restaurant Thursday evening before driving back to New Orleans, about an hour's drive.

Friday we move to Baton Rouge to take in the tailgate atmosphere and the game Saturday night. I am looking forward to hearing the LSU band. We return to Washington Sunday night around 9 and 7 AM Monday I am back to the same airport to fly to Atlanta.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Would You Claim Him As Your Son?

I laughed when I saw this last night. If this was my son….I would not know him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Social Networking and Fundraising

The last Presidential election cycle has again stirred the fundraising field to jump into social media as a way to raise significant money. Again we are hearing that the death of direct mail is only a matter of years away and that by 2015 that social networking and the internet will be the primary vehicle through which organizations will raise their funds.

In the mid 80s similar predictions were made about brick and mortar colleges, that the rapid growth of inexpensive videos would transform education. A series of lectures could be taped once, and with graphics, video clips and notes inserted, the finished product would be superior to the classroom experience. By the hundreds of thousands students who did not need highly specialty labs would be studying from home and never darken the campus. Such advocates argued that building of new dorms, recreation and classroom facilities was a waist. Similar arguments were again made with the advent of the DVD, and high speed internet. Are brick and mortar colleges dying….far from it.

After 9-11 predications were made that the internet was the fundraising vehicle of the near-future and any organization who did not move quickly to the net would be left behind within five to eight years. Hundreds of organizations invested tens of thousands of dollars on internet initiatives only to find that they received through the net a small fraction of what they invested.

More sobering predictions were again made following Katrina and now again after the recent election cycle. History has shown that the net is not a magic bullet. The organizations that raise money via net tend to be groups that are involved in political action or those responding to a high profile emergency where the urgency to give is immediate.

Social networking is a vehicle for communication, but it is not a magic fundraising solution. Social networking will work for those groups, like a Habit For Humanity, whose fundraising model was social networking based prior to the creation of e-blasts, blogs, Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Most social networking vehicles are shallow tools of communication. They are filled with shallow messages. In looking at TSA Corps social networking sites, the membership indicates two things. 1) Few Corps have a broad base, and 2) most of the member is from within the Army….in other words, we are talking to each other. Let us also not forget that the majority of people who have social networking sites are not as active on the network as we would tend to think!

Nonprofits should be in the social networking space only if the organization has a thoughtful and realistic strategy that works with an organization’s overall fundraising and market strategy. Also, an organization should not spend a great deal of resources developing and maintaining the site. The return on investment is not there. A major reason for being in this space is not for raising dollars but as a component of donor communication and education, and then it should not overshadow more effective donor communication vehicles such as direct mail, newsletters, calling and meeting with donors.

The Social networking should only be one vehicle, and even then a minor vehicle, that is used for fundraising and donor communication. It could pull from existing material that is either suitable as is or with some slight adjustments. Whatever the message may be, it should be cogent and be content focused. What is shared should not be trivial, nor should it be too data packed or ethereal. The messages should be success story and ethos focused. Messages that ask for volunteers and money should be rare (less than 10% in total).

Investment of resources (human and fiscal) should be minimal as the rate of return does not justify a heavy investment. Again, it is an awareness tool that should be part of our communication mix, not a direct fundraising tool. It should be used as such a tool to tell the same or similar story that we are telling via other channels. A thoughtful organization should be in the space, but without drinking the spiked cool-aid.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Denied Opportunity of NFL Ownership

Rush Limbaugh the conservative commentator mega-millionaire was approached to be part of a pool of investors trying to purchase the St. Louis Rams. Last weekend the news of his participation created a stir amongst various social groups, players and even some league officials. The controversy was so strong that the head of the pool of investors announced early Wednesday that Limbaugh would not be a co-owner.

The remainder of the week a host of conservative voices spoke out against the wrong being done Limbaugh. Noting Limbaugh’s love of the game and marketing savvy, these voices proclaimed he had been torpedoed by his liberal media enemies who inflamed owners and players with their lies. They also decried that he was being prevented from investing his money as he so wished, and such an act is un-American.

Since 1988 when he started his syndicated radio talk show, Limbaugh has been unapologetically and stridently opinionated. Claiming that he is speaking his mind and the truth plainly he has not only offered opinion but done so in a controversial neo-tabloid format. It is not uncommon for his facts and interpretation to be questioned truthful on a daily basis. Even more so, it is rare that a week goes by without one or two statements creating a stir.

Limbaugh is highly influential in Republican circles – so much so that only a handful of Republicans could survive upsetting Limbaugh on an ongoing basis. His clout in Republican circles was evidenced in 2008 when he urged Ohio Republicans to switch parties during the primary and vote for Hilary Clinton and putting the Democrat party into chaos. Limbaugh said "The dream end of [Operation Chaos] is that this keeps up to the Convention, and that we have a recreation of Chicago 1968 with burning cars, protests, fire, and literal riots and all of that, that is the objective here." There were over 16,000 Ohio Republicans who did what he suggested.

Speaking of Obama’s Presidency, “I hope he fails.” He demeans anyone who has any hint of what he terms liberalism. He repeatedly demonizes feminists as “femanazis.”

In 2003 he had a brief stint as a NFL commentator. His career ended because he was too controversial and unguarded with his opinions. He became the focal point of controversies, particularly with regard to how he expressed his views about Philadelphia’s quarterback, Donavan McNabb.

Throughout his career Limbaugh has dug out decades old unflattering quotes of those he attacks. He has often taken the statements out of context and not balanced them off on later statements and actions. In his pontification he encourages his followers to organize, to speak their minds with forcefulness, to lobby against things that they think are wrong and press their ideas forward forcefully not only to politicians but to corporate executives.

The majority of the mainstream media more middle of the road than Limbaugh and conservatives hold. In this past Presidential election, there were as many editorials supporting McCain and Republican candidates as Democratic. One of the purposes of the press is to shine the light upon issues and the actions of public personalities, and Rush Limbaugh is certainly a public personality. The press summarizing his controversial nature was doing its job. The press is the avenue for airing and vetting. When he is the focal point and they do what Limbaugh himself has been doing for decades, he and his supporters cry foul.

The vast majority of NFL owners are conservative socially and politically. Most would have sympathy for many of his views. That said, the last thing that they want to have is for an owner to become a distraction for the NFL, for owners to be asked regularly about the views of one of their own, or for a team’s executives, coaches and players to be asked regularly by the press what they thought of some controversial political comment made by their owner. The NFL owners club wants their owners to fly below the radar and not be controversial.

The press and social advocates did torpedo Limbaugh’s chance to be a NFL. They merely noted that Limbaugh has been a controversial personality and will continue to be a controversial personality. What prevented his desire to be an NFL owner is his ongoing strident controversial opinions….the NFL owners club and Limbaugh are a mismatch.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dean Martin

Recently I watched clips from the old Dean Martin shows. Watching the clips two things keep standing out. First, from his actions, facial expressions and speech it appears to me that he had been imbibing. Second, his public reputation for drinking heavily was the foundation for too many sketches. A person’s heavy use of alcohol should never be the basis of humor as it only further enables such activity.

Martin had a deep and diverse connection into the heart of the Hollywood talent pool. He was known as a fun loving party guy, which would in my opinion may well be somewhat based upon his personality when he was intoxicated. Martin’s talent is undeniable. I loved his westerns and his stuff with Jerry Lewis. In other films, particularly in many of his later films, his work seems to be a little off. In looking at him in the old clips of his show I am left wondering how much further he could have gone if not been for alcohol.
Fortunately, making light of one's drinking habits and alcohol addiction is not as socially acceptable as in the past. That said, we still have still have a way to go.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Best of Intentions...

I find it sad how people tend to use the expressions about good intentions as a condemnation of following good intentions. It is true that some bad results happen when we try to do something and offer help with the best of intentions. Why do we allow such moments to speak negatively of good intentions?

Why are we allowing human foibles and misjudgments speak negatively of good intentions in general?

Let us not overlook the broader reality. More often than not the best of intentions bring about positive results, and often great good. How many of us keep track of our positive results arising from good intentions? Most of us forget to count how often the best of intentions work out for the good, and sometimes for the tremendous good.

Friday, October 09, 2009

America Attacked From Within

I learned of this story today. Jamie Leigh Jones, an employee of Halliburton was required to sign an arbitration agreement regarding issues that arise within the context of her employment with Halliburton. What Halliburton knew, and Ms Jones did not know, was that she was signing away her civil rights as a condition of employment. Thinking that such arbitration pertained to minor disagreements and differences between employees and between employer and employee, I have looked favorably upon such agreements.

No longer do I support such agreements. Such agreements must be explicitly outlawed if such agreements protect a firm and its employees from being held accountable. Once again we have exposed the ugly underbelly of the corporate environment in America. Halliburton remains unapologetic for its shameful conduct and not working swiftly and diligently to bring the perpetrators to justice. While threats to America do come from without the country, Halliburton has shown that an equal threat to America can and does flow from its corporate boardroom.

While no American should be asked to sign away their civil rights as a condition of employment, such an expectation is far more common in the United States than its citizens realize.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Lighthouses of the Outerbanks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are known for the their beaches and lighthouses. The first picture is the Hatteras Lighthouse on Hatteras Island. We climbed up the interior...268 steps.

Evie on top of the Hatteras Lighthouse and the beaches to the south. Below is a look at the town of Hatteras to the north.

The last time we visited, the lighthouse was being moved on a crawler from its original position due to the beach being eroded. Below are two pictures, the first shows the track the lighthouse followed and the second the site (you can still see the old stone foundation on the edge of the beach).

Below is Bodie Island Lighthouse which is to the north of Hatteras Island.

Friday, October 02, 2009

North Carolina Ferries

We reported taking two ferries on our recent trip. The ferries on the short runs, such as those between the Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island, as pictured below are basic. Some have sitting areas while others lack such areas. There are no metal gates as there are on the longer runs that are exposed to rougher seas. As you can see from the last pictures the waves can wash over the front...and our trip was done on a calm day.

There is not fee for cars or passangers on the shorter runs like the Hatteras to Ocracoke. These ferries carry all supply trucks and construction equipment Ocracoke.