Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tattoo You! New Meaning to Corporate Branding and Addiction

Good Day World! 

Here’s a column I ran in The Times-Standard newspaper last Spring that attracted readers like bees to honey:         
Do you have a tattoo?

Their common these days. A Pew Research Center (PRC) report last May revealed that 1 in 5 Americans have one. It didn’t surprise me. Nearly everywhere I go, I see someone with tats.

That made me wonder what effect all these tats have on our economy? I’d say a very positive one when you consider $1.65 billion was spent on tats in 2012. Research (PRC) statistics show 45 million Americans got tattoos last year (2013).

The rapid growth of tattoo parlors - 21,000 and counting - in America has given the economy a shot in the arm. Can’t argue with statistics. When the total of all U.S. citizens (all ages) have at least one tattoo, you will have a boost to the economy that bodes well for the future.

I’ve looked into the cost of getting a tattoo and it ranges from $45 for a small one, to $150 an hour for large ones. When I see some of the more elaborate tats - full arms, chests, backs, legs, etc., dollar signs start rolling in my head like a slot machine! Some dedicated people, will probably never stop getting tats until they run out of space.

My research shows that 32 percent of people with tattoos say they are addicted to them. There are worst addictions I suppose, but like any addiction, tattoos can be expensive over a period of time. As someone who believes in moderation in all things, I think any addiction is a problem.

There are ways to make money on tattoos, you know. I don’t mean in a circus like the bad old days, but in legitimate deals. I’ve seen examples in recent years where people are paid cash to have a product name tattoo on their hide. Everything from beer to Mike’s Pizza parlor!

The best example of this - and probably the wave of the future - is a business called Rapid Realty. You want corporate branding? The company offers their agents a 15% financial incentive to get the company’s logo tattooed on their body.

There’s no specification where the tattoo has to be. At last report, 44 employees out of a possible 1100 now have company ink forever. It could mean up to an additional $6,000 to $7,000 a month for those individuals! It’s a new program, so give it time. Those numbers are likely to grow.

The boss pays for the tattoo. But what happens to those newly branded employees? Are they considered major suck-ups? Or do they make sure to put their tat where the sun doesn’t shine?

Which brings up the question; how far would you go to get ahead in your job? What if your company offered you a lucrative financial incentive to have their logo tattooed some place where the sun does shine?

Take the case of Billy Gibby of Anchorage, Alaska:

Billy the Billboard, as he’s known, told the local media in March he would tattoo other parts of his body with “sponsored ink” in exchange for the ones that currently cover his face.

His mug is adorned with 20 logos from porn sites to Dr. It’ll take $4,000 to get the logos removed. After three years with an ink-scarred face, the 32-year old man is offering prime real estate on other parts of his body. It’s only fair to point out that he’s bi-polar and not everyone would go this far to sport ink for bucks.

I did read about a guy who got his eyeballs tattooed black (4/17) because he was addicted to tattoos. I’m not going to count him here because he lives in Brazil and we’re talking about America. Still, that’s how addicted a person can be.

Grammy-winning rapper Lil Wayne put out a video in 2011 explaining his addiction to ink. He just wanted to be like rapper 2PAC (Tupac Shakur), who was killed in a drive-by shooting. Whatever.
There’s even an Android app called “Love Tattoos” for addicts of all things ink. You can go there for news and views that are updated daily. It’s a great place to get your tat on!

ABC showed a good documentary - My Tattoo Addiction - on March 6th. One of the interesting parts was about home tattoo kits becoming available everywhere. I suspect this will encourage more people to get more tattoos…to the point of addiction. Think about it, you don’t buy the whole kit and just give yourself one tat.

What’s that? You say people could also use that same tattoo kit to give others tattoos? Talk about scary. There’s this little matter of hygiene and infections these newly minted tattoo artists will bring to the table.

As It Stands, in full disclosure I admit that I don’t have a tat. Tattoo you?

Friday, March 28, 2014

There’s a Bad Smell in NJ after the Release of ‘Bridgegate’ Report

 Good Day World!

 Whitewashing scandals is nothing new in politics.

See the clown (photo) holding up a report? His name is Randy M. Mastro. More on him later.

The recent exoneration of NJ Gov. Chris Christie in the “Bridgegate” scandal is the latest example.

A report that cost the taxpayers $1 million dollars concluded Christie was not involved in the bridge closings, and furthermore, he wasn’t a bully either!

Okay. This controversial report came up just short of suggesting Christie should be canonized. To put it nicely, something stinks in New Jersey politics.

According to The New York Times – March 27: 

The Port Authority official who oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge said that he had informed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey about it at a Sept. 11 memorial while the closings were occurring, according to the findings of an internal investigation released on Thursday by lawyers for the governor.”

The report said that Mr. Christie did not recall any such conversation, and it found no evidence that he was involved in the scheme.”

Okay. But why doesn’t the report say the official lied? Here’s why; Randy M. Mastro, the lawyer who led the internal investigation, explained that:

“The governor recalled seeing Mr. Wildstein,” Mr. Mastro said. He recalled a brief interaction, he said, “but does not recall the specifics of that conversation or the mention of any traffic issue in Fort Lee.”

“The governor points out that the mention of traffic issue in Fort Lee would not have been memorable or meaningful,” he said.

WTF? One moment Christie doesn’t recall (in the same report) talking to the official, and in the next paragraph he says he did…but so what? The information wouldn’t have stuck with him anyway. Really?

“However, the report could not answer one central question: Why?

The plan to close the lanes was orchestrated by David Wildstein and approved by Bridget Anne Kelly, Mr. Christie’s deputy chief of staff until he fired her in January, according to the report.

“Whatever motivated Wildstein and Kelly to act as they did, it was not at the behest of Governor Christie, who knew nothing about it,” the report stated.

No other members of the governor’s staff were involved in the lane closings, the report found.”

Well how about that? Only two people in that tight-knit staff are taking the fall for the political bridge prank. Kinda hard to believe isn’t it? Get this:

“The lawyers were not able to interview Ms. Kelly and Mr. Wildstein — who are currently fighting requests from state investigators to turn over personal materials related to the scandal — raising questions about the internal report’s thoroughness.

Mr. Mastro, under heated questioning, spent much of the news conference defending the internal investigation as both objective and worth the cost to taxpayers.”

I think you ought to know that this internal review was conducted by a law firm hired by Christie. No bias there, eh? Mastro was nothing more than a paid flunky expected to clear Christie – which he did to the 9th degree…and beyond! Check this drivel out:

“The report suggests that Mr. Christie became highly emotional at a meeting in the State House in January when he learned that Ms. Kelly and Mr. Stepien were involved in the scheme, even “welling up with tears.”

The report also sought to vindicate Mr. Christie on the more abstract notion that he fostered a climate of intimidation.”

Excuse me, I got a little choked up there! I hope Mastro was wearing boots after sharing that pile of shit! Guess what? No surprise here:

“The New Jersey lawmakers leading the state inquiry released a statement saying that the report had serious deficiencies, and Mr. Christie’s opponents were quick to dismiss its findings.

“Randy Mastro could have written his report the day he was hired and saved the taxpayers the million dollars in fees he billed in generating this one-sided whitewash of serious misconduct by the Christie administration,” Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in a statement.

What we didn't get for that hefty price tag to New Jersey taxpayers were any interviews with the key figures who executed the plan or any insight into why this happened," said Mo Elleithee, a DNC spokeswoman.”

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday’s child: a short essay on twisted logic

Good Day World!

Welcome to Thursday.

For starters, Thursday was named after the Planet Jupiter (or Thor – the Nordic name for Jupiter).

Thursday’s child is said to be honorable, expansive, generous, jovial, philosophical and/or extravagant, conceited, hypocritical, sharp-tongued, and fanatical.

Some of history's most infamous agitators were born on a Thursday. In fact, lower down the wretched pecking order, the human archive is teeming with a veritable rogue's gallery of scoundrels, con men and miscreants who all share a hidden secret: they were born on a Thursday.

Even today, wherever there's trouble in the world, look around and there's bound to be someone with their hand in it who was born on a Thursday.

There is of course nothing exclusive about people born on a Thursday, or any other day of the week for that matter. So why bring it up?

Because the logic behind isolating and generalizing about people born on a Thursday is the same twisted logic behind isolating and generalizing about any group of people.

Yet such sweeping judgments are as widespread today as ever; and they are passed down in varying measures upon, for example, blacks, whites, Indians, albinos, vegans, cat-lovers, tightrope walkers, Sagittarians, chess players, women hockey players, and of course Laker’s supporters.

In fact just about anyone who is different to you. So, don’t allow yourself to be branded by anything – your race, religion, or the day you were born. For the record, I was born on a Thursday.

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Evaluating Earthquakes: Lots of Places are Waiting for the ‘Big One’

Image: A screenshot of a USGS map showing earthquakes off the northern coast of Chile in the past seven days.

Good Day World!

I was raised in Southern California and the most popular topic there growing up was, “When the Big One hits.”

I grew up waiting for a catastrophic earthquake that never came. Sure, there were a couple of bad earthquakes, but nothing like what geologists expect to happen along the San Andreas Fault some day. Any day.

I moved to Medford, Oregon, last September only to find that I was once again in range of where a “Big One” could happen. Sitting on a major fault line, Medford, Oregon, is "like an eight-and-a-half-month pregnancy, due any time now" for a major earthquake, according to a geologist with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management the same month I relocated.

Most recently, it’s been Chile’s northern coast that has been hit by more than 300 earthquakes in the past week. Seismologists warned Tuesday they could be the precursor to a long-overdue disaster. In other words, “A Big One.”

Experts analyzing this flood of data are worried the increased seismic activity could be a sign the region is about to experience its first devastating quake in 137 years. The last event, a magnitude-8.5 quake in 1877, killed thousands of people and created a deadly tsunami that reached Hawaii and Japan.

I guess there’s just no way around it. The earth is rocking and rolling all the time. Despite experts and advanced technology, no one knows when the “Big One,” will arrive – regardless of where they live.

You can take some precautions and have an emergency plan and supplies ready if that horrible day does arrive. But that’s all you can do. That, and pray you’ll live through it!

Time for me to walk on down the road…carefully

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Baby Boomers Experience Cultural Shocks Every Day

Image: Karen Scot prepares for her first day teaching as a transgendered woman

Good Day World!

I’m a baby boomer – born in 1950 – and am speaking for my peers today.

We were trendsetters and proud of it. We encouraged change and tried to spread peace and love like it was some kind of social butter back in the sixties.

After sixty plus years, a lot of us are questioning new trends in the 21st century. It’s not that we’ve become intolerant, it just seems the world has gone kind of crazy and up is now down.

Yes, I know every senior population in the history of civilization thought new generations were inferior to theirs. Comes with the territory of age.

Still, I think baby boomers are doing their best to adapt to the new social mores where homosexuality is no longer considered wrong, and our children’s teacImage: Karen Scot prepares for her first day teaching as a womanhers can be one sex one semester, and another sex the next.

I can’t help wondering if something like that happened when I was in school, how would I have handled it back then?

Which leads me to the following story:

Transgender Teacher returns to School a Woman

“A California high school science teacher gave students and colleagues a new lesson in biology Monday, showing up for the first time as a woman a week after her plans to switch genders became suddenly public.

The former Gary Sconce, 56 — an award-winning educator, husband, father and grandfather who has taught at Yosemite High School for 24 years — will now be known as Karen Adell Scot, she said.” (Read full story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Monday, March 24, 2014

Corporations Aren’t People & Have No Religious Beliefs

Good Day World!

On Tuesday, March 25, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments from Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of craft stores, whose CEO objects - on religious grounds - to funding certain types of contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

If the Supreme Court makes good on 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s statement that “corporations are people too,” investing them with “freedom of religion,” there will be no end to such claims in the courts.

It’s hard to believe it’s come to this. Here we are in the 21st century and people are claiming corporations are like humans! With human feelings and beliefs. What’s next?

If all this reminds you of the anti-anti-discrimination bill recently vetoed by the governor of Arizona and other such “license to discriminate” bills popping up all over the country, you are paying attention.

If the Supreme Court doesn’t stop treating corporations like people we can count on chaos. The following quote makes a lot of sense.

“The separation of church (synagogue, mosque, etc.) and state is a foundational pillar of American democracy. But while granting freedom of belief and religious practice, the Bill of Rights does not promise the right to practice one’s religion at the expense of the rights of others.

Do the religious beliefs of Hobby Lobby’s CEO really trump an employee’s right to access the reproductive healthcare choices provided under the Affordable Care Act? Are we really ready to give corporations the right to control the lives of their employees, all in the name of a corporation’s “religion?”

- The Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson is the IX Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, DC.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Sunday, March 23, 2014

About Owl Monkeys and Monogamy

Good Day World!

 A shout out today to Jocko my monkey friend!

Meet the owl monkey’s of Argentina.

These little buggers are cute and apparently make up solid family units where Dad doesn’t cheat on Mom!

Never heard of an owl monkey? Well, today is your lucky day:

“The wide-eyed, smiley-faced male Azara’s owl monkeys of Argentina are among the most faithful mates and best fathers in the world, according to a study that also found a strong link between fidelity and the quality of child care in 15 mammalian species.

Azara's owl monkey is the first primate and only the fifth animal species shown to be perfectly monogamous. The other animals are the California mouse, certain coyotes, the Malagasy giant jumping rat, and Kirk's dik-dik, a small antelope.

Two studies published last July offered conflicting explanations for the origin of monogamy. One argued that males stuck with their mates to protect their offspring, while the other suggested that males clung to females to protect their breeding rights with their mate. That question remains unresolved.” (Full story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...