Monday, September 13, 2010

Can an HR manager enter into heaven?

“Jesus will see you directly,” the receptionist told me.

 

I was led down a corridor to a waiting room.

 

It was the darnedest thing. I couldn't remember with any clarity how I got here. I figured Jesus was Puerto Rican. That was nice, that they let Puerto Ricans have positions of power at the company.

 

I sat, looked in my lap, and noticed I was carrying my resume and portfolio. What was I doing here? There was something about a falling elevator.

 

Jesus popped out, wearing a blue suit, red tie, hair in a pony. “Come on in, Mike. I've been waiting for you!”

 

His office was small, but well-ordered.

 

“The thing is, Mike,” he said, seating himself, “we want to make a place for you at the firm, but we want to be sure it's a good fit.”

 

Jesus scanned my records with reading glasses perched on his nose.

 

“You say you were skilled at using trick question in interviews, as a way to shorten your list of candidates.”

 

“Right,” I answered. “The entire point is to shorten the list so we don't interview anyone who is inappropriate. So we ask questions that candidates should think carefully about before answering.”

 

“Like what?” Jesus asked, putting the tip of his pencil between his teeth.

 

Here's one: “What was the last book you read?”

 

Jesus: “And?”

 

Me: “And if it's not a book about careers or business, we drop 'em.”

 

Jesus: "And your favorite book?"

 

I wagged my finger at Jesus and laughed. "Oh, no you don't!"

 

Jesus: “I see. Tell me, what was the position on healthcare?”

 

Me: “The last thing we wanted to do was pay unnecessary benefits. So whenever possible we described a position as temporary, or contract.”

 

Jesus: “Smart. What about people who were different? Who had an unusual way about them, or had special problems?”

 

Me: “Well, we made sure we were in compliance with the law. But remember, we were looking for people who would fit in well, and not make waves.” I knew I was wowing him.

 

Jesus: “What about gaps? Sometimes people, through no fault of their own, have periods of unemployment.”

 

Me: “Well, that's a problem. We're looking for people who have been retained. To be laid off, or to take an extended vacation, that's a signal to us that there's something wrong with you.”

 

Jesus: “Just so.” He scribbled in his notebook for a moment, then looked up at me and smiled. “I think we're don here,” he said encouragingly.

 

Me: “I hope I was able to answer all your questions. I want to underscore that I am a team player. I think of myself as a kind of friendly capo to the people I bring in. You know, keep 'em on the right track, between the lines of the orgchart”

 

Jesus clapped me on the back. “Mike, it's people like you who make the world function as it does.”

 

That made me feel good. “So you'll call me?”

 

“Certainly,” said Jesus. “And I want you to know, even if you do not win this position, we will keep your resume on file for one year.”


A camera for the rest of us ... caution, gruesome

Friday, September 10, 2010

My brush with fame

[IMAGE]

TECHNO-CRAZED

The business person's guide to controlling technology before it controls you

by Michael Finley
Copyright © 1998 by Michael Finley

My Brush with Fame

by Michael Finley
Copyright c 1998 by Michael Finley; Exclusive to Computer User

The old adage about fifteen minutes of fame has certainly held true for me. Mine occurred four years ago, when a book of rehashed columns of mine, called Techno-Crazed, hit bookstores.

It was the first computer title ever from Peterson's, better known for publishing books about how to get into college. They overlooked some obvious tactics, like sending the book to computer magazines, and placing it in computer stores.

But their publicity team pulled off a coup, setting up a bona fide New York City media tour: CNN Morning News, CNBC's Money Club, Sony Worldwide Radio and the big enchilada, ABC's Good Morning America.

A lone Minnesota boy with a PC clone, up against the New York media, is classic David and Goliath scenario. Unlike David, I was scared stiff. But I made up my mind I would embrace the challenge -- for my kids, as a lesson in overcoming shyness.

As the shadow of the jet crisscrossed Manhattan on our approach to LaGuardia, I knew that publicity was the key to getting my book on the best seller's list. Because this book summed up all the frustration people ever felt about computers and networks. It was funny, incisive, and doggone it, it was packed with useful, down-to-earth advice. Add to its natural merits this terrific publicity tour, and I envisioned people mentioning my name in the same hushed breath as Jim Seymour.

I must have bolted upright in the hotel bed a dozen times before the 4:30 a.m. wake-up call. I dressed and stumbled down to the limousine driver, who drove me to the CNN studios. There I found I was scheduled to follow none other than Bill Gates! Although he had the presence of mind to videotape his appearance, hyping his book The Road Ahead from the sanity of his own time zone.

The interviewer on this show was a British fellow named Stuart Varney. He introduced me as someone who divided computerdom into savants and people like himself. (Actually, I divide it into lots of types.) He said to me, "Mike, I truly hate computers. Windows is dreadfully confusing to me, and I simply hate the Internet. What do you think I should do?"

"Something else?" I asked. This was my best line of the tour.

That segment went OK. The next one, CNBC's Money Club, was rougher, because it was a financial show, and my book was about lots of things, but not finance. I could tell the anchorguy thought I was a fraud, but at least he didn't betray me with the screech of the body-snatchers.

Late that night I sat in with Darrell Ankarlo on Sony Worldwide Radio, and that went much better. On TV, the cue card is king, but on radio, the talk jock is king. Darrell and I had fun sparring with one another about Mac versus Windows, and Bill Gates' money.

In the morning, it was time to do "Good Morning America." In the Green Room, I was pacing nervously. The only other person in the room with me was a smallish woman with downy hair. I don't know why, but I assumed she was the hostess or assistant producer or something. So when I pointed and asked if the Danish on the snack tray were strawberry or raspberry, I was surprised when she turned to me crisply and said, "How the hell should I know?"

That the last thing Glenn Close ever said to me.

Anyway, after all this attention, you'd expect great things from the book. Like, people rushing out and buying it. But they didn't. This past month I got word that it was remaindered. It sold a measly 1,337 copies worldwide. Maybe it was because Peterson's was taken over by Thomson International, and they shut down our division. Just possibly, maybe it wasn't the greatest computer book ever, after all.

But it had my name on it, and I rode in a limo for two days flogging it like a pro. I will always cherish that moment in the sun. And thank you, Ms. Close, for being you.

To attend a virtual memorial service for Techno-Crazed, visit Michael's web site at http://www.skypoint.com/~mfinley/funeral.htm.

Techno-Crazed:
The Businessperson's Guide to Controlling Technology-Before It Controls You
"Finley examines the issues of 'computer mania' with clarity, comedy, and comradeship, making us feel that normalcy is within reach. I highly recommend this book to every compulsive computer user -- and to anyone who knows one." -- Steve Deyo
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Michael Finley
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AN INTERNET BOOK REVIEW

by William Sheridan

From TECHNO-crazed to TECHNO-crats

TECHNO-CRAZED

Michael Finley

Peterson's/Pacesetter Books

Princeton, New Jersey, 1995

"How To Avoid Cyberspace Stupidity"

I liked what I read on the back cover of Michael Finley's book, and I bought it as a kind of "self-defense" course to protect me from someone who has been subjecting me to their symptoms of compulsive technophoria. On the basis of my preliminary scan, it seemed like a good collection of idiosyncratic cases of technological extremism -- no great depth, but some useful ammunition.

The more I read the book however, the more I revised that judgement. This book is by far the best compendium of computer-culture wisdom that I have ever come across. Both the extent of knowledge and the breadth of comparison that Finley brings to bear on this topic, are truly exemplary.

Let me give you a few specifics:

There is a short test to administer and score yourself, and it tells you what kind of computer person you are -- from power user to technophobe, and everyone in between. It's short, simple, and very insightful. And on the basis of both mine and my wife's results, I can assure you that it's right on!

There is a running thumb-nail history of the evolution of computers that is better than many of the other books and charts I have seen elsewhere. And, it is modularized (the secret of good instruction), so it doesn't sidetract or waste time.

The advice on how to develop a relationship with an after-sales service provider, is a gold-mine of useful tips. We are all lost without repairmen and online help desks, yet we usually deal with these people haphazardly, and they don't do much better by us. Finley explains how and why we need each other, and how to behave to minimize difficulties.

The essential theme of Finley's book is that both technophoria and technophobia are undesirable extremes (I suspect they are forms of psychopathology) that should be avoided by anyone with good sense (wisdom). Neither lionizing nor demonizing gizmos is a fit attitude for self-respecting adults.

Throughout the book, Finley recommends frugality, self-reliance, patience, and good sense when dealing with computers and technicians -- and these are precisely the virtues which my own experience also recommends. There is, in addition, much more of value in the book, which is exactly why you should buy it, read it, and take it to heart!

"Future Shoes" by Michael Finley

This column was adapted for use by FUTURE TENSE, NPR's tech program. To hear it, click here.

The Techno Answer Man has been grinding out user questions for over fourteen years. Here he is again, with another helpful installment of Happy Computing!

Dear Techno Answer Man: I recently took my computer tower in for repairs after experiencing problems with booting up Windows 95. They say the drive is dead, but it's only 6 months old. Can you help?
Gwen W., Kalispell MT

What would you think the odds are that the people you showed your computer to would understand your problem less than the Techno Answer Man, who has never seen your damn machine and couldn't care less about it? Not too good, I'd say.

Dear Techno Answer Man: I recently bought a Compaq Presario 1810 laptop. It's giving me conniptions. It won't shut down completely, the screen flickers and spasms, and it won't start up again unless I hold it diagonally! Whenever I try to do work on it goes into diskscan for about 15 minutes, then the screen goes blank. Unless I hold the CTRL key down during startup, I get the CMOS screen. I have spent three months trying to get Compaq, or anyone, to help me with this nightmare. What should I do?
Jack S., Phoenix

I'm not familiar with that model. A common assumption is that I have every computer ever made, and I know every one inside and out. For that to be true I would need a very large office, and a very small life. The truth is, I only have one laptop, a Dell, and none of that ever happens on mine. Happy Computing Tip #3,281: Unless you want lemonade, don't buy lemons.

Dear Techno Answer Man: I love Happy Computing! and read it every chance I get. Here's my problem. I run my laptop from the battery a lot, and I'm trying to come up with a way to know what the battery's life expectancy is. Have you dealt with this problem?
Allen H., Willamette CT

What I do, I run the computer until the screen gets real dim, and then I recharge the battery. Or I put another one in. Duh.

Dear Techno Answer Man: I recently created a macro that allows you to create flashing type in Word 97. It's easy to toggle on, and you can make all sorts of interesting special typographical effects with it. I use it for web sites, banners, and birthday cards. The kids especially like it. Would you like to share it with your readers?
Ferd N., Castalia OH

No.

Dear Techno Answer Man: My monitor is fine most of the time. But every now and then, when I'm just sitting down in front of it, the image shimmies, and the only thing that makes it right again is if I power down and then up. Any idea what what the problem might be?
Arturo C., Schenectady NY

Yes. Your monitor is busted.

Dear Techno Answer Man: I am looking for a reliable encryption program to keep my files from falling into the wrong hands. I'm aware of several products on the market, but don't know which one is best. I'm betting you have a terrific recommendation for me.
Neil S., Tucumcari NM

Neil, what makes you think anyone on this earth would want to read your files? I could barely make it through your letter. It's not like you're running a school for industrial espionage. Natural boringness is all the security you will ever need, and you've got it in spades.

Dear Techno Answer Man: My modem, a v90 USRobotics Sportster, doesn't connect with my ISP. I don't know if there's an AT command out of synch in the INIT string, or my modem just doesn't like my ISP's modems. Anyway, I dial, and it rings, and it wants to connect, but it just hangs up. I don't know what to do. Techno Answer Man, you're my last hope.
Lisa D., Baltimore

Keep dialing, Lisa -- maybe you'll get lucky.

That's all for this installment. But hold onto your technology questions till the next time Techno Answer Man agrees to read his mail. Till then -- Happy Computing!

 

Techno Answer Man is the copyrighted creation of Michael Finley. Any unauthorized reproduction or use of the Techno Answer Man name or trademark will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

To purchase Techno Answer Man's Happy Computing!, or the sequels More Happy Computing!, Even More Happy Computing!, and Really, Really Happy Computing!: The Very Best of Techno Answer Man, visit his website at http://mfinley.com.

 

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"Future Shoes" by Michael Finley

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Get your signed copy of
The NEW Why Teams Don't Work
by Mike & Harvey Robbins
from Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Just click on the book cover!
A fully revised second edition of this award-winning classic
by Harvey Robbins and Michael Finley
Paperback

Winner, Financial Times/Booz Allen & Hamilton Global Business Book Award, Best Management Book - The Americas, 1995


Table of contents and sample chapters of this book...

Just click on the book cover to order your signed copy for only $12.95.
Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!


Table of contents and sample chapters of this book... Why Change Doesn't Work:
Why Initiatives Go Wrong and How to Try Again and Succeed
Harvey Robbins, Michael Finley
Hardcover
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Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!


"This is the first treatise on change we've seen that is actually entertaining. The authors cover human and organizational barriers to change and change theories, and then take a tour of management theory that's guaranteed to upset every reader at one point or another." -- HR ONLINE

Table of contents and sample chapters of this book...

Ask Techno Answer man!

"Future Shoes" by Michael Finley

For use: Friday, May 6, 2001

 Future Shoes  "What Can I Do About Porn Spam?"

by Michael Finley
Computer User
Columnist

Q. Every day I get several pieces of porno e-mail from all sorts of places. I don't open it, but It keeps coming. And this is all of a sudden. I only use e-mail to friends or research stuff on the internet, but never that kind of research! No one else uses my computer. I have called America Online about this and don't really understand their answers. How did this happen? What can I do? I hope you can help stop this onslaught. - Alice S., New York

A. Alice, the issue of spam, whether it is porn or non-porn, illustrates just how unwilling the government is to protect consumers. This is true, even as the government itself is involved in numerous schemes to spy on us, to limit our own freedoms, and to serve us up to business. For years we have been demanding an end to this awful violation of our privacy. Why has there been no crackdown? Why haven't new standards been established to prevent forged headers? Because lurking behind these small-time con-persons and mom-n-pop porno outlets are big organizations with big money who eventually want the same access to our consumer data and e-mail information that these small-time worms are enjoying.

There are a few things you can do. First, maintain two or more e-mail addresses, a private one and a public one. Someone got hold of your current email address, and they have diluted its value. Hotmail and Yahoo are good places to set up a public address. Use the public one you have to divulge an address, and check that place for mail once a month, at most. With friends and trusted individuals, use the private one. Alternative: use an altered address, one your correspondents can figure out but bulk-emailers cannot -- like ALICEATAOLCOM, or Alice@aol.comNOSPAM.

Second, use an e-mail client that allows you to filter your e-mail. Pegasus and Eudora do this. My understanding is that AOL has a screen. You can tailor these subutilities to screen mail that uses such tipoff phrases as "!!!," "$$$," and "XXX." You will need to keep adding catch-phrases as you go, but at least you will feel you have mounted a defense.

Third, keep the pressure on your ISP (AOL). They promise you a family networking experience -- hold them to that promise. Complain every day, if you can, that you resent their letting such mail get through to you and your family. Remind  them that humoring spammers slows down their operations by a  factor of 50-60%. You would think they would be motivated to make examples of a few thousand porn parlors, and send a shiver of fear through the remaining 12 gazillion.

The sad truth is, there's no way to keep these buzzards at bay right now and still live any kind of online life. What I tell people is, porn spam is only pretending to be erotic. It is usually some grubby guy trying bulk email for the first time with a $100 kit someone lured him into buying -- likewise via spam. He himself is light years and a day from the erotic banquet he wants you to think he has set. One person in 50 million will hit his hotlink. He's out $100 -- still obnoxious, but in a way more a victim than you are, and much more of a fool.

  Copyright (c) 2001 by Michael Finley

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Stark County (Ohio's) loss

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I think with 300 million users you are pretty much looking at the global population.

Monday, September 6, 2010

mfinley98's Channel

I wrote a poem, packed pictures and audio around it, and then thought, screw it -- and took out the poem.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

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The Artwork of Bob Dylan | Rolling Stone Music | Photos

Literary Rejections on Display: The Foundling Review Rejection

I once wallpapered a bathroom just with New Yorker rejections. After a while you don't want to be accepted because you have this bare space beside the medicine cabinet.

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Minimalist versions of famous album covers. Thanks Julio!

 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

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Grumpy sea otter

The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks

Thanks to Brian Horrigan

A Day at the Orsay

video

St. Paul gets top ranking for speedy Internet

Home | Local + Metro | St. Paul


St. Paul gets top ranking for speedy Internet

Minneapolis ranks 7th among U.S. cities in residential download speeds. But some local experts question the rankings' validity.

Despite a hot summer, have we been moving faster?

Ookla, a well-known Seattle company that measures the speed of Internet connections, says St. Paul has recently become No. 1 in the nation in residential Internet download speeds. Minneapolis is no slouch either, coming in seventh in the current Net Index report.

But some local experts say Ookla's numbers are questionable. They point out that 18 months ago the state-sponsored Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force found that average residential broadband speeds in Ramsey and Hennepin counties averaged 6 million to 10 million bits per second, also called megabits.

But Ookla's average speeds -- 14.5 megabits in St. Paul and 12.3 in Minneapolis -- were significantly higher. Its statewide average was 12.5 megabits, significantly higher than the national average of 10.5.

The local experts suspect that Ookla's survey of residential Internet speeds is flawed because it accidentally included some high-capacity corporate Internet connections, whose speeds far exceed anything available to consumers.

In response, Ookla, which makes a living providing speed test information to corporations, questioned the low speeds found by the state task force. Those numbers came from another Internet firm, Connected Nation of Washington, D.C.

"It's very possible that the speeds in our report were low, but I don't think they were that low," said Rick King, chairman of the Minnesota task force and chief technology officer of Thomson Reuters in Eagan. "I don't think a lot of people are getting those (Ookla) speeds. And I don't see how the high numbers are possible without maybe mixing in the speeds from some business customers."

Brent Christensen, a task force member and CEO of the St. Paul-based Minnesota Telecom Alliance, a trade association representing 88 independent telephone companies, agrees.

"If you added in business customers, it would be no problem to get to 14 megabits of average Internet speed in St. Paul," Christensen said.

Connected Nation's Brent Legg said Ookla's numbers probably are correct for Minneapolis and St. Paul, but, given how broadband starved outstate communities have been, its Minnesota-wide number may be flawed because of a sampling error that gave too much weight to Twin Cities Internet users.

"When I talked to Comcast earlier this year, they told me their 20 megabit Internet service was their most popular," said Legg, director of stakeholder relations and development. "That may account for the Minneapolis and St. Paul speed increases, although their state speed number seems a little bit odd to me."

Comcast agreed that its consumer cable modem speeds of 12 to 50 megabits could account for the high St. Paul average speed. Qwest did not return a phone call about the Ookla study.

The apparent improvement in statewide Internet speeds comes at a time when there has been a scramble among competing groups of communities, schools and Internet providers to apply for federal stimulus money to improve broadband speeds in rural Minnesota. The reason: While there are pockets of high-speed service around Minnesota, many areas have speeds of around 1 megabit, or no high-speed Internet service at all.

"While some of our member companies are offering 20 to 30 megabit Internet connections in different locations around the state, I don't know that they would be enough to give the state that high a speed average," Christensen said.

Ookla does its surveys of broadband speed in an unusual way. Rather than contact Internet users, it relies on the results from two free websites -- Speedtest.net and Pingtest.net -- that are available to consumers who want to measure their actual Internet speeds and the quality of their connections. The websites measure how much time it takes consumers to download or upload a certain amount of data, then determines what cities they live in by the Internet addresses of their computers, called the Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses.

Ookla measured at least 75,000 users from every metro area in its city rankings between Feb. 28 and Aug. 29, said spokeswoman Hanna Lane. To make sure the numbers truly reflected consumer Internet speeds, Ookla eliminated all IP addresses that belonged to businesses, she said.

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553

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Comment on this story   |   Read all 7 comments   |  Hide reader comments

who

cares

posted by benitofinito on Sep 3, 10 at 11:53 pm | 

Bloated from decades of profit

Local Telecom shareholders are bloated from decades of profiting off of local and long distance fees... it's about time they invested in their communities and customers with technology that has been around for at least one decade.

posted by bradtheissenla on Sep 4, 10 at 1:10 am | 

Minneapolis...

I live in Brooklyn Park and RARELY even get the 12MPS from Concast that we pay for! Spelling intended. How do you other Comcast customers do?

posted by joverheul on Sep 4, 10 at 6:07 am | 

Speed is important

As there is money to made after the new faster internet takes over. The new internet much like cable TV a zillion channels run by the media establishment but nothing is on to watch. But lots of Main stream opinion but little real grassroot opinions as they were put in a internet rest stop for good. Speed is real important to get the pay per view content to you.

posted by lothlorn on Sep 4, 10 at 7:13 am | 

Stay Out Of It!

The government needs to stay out of the internet business! If people want faster internet speeds, they'll pay for it, and they'll get it. It's that easy.

posted by SMBowner3 on Sep 4, 10 at 7:25 am | 

Read all 7 comments  |   Hide reader comments

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Ya coulda fooled me

Friday, September 3, 2010

Facebook (71) | Getting through

Bocklin, Medusa Shield, close-up

And now for another installment of "Face to Face."

 

I was asked years ago what I most wanted to do. I said, "Get through."

 

What I meant was, get through the wall of fear or indifference that seems to surround everything.

 

I have friends (real world type) who disdain this world (online) because nothing real can happen here.

 

I don't agree with that, and it sounds like sour grapes or more fear to me.

 

I think what they are saying may be closer to "I don't think I could succeed in that realm," or, "I've been disappointed in the past."

 

Which would be more interesting things to have said -- but they were not.

 

I have the same fundamental problem my dear daughter had. I live at a full boil, wanting things to happen. When it comes to interaction, I am nearly insatiable.

 

And it is very selfish. I specifically want things to happen for me. I get exhausted by other folks' neediness just like anybody.

 

I believe the real purpose of the appendix is to prevent people from appreciating their own neediness. Once it is extracted, like goes on -- but people know. They don't say anything. But they know.

 

I get envious. I visit someone's page and see that they have wonderful long exchanges with friends. And the friends are encouraging, and affectionate, and most of all, they are there. They have not headed for the hills.

 

And I wonder, how do they do that?

 

I think there is something about art and artists that people hate, in a very deep, raw way.

 

Right brain people do something to us that we don't like, or disagree with on a visceral level.

 

And you know what? I don't know what it is!

 

But it's a lovely joke by the Great One. He makes all these people this way -- longing to get through. And these are the very people who will never get through. By definition. There probably isn't even any "through" to get. It's like those caves that Wile E. Coyote would paint on the rocks.

 

In the movies, Road Runner would zoom into the cave, to safety. But you and I, we know better.

 

Sigh ... Slam!

 

It's like having fish in a tank and adding a teaspoon of formaldehyde to it every day. As spectator sports go -- nah, the Great One probably sees it as a scientific experiment.

 

As I get older I find myself turning to substitute visions. 

 

Knowing no one is going to interact in any meaningful way, one begins to live mischievously.

 

My 500 page collected works was mostly sincere ... but there was a part of me that, in the compiling, snorted and thought, "This'll show 'em!" 

 

I.e., I'll build a tower to God so that we can all take a 2x4 up and bash him in the eye, and I won't charge nuthin. 

 

Prometheus did less when he stole fire on our behalf.

 

There is the tale of the djinn. Confined in a lamp for 10,000 years, he vowed to reward anyone who rescued him.

 

But as time passed, he grew wroth, and vowed to kill whoever was his savior.

 

It's sorta like that. Someone has to pay. Cuz these feelings are not gonna go away on their own.

 

As I get older I understand mass murderers better. They are just artists with straight razors.

 

That's all for today. But join us the same time tomorrow for another installment of "Face to face."

 

Bocklin, Medusa Shield


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

At the Orsay

A report on my day at the world's second greatest art museum

How do you get featured on YouTube?

You are invited, for instance, to subscribe to my video community.

Here's the link:

YUKON GOLD was my last "book" -- from now on I'm focusing on video.

Maybe one a month is all -- but this way ya won't miss anything.

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