My wife Amy loves to watch horse racing on TV (not bet, just watch the horses.) I’m lying on the couch resting from a very intense week (and catching up stuff.)
It just dawned on me that horse racing is “NASCAR for rich people” (just look at the stands.) That got Amy laughing (although I like NASCAR better.)
I’m going to be out of town on election day so I just filled out my absentee ballot (thankfully I got my ballot, unlike my 13,000 friends in Colorado that didn’t.)
The anarchist is me voted for Colorado Amendment 36 (proportional voting). Last time I checked, we lived in a “one vote for each person country”, although I can’t ever remember whether we live in a democracy or a republic (and – after reading this link – I still can’t tell.) Lots of folks rail against the electoral college – I took my mandatory semester of government in high school and couldn’t figure it out. Colorado’s proportional voting amendment is retroactive, so if it passes, the 9 Colorado electoral votes will be allocated proportionally (making Colorado most likely a 5-4 state.) My election prediction at this point is that Kerry will win by 3 votes, Colorado Amendment 36 will pass, Colorado will go 5-4 to Bush, the Bush faction will sue for unconstitionality of the retroactivity of Amendment 36, and the Colorado Supreme Court will have some fun in November and December (and we won’t find out who our new president is until 2005 sometime.)
I also voted to raise taxes on myself for all the Boulder County stuff around funding for the arts (SCFD), open space protection, and fire prevention and forest management. Does that make me a liberal sissy?
The noise about RSS bandwidth jams finally made the NY Times today. However, that’s not what this post is about.
In the article, the NYT quotes blogger Steve Main who writes on his blog. “The whole purpose of an RSS aggregator is so that I don’t have to open my freaking Web browser to 100 different pages. By having the content right there in my aggregator, I can skim an entire article in the time it takes to open up a new Web browser. By not including full content in the RSS feed, you take away some of the productivity gains that RSS offers.”
Steve’s point is right on the money. But why did he say “freaking” instead of “fucking”. And when did “freaking” become an acceptable and uncensored substitute for “fucking” as an adjective? Now, I’m not an editor, nor do I want to be, but when I hear 10 years olds walking around saying “freaking this and freaking that” I’ve just got to wonder. I’m also not a prude – I can use the various forms and usages of the word fuck with the best of them. Freaking is just such a lame substitute for the real thing.
I love tennis. When I was a kid (age 10 – 14) I was a serious junior player until I burned out from too many 10 hour, 100 degree plus days of banging my racquet against the ball (and the fence, and the ground, and my head) in the Texas heat. I still love to play and – instead of fighting to win – I’m delighted to go for every shot and see my old amazing strokes and ball placement every one out of ten shots.
I came home late tonight after a long day. Amy had Tivoed the Johansson vs. Roddick US Open Match. She told me I had to see it (she’d watched the first two sets but was happy to rewind and watch again with me.) I settled into the couch and within 15 minutes the stresses and challenges of the day were gone. Johansson’s first two sets were absolutely unbelievable. Roddick played like the US Open champion that he is, but Johansson just creamed him.
In the third set, Roddick caught fire and crushed Johansson’s spirit. You could see Johansson lose it – all the momentum shifted to Roddick. The NY crowd – which is always great at night – came alive. The fourth set was more of the same – Roddick won something like 20 service points in a row. Johansson started making him work for points again, but Roddick looked invincible.
Johansson had never played a fifth set in a major tournament, but he came alive again in the first game of the fifth set. Suddenly, the damn Tivo recording ended (based on the pre-set time) and we were done. Grrrrr. We wandered downstairs to look up the results on the web – both of us were sure that Roddick had won.
We were greeted with the headline “Johansson Stuns Roddick.” 6-4 in the last set. Outrageous. Delicious tennis – Federer vs. Henman and Johansson vs. Hewitt for the mens semis. Even if you aren’t into tennis, it’s worth a look tomorrow and over the weekend as these guys are incredible athletes. Oh – and the women are awesome as well – I’d love to see Capriati win this one.
I love staying at Ritz-Carlton’s and – while it’s often an expensive experience – I’m willing to pay a premium for the service and comfort provided. Before I left for Alaska at the end of June, I went to the annual EDS / NMCI Industry Symposium where I was on a VC panel with Captain Christopher who runs NMCI for the Navy. The conference was at a sold out Marriott so my assistant put me up in the Ritz down the block. In addition to being a magnificent hotel, I ended up in a room on the Club Level (which I’m sure I paid more for) which included a nice concierge service and a bunch of free (and very good) food.
I only stayed one night, but had a very pleasant stay. I went to check out at around noon and everything was going smoothly until I looked at my bill. I was shocked by the total (which is usually all I look at) and quickly looked over the bill. I wasn’t surprised by my room charge (which was actually pretty reasonable), nor did the state tax, city tax, or occupancy charge both me as I’ve become immune to all the extra “taxes” we pay for travel. However, the “phone – long distance charges” totalled up to over $230 which blew my mind.
I asked the person checking me out why the long distance charges were so high. My recollection is that he indicated that Ritz-Carlton policy is to charge $15 for the first five minutes of the call and then $2 / minute thereafter (or something close to this.) I was speechless. My room had FREE high-speed Internet access. The Club Level had FREE gourmet food. But – my long distance phone bill was $230? I’d made a few short calls and had one long conference call – but $230? Maybe $23, but not $230.
Normally I’d have used my cell phone to make all my calls. However, in my room, my cell phone didn’t get a signal (it worked everywhere else in New Orleans, including in the Marriott Hotel.) So – I used the phone in the room. It didn’t even occur to me that there would be long distance charges, but if there were, I figured they’d be nominal since long distance service is now less than $0.05 / minute.
I asked the person checking me out if this was for real. I told him that I accept responsibility for not reading the fine print, but this seemed outrageous. He responded that “this is the policy – if you don’t like it you’ll have to take it up with Ritz-Carlton Corporate.” I asked one last time if he was serious – I’d told him that I’d recently stayed in a Marriott somewhere and had paid $10 for high speed Internet and unlimited long distance service. He responded, “We aren’t the Marriott.”
I paid my bill and left, the entire wonderful experience of the preceeding 24 hours completely obliterated by the last five minutes of my stay. As I stepped out into hot, muggy New Orleans afternoon I was baffled, frustrated, and amazed. I thought of all the stuff I’ve read from Seth Godin in the last few years and how he’d be rolling on the ground laughing at how the Ritz blew it.
So – I’m going to give the Ritz-Carlton a chance to redeem itself. I’m not interested in my money back. However, I am interested in the Ritz-Carlton changing their long distance pricing policy. While I’m not going to be so presumptuous as to suggest what they should charge, I suggest they consider pricing it similar to their high-speed Internet access.
I’ve forwarded this post to Simon Cooper (President and COO) and Debi Howard (Managing Director Customer Relationships) at Ritz Carlton Corporate. I’ll keep you posted on their response.
We have friends down from Anchorage this weekend that turned us on to the Degree Confluence Project. The goal of the project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures and stories are posted on the web site.
To date, 152 countries have successful confluence visits. 3276 confluences have been successfully mapped to date. While mathematically there are 64,442 confluences, the project came up with 16,165 that discount the many confluences near the poles as well as a number in the oceans.
The successful confluence visits have pictures and stories. Some of them are amazing. See our friend Doug’s 9 visits as an example. Cool!
You know the phrase – it’s said with some disdain, frustration, disappointment, or dejection.
Well – it happens. My partner Heidi Roizen’s assistant (Mary Bush’s) father-in-law Chuck Bush just won the $44m California Saturday jackpot ($17m lump sump payment after taxes.) I’ve never met Chuck, but Mary is awesome and my understanding is that Chuck is too. So – good people do win these things.
The next time someone groans out this phrase, tell them to be optimistic – it could happen (of course, you have to “suit up, show up, and play the game” also, but that’s a different metaphor.)
My friend Jenny Lawton had a good post on women, voting, and the creative / entrepreneurial efforts of Torrey Strohmeier. Amy and I were talking about women’s rights the other night recalled that women didn’t have the legal right to vote until 1920 (after the amendment was first introduced in 1878). Amazingly, women weren’t eligible to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship until 1977.