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September 2006

Minnesota Golden Gopher Football Luncheon

I had a conversation with my mom on Saturday and I told her I was not feeling well. She got that mom tone in her voice and I realized I had better explain myself.

   

That morning ESPN had their first College Game Day, a preview of the upcoming season, and it was hard to watch. As in I did not care. Did not care, she asked. Something must be wrong…

   

I have tickets to the Minnesota vs. Cal game on September 9th. My fraternity brother Jason and I are making this our third year in a row to an away game. The last two years were at Michigan and we are 1-1.

   

Tuesday I was invited to the luncheon by Rick Beeson, President of Park Midway Bank and a board member of the Goal Line Club.

   

I had been busy the whole morning and it felt like it was more trouble than it was worth to drive over to St. Paul. But I went anyway.

   

The program and lunch were good but I was still feeling a little ho hum. Then Coach Glen Mason started speaking.

   

He told us why he likes doing what he does in coaching and teaching young people. About the relationships and friendships that are built. That there is something on a day like Tuesday with a warm afternoon but a sense of fall in the air. Maybe not so much in temperature but with state fair going on, school starts next week, it just starts to feel like a football season.

   

And then he started speaking about the last three years of Michigan games and my enthusiasm started kicking in. He talked about the game three years ago up by 21 going into the 4th quarter on national TV and then mistakes are made and we lose.

   

Two years ago up by four with two minutes to go, Michigan with the ball, and no timeouts. They score to win.

   

But then there was last year. The sweet sound of 111,117 in the Big House, except for a couple of thousand screaming Minnesota fans, stunned in silence as we kick the game winning field goal.

   

It was awesome to hear him talk about his experience that day and I started reflecting on mine and how I am fortunate to remember almost everything from our bar crawl in Ann Arbor that night. (Good thing I was the sober driver on Friday night)

   

I left there with a hop in my step humming the Minnesota Rouser.

   

7 days until I leave for the Bay Area and 9 days until the game. As I started typing this I realized that I somehow deleted a couple of posts from last season so I will do a 2005 In Review later this morning and my 2006 Preview this evening.

   

Let’s Go Gophers…


Radio Shack, You Have Email And No Job

Radio Shack laid off 400 employees by email this week. I understand that they announced the pending layoffs on August 10th and that they said it would happen electronically with most cuts coming at the headquarters in Forth Worth, Texas. The staff was sufficiently prepped.

   

Still, what are these executives thinking? Were they trying to save printing costs so they decided email was a cheaper alternative?

   

This is absurd. You would think that after the Northwest Airlines debacle, which happened while plans were being made for the layoff, Radio Shack would have rethought their plan.

   

Nope, apparently common sense is nowhere to be found in the northern or southern parts of Middle America.

   

Yes they gave what looks to be a good severance package including 1-3 weeks for every year worked up to 16 weeks for hourly employees and up to 36 weeks for staff making at least $90,000 a year.

   

That’s admirable but that does not make the message itself any less absurd. It screams that the company is insensitive. Yeah the cash is great but tell it to my face. Take five minutes of your time.

   

Can you imagine knowing a layoff notice is being sent at 8:45 am on Tuesday, getting to work, and cautiously opening your email? Hey, your one of the lucky lottery winners, get your check and go home.

   

At least they did treat everyone equally from file clerks to a vice president. Like that makes it any better.


Lunch With Governor Tim Pawlenty

Many thanks to George Serdar of Messerli and Kramer for inviting me to the law firm for lunch on Monday. Governor Pawlenty stopped by and had a chat with the attorneys and their guests about his vision for the State of Minnesota.

   

He spoke a bit about challenges facing the state including, health care, energy, public education and his vision on how to work on them.

   

It was also interesting to hear him say that quality of life in the region is important too and that projects like the Guthrie and Shubert Theaters and Minnesota Zoo are important. He also noted that it’s the quality of life that keeps Minnesotans here and attracts others to move here. That’s interesting to hear from a republican.

   

He answered a few questions but I had one that I was really curious about. After he had finished I introduced myself and asked the following question, “Technology and the use of it seems to be a major answer to many of the issues we face. How do we get young people who do not see technology or engineering as a career interested?”

   

We only had a couple of minutes but he explained STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and the upcoming summit on September 30th at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Here is the entire press release with information on the STEM Summit, PAWLENTY ANNOUNCES GRANT MONEY TO COVER SOFTWARE TRAINING, $1 MILLION IN AP GRANTS NOW AVAILABLE, and here is just the part on the summit:

The Governor also announced that the Department of Education and partners will host a STEM Summit on Saturday, September 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. Interested students, parents or teachers should contact the Minnesota Department of Education for information about the event and how to receive free admission that includes a ticket to the Science Museum for the day. Additional details and a sign-up form are online at www.education.state.mn.us.

   

“The business community has asked how they can help prepare our students for the future. Participating in our STEM Summit is a great opportunity for them,” Governor Pawlenty said. “The STEM Summit will bring together Minnesota companies and hundreds of high school students. We need to provide the opportunity for students across Minnesota to make direct connections with employers to show what it means to be an engineer or have a technical job.”

   

STEM education is key to building a strong Minnesota. Economic forecasts project a 20-33% increase in scientific and technical occupations in Minnesota in ten years and new job growth in professional and high tech industries will demand an extra 10,500 college graduates per year. For students, completing Algebra II in high school more than doubles their chances of earning a four-year college degree. Governor Pawlenty proposed and signed legislation this year that requires Algebra I by eighth grade and Algebra II and Physics or Chemistry to graduate from high school.

In order for both Minnesota and the United States to continue to be leaders we cannot continue to see lower numbers of technology, science, math, and engineering students. It is nice to see that state and local government and business are working together on this.


Minneapolis Wi-Fi Provider Chosen

A couple of local stories, Minneapolis picks Wi-Fi firm, Qwest protest fails to derail Wi-Fi project, and US Internet expected to win city Wi-Fi contract, on US Internet being picked by city staff to win the contract. While this does not guarantee US Internet will win the contract, and to use a football analogy, they are up by three touchdowns with the ball and it is the 2:00 warning in the 4th quarter.

    

Service will cost $20 per month, $30 for businesses, and will cover 95% of the city. A special modem will also be required at $75 or $5 a month to help with indoor service. A fund will be set up to help low income users.

   

Neighboring cities are talking about getting into the service too.

   

Of course Qwest is unhappy with the decision. I am one of the many former unhappy Qwest customers so in my mind, I call it even.


IT Jobs With NonProfits

The following new full time IT jobs have been added on the Volunteer Page:

   

Assoc Network Admin, Fulll Time Job

      

Workstation Support , Fulll Time Job

      

Information Technology Specialist , Fulll Time Job

   

Click weekly newsletter to receive the Wednesday message of nonprofit needs, IT jobs I am recruiting for, recruiting gigs, and most popular blog posts of the week.

   

If you are using a RSS Feed click Volunteer.


Federal Judge To NWA Flight Attendants, No Strike Yet

Apparently this federal judge wants everyone to take a deep breath, hold it, turn blue in the face and hope they do not pass out while he thinks about this a little more, NWA strike on hold: Judge wants status quo while he decides

   

Hey, I have a great idea. Maybe both sides should get together and negotiate a reasonable settlement before the judge “sticks” it to one of them and possible everyone else in the region.

   

Oh hell, there I go trying to make sense again…


Truth Or Dare

This post comes courtesy of the Recruiting.com Blog Swap. Claudia Faust writes the Improved Experience blog. Claudia is also the Founder of Improved Experience, a third-party research company that provides customer-specific business intelligence.

Here’s the Truth part.  You’re sitting around having a beer with your friends after work and discover that someone at the table has the exact skills that your boss is trying to hire into your development team.  You like this person, think they’ve got both talent and potential, and know you’d work well together.  Do you say:

   

(a)    “You really ought to come to work for my company!”

(b)   “You really ought to meet my boss!”

(c)    “You really ought to be glad I won’t pass your resume on!”

   

Referring others to your company for hire can seem like a slow and painful way to make a buck - if they pay you for it at all.   Which is why most people I know don’t do it for the money.   To be honest, referring talent is bit like volunteering in your community…you do it for lots of reasons, but money isn’t usually one of them.

   

Not every charity is worthy of your time – and not every company is worthy of your friends (read the end of this post if you think you’re working for one of those).  But for companies that do take care of their own, in the spirit of volunteering we recommend the following "Top Five Reasons To Introduce Your Friends":

   

  1. My existence here makes a difference.  And if I can make a difference here, think of what we could do together.
  2. I want to give something back.  My company has done a lot for me – opened doors in my career, invested money in my training, and given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had somewhere else.  They believe in me…when was the last time you said that about your job? 
  3. I want to be part of a team with common interests.  We’re already friends.  This team would ROCK if you were a part of it.
  4. I want to promote my business.  I am part of an amazing company that deserves a chance to be seen and heard.  I’m telling you so you can turn around and tell somebody else about it too. 
  5. I love what this company does.  This product, this service, this connection with our customers…that is why I’m here.  We’re changing the world, one customer at a time.

It’s a great thing to like the company you work for.

   

If that isn’t your story (I'm guessing that you're the one who answered (C) above), then it’s time for the “Dare” part of this post.  Dare to find a job you love this much.  Or, dare to work toward solving the problems in your company that will make it the kind of job you love this much.  Either way, you win.  Happy recruiting!


Avoid Marrying A Career Woman

So says Michael Noer at Forbes.com. If you have not yet heard about this, Mr. Noer wrote an opinion piece earlier this week “Don't Marry Career Women” that caused such turmoil that Forbes.com took the story down. Taking down the article turned turmoil into a major storm and Forbes.com returned the story to the web site with a counterpoint.

   

Now they have both stories side by side with a new URL, Careers and Marriage.

   

Mr. Noer starts his opinion with this:

Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.

He says I should be OK as long my wife, who ever and where ever she is, makes less than $30,000 and likely does not have a college degree.

   

Now I know why I am single, internally I must have already known this and because most of the women I know are college grads making well more than $30,000 I have been protecting myself. Whew, mom will feel so much better knowing I was saving myself from future heartache.

   

Mr. Noer is an idiot.

   

I know some people, men and women, will agree with him. My observation is that it’s about what common goals you and your spouse have and how you work the individual ones in. Not about the man or woman but how it gets worked out between them. Besides, that would be like saying women should not be married to middle aged writers for business magazines because they have certain traits.

   

I wonder what Mr. Noer would think of that.

   

Elizabeth Corcoran, a lead writer for Forbes, started her rebuttal with:

Girlfriends: A word of advice. Ask your man the following question: When was the last time you learned something useful, either at home or work?

If the last new skill your guy learned was how to tie his shoes in the second grade, dump him. If he can pick up new ideas faster than your puppy, you've got a winner.

Read it for yourself and then click over to Reader Response to "Don't Marry Career Women" and you are sure to see some comments that will set you off…


Google Page Rank, How Do You Like Me Now

In yesterday’s post, More Northwest Airlines 101 Ways To Save Money, I mentioned that I have been a little overwhelmed with the response to the Northwest Airlines story. Overwhelmed is not the right word. Maybe shocked. I really had no idea that people outside of the Upper Midwest would care about it.

   

I had a couple of buddies yesterday ask me in regards to my visitor spike of the last week if my ego was getting large and if I still had time to have lunch with them. My response, in humor, was that I would have my people get back to them. I was busy working on my signature for all of those autograph seekers.

   

First, I have no “people”. Second, I should work on my signature because my writing skills are bad. It’s the only talent I have that qualified me for being a doctor.

   

Most important, I know that most people from Vegas, Miami, Portland, Dallas, Honolulu, Vancouver, and Moscow are stopping by just for the one item. I hope they found the information useful and of course I hope they come back again.

   

For those from local places like Eden Prairie, St. Paul, Eagan, and Woodbury I hope they found a lot of useful information and come back often.

   

I wrote a while ago about how my Google Page Rank went from 5/10 to 4/10 and that referrals from the search engine dropped considerably. Which was a small issue as most of my traffic comes from repeat visitors, local sites, and technology user groups.

   

Well the Page Rank went down but the Alexa ranking went up courtesy of the Northwest Airlines story.

   

I have been keeping track of my Alexa rankings since March. Back then I was around site 2,100,000 (3-month average). My 3-month average now is 706,246. My one-week average has been usually around 400,000.

   

Today, more like the past few days because they seem to be a day or two behind, I am site 50,550. The one-week average is 171,318.

   

This story has a shelf life of only so long but it is very cool to watch happen. Of course I hope some have added me to their favorites or RSS Feed. Which by the way during this time went from 65 to 398.


More Northwest Airlines 101 Ways To Save Money

This is a follow-up post to last weeks Northwest Airlines List Of 101 Ways To Save Money. I apologize for not updating this story sooner. I have had to remind myself that I am a tech recruiter first, and blogger second.

   

Unfortunately I did not get on the National Public Radio (NPR) segment of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell me. They were able to get quotes from a union rep and for as much as I wanted to get in the story they made the right choice.

   

To hear the segment go to This Week’s Show. Then look for:

“Bluff the Listener” "Thanks for nothing, corporate overlords!" Three stories about good intentions gone awry in the business world.

While not getting on the show was a bummer NPR does have on their front page “Links Heard On Air” with a link to this story Northwest's Advice to the Laid Off: Dumpster Dive. There is also a 2+ minute audio of the piece they did which includes comments from those that received the material. At the bottom of the story is a link to my blog posting. Very, very cool.

   

There has been a lot of attention to this story. Last Friday I had 1,100+ visitors to the 101 tips. As I type this at 6:00 pm central time I have had 6,100+ visitors just today.

   

Frankly I find this all a little overwhelming. What I thought was an interesting local story has brought 55+ links from other sites, quite a few comments, and 85 email messages. I am slowly responding to the email.

   

The most frequented question I have been asked is, “What do you think of this?” As I said in the original post I found that many of these “tips” are reasonable actions people could take to save some cash.

   

The problem is that the material was given to those losing their jobs. If I had been a recipient of the material I would have wanted someone’s butt on the chopping block. And not some mid manager person, a ranking official.

   

For those who have said the workers were being overly sensitive I ask them this question, “If it had been you how would you have reacted?” I doubt they would have laughed.

   

The problem I have from where I sit is that this was a complete failure on NWA’s part. So they really did not check the material before it was presented? Geez, that’s an awful lot of trust to put in an outside vendor.

   

My understanding, and I may be wrong, is that the 150+ page packet was going to be the standard packet moving forward. Can you imagine if this happened to more than 50 employees and not in three small towns?

   

Finally, even NEAS (the firm who put the material together) is saying that the material was prepared by someone else. Were they aware of what was prepared? Have they passed this same brochure on to other clients? Better yet, who did prepare it?

   

I lied, one last thing. I have been asked which “tip” I thought most about. #53 Bicycle To Work. Dude, they don’t have jobs!!!

   

I have gone through my referral pages and I always hesitate to point out one site over another. Some sites have referred quite a few people but only have the original story. Other sites have been either more original with what they wrote or have had great comments on their site.

   

Here are a few of the many worth taking a look at:

   

From the local crowd here in Minnesota:

-Metroblogging Minneapolis: Northwest Airlines to employees: go dumpster diving!

   

-City Pages Blog: Frugal Flyer

   

-MNspeak.com NWA Says 'Screw Your Dignity'

   

From the national crowd:

-Funny Business: Distributor of NWA's "101 Ways To Save Money" apologizes--sort of With a copy of the NEAS “apology”.

   

-SmartMoney.com: northwest to laid-off employees: dig through your trash! A special award for this one, many stories have had a picture of a person digging or sitting in a dumpster. This one comes with Oscar the Grouch From Sesame Street in a NWA trashcan.

    

-STL Recruiting: 5 More Ways to Save Money If You're A Northwest Employee I know Jim well and he is not serious about his tips. He is just taking the original 101 steps another step to show the absurdity.

   

-Lifehacker: Ask the Readers: Cut your expenses when things are tight?

   

-FatWallet: Money Saving Tips from Northwest Airlines

   

-Don’t Mess With Taxes: In case of an emergency firing, dumpster dive

   

-Super Happy Funtime Blog: And People Thought This Was INSENSITIVE????


Control Data Founder William Norris Passes Away at 95

Seems like so many heroes in our society are given that title without having earned it. Being an athlete, rock star, politician, CEO, etc and having a huge paycheck or high net worth does not make you more of a person. It makes you rich but you can still be poor.

   

We lost a good man yesterday. Yes he started Control Data that helped many new companies get started but it is the social impact this man made that matters most.

   

Both local papers have good biographies on William Norris, A computer pioneer, a social visionary and Computer pioneer believed business could better society.

Yet Perlman contends that it would be a lamentable injustice if Norris were to be remembered solely -- or even primarily -- for Control Data's failures.

   

"What made Bill a visionary was not his dreams about technology but rather his deep understanding of the threat of social unrest to the success of business long-term," said Perlman, who retired as Ceridian's CEO in 1999. "His great triumph was that he tried to address the central social problems of the time -- the creation of opportunity for disadvantaged people."

   

In pursuit of that goal, Norris built factories in poor areas of north Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., San Antonio, Texas, and Appalachia. He engineered seed capital funds to help entrepreneurs and installed prison assembly operations that gave inmates job training and pocket money. And he began training disabled people as programmers to provide them with some of the first home-based computer jobs.

As the articles point out, he did make some mistakes in sticking with the mainframe for so long.

   

But the number of companies that were created or spun off, jobs created, and making communities better is an amazing legacy.

   

We should all be so bold.


Volunteer Opportunities And IT Jobs With NonProfits

The following new full time IT jobs have been added on the Volunteer Page:

   

Web Designer, Volunteer

   

IT Specialist, Full Time Job

   

Database Assistant, Part Time Job

   

Click weekly newsletter to receive the Wednesday message of nonprofit needs, IT jobs I am recruiting for, recruiting gigs, and most popular blog posts of the week.

   

If you are using a RSS Feed click Volunteer.


Northwest Airlines List Of 101 Ways To Save Money

***August 23, 7 pm update***

Click More Northwest Airlines 101 Ways To Save Money to find a commentary, update on NPR, and links to this post.

   

***5 pm update***

I was interviewed by NPR for their segment Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me segment. When I get the link I will post it.

    

***3 pm update***

Here is a link to MNspeak.com and what a few of the Minneapolis folks are saying

    

***Noon update***

This morning a federal judge ruled he cannot block a strike by NWA flight attendants. “CHAOS” could start August 25th.

    

This is a follow up to my previous post Outsourced Northwest Airlines Employees Down In The Dumps(ters)

    

In fairness it looks as if the company, (NEAS Company, www.neas.com) who put this list together has the same list for all of their clients, not Northwest Airlines specifically. Still, you would think the airline would look at the material they are giving to their soon to be former employees.

    

In my opinion some of these are decent ideas but in this context, jobs being outsourced, this is insulting at best.

    

So here are the 101 Ways To Save Money from the 4-page “Preparing for a Financial Setback” including the now famous #46 “Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.”

    

1. Set your thermostat to 64 and turn it down to 60 at night.

2. Use the phone book instead of directory assistance.

3. Use coupons at the grocery store.

4. Carpool.

5. Ask for generic prescriptions instead of brand name.

6. Do your own nails.

7. Rent out a room or garage.

8. Replace 100 watt bulbs with 60 watt.

9. Make long distance calls at night and on weekends, instead of mid-day, mid-week.

10. Throw pocket change in a jar and take it to the bank when it's full.

11. Always grocery shop with a list.

12. Buy spare parts for your car at a junkyard.

13. Go to museums on free days.

14. Quit smoking.

15. Get hand-me-down clothes and toys for your kids from family and friends.

16. Meet friends for coffee instead of dinner.

17. Request to get interest on a security deposit for your apartment.

18. Take a shorter shower.

19. Write letters instead of calling.

20. Brown bag your lunch.

21. Make your own babyfood.

22. Use public transportation.

23. Drop duplicate medical insurance.

24. Buy old furniture at yard sales and refinish it yourself.

25. Apply for scholarships and financial aid.

26. Exercise for free-walk, jog, bike, or get exercise videos from the library.

27. Form a baby-sitting cooperative with friends and neighbors.

28. Buy your clothes off season.

29. Go to a matinee instead of an evening show.

30. Share housing with a friend or family member.

31. Hang clothes out to dry.

32. Do not use your calling card.

33. Volunteer two hours a month for reduced cost food through the Share Program.

34. Change the oil in your car yourself regularly.

35. Get pre-approval from your medical insurance company before undergoing any procedures or tests.

36. But 'no frills' vitamins.

37. Take a date for a walk along the beach or in the woods.

38. Make cards and gifts for friends.

39. Shop in thrift stores.

40. Have your water company do an audit so you are not charged sewage fees for water used in your garden.

41. Refinance your mortgage.

42. Grocery shop on double coupon days.

43. Trade down your car for a less expensive, lower maintenance one.

44. Convert your cash value life insurance to term.

45. Shop around for eyeglasses.

46. Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash.

47. Recycle.

48. Move to a less expensive place to live.

49. Use low flush toilets or water saving devices in the tank.

50. Drop unneeded telephone services like call forwarding or caller ID.

51. Buy fruits and vegetables in season.

52. Avoid using your ATM card at machines that charge a fee.

53. Bicycle to work.

54. Shop around for auto insurance discounts for multiple drivers, seniors, good driving records, etc.

55. Ask your doctor for samples of prescriptions.

56. Borrow a dress for a big night out. or go to a consignment shop.

57. When you buy a home negotiate the sales price and closing costs.

58. Turn the hot water heater down and wrap it with insulation.

59. Never grocery shop hungry.

60. If you qualify, file for Earned Income Credit.

61. Shop around for prescriptions including mail order companies (Medi-Mail 800-331-1458, Action Mail Order Drugs 800-452-1976, and AARP 800-456-2277). 

62. If you pay for childcare, make use of the dependent care tax credit or your employer's dependent care flexible spending account.

63. Buy, sell, and trade clothes at consignment shops.

64. Shop around for the lowest banking fees.

65. Caulk windows and doors.

66. Iron your own shirts.

67. Plan your weekly food menu before shopping.

68. Buy a good used car instead of a new model car.

69. Purchase all of your insurance from the same company to get a discount.

70. Cut your cable television down to basic.

71. Go to an optometrist for routine vision tests or to change an eyeglass prescription.

72. Buy pre-owned toys and children's books at garage sales.

73. Have potluck dinners with friends and family instead of going out.

74. Use the library for books, video tapes, and music.

75. Inspect clothing carefully before purchasing it.

76. Don't use your dishwasher dry cycle; open the door and let them air dry all night.

77. At the grocery store, comparison shop by looking at the unit price.

78. Make your own coffee.

79. Use old newspapers for cat litter.

80. Shop at discount clothing stores.

81. Skip annual full mouth x-rays unless there is a problem; the ADA recommends x-rays every 3 years.

82. Water your garden at night or early in the morning.

83. Shop around for long distance rates.

84. Hand wash instead of dry cleaning.

85. Grow your own vegetables and herbs.

86. Shop around for auto financing.

87. Donate time instead of money to religious organizations and charities.

88. If you are leaving a room for more than five minutes, turn off the light.

89. Shop at auctions or pawn shops for jewelry and antiques.

90. Keep your car properly tuned.

91. Request lower interest rates from your creditors.

92. Trade in old books, records, and CDs at book and record exchanges.

93. Pay bills the day they arrive; many credit card companies charge interest based on your average daily balance.

94. Buy software at computer fares.

95. Search the internet for freebies.

96. Compost to make your own fertilizer.

97.If your car has very little value, you probably only need liability insurance.

98. Cut the kids hair yourself.

99. Increase your insurance deductible.

100. Buy in bulk food warehouses.

101. If your income is low, contact utility companies about reduced rates.


Google Analytics Open To All

Here is the announcement from the Google Analytics Blog.

   

I wrote a couple of months ago that I finally received my Google Analytics invitation code. When we redesigned the blog we added it.

   

I have continued to use Site Meter during this time to see if there were any discrepancies and I have not found any. I will continue to monitor this but if I do not see any changes I will likely cancel the Site Meter service.

   

Not so much because of the cost but I like colors, graphs, and extra information Google Analytics provides.

   

Which by the way is way more than I need right now and I have occasionally found myself wasting time looking at stuff that I should not be bothering with. I think it makes me feel smarted than I am.