Second Guessing Giving to Charity

While I wouldn't call myself a heavy philanthropist - I do enjoy supporting my friends and family in charitable events and causes.

I must admit, however, that I recently gave pause before I pressed the "donate" button - second guessing if I should give to a few donations. Not because I'm cheap or heartless or shallow. It was because SPAM (both snail-mail and email) is a huge pet peeve of mine.

The use of online tools has made it much easier to donate, collect, and track charitable activities. It has also made marketing database acquisition efficient and scalable.

Once we donate to a cause - our names are inevitably embedded into that Charities marketing database until the end of time. As consumers, it's OK to get annoyed by receiving unwanted catalogs - but is it socially acceptable to get annoyed by unstoppable Charity out-reach? I mean - is anyone really going to call up a charity and asked to be removed from their mailing list? That's like someone admitting they don't like puppies...

Anyway ... after the pause ... I obviously donated - and I will continue to donate. Similar to how opt-in email was somewhat self-regulated over time (thanks to better SPAM filters by email providers, government pressure, and smart marketing practices) -- I'm hoping charitable organizations follow-suit.

Finally - here's a donation of sorts to any non-profit related readers out there -- Google supplies several free tools to use for those businesses - Check them out.


My Capitol Hill Experience

Earlier this week, I spent some time in Washington DC for an industry event.

The concept of the event is a yearly "fly-in" where members of the association spend the day meeting with staffers from various Senators and Representatives of Congress to discuss issues important to our companies and industries.

While I was disappointed that we didn't meet with any actual members of Congress -- I was pretty intrigued with the overall "open-ness" of the offices of our government representatives. Although you have to go through metal detectors, there was no security or appointments needed to walk into a Senators office. I guess if you think about it -- our public representatives should certainly be open to the public - but if you went to any corporate office and wanted to meet with someone - you'd pretty much be denied entrance into the building without an appointment...

We met with various levels of "staffers" during the day. There were some folks who at least faked being interested in what we had to say, while others clearly were annoyed. This said, I was happy to learn that each staffer is usually tasked with coming up with a weekly roll-up report of their meetings. We were also given their business cards and encouraged to follow-up when important issues arose (The key issues we were discussing were: Net Neutrality, Streamlined Sales Tax, and Online Behavioral Advertising)....

Another side-bar is how clean and groomed the Nations capital appeared. It's possible it was the time of year - but I felt that the streets and buildings were so clean - and the shrubbery everywhere was meticulous... I'm glad our tax dollars are being used to clean up the city, I guess...

I would recommend that everyone make a trip to DC to visit their representatives (if you've got something to say, of course)


Jury Duty

This past week - I had my 2nd Jury Duty experience as an adult...I learned some things and thought I would share.

The jury duty rules in NYC have changed over time. Potential Jurors used to have to serve a minimum of 2 weeks versus minimum of 2 days now... I can't imagine 2 weeks! Also, once you serve your term - you are excused for SIX years (barring a Juror shortage). The last time I served - I was excused for only 4 years...

Overall, there is a negative connotation with serving jury duty and a greater negative feeling about getting picked to actually serve on a jury. It's understandable I suppose ... taking off of work is a pain for most people, especially if you work for a small company. If you work for a big company, it's not easy either, because you're going to have to make up work when you get back.

Due to this, most people will definitely TRY to avoid getting 0picked on a jury...They'll enhance any feelings they have to a particular subject - or - something that was popular this time around - people with accents suddenly don't understand English that well...

The first time I served, I was sitting for criminal cases. Those cases typically last weeks rather than days. When the judge asked who thinks they should be excused from service - it was like asking who wants free money... At the time I worked for a company with less than 5 people - so the excuse was legit.

This time around I was sitting for Civil cases and part of me actually wanted to get picked on a jury. I think it would be a very interesting educational experience. I cleared my schedule this week at work because I knew I had to serve my civic duty... Anyway - it didn't happen. I was called into the jury selection room once for a medical malpractice suit... That was it.

I served a day and a half ... I sat listening to music and playing poker on my blackberry (Internet connection was very spotty). I read a little. But basically - I just sat. It was crazy boring.

I don't know how they can improve the system -- but I feel like it could use a change. If I was involved in a case -- would I want people who didn't want to be there (or who were obsessed with having the power over people - so really wanted to be there) deciding my fate or outcome? I don't think so...but... how else do you aggregate a jury of one's "peers" ... No clue - but - It should be another 6 years before I have to think about this again...


Being Handy

Over the past few weeks, the need to be "handy" has surfaced more regularly than usual. Whether it's been the need to call Sears for any kitchen appliance issue (Sears has THE WORST customer service EVER - I have a lot of pent up anger for a separate post) or going to friends houses and seeing all the handy work needed on a regular basis when you own an actual house...

I've often said that there are two types of being "handy" around the house:
  • Home Depot Handy
  • Best Buy Handy
Home Depot Handy is the more traditional form of handiness. While I know a few guys who have this gift, I know about 100 times as many who don't. I'm thinking it could be a bit of a dying breed (much like guys who know a lot about cars), but then again, it could be the sample size of my social circle.

I will be the first to admit that I'm pretty far from being "Home Depot Handy." I can hammer a nail or follow general instructions -- but there is a level just above that where I have no place being. This is something that is actually quite frustrating to me -- Not because I think I can truly do anything to change this -- but because I hate feeling hostage to the people who are "home depot handy" for a living. The kid who dropped out of high school, got his GED and decided to work for his uncle has full reign to take advantage of me because I've got no clue what he's talking about -- and he knows it. Have you ever met anyone who LIKED a contractor who worked for them? If you have - email me so I can store it away for one day in the future because I never have met anyone who can sincerely recommend a contractor...

The other type of handy is "Best Buy handy." While I would consider myself on the lower tier within this form of "handy," I'm starting to believe the ability could slip away any year now... If instructions aren't included -- I'm lost. And given that most consumer electronics are manufactured outside of the US -- instructions are becoming less and less understandable.

So - I guess this is the evolution of things...Specialties being drained throughout generations... My generation is one that would prefer to pay someone to fix something around the house - rather than spend 2 weeks trying to do a crappy job themselves. We'd rather pay 70%+ margin on restaurant food and service rather than cook and clean-up ourselves...

On the flip-side -- our generation has more information on any topic accessible to us hever we want it... So - is the net-net that we're lazy? Are we more rationale - giving way to opportunity-cost analysis?

Honestly - I don't know. I just know I'm not Handy and it is starting to get to me...

Google Me - A Pop Song

I'm not sure how long this song has been out...but...Teyana Taylor's first hit single is called... "Google me."

Universally (short-sighted) Music doesn't allow embedding of videos - so you have to go to youtube to watch the video. (warning - I am not inferring that the song or video is good at all)

What's interesting - is that her message seems to be working. People ARE Googling her...!!

It's a tactic that a lot of advertisers are using these days within traditional media spots. Rather than place a corporate URL on a print, radio, or TV spot -- they are telling customers to Google or "Search for" their brands online ... I know it was viewed as successful for Pontiac in 2006...