Make, Master, Matter

With Audrey out of town this weekend, I decided to be super lazy and watch a lot of TV.  A lot.  I got home at 7 tonight and just turned the tube off at 11:30pm… about 2 hours after I told myself I was going to.

But here’s the scary thing; it wasn’t a completely mind-numbing vegetation session!

First, I caught a few minutes of Shark Tank – a show the entrepreneur in me used to enjoy more often, but which became a little to predictable as reality TV.  However, in the few minutes I tuned in, I saw a very sincere, well-meaning man watch his business idea go down in flames because he was so committed to the idea of manufacturing his product in America, that he missed the bigger picture.

His product isn’t employing anyone – not even himself.  He can make the product for $250 in the US, but can only sell it for about $300.  If he could make it overseas for $100 or even $150, he’d have a business — and probably a successful one at that!  (It was an impressive product)  Instead, clinging to his dogma, he was content to watch his dream (and probably unknowingly, his opportunity to truly make a difference in his small community) go down the drain.

Toward the end, one of the sharks told him that, in business, “first you make it, then you master it, then you can matter.” This phrase really struck a chord with me.

It’s not that small businesses don’t or can’t matter, or that I don’t think things should be made in the USA. It’s that a business that doesn’t yet even exist as a profitable venture can’t make any impact at all (except for a negative one). I think this guy has to get his dream off the ground – make it work – and then he will have the financial freedom to make it matter the way he wants.

Then I turned on The Descendants, the fairly recent George Clooney movie.  

I have to watch movies like this when Audrey is gone. This one had way more F-words than she’d take, and it’s one of those that leaves you just a little off balance, even though it mostly goes just the way you think it will.

It was really good, and I can see why it was nominated for writing awards during this last awards season.  It’s well-written, and leaves you with that distinct taste in your mouth afterward — the hallmark of a fine movie.  

My economic themed evening continued: In this movie, we see a man who is sitting on a massive fortune, and yet believes “your children should have just enough so they can do something, but not so much that they will do nothing.”  In the end, he makes the decision we are all hoping he would make – to keep the land and try to find a way to save it from ruthless development.  This isn’t the most important part of the film, but it is one that provided a fair amount of underlying dramatic tension throughout, as we watch the main plot points of his comatose wife and teenage daughters go through their girations.

Lastly, I saw the 60 Minutes interview with Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX.  

I just have to say that Elon Musk inspires me.  There aren’t many billionaires in the world you cheer for, but Musk somehow earns that honor with a boy-like determination to do huge things.  While most of us would have enjoyed the PayPal fortune by cruising around the world on a huge yacht, Musk has spent much of it trying to redefine industries in which he is most unwelcome; the auto industry and the aerospace industry. In spite of the opposition, Musk is proving that nimble startups can outmatch the big companies with big pockets and years of experience. He became the first private enterprise to launch, orbit, and retrieve a vehicle, and more recently became the first non-government to fly to (and send cargo to) the ISS.

In the last year, I’ve yet to hear anyone rave about their Chevy Volt or Nissan Leaf – and yet the Tesla Roadster drivers continue to gush about the experience of driving their all-electric cars, and Tesla’s Lexus competitor the “Model S” has a line of people waiting who’ve practically paid for a car that is not yet being built.  And yet, when really considered in context – the achievement of mobilizing an electric car (as daunting as that has been) pales in comparison to the complex task of putting rockets, payloads, and – eventually – people into space.

You have to really see Elon Musk in an interview to understand what I mean, though.  He is personable, humble, and fascinated with what he is doing.  Yet he doesn’t shy away when asked what he responds to critics who say it can’t be done.  His matter-of-fact reply: “We’ve already done it.”  Then, moments later, when asked what he thinks of his childhood heros Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan testifying before congress against commercialized space flight, he literally tears up and says, “I wish they would come vist and see the hardware that we’re doing here.”

You have to hand it to someone who can be a human and an entrepreneur; someone who can make it, master it, and then really matter.

Conan’s On Twitter

Conan opened a twitter account yesterday and instantly has more than 250,000 followers.

His bio states: “I had a show. Then I had a different show. Now I have a Twitter account.”

Yes, that pretty much sums it up.

This twitter account coupled with the spike in ratings during the recent NBC late night meltdown really proves only one thing: America is more interested in this washed up celebrity’s bearded, anti-corporate-television rantings than in his actual television show.

Good luck CoCo.  I for one do not feel badly for you at all, nor am I going to care that you are sitting in your Hollywood mansion crying your eyes out every morning in your huge cereal bowl.

But I’ll still follow you on twitter.

Manage This!

Last night, game five of the world series had some stiff competition: PBS was running a very interesting documentary on the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), and PBS’ commercial free format made it almost impossible to quickly check back in for updates.  As if that wasn’t enough, after that they aired a re-run of the American Experience documentary about Kennedy’s assassination; a topic which isn’t intellectually appealing but is geographically appealing.  (It’s fun to see your city on TV, even if it is for shooting a President)

The snot rockets and spitting took a back seat to Kennedy and Roosevelt.

However, the Phillies won and the Series will continue.  (Arg!)

My boy BennyBoy (who astutely provided us with the video clip yesterday) and I got into a lovely conversation about the state of baseball.  Benny is a die hard sports guy, and is rooting for the Phillies.  Why?  Because NY has won enough.  I’ll let him explain more in that guest post he promised (right? right? give it to me!), but will sum it up by saying – there needs to be a salary cap in baseball, and George Steinbrenner needs to have a personal financial crisis.

That being said, what is up with this guy?


Joe Girardi is like the LaVell Edwards of baseball: tough, unbreakable exterior.  Do you see the cutaways of him in the dugout, with his eyes hidden under his cap and his evil, angular jawline?  He just looks like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with, or meet in a back alley somewhere in Jersey.  He might even be related to the devil himself.

Joe Girardi is much more intimidating than Charlie Manuel, who appears to be chewing so intently, you’d think it was basic life support for his mother – or what was keeping the neurons in own brain from taking a permanent break.

Go Managers!!!

Update: World Series Snot Rocket

My wife reminded me last night that I totally forgot to point out the absolute worst part of Saturday’s game.

After A-Rod had gotten on base, they did an EXTREME close up (again, remember that we’re in high definition here) and at the perfect 2 seconds that his big round face was plastered against my 100″ viewing area, he put his finger up to his nose and launched a HUMUNGOUS snot rocket out of the other nostril.

I had to go check the carpet below the screen afterward to make sure there was nothing to clean up!

His mother must be sitting at home just shaking her head.  Didn’t she teach him more manners than that?

(p.s. I tried in vain to find a screen shot of this online.  I wish wish wish I had been recording it…)


Thanks to BennyBoy, we have this awesome video of it:

Halloween and The World Series

Last night, we enjoyed sitting on the couch, watching game 3 of the world series, and handing out candy to the local children.

Did we decorate our house?  No.

Did we dress up?  No.

Did we have to give away some of the good candy?  Yes. (But I saved most of the Kit Kats)

Did we have any teenagers come and take candy by the handfuls and put it in their pillowcase?  No.

We turned off the light at 9:15, watched the game through the top of the 6th inning, and went to bed.  (Without setting our clocks back, nor informing the sun to not come and wake us up as if it were Standard Time, rather than daylight savings time.  But I won’t complain about that, since the extra hour has allowed to me to catch up on blogs and write this blog.)

I hate baseball.

I know hate is a strong word, but I really don’t like it a lot.  It’s SOOO long and boring.  Moreover, it is NASTY!  Does everyone in Baseball have some kind of mouth problem where they have to spit every five seconds?  Especially when the camera is on them?  I realize this is from a long history of chewing tobacco, but even those who don’t chew anymore still find necessary to spit every few seconds.

Spitting in high def is extra nasty, too.  And so are the nose hairs hanging out of the team manager’s nose that you can also see in high def.  I’m now starting a campaign to revert MLB to standard def coverage.  If you would like to join me on this, please enter your credentials in the comments area.

Addiction and War

Say what you want about NPR.  You can say it’s a bunch of liberal yuppies or people who just liked their English teachers too much, but the quality of their news and editorial choice is just beyond anything else out there.

Take this story for example.  It’s not news, per se.  It doesn’t chronical an event or inform the audience what’s going on, but it’s important information which adds depth and color to the stories coming out of Afghanistan.  It reminds us that we are not just lackadaisical observers of the world, we are participants in it, and it affects us and our human relationships.  It makes the war a little less foreign and sterile.

Kudos to you, NPR, for having the bravery to not pander to the nauseatingly regurgitated copy of the cable news and bringing us fresh, human insights into the human side of the news.

This story is of a man who pays the price of his addiction over and over again.

Listen to Richard Farrell read his essay below.  It’s three minutes of your life you won’t regret.


Ricky Gervais + Elmo

Recently, Ricky Gervais did an interview with Elmo for Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary episode.  For some reason, which I am truly grateful for, the CTW has released the following outtakes to the AP…

As a Sesame Street fan from my cradle, here is quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen on the internet all week…