let me tell you a story about gary meeper

DONUTLet me tell you a little story. It’s a true story.

Some time back I began receiving random text messages from a guy who had, apparently, programmed my phone number into his phone under another person’s name. I did not know this guy. I only know his name because he would sign each of his messages with his full name.

To protect the innocent, we’ll call him Gary Meeper.

Gary apparently thought I was his boss. His boss’s name was Mrs. Pillow, and I know this because he would address the beginning of every text message to “Mrs. Pillow”.

Her name has not been changed because it’s too fantastic.

Every now and then Gary would text me, always at 6:00 in the morning. And he would give Mrs. Pillow some sorry excuse as to why he was running late or why he wouldn’t be coming into work that day:

“Mrs. Pillow, I will be an hour late because my alarm clock didn’t go off this morning. -Gary Meeper”

“Mrs. Pillow, I will be two hours late because the power went off in my apartment. -Gary Meeper”

Gary didn’t often get to work on time.

“Mrs. Pillow, I won’t be coming in today because I have been up all night with a migraine. -Gary Meeper”

Let us acknowledge for a moment the ironic fact that he was, quite often, texting a “pillow” from his bed.

I received a lot of these messages. At first I thought, ah, poor bloke, he just punched in the wrong number. I’m sure it was a mistake.

Then they continued to come.

So I patiently explained to Gary that he had the wrong number, and that I was not Mrs. Pillow, and “would he kindly update his contact in his phone?”

A week later.

“Mrs. Pillow, I won’t be able to come in today because there is ice in my driveway and I can’t get out. -Gary Meeper”

I texted back. Told him I was still not the infamous Mrs. Pillow and that he had the wrong number. I did this several times.

So several weeks later when I received this 6:00am text: “Mrs. Pillow, I’m going to be 15 minutes late for the team meeting today because of traffic. -Gary Meeper”, I did what any sane person would do.

I asked him to bring donuts.

Several days later he sent notice to the effect of: “Mrs. Pillow, I’m running 30 minutes late because there was a delay at the school. -Gary Meeper”

So I told him to stop at Starbucks and get me venti half-calf vanilla latte.

Gary Meeper actually texted me one snowy evening, apparently to alert everyone on his team that their shift had been cancelled the next day due to inclement weather.

I told him the reports were incorrect and to “please come in anyways.”

So finally when Gary Meeper texted me a few weeks later and said:

“Mrs. Pillow, I’m running two hours late today due to an alarm clock malfunction.”

I decided enough was enough.

So I fired him.

I said, “Please don’t bother coming in today. We have decided to eliminate your position.”

And that was the last I heard from Gary Meeper.

my thoughts on last night’s election (v.2012)

Obama Victory Speech
Four years ago I wrote a similarly titled post after a similar result to last night’s Presidential election. In it I lamented the dismal campaign that the Republicans ran, how they tried to appeal to the liberals by propping McCain up as a Democrat in a Republican suit, and how the McCain loss to Obama was a great opportunity to rebuild the party and go back to it’s core ideals.

A lot of the pundits today are talking about “what went wrong” and listing off the innumerable things that Romney failed to do in the final weeks of the race. So what did Romney do wrong? Nothing. He ran a fantastic, solid, classy, meaningful campaign. Granted, in Tennessee we were spared unending Obama vs. Romney campaign ads because we’ve been locked in as a Republican state since the Cold War (not entirely true, but close). I hear the ads got pretty negative, but I didn’t see many of them. What I saw from the Romney campaign in the debates and on the stump showed a candidate focused on the issues and passionate about the country. 95% of the time, Mitt Romney did exactly the right things. He nailed his platform down. He chose a killer running mate. He attacked strong in debate #1, and performed solidly in the final two. Whereas in 2008 McCain was the wrong choice for the Republican party and Obama was the wrong choice for the country; in 2012 Romney was the right choice for the Republican party and, well, I still believe Obama is the wrong choice for the country.

Going into last night, I was cautiously optimistic for a Romney win. I wasn’t necessarily surprised that Obama won – I was surprised at how fast it all ended. I really thought we’d be tallying votes well into November and wouldn’t hear from the Supreme Court as to who the President would be until mid-December. Wrong and wrong.

Thinking back, there are a few things that happened, hindsight being 20/20. I really thought the American people were more angry about the state of the nation, especially the economy, than they really are. Think back two years ago. People were absolutely up in arms – they were downright mad about the lack of progress on the economy. And the American people let their voice be heard by booting the Democrats out of the House. I really wonder if that shift in power in the House diluted Romney’s chance of securing the election yesterday. Did that burning anger get tempered in the 2010 election and the flames died out? Or did the ensuing political gridlock that occurred as a result of the House stonewalling Obama for two years turn the tide back the other way and push support towards Obama again? If so, was winning the House worth it? Obama’s far left agenda was stalled for two years, but now he gets a mulligan with a second term.

So maybe the House of Representatives power shift took a little wind out of the collective conservative sail. But what should be said about the ridiculously long Republican primary season? Frankly, I wasn’t paying too close attention when the entire army of candidates were seeking the party nomination back then, but you have to wonder if that many debates and a primary season that lasted that long had poor effects on the conservative agenda.

Then there was the hurricane. Hard to know how much of a bump the storm and Obama’s opportunity to show up and play hero gave the President. He was afforded the chance to “be Presidential” in a tragic situation on a very public stage in the critical days before the election. And you have to think, everyone watching Obama during those critical three days was weighing and comparing his response to George W. Bush’s response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The Republican party has a tough road ahead of them. They ran a really great campaign and accomplished some of that rebuilding I was hoping they would accomplish in the last four years. But the message of conservatism does not resonate with the majority of Americans. While President Obama criss-crosses the country as the cool guy rallying “Forward!” with Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z in tow, the Republicans sound like the cranky old man yelling from the porch at the punk kids to “Get off the grass!” as they warn against the looming national debt and the dangers of a welfare state.

So here’s where we are. President Obama is in office for the next four years. He’s made some big promises (again), and he’s got a verifiable mess on his hands. But this time, he knows exactly what he’s getting into. While he’ll probably continue to blame the Bush administration for the current $16 trillion in national debt that we are under, anything added to it from here on out is squarely on him. Any negative turnaround in the economy – now that we’ve hit bottom and turned the corner – is squarely on him. Any shortcomings in our national defense and our inability to protect our interests, at home and abroad, are on him. Will he be up to the task? Will the 51% of the American people that voted for Mr. Obama hold the Democratic party accountable four years from now if he fails miserably?

I read through Obama’s Jobs Plan today and noted the campaign promises he has made in regards to his plans for the economy and creating jobs. Here’s what he needs to be held accountable for:

President Obama’s Jobs Plan Campaign Promises

THE NATIONAL DEBT

PROMISE: Obama will cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years

Already I have questions on this one. He says he will cut the deficit by $4 trillion, but the deficit is the amount of cash shortfall we have each year as a result of our federal spending. Currently our deficit is a little north of $1.1 trillion annually. So…… um, I don’t know, is he going to give us a surplus? Or is this a typo and he really means cut the national debt by $4 trillion? I’ll assume the latter. He says that $1 trillion of this has already been accounted for as a result of spending cuts the President signed into law last summer. I can’t comment on the spending cuts, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, so that means Mr. Obama is responsible for $3 trillion in national debt reduction by the end of 2023. If these reductions happen linearly, Obama is responsible for cutting the debt by $300 billion each year for the next four years, amounting to $1.2 trillion in reductions by the end of 2016. So for the President to make good on this promise, the national debt needs to be equal to or less than $14.8 trillion by the end of his term.

PROMISE: Half of the money that has been / will be saved by pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan will be used to reduce the national debt; the other half will go towards government projects such as rebuilding roads, bridges, runways, and schools

That last part in liberal-speak is called “creating jobs”, AKA spending money.  I can’t speak to the cost of the wars – I don’t know how much that was costing us monthly, but I intend to look into it.

PROMISE: $2.50 in spending will be cut for every $1 in additional revenue received from taxes on the wealthiest families as well as the closing of corporate tax loopholes

So taxes go up on the millionaires and businesses, but at the same time cuts will be made to the annual budget amounting to 250% of whatever additional tax revenue is brought in. Ambitious goal. Governments don’t like cutting spending.

THE ECONOMY

PROMISE: Obama will eliminat special loopholes and tax breaks that benefit big business and the wealthiest families

Already mentioned above. I don’t even pretend to understand the tax code, but I’m interested to see how all these cuts and loopholes play out.

PROMISE: Obama will reform the corporate tax code to bring down tax rates

Bringing down tax rates is always a good thing for businesses.

PROMISE: The President will cut tax rates on domestic manufacturers by nearly 25%

PROMISE: End tax deductions for companies shipping jobs overseas and use the savings to create a new tax credit for companies that bring jobs home

PROMISE: Take on China’s unfair trade practices through a new trade enforcement unit that will level the playing field

This I can’t wait to see.

PROMISE: Create a new network of 15 to 20 manufacturing innovation institutes to bring together business and research universities to ensure that the next generation of products are invented and manufactured here

This sounds like a bunch of bureaucratic time wasting to me. America has never been short on innovative products… Apple? Google? Microsoft? IBM? Oracle? Shall I go on?

PROMISE: Will cut taxes for small businesses that hire new workers or increase wages

Good, this will help our company.

PROMISE: Will extend 100% of expensing, letting businesses immediately write off the costs of new plants and equipment

PROMISE: Will extend the middle-class income tax cuts

So just to be clear, middle-class according to the President’s definition is any family making less than $200,000 per year, right?

PROMISE: Will ensure millionaires are not paying lower tax rates than many middle-class families

HEALTHCARE

PROMISE: The President will expand the health reform tax credit to cover 50% of small businesses’ health care costs in 2014 and provide access to group rates, so small businesses won’t continue to pay up to 18% more than large firms for health insurance

Getting private health insurance as an employee working for a small business is expensive, and rates are not competitive for small businesses looking to do this on behalf of their employees. This sounds nice on paper. What strings are attached? How much will it cost?

JOB CREATION

PROMISE: The economy will create 12 million new jobs in the next four years and Obama vows to exceed this

This is an interesting statement. He has set the bar high here, implying that the economy as it stands today, barring anything crazy like a war or a default on the national debt, will naturally create for itself 12 million new jobs over the course of the next four years. The President says he wants to exceed this, but a finite number is not given by how much, aside from the additional promises listed below.

PROMISE: To create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by 2016

So that means 13 million new jobs in the next four years. Regarding manufacturing, I believe he’s implying that these jobs will be “created” as the result of new policies.

PROMISE: To create 600,000 new jobs in the natural gas sector

This brings us to 13.6 million jobs. Again, I believe we’re looking at policy changes here, specifically to expand domestic energy production.

PROMISE: Will recruit 100,000 math and science teachers

This reads like spending to me. Will the President fund the salaries of these teachers? 100,000 math and science teachers hired means 2,000 new teachers hired in each state. On average there are 62.8 counties in each state, so each county in the United States should (on average) see an increase of 31 new math and science teachers in the next four years.

Final total, the President will be responsible for the creation of 13,700,000 new jobs over the next four years; according to his plan he is directly tasked with creating 1.7 million new jobs as the economy is on track to create 12 million on its current course.

EDUCATION

PROMISE: The President will train 2 million workers for jobs at community colleges

I don’t really understand this one and why it is the government’s responsibility to do job training.

PROMISE: Obama vows to cut college tuition growth in half

Yeah right.

ENERGY

PROMISE: The President plans to cut our net oil imports in half by 2020

Here’s the real question. Will the price per gallon of gas go down as well? He claims he’s already cut imports to a 20 year low, but prices have steadily risen since he took office. We need to cut our reliance on foreign oil, but a natural result of that should be cheaper gasoline. Right? Right??

PROMISE: To open up millions of acres for energy exploration and development, including undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic

This would be a change of course if he does so. He’s been nothing but clamped down on the potential for additional oil drilling in the Gulf and Arctic so far.

PROMISE: Will invest in domestic energy sources including wind, solar, clean coal, nuclear, and biofuels

PROMISE: Will double fuel economy of cars and light trucks to 54.5 mpg by 2025

PROMISE: Will position America to be the world’s leading manufacturer in high-tech batteries

PROMISE: Will extend tax credits that support clean energy manufacturing

PROMISE: Will ensure that 80% of the nation’s electricity comes from clean sources by 2035

Too bad he’ll be conveniently out of office by then… by 19 YEARS!!

RETIREMENT

PROMISE: Will oppose efforts to gamble Social Security on the stock market

I read this as a veiled statement that he will take no part in privatizing Social Security. There are definite merits to privatizing aspects of Social Security, especially for young folks like myself, but that’s a different fight for a different day. I’ll probably be too old to make that fight for my benefit by the time we get to that day.

PROMISE: Will fight for balanced deficit reduction, and extend the life of Medicare and Social Security without ending guaranteed benefits or slashing benefits

PROMISE: Stop proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher system

I think this was just thrown in there for good measure as an anti-Romney tag.

PROMISE: Save 60,000 lives and $10 billion for Medicare’s future by partnering with hospitals to reduce inpatient infections and needless re-admissions

I’m interested to see how we will measure 60,000 lives being saved, since the only way to know whether or not said life had been not-saved is if said life does in fact become dead. Perhaps we will traverse the country searching for old people until we find 60,000 of them that just wish they were dead. In regards to the second part of that promise, saving $10 billion, are we meaning we’re padding the Medicare savings account with an additional $10 billion?


So there we go. Anyone actually read this? I’ve always wanted to document campaign promises and go back and see how they stack up. I intend to do so. Truthfully, I hope Mr. Obama is able to accomplish a good handful of this stuff. There is much of it that would be a good step forward. There are also things I don’t fully agree with, but that is what it is. Admittedly, there is much of it that I am far to uneducated to even understand fully.

Whatever the case, I wish the President the best in his efforts to turn the ship around and right our economy. He has a tremendous job on his hands.

an argument for conservatism

Tomorrow we head for the polls to decide who will lead the country for the next four years. I don’t know about you, but I’m about done with listening to the same stump speeches over and over. But I’m also one who believes this is a very important election at an incredibly important time in our country’s history, so I’m looking forward to this chance to vote.

I don’t comment often on politics, and this is probably a too-late-to-make-a-difference post. Most assuredly, 49.5% of you will agree with this, and 49.5% will disagree. I’m writing for the 1% that may find this helpful.

I believe the country must vote for Romney tomorrow. The United States has a lot at stake over the next four years, and President Obama has not demonstrated a track record that gives me confidence to allow him another four years. Here’s why:

 

Foreign Policy

You’ve heard Obama’s rally cry at his events: “We ended the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is ending, Al Qaeda is on the run, and Osama Bin Laden is dead.” I’ve heard it so often that it’s stuck in my head, which I guess makes it a good slogan. But you can tell that even Obama is getting tired of saying it – he delivers it with all the passion of a beached manatee.

The first two statements are true – the war in Iraq is over, and Afghanistan is ending – but why would you ever tell your enemies when you’re going to pull out of a fight? Why would you give them a specific end-date for occupation? Wouldn’t they just wait until the last troop carrier is packed up and headed home and then move back in to occupy. It sounds like careless messaging at a time of war that is geared more towards at-home politics (pleasing the ears of those who want the wars to be over), rather than a strategy for decisive military victory. Don’t get me wrong, I want the wars to be over as well, but it’s reckless to strategize publicly like this, and our allies abroad agree.

Osama Bin Laden is dead, and naturally because Obama was Commander In Chief at the time he was taken out, he gets the extra-credit points for being responsible for the deed. But the man was on the CIA and FBI’s most wanted list for over 10 years – no doubt that whoever was President at the time he was found would have given the order to take him out. A victory for sure, but a victory of convenience for Obama.

Al Qaeda of 2012 is not the Al Qaeda of 2001, but that doesn’t mean they are no longer a threat, and to say they “are on the run” implies that they are retreating and a non-issue. Recent terrorist activities against U.S. interests abroad are evidence of this, most notably the organized and strategic attack against our consulate in Benghazi, Libya on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. This whole situation is a train wreck, and why it’s not getting more press coverage is beyond me. Validated cables and emails have now come to the surface that were sent from within the consulate a month before the attack was carried out. These messages were sent directly to the President’s administration, noting a strengthening in Al Qaeda forces outside the consulate, predicting a premeditated attack on the office, and pleading for additional security resources. It seems that these requests were ignored.

In the hours and days after the attack was carried out, there appears to have been a concerted campaign of non-response and misinformation by the President and his administration. The result was four American’s killed including a U.S. Ambassador. This deserves a full investigation, the media should be hitting the administration hard on this issue, and the American public should care more about this glaring error in foreign policy as they get ready to elect the next President. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. We’re promised a full investigation, after the election; how convenient. Democrat strategists have insisted that the country has bigger things to worry about – namely re-electing President Obama – and that the Libya affair should be dealt with later. Again, how convenient. This incident reflects directly on the President’s foreign policy abilities, and Americans should be weighing their Presidential vote based on this information. The Libya scandal is a huge mess, I think bigger than we even realize. Personal opinion here: if the President is re-elected, I think the House is going to move for impeachment once this investigation gets underway. After all, Nixon was impeached as a result of his lying and cover up, and no one died as a result of his actions.

 

The Economy

Most everyone agrees that the biggest issue facing the nation right now is the economy, and I agree. We’re in a bad place economically, and our debt really concerns me. $16 trillion. We can’t even register that number emotionally – it’s too big. That’s $16,000,000,000,000.

We live in a nation of debt, propelled by ongoing advertisements for credit cards, car loans, and mortgages that people can’t afford. We’ve become way too comfortable with having debt, and our lifestyle reflects our presupposition that debt is necessary. As a result, we don’t even blink when we see a number with 12 zeroes behind it.

We have to get the national debt under control because countries like China, who hold the vast majority of our debt, have too much leverage over us. At the very least, our economic future as a country is uncertain, and at the worst we are headed towards an economic collapse like the ones currently being experienced in several European countries if we don’t get this under control.

That’s the big issue – we have to reign in our national spending. The government can’t just keep writing checks for everything it wants to spend money on, regardless of how noble the cause may seem (bank bailout, automaker bailout, a healthcare law). People don’t realize that when the government spends money, there are only two ways to pay for it: either the government must raise taxes, or it must take out more national debt. And if it takes out more debt, the only way to pay for that debt is through higher taxes. This is the problem I have with Obama’s economic policies – he believes that we can continue to spend our way out of a recession, and it’s just not a long-term winning strategy. Even if the automakers are back in service, and even if the poor have health insurance coverage, the cost has put us $6 trillion more in debt than when he took office. Writing more government checks is a short-sighted solution; it makes people feel good because they see immediate results, but the long term effect is catastrophic on a national level.

Romney has gotten flak throughout the later months of this campaign for not having enough details on how to fix the economy. But he’s offered a pretty straight forward, more detailed plan than his competitor:

  • Energy independence
  • Improve public education
  • Get more aggressive with international trade, and stop bowing to China’s every whim
  • Reduce the federal budget
  • And keep taxes down on businesses

It’s hard to sum up an Obama plan. I haven’t heard things as nicely bullet pointed as Romney’s plan, but the main gist I get is lower taxes on lower income families and higher taxes on the rich. The truth is that I just don’t have a lot of confidence in an Obama economic plan. He doesn’t address the national debt head on, and his main talking points seem to focus on how many ways he can penalize those who are successful. His focus is not as much national economic strategy as it is the pursuit of socioeconomic parity.

Obama implies that his economic plan to increase jobs for the next four years is pretty much the same as his plan for the last four years. But his plan over the last four years has not led to a net increase in jobs for Americans. The unemployment rate when Obama took office was 7.8% and has hovered just below 10% for most of his term. Now we’re back down to 7.9%, but what does this really mean? It means that when Obama says he created 4.5 million jobs during his first term, that is the amount of people that found work after the economy bottomed out in January of 2010. They are 4.5 million people that found jobs after they lost them during Obama’s term. A truer number is 300,000 net job growth, over four years, which is a pitifully poor number.

 

Social Issues

Social issues are a tough subject because they come up in every Presidential campaign. The topics of abortion and homosexual marriage are in the back of the minds of nearly every voter, whether your opinion on them is traditionally liberal or traditionally conservative. The President and Governor Romney have both indicated that decisions on these topics should be left to individual states, and they are absolutely right. The federal government should not have the authority to control decisions on these issues because it gives too much power to the centralized government.

But the truth of the matter is Presidential politics speaks to these issues, even as a sidebar, and the mindset of the President on these topics influences policy even down to a local level. And so you have to consider these topics and the potential effect a person in an executive leadership position may have on your local laws.

On account of abortion, I can speak as a father, having been in the ultrasound room to watch the monitor as the technician pulled up the first visible pictures of our son Eli at 8 weeks old. What I saw on the screen was the beginning of life. The image was in the shape of a baby – a tiny little blinking bean of a baby. An abortion takes life away, clean and simple. The argument for a woman’s right to choose is an argument for the taking of life – it’s an argument for murder, and it doesn’t hold water. In no other context under the law is the taking of a life by an individual in society allowable; how can it be that the taking of a life, if it’s within the mother’s womb allowed? It just doesn’t make rational sense.

But the bottom line is that I can’t align myself with a candidate that disagrees with my moral stance on these important social issues. Because while the President shouldn’t be exerting executive power over such issues, his rhetoric broadly influences state and local politics down the road as the party falls in line with the status quo.

Oh but wait, Obama did use his executive power to influence federal power on issues such as this when he signed ObamaCare into law, effectively providing abortions with a federal subsidy. So perhaps states rights are not that important to him after all.

 

Conclusion

I’m a social conservative and a fiscal libertarian. I believe in the freedom of the individual and the freedom of the economic market. I believe in the transparency of government and the strength of the United States as an international power to influence the world towards democracy and individual liberty. President Obama hasn’t earned my vote with his record over the last four years, and rather than give him the benefit of the doubt by granting an additional term to right the road, I’m going to stick with his initial campaign proposition that if he wasn’t able to turn the ship around in the first four years, he would be a one term President.

I’m sure 49.5% of you disagree, and you’re welcome to share your thoughts and opinions as to why.

 

upgraded

We’re halfway through our annual family Christmas world-tour week, having already stopped in Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota, with Wisconsin next on the hit list. Trip odometer on the car is about to roll over 2,000 miles. Eli has made it emphatically clear that he refuses to ride in a car-seat anymore. Sorry big guy… 987 miles left.

So something new and wonderful happened prior to Christmas dinner in Nebraska. With the arrival of Eli this year, our little nuclear family – Steph, Eli and myself – have been upgraded. Growing up, as Grandpa and Grandma determined appropriate seating assignments for Christmas dinner, I was rolled into the collective bunch of “the kids”. As in, “let’s have the kids sit down here at this table”, and all five grandkids would crowd around a square little table set off to the side of the big dining room table. You think this post is about big table versus little table don’t you? It’s not.

Then when I got married I graduated from “the kids” to Matt & Steph. We were our own unit now. Not quite adult yet, but slightly separate from “the kids”; not better than “the kids”, and really still one of them, but somehow worthy of a different title. But now, with the arrival of a child, we have been upgraded with the official stamp of adulthood.

On my mom’s side of the family, the bloodline relative and their collective kin are referred to in the possessive plural. For instance, my mom, dad and their children are “Linda’s”. When asking when my uncle Dennis, his wife, and their children are going to arrive, you would inquire, “When will Dennis’s be here?”

And now we too, under executive order of Grandma Zimmerman herself, are now henceforth no longer “Matt & Steph”, but officially and irrevocably, “Matt’s”. I would like to take this moment to welcome myself to my family.

cage the elephant(s)

Elephants at the Nashville Zoo

Elephants at the Nashville Zoo

stones river national battlefield

My parents have been in town this weekend for Eli’s dedication at church. Yesterday, after it cooled down a bit, we went out for a little hike at Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro. The grounds were part of a Civil War battle in 1863 where Union forces confronted the Confederate Army for a key victory.

Since January I haven’t taken photos of hardly anything except a baby’s face, so it was nice spending some time capturing some other scenes yesterday. I was particularly fond of how this one turned out.

Cannon at Stones River National Battlefield

my mechanic spoke sternly to me

I had to take my car in for a few repairs the other day. The conversation went something like this.

Thanks to Mark for the link. If you can’t see the video you can watch it here.

country music marathon and 35,000 little cups

I suppose after 11 years of living in Nashville it’s about time I participated in the Country Music Marathon.

No, I did not run it.

But I had two rockin’ friends that DID run it and ran it in style. Congrats to Josh and Dave (first marathon props!!) for taking on the hills of Music City! And to everyone else who braved the pavement, you’re awesome.

Me? I worked the water table. Steph, Jess, Kristen and a handful of others from Grace Community manned the Servpro Hydration Station at mile 3. Mile 3 is far enough in to a marathon where people are starting to get thirsty, but not so far in that those who ultimately don’t make it have given up yet. Plus it’s also close enough to the start line that people are still pretty well grouped together and come at you en masse – 35,000 people en masse. Basically this means in the course of a 30 minute period you witness the entire range of human emotions, from energized enthusiasm to homicidal desperation.

It was our job to serve all these people – both the enthused and the desperate – water and Cytomax, a drink commonly known amongst seasoned runners as foul-tasting rip-off Gatorade. This was a difficult job.

Things started off with a bang. The Kenyans blew by us, sprinting through the water station hardly batting an eye. The rest of the leaders followed closely behind, and we got into the rhythm of grabbing handfuls of Cytomax cups from our beautifully stacked hydration table. Let’s pause a moment and recognize the architectural wonder that was our hydration table. They said it couldn’t be done, but we successfully stacked tiny cups of Cytomax four levels high on a folding table, giving us about 750 pre-filled cups at the start of the race. Pretty sure everyone else topped out at three levels.

Things started to get interesting about 20 minutes in when it was clear our slow pace at resupplying the table was drastically under-performing our ability to quickly give out Cytomax cups. As we cleared the last layer of pre-filled cups we decided to cut our losses and redirect energy towards re-filling.

As a side note, runners of Nashville, I’m not sure if you knew this or not, but Cytomax is created by mixing measured portions of Cytomax powder in giant coolers of water. The water is sourced via garden hose from nearby fire hydrants. The resulting Cytomax solution is dumped into a 45 gallon garbage barrel lined with two heavy-duty black garbage bags and secured with a hefty portion of duct tape. I cannot comment as to whether this is a sterile process or not.

At 40 minutes into the race we were at a complete loss. A long-lost lecture in macroeconomics came to mind, recalling that some professor somewhere told us that supply equals demand. Except this was false, as our supply had reached zero and demand had skyrocketed through the roof. I’m sure the professor had addressed this situation as well, but it was simply impossible to keep up.

The efforts of our team changed dramatically at that point. At the beginning of the race we had three people giving out Cytomax and one person refilling. A little later we switched to two people refilling and two handing out cups. But now we had three people refilling and one person frantically waving their arms in front of our table yelling, “We’re empty! We’re empty! Keep going up! Keep going up!”

“Keep going up” is the last thing a homicidal desperate person wants to hear after they’ve run a mile uphill and can see that the incline only continues in front of them for the foreseeable future.

We all took turns at delivering the depressing news to the runners, but Steph’s performance was the most interesting. It went something like this:

“We’re empty! We’re empty! Keep going up!”

The runners keep coming at her.

“We don’t have anything! We’re completely out! Keep moving!

They keep coming. At this point she tries to have a logical discussion.

“I PROMISE they have more up ahead of you!! Don’t stop. Our cups are empty!”

They keep coming.

“DON’T TOUCH THE TABLE!!!!!! THERE’S NOTHING IN THERE STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!!!!!”

We call this an exercise in futility. This continued for about an hour and a half. She may have been hitting runners, I’m not sure.

And they never did listen. They would grab empty cups off our table and then give us a scowling, disgusted look as they threw the cup at the curb. We had considered shouting demeaning insults at them. Things like, “Well if you had run a little faster you wouldn’t be in this predicament would you?” Or, “Maybe you should have thought about the fact you were thirsty before you took off sprinting down the street!”  But let’s face it, they were the ones actually out there running the race, and that’s something in itself.

At one point a wide-eyed middle-aged lady came up to us speaking in a panicked British accent, “Can you tell me where the bathrooms are?” And I think Steph responded, “They’re just up the hill a little bit, about half a block more.” And she said, “I can’t wait that long.” And Steph said, “You’re almost there – it’s literally just a few feet more.” And she said, “I can’t do it. I have already got the poop in my pants.” And, well, the conversation went downhill from there. What do you do with that? I’m sorry ma’am but all we’ve got here are empty cups and a fire hydrant. We can hose you down if you want.

Thankfully, the crazed and peculiar encounters were the minority. We had a blast, and all in all successfully served at least 80 gallons of Cytomax and water to runners on Saturday. And most everyone was very grateful for the volunteers and it was a lot of fun cheering everyone along. So, with the exception of the few of you that scowled and threw empty cups in our faces, congrats to everyone who ran the race!

a new week, a new job

GuitarToday is a big day! After four years studying music business at Belmont, and eight years working at record labels, I have left the music industry.

It’s bittersweet. I came to Nashville to work in music, and I had a great time. I learned a lot, got to work with some fantastic people, met some cool artists, went to some awesome shows, was part of the birth of the digital music industry, and traveled to some of my favorite cities.

But life changes, and priorities do with it.

For the last several years I’ve had the opportunity to be on the front lines of an online startup my good friend Brian founded with his brother, Mark. As the company has grown, so has my role with them, and we’re at a point now where I am finally able to join the team full time.

What does this mean? Well, I get to work from home, for one – amazing, especially considering Eli is just two months old now! It also means I’ll be handling marketing for the company, helping us grow our brand and find new clients. It also means I have a ton of work to do. It also means I need to learn a thing or two about marketing.

Last week was a nice ending to my music days. Went out to eat with my friends and then they gave me a guitar signed by everyone in the company. Pretty awesome, and I’m glad to know I have friends that will last beyond the 9-5 framework of corporate life.

So, here’s to new beginnings and to hoping we don’t see a repeat of the 90′s dot-com bubble bust.

the great snowboozle of 2011: recap and lessons learned

Nashville, Nashville, Nashville… we need to talk. It snowed an inch and a half here on Wednesday and you flipped out again. You caused mass chaos for an entire city, and I for one spent three hours trying to get home to see my family. I saw some things from you Wednesday evening that I wish I had not seen.

To the man in the black leather jacket on Sidco Dr. who was standing up in the door of your Cadiallac CTS, with your right foot on the accelerator spinning your tires and using your left foot to push your car up a hill while talking on the cell phone: this was not smart. You could have died. Please don’t do things like that. You might have slipped under your car and it could have rolled over your leg. I was in no position to catch you.

To the young girl in the green BMW 3-Series stuck in the middle of an intersection at Thompson Lane on a 45-degree incline. Please don’t take your parent’s car out in the middle of an ice storm. You had no idea what you were doing and you made life miserable for hundreds of commuters. Also, you should not have coaxed all your guy friends to try and push you up a hill while you took to wearing your $400 tires down to the wire mesh. Put the car in park, walk over to Wendy’s and grab a chocolate frosty, and wait out the storm so the rest of us can get home.

Nashville. In the middle of a snow storm, don’t call Domino’s and order pizza for your family. You can make it through one evening cooking for yourself. The poor delivery boy that face planted his car in a ditch on Blackman Road was your fault. He shouldn’t have been out in that stuff.  And good grief, Domino’s? Really? Anyone in their right mind knows Papa John’s is the better pie. I hope when you got your pizza it had road salt on it.

Thank you for your time.