Still Falling Down

Still Falling Down

How not to improve a grocery store

I went to the Gristede’s supermarket (well, supermarket as it’s defined in Manhattan) the other morning because we were out of milk. It was too early for the D’Agostinos to be open. I haven’t been going to Gristede’s recently because I found the store dirty, and the employees rude, but especially after one visit where I asked the manager to turn off the music on the PA. It was the worst kind of gangsta rap, including lyrics about killing policemen.

As the manager finally rang up my items (all three of them), I saw a circular on the wall announcing a company contest. Apparently, the corporate headquarters finally got tired of all the complaints about the stores. There were at least 8 different categories, including cleanliness, employee attitude, and produce quality. The contest was to reward the store manager whose unit improved the most in all the categories.

Wow. This just seemed wrong on so many levels. It may sound good to reward a store for improving in all these areas, but think about it. The manager (and, by extension, the district manager) who allowed this store to become the undesirable place which prompted so many complaints, would be rewarded and praised for bringing it back to the minimum acceptable level it should have been all along.

Also, this is basically a sales contest. The behavior driven by sales contests evaporates the instant that contest ends, or it participants realize that they can’t win.

So, once this effort is finished, the stores will stop being cleaned, the employees will go back to insulting the customers (after they’re finished ignoring them or discussing last night’s drunken screw-ups), and the produce will stay on the shelves longer.

If Gristede’s really wants to change this behavior, then the managers who were directly or ultimately responsible for the operations of these units should be demoted or fired. This is not about underperforming, this is about not doing their job, plain and simple. This goes all the way to the top. Maybe Mr. Catsimidis should spend more time in the stores and less time running for mayor.

If you want someone to excel at their job, make them understand that’s what their job is about, day in and day out. Contests are for one-time jolts. Store cleanliness and employee attitude are not subjects for one-off and forget it contests.

Traveler’s Insurance Gets Security Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Thanks to Joel Spolsky for the scan of the Traveler’s Insurance ad in Inc. magazine:

Forget the geek stereotype stuff. Like the rest of humanity, you can find techies who fit stereotypes and techies who don’t.

What matters here is that Traveler’s is promulgating the idea that external threats are where organizations should direct the bulk of their security efforts (and, of course, increased insurance spending).


The threats come from the inside, people! Not the outside. Laptops gone missing (for some reason loaded with sensitive or confidential data), disgruntled employees, gossips, the complete and utter inability to secure media transformations (paper to disk to screen and back to paper again…), MS Outlook, security policies which focus on making legitimate tasks hard by forcing employees to jump through hoop after hoop of red tape, MS SQL Server, being unable to flexibly apply policies instead of using broad brushes to make everyone’s like more difficult, and on, and on…

Whew! I feel better now. You can put away the needle with the tranquilizer. OK, yes, there are external threats, but they are much more readily identifiable, and easier to secure against.

There’s also a slight matter of exactly what and how the insurer is actually underwriting. Read the contract really carefully, and you will find that unless you’ve been documenting every last sub-atomic particle of how you secure your premises, your systems, your operations, and your data, and that those efforts conform to some bizarre idea of security developed by an insurance industry task force, you ain’t gonna see dollar one from that policy.

I am gonna get me a pair of red socks, though.

What is wrong with you people??

Back in February I told you about World Community Grid. I explained how the computing power that sits almost 90% unused on the PCs you have at home, at work, and in school could be used to save lives. And you haven’t done a thing about it!

Since May, the total amount of computing time per day at World Community Grid has plummeted from 130 years to less than 90 years. It should be increasing, not decreasing. I’ll say it again. There are lives at stake here. This is something that costs you nothing, nothing! It is the greatest tool to assist scientific research in history. That’s no exaggeration. This is as if every researcher in the world was all of a sudden given their own university with 10,000 research assistants.

The knowledge needed to understand disease and develop effective treatments and PREVENTION lies in the ridiculously overpowered machine that you bought to read email or make your mind-numbing Powerpoint presentations. You’re not sharing it. Remember, sharing is good!

Seriously, join this project. If you don’t like what World Community Grid is doing, go to the BOINC project at Berkeley. Their software is being used on a lot of different efforts. Find something that suits you and join in.

Who is Linkie-Winkie and why should I care?

Have you heard of linkie winkie?

No?, well neither have I.

Everybody‘s talking about it. See if your site has been linkie-winkie‘d.

Nope, I’m not telling. You have to figure this linkie winkie thing out for yourself.

Kids say the darndest things

Came across this as I was going over some old email. My son was reading “The Pushcart War” by Jean Merrill (1964). My wife was talking to him one evening as they discussed the project he was going to do on this book. She had sent this out in an email to some friends and family.

Last night Phillip and I were talking about “The Pushcart War”, the book he’s doing his project on. It’s a satire about war and human weakness.
Our conversation led to many directions, and we (he, mostly) talked bout the evil that happens in the world, religion, and his take on our president (!)
At some point he said, “A learned man is a worried man”.
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Well, a learned man knows what’s happening in the world and he knows about people who don’t have enough to eat, and about countries where there is war and places where they have bad governments. And he wants to help them. But he can’t help them all because he is just one person, so he worries.”
“If you have your eyes open wide you see everything in the world and that is too much for a person. If you have your eyes open medium wide, maybe you see your neighborhood, your country“.
”And if you have your eyes open just a little bit you see your family, your friends and your school, and that’s something you can help make better.”

:) :)

He’s 10. Maybe he should be writing this blog.

Trivial Falling Down

Falling Down seems to be a big reason people click through to my site. So to keep them happy, here is some trivia about falling:

philophobia: falling in love

Hypnophobia is a morbid fear of sleep and falling asleep.

Newborn giraffe calves begin their lives by falling 6 feet to the ground

Carl Clark of Vermont, USA has invented Emergency Underwear that contains Inflable Airbags for senior citizens afraid of Falling!

A falling cat will always right itself in a precise order. First the head will rotate, then the spine will twist and the rear legs will align, then the cat will arch its back to lessen the impact of the landing

The Home Safety Council reported that in 2002, 19,324 people died in the U.S. from injuries sustained in the home. Of those, 521 were in Wisconsin. More than half the deaths in Wisconsin were caused by falls.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fatal falls increased by 17 percent to a new high, led by increases in the number of fatal falls from ladders and from roofs.

Looking ahead in SCO v. IBM

So, as SCO faces additional setbacks in the months to come, losing more motions
and receiving additional sanctions, losing appeals, not to mention being faced
with the Everest of evidence that their claim of any kind of proprietary rights
to Unix and it’s derivatives and “children in spirit” is wishful
thinking at best, the thought of settlement negotiations arises.

So, kiddies, let’s hear your suggestions for IBM’s counsel. What should they
throw on the table to help SCO and friends avoid the penalties and costs they
face by losing at trial.

I’ll start it off:

No costs, no penalties (to SCO or it’s lawyers), not one dollar. They can stay
in business (if you can call it a business, whatever it is that they sell).

All they have to do is place ALL (I mean every last line of code, piece of
documentation, even their logo) under the GPL.

That’s all. No big deal.


Magistrate Judge Strikes Bulk of SCO’s claims against IBM

In her ruling on IBM’s motion to strike a portion of SCO’s claims, Judge Wells said that she did not consider the merits… yet. All that she was ruling on was SCO’s adherence to discovery rules, and especially the orders she issued on discovery to both sides.

The time has not yet come. the Judge has said,
To speak of so many things.
Of methods and concepts,
And how The SCO Group sings.
But the time will come for legal precepts,
And whether pigs have wings.

That’s when the rest of this nonsense will be thrown out.

(sorry, mr. dodgson)

Gay-marriage ban failure: intentional?

The Senate has voted not to move forward with a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. On the face of it, this seems like a defeat for President Bush and his right-wing strategists.

But is it?

An amendment to the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in both houses in order to be presented to the legislatures of the various States where it then requires a three-quarters majority. It takes a long time for all 50 States to ratify or reject an amendment.

So there’s no chance that this amendment would come anywhere near ratification (much less effectiveness) until long after the next congressional and presidential elections. Maybe not even for the elections after those. The proposed Equal Rights Amendment expired after 7 years before it could be ratified.

So what was behind this late-term push? Did the White House expect this to fail? Could it be possible that the White House and the Senate GOP leadership agreed for it to fail before the the amendment was even presented? That senators whose upcoming re-election was expected to be close could engineer their votes to appeal to the swing voters in their constituencies? That the White House (as chief fundraiser for the next GOP elections) could go back to the right-wing Christians who provided significant funding over the last few elections and say “Hey, we did what we could!. You need to support us even more strongly now. See how the evil influences of the Left and the Democrats are affecting even loyal GOP senators!”?

No way. They couldn’t be that duplicitous, could they?

The things people type into search engines

Stringing together the search keywords that have brought people to this site, and the sites that came up when I searched on these phrases.

caddyshack quotes falling down

bush trivia police

business steps are high

I like Bush trivia police. It has a nice ring to it.

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