Toyota recall, getting over it.

***RANT INSIDE**** you have been warned.

In this new era, manufacturers are expected to be responsible for more than just the product they make.  The current stigma dictacts that the environmental impact of a product is nearly as important as the actual product itself. Safety regulations, emmisions regulations, efficiency environmental footprint, bio impact etc. etc.

The mindset is product life ownership- meaning the manufacturer maintains responsiblilty for their product through its life cycle.  From the proceses in place for production to the products decomposition back in to the earth.  Pretty heavy responsibilty to ask any one, let alone a business whose
purpose is to sell products to customers. While I think that this is a lofty and noble goal, it is clear to me that there has to be some limit to the liability incurred by manufactureres or they would cease to create products.

If you havent guessed yet, I am blogging today, about the recent Toyota recall.  Moreover the giant scare tactic propoganda campaign being launched at a well reputed company with a high quality product line. There is a lot of rhetoric going on about the slanderous nature of the media and government pressures to dramatize the issues going on with the huge vehicle recall. While I do feel there is a certain level of responsiblity due by Toyota and by every vehicle manufacturer, let’s all try to remember that Toyota is not the first to have a massive recall.  In fact, it seems that every car and truck manufacturer has been subject to many recall issues.  My problem does not lie with the pressure for these companies to build safe cars and trucks provide a safety recall or meet safety standards.  My concern lies with the out right slander of a company that has invested an amazing amount of time and money into the American market, produces mainly high quality built cars and trucks built by Americans in America, you guessed it, supporting American economy!  Toyota has been a pillar of community involvement, providing training and education for thousands of Americans in their employ, increased the standard of living in nearly every community they decide to operate a plant in, and has surely greased the palms of same politicians that are now crucifying them.

In light of retracted statements and pressure from the public outcry of foul.  Government Motors tactic of slander to increase their market share is an obvious ploy and Americans should be offended by the insult to their intelligence. The claims that Toyota has been trying to cover up large scale safety issue is rediculous and can easily be disproved by examination of the actual number of vehicles having been involved in accidents due to the  The number of accidents direct attributed to brake failure is miniscule. The gas pedal issues are the same.  Toyota cannot spend millions of dollars responding to every little problem that arrises in a product, no manufacturer can. IF there IS a problem that requires attention they must establish a minimum number of affected vehicle that would qualify as a recall investigation.  This number is not 5-10 on a scale of ten of thousands, it has to more substantial percentage, in order to justify the massive costs of a recall.

I think it is irresponsible for members of our government to make statements on television that cause panic in the public, over inflamed accusations of irresponsibility.  Wow, let’s take a look around at other companies who could fall into that category as well… um, let’s see -GM? maybe? How about begging the governement for tax payers money in order to “save jobs” and keep the company alive only to 8 months later find the money is gone, no jobs are saved and the executives have all helped them selves to nice bonuses.  Bonuses from tax payers monies, bonuses that they didn’t deserve for running their companies into the ground and sacrificing their hard working employees jobs, meanwhile they refuse to invest in emerging technologies until they are congresionally mandated to meet efficiency requirements.

Seriously? Toyota is all over the TV and news apologizing and thanking poeple for their loyalty, giving information, asking the public to come in a and get there car fixed, keeping dealerships open 24 hours to meet demands.  And I have to watch GM on the TV with new advertising “may the best car win!” GM I have news for you…you have already lost! You survive on the back of taxpayers and the government handouts… you are like the gangster villian telling me how hard core and badass you are while collecting a welfare check, living with your mom.  You should be ashamed. The only ad from GM I will listen to is an apology.

As for Toyota, you have my devotion. The fact you have been villinized by our goverment in a blatent attempt to tarnish your reputation and gain market share just re-enforces that dirty politics and underhanded tactics that Washington has beed embracing for decades.

When will poeple wake up and smell the stench?


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You gotta love getting turned down for a job because you have too much experience. People never cease to amaze me.  Like what am I supposed to do?  Act dumb?  Pretend I am brand new and don’t know a thing?  Yes, I am brand new.  What have you been doing for the last 15 years of your adult life?  Who me?  Nothing!

In this economy it seems clear to me that employers don’t really know what they want.  Given the current situation, where there is 100 applicants for every one position open, it seems they have thier pick of the litter.  Perhaps they just want superman on cracker and for a buck.

Having been in the job market in my professional nich for well over a year now, I can tell you there is endless number of highly experienced techs out of work and ready to do nearly anything to get back in the game.  The audio video industry has been pummeled by the downturn faster than most industries and will take longer to rebound.

In my experience, A/V firms typically have pretty aggregated levels of experience; highly experienced (or at least long term) employees, mid-carreer A/V junkies that know alot about a certain aspect of the biz but not much else, and newbies that are either hot shots willing to turn tricks for recognition and are at a full scramble to make the “A” team.  Of course its more complicated than that, but really, not much more.

The trend now is to hire cheap and smother them with promises, work them until they collapse and get a new one much the same way; disposable employees.  I have also seen that there is a major gap between the level of compensation the techs/PMs recieve and what the company brings in.  Great if you are reinvesting this money towards bolstering and growing the company. But judging from your house and car collection and my latest pay stub; I doubt it.

What I dont understand is why we cannot justify the few extra dollars to bring on an experienced tech because he is overqualified but we can always manage to hire some friends son, cousin, uncle/nephew, etc that is one step off of retarded and then expect our others techs to pick up his mess?  Are you fucking kidding me?  Pull your head out please and pretend you can manage a company and possibly a little common sense.  There is no such thing as overqualified and people who think this are scared and intimidated by people with real skills.  So if you ever hear this come out of a managers mouth, they are probably dumb as hell and don’t want to hire anyone remotely capable of recognizing them as such.

In short – Skilled techs please dumb it down if you want get a job.  Hiring managers– pull your head out and hire somebody smarter than you, it will make you a better manager if you let it.

pull your head out of your ass

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Communication. Learn it! Live it!

Let me qualify this rant before I get too far.  My parents were both communications majors, one taught communications at Ohio State University and the other a graduate of famous Otterbein communications program.  My mother was a lobbyist for victims of violent crime at Washington state senate and I spent a good portion of my high school as editor in chief for the many, many drafts of propositions and such that came through our household.  The point being- I may expect too much.

That being said, I don’t think it is to much for a perspective employer who has asked me over for three interviews, required hours of my time, and conjugated all the face-to-face lip service imaginable to manage to fire off a simple email with a “yay” or “nay” or “we are still deliberating.”  I don’t need a bunch of sunshine piped up my ass, just a short, succinct status message.  Too much to ask?  I think not.  As a matter of fact, it is because I know it is not too much to ask that I refuse work for companies that can’t communicate, I have seen the results and no one is happy.

Then again, I have been in the A/V business long enough to know that this level of communication is status quo.  If I don’t have money that you want, you dont have time for me.  It is sad, and embarrassing, but true.  The short of it is, Audio / Video salesman thrive of of the “elitist” attitude and demeanor.  The industry has hidden behind nomenclature and jargon, TLAs (three letter acronyms) and snake oil for so long that we forget that what we provide is at it simplest and most complex- communication.   People don’t want to deal with your giant “cool guy” attitude and your inability to prioritize them into your schedule.  Get over it, yourself, and your toys.  We are all worthy of your attention and when people decide to go to the big box stores, it is not just about price; it’s about avoiding the “attitude” that has plagued our industry.

I feel it is about time that we as employees, as people, start holding the companies we work for and with to a higher standard of communication and make them accountable for it.

~End Rant

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Doing what it takes…

I have a motto, “I have done worse for less”.  I try to remember this as often as possible, especially lately. 

Having over ten years experience and a stack of certifications doesn’t seem to matter much these days.  SO  I have made some concessions to the regular working program, ie after over year of being laid off, thousand or so resumes, I have resorted to doing what it takes. 

In this case that means taking a lowly call center position at a home warranty company, getting yelled at all day by pissed off home owners and redneck contractors.  I think I actually talked to Fog Horn Leghorn today.  I say, I say, boy! You’se a chiggen haawk! 

But, in the words of my good friend Tom, “it is what it is”.  Normally I don’t buy into vagueities and clichés statements but at the end of a day I don’t have a brain cell left that isn’t screaming for a scotch and a Valium, so the effortless and mindless are comforting at points.

Though I am not terribly proud of this job, it is work, which is hard to come by these days.  Wether it be doing this or that, I have a personal level of proffesionalism and competence that are intrinsic to me.  It is what allows me to look in the mirror and not cringe with disgust.  I have to maintain a level of personal respect in order to roll out of bed in the morning. 

So my rambling point is this – what ever you do, be it sweeping floors or signing checks, do it well or don’t do it at all.

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The Ski resorts and grocery stores are packed. The traffic is miserable and finding parking is mission impossible. Lots of family and friends are gathering for food and spirits and general relaxation.

What does it mean? Does anybody even know what day we are celebrating? Is it bankers bonus day? Is it national hooray for unemployment day? Are we to believe that while we are sleeping in, getting together, making turns, and parked in traffic, that this day was a freebie? Just another arbitrary day off, courtesy of the US government.

MLK day. So much easier to say. We can abbreviate the meaning and the history right out of it. Sort of like X-mas. A bland new generic of the birth of Christ. Complete with bows and wrapping paper.

I went to get my MLK day gear, you know the colored eggs and chocolate rabbits…wait, no the heart shaped candies…nope, maybe I need a costume! Not Halloween either. Hmmm. No fireworks, no candies, no costumes or pinatas, no decorations or adornments to make the gleeful announcement of this fine holiday?

It is not MLK day. It is Martin Luther King day.

It is a day set aside for a man who dedicated his life to changing the the dirty laundry of the America that most of us wish we could forget. His example of ceaseless dedication, perseverance and diligence should shine bright in all of our eyes today. THIS day, holds no profit margin, no reckless expenditure, no retail madness, no Wall Street sensationalism.

This day, to celebrate Martin Luther King, and his incredible sacrifice and his strength of will and character,  his immense contribution to the evolution of our society…

We should get up off our fat lazy asses of do some work.

I have to believe that if Martin Luther King were alive he would be embarrassed that all his efforts amounted to an abbreviated, hyphenated, homogenized, understatement of mediocrity.

Don’t let it be so with you. Change somebody’s life today. Change somebody’s mind.

Do work, son. Do work.

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American Spirit

I swear, all I do is work.

Even without a “job” I manage to put in twelve + hour days nearly every day. When did I ever have time to work? Web design is much like divorce lawyers, expensive but so worth it. The creative aspects are a blast but ultimately it is just work.  Nothing like working 50 hours to find out your file directory is corrupt and having to reconnect all 8132 of your referenced files… fun. But, progress is made and I think I have some great ideas for a unique user interface. That’s UI if you only speak in TLA (two/three letter acronyms).

Any way, all this reminded me of a guy I met, yesterday, at the car wash-Mac. He “works” there, he will tell you so.   Not in the paycheck, boss, employee etc sort of way. He just “works” there.  In his shopping cart, he has collected all of the things you would need to do a spiff wash job on your car.  Only he doesn’t have a car, or a house, or a “job”, or any objection to doing to doing what it takes to earn a buck.

His sales pitch is flawless, practiced but not canned.  His timing, honed.  He looks you straight in the eyes, smiles big, speaks confidently and gets straight to the point… not darting about or acting snarky or squidish like most salesmen can.

He is impossible to say no to, though if his is turned down, it doesn’t phase him.  He is off with a smile, a kind word, and down to the next bay with the next potential recipient of Macs fine services.

And a fine service it is.

Case in point- I unwittingly showed up with only a fifty dollar bill, but thought – the machine takes a debit card, no big deal. Not this day.   The stupid machine was out order and I was going to have to run over to convenience store across the street and beg them to break a fifty (if you have ever done this, you know that your odds are not good) or buy some crap I don’t want or need to get the bill broken. That’s when Mac made his approach- I saw him coming.  After his pitch, I told him that I could use hand but the machine was broken and I had to go get change.

Mac says to me ” Don’t worry about it, I got you covered.”

I did a full stop and then paused, looking into his grinning face.

“How much you need?”-smiling away.

Right there and then I was truly dumbfounded. Mac had unexpectedly pulled my preverbal rug out from under me and gone from a symbol of our terrible times to embodying everything good and true about America.  Mac was an entrepreneur, a business man and was about to sweep me off my feet.

“Ill just get it started, how much you want?” Mac heads over to the car wash controls and starts thumbing in quarters. “Five dollars?”

Shaking my head to get the brain thinking again, I follow him over.

“Yeah, sure.” I don’t know what else to say.  He plugs in the money and begins his whirlwind of washing and rinsing and wiping and drying…

As I stand there, occasionally stepping in, trying unsuccessfully to lend assistance, it occurs to me that Mac knows what he is doing and is quite abit more efficient without my help.

Ten minutes later, my Jeep is spotless, washed, dried, clean. Mac is cleaning and reorganizing the tools of his trade into his shopping cart and prepping for the next customer. He flashes me a big smile as I make my approach, ten dollar bill (feeling like way too little) in my hand. We share a laugh, some good tidings, I thank him for his work, hand him my ten dollars and leave.

I didn’t get too far though. Maybe it was disbelief on my part or just plain curiosity, but I had to witness more of this man in action. I pulled over to the convenience store across the street, fueled up, and bought a candy bar so that I could spy on the car wash for a bit.

Mac does a hell of a job, by the way. The prices is right too. Whatever you can afford.

I saw Mac spend 10 minutes washing and drying an old Dodge Aspen four door driven by an elderly couple, for free. They had no money, he knew it. He did it anyway. Just as pleasant and cheerful as ever.

Mac’s efforts earned him more than I can pay him. As I am sure it is with each and every customer. I wonder where he goes, after work, at night when the car wash is empty and he has put in his twelve hour day. I wonder because, maybe I could use a bit of Macs enthusiasm, his genuine concern and helpfulness, his spirit.

I don’t know.

I do know that this world could do with a whole lot more Macs and in all kind of business the Macs of this world will be successful. And, I know that whatever we do pay them, they will earn it, and then some.

Cheers to you Mac.

(West of Broadway on Alameda, by the way)

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On the bright side…

My industry is in shambles. The few with work are making it stretch and the many without are searching, hoping, and praying. Praying that the economy turns around and we can go back to work, building awesome home theaters, media rooms, automating houses with the latest cutting edge technology that makes Star Trek look like Robinson Crusoe.

I have personally sent out over a thousand resumes, emails, pdfs, applications and networked my little tail off. I have now had two of the most depressing and horrible part time gigs EVER in my life and have fallen back on skills I forgot I had. Not boo hooing here, just stating the facts.

BUT, on the bright side (like the title says) when the A/V techs left afloat in this mess finally do go back to work; we will have our work cut out for us. I cant even imagine all the cousins, brothers, sisters, uncles and neighbors who “know all about those electronic type things” have been diligently whirring on whit less and unsuspecting neighbors and relatives’ BestBuy tvs, computers, stereos and what have you, making me proud. Proud to know that we will have all the work in the world redoing that mess and proving our worth once again to those who would cheap out on installation only to know the nightmare of their undoing.

Thanks, we’ll see you soon.

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