Friday, December 30, 2011

Reason #17,891 Why A Business Needs to Pay Attention to Customers

I came across this article regarding Ocean Marketing and I have to say, I am appalled.  While I could care less about the product being discussed here (some sort of fancy controller for a gaming console), this example ought to teach all of us in business how our actions not only negative impact our companies, but also can have a profound impact personally.

To sum up a rather long article - a gamer ordered a couple controllers, hoping for them to arrive before Christmas and when he inquired with the company about the ship date, he was berated by an employee at Ocean Marketing (Paul Christoforo) and badgered in to posting the whole thread online, where it quickly went viral. 

Though Christoforo eventually apologized, his actions have already done plenty of damage.  They have given Ocean Marketing a terrible name and Christoforo has had his name smeared on the internet.  A Google search for his name already turns up a number of articles, mostly negative, relating to his actions, the impact this is already having on his business, and the response of other businesses involved

Good luck finding another job under the same name or attracting additional clients after this one, Mr. Christoforo.  Your name and that of Ocean Marketing are going to have a difficult time getting clean.  For those of us that haven't learned this lesson the hard way - think twice before you send anything controversial in an e-mail.

Monday, December 19, 2011

College Graduate Shafted by St. Joe's and the NCAA

Todd O'Brien, courtesy of Getty Images and daylife

In an incredible piece of short-sighted behavior, St. Joseph's University, Pennsylvania has refused the request of a graduate student and basketball player, Todd O'Brien to transfer his final year of NCAA eligibility to the University of Alabama Birmingham where he is now attending school.  After legal maneuvers and direct requests to the University failed, Mr. O'Brien sent an open letter to Sports Illustrated, a letter which was posted on their website today and was given a front page link on

Not only did the university refuse Mr. O'Brien's request, but the NCAA, who had the opportunity to rectify the situation, refused his appeal, so now O'Brien waits for someone to come to their senses.  In the meantime, this story, which is sure to outrage normal people across the country (a simple Google search for "Todd O'Brien" turns up a number of articles on the topic already), will give St. Joseph's a black eye.  When are people going to realize that they can't hide ridiculous behavior like this anymore?

I'm not saying that St. Joseph's is the only one in the wrong here - I'm sure that Mr. O'Brien's letter probably left out some material facts - but what could O'Brien possibly have done to warrant this kind of treatment?  In my opinion - especially in this digital age when a story like this can (and certainly will) go viral in a matter of days, if not hours - organizations can't afford to make these mistakes.  If I were a high school basketball player looking for a place to play, I can safely say that if this school were anywhere near the top of my choices before this story, after it, I'd be looking elsewhere.

Hopefully St. Joseph's, the NCAA, and universities across the country will learn a lesson from this mistake.  By bringing this story to as many people as possible, hopefully we'll hit them all where it hurts - in the pocketbook - via declining enrollment and decreased alumni donations.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Alec Baldwin Saturday Night Live Apology

Let's all live vicariously a bit through Alec Baldwin, whose Words with Friends mishap on American Airlines caused quite the buzz earlier this week.  Easy for him to joke about now!

Best Christmas Tree...EVER

Thank you for this one FailBlog.  

I want this in my house and I want to be able to play PacMan on it.  

Hockey Fans are Crazy

Hockey has become huge in Chicago-land since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.  I really hope it never gets as huge as it is with our neighbors to the north.  This apparently took place after the Vancouver Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup Finals.  Note to self - stay away from Canadian cities that lose the Stanley Cup.

Scuba Diving Cozumel in Pictures

Two dives in Cozumel over Thanksgiving with Sand Dollar Sports - one on the San Francisco reef and one on Paradise reef both with dive master Julio Chavez.  I would recommend this company to anyone that is looking for a first class operation in Cozumel - very helpful, knowledgeable, and an extremely large boat (especially for only the 6 of us that went)!

First dive was about 35 minutes at 80 feet on a beautiful coral wall.  Second was a 45 minute dive in about 45 feet.  Gorgeous coral and wildlife in both locations.  Loved the rockfish, my first seahorse sighting, the fish chilling with the stingray and the crab in the large shell with a nice trail behind it.  Took these pictures with my Olympus FE-360 with the underwater housing.  Amazing what this little guy is able to do - would love to get a more professional rig one of these days, but just can't justify the expense when I only get to dive once every couple years.  I've got plenty more pictures if you'd like to see them, just drop me a comment!

Edited a few of the tags on 1/6/12 thanks to Eric V. in the Chicago Scuba Meetup group.

Part of the group descending to the first dive site
Spotted Scorpionfish
On the wall
Scrawled Filefish
I love the track this Queen Conch was making as he moved along the bottom.
Queen Angelfish
Sea slug - can barely see the top in the middle of the pic.
Schooling fish
Stingray with his fish friend hanging out

A Dark Day for Sports


On a day when the dominating news in the sports world should have been the revival of one of the great college basketball rivalries with a one point IU victory over #1 Kentucky or the "upset" Robert Griffin taking the Heisman Trophy (the first in Baylor's history to win it) right out of the hands of the undisputed #1 draft pick, Andrew Luck, we are faced with news of the National League MVP testing positive for PED's.  On a day when my teams - Michigan and Valparaiso - won games that we all expected them too, my joy is corralled by the news of one of our great young baseball stars cheating to make himself famous.

While baseball continues to revive itself from a strike more than 15 years ago which ravaged the fan base and a steroid problem we were supposed to believe was fixed (I mean, look at the home run numbers - they can't possibly be continuing to use the stuff!) this news is devastating.  Presumably, Braun did not just begin to take PED's during this MVP campaign.  Has he been using them his entire career?  Did he just begin taking them a year ago to assist in getting him a contract extension which promised $140 million+ thru 2020?  We'll probably never know the answers and even if Braun opens up about the issue, it's hard to imagine believing anything he says on the topic.

What seems to be hardest for sports writers, fans and those at the top of the baseball world to answer is - if we were placed in the same position as these players, would we do the same things?  It's easy to take the ground of moral superiority and say that we are all above this, but given the millions that are being thrown around and the perception of "everyone is doing it", I will admit that I could see myself ending up in Braun's shoes.

Baseball (and for that matter Football, Basketball and every other major sport) is not PURE as we like to believe it once was.  For the players, I would contend that building a lasting legacy is no longer (if it ever was) the driving factor in their career arc.  While making the Hall of Fame is certainly still an honor, the objective for the player today is to maximize their earnings over the life of their career, and who can blame them for that?  It's the same thing the owners want to do and its the same thing all of us want to do in our jobs.

In today's world of being able to pull up any statistics we want on any player at any time in a matter of moments a player's legacy doesn't have the same meaning it once did.  We aren't relegated to finding this information on the back's of baseball cards and there are no more bar bets that can't be answered within seconds with a mobile phone.  Let's stop kidding ourselves in to believing that players are playing for the love of the game.  They are playing because us fans continue to watch, continue to go to games and continue to pay outrageous prices to wear our teams' gear and come to games.  They are playing for their next paycheck - which for most people with those aspirations, never come.  They are playing to prolong their careers - to make as much as they can in the short time they are stars, so that when they leave the sporting world their lives are relatively unaffected.  And why do we blame them for taking extraordinary measure to maximize their value?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

TresWhite Review

My empty box - unfortunately, I didn't just dump it all in the trash.  
For my first real post, I figured a product review would be in order to help people stay away from the same mistake I made.  A recent trip to the dentist for a routine teeth cleaning turned in to a rough 10 days for me.  Thankfully no tooth problems to report, but my interest in whitening my teeth, resulted in an impulse buy from the dentist - TresWhite Supreme.  I've always been hesitant to try the more sophisticated bleaching procedures because of the cost and a couple sensitive teeth, so when the dentist recommended this one as an effective low-cost alternative, I thought I'd give it a shot.

I've tried a couple of the other whitening products on the over the counter market over the years (Crest White Strips, whitening toothpaste, etc) without a lot of luck.  Taking the dentist's recommendation was my first problem.  Had I taken the time to do my normal online reviews, I probably would have avoided this product, but I was anxious to get started.

There were a couple minor advantages to TresWhite - the ease of putting the trays in and the relatively low cost ($57 from the dentist).  That's where the advantages end.  These particular bleaching trays didn't cause problems with my sensitive teeth - but it regularly felt like my mouth was on fire.  Because there was far too much gel on the trays, a good deal inevitably seeped to my gums and tongue where the pain became nearly unbearable - and the effects noticeable (I'll spare you the gory details).

Unfortunately I wasn't as smart as Trevett here on Amazon who was intelligent enough to stop using them (I also agree with Maddie, but by no means is the ease of use worth a 5 star review).  I instead put myself through 10 days of torture, telling myself "no pain, no gain."  Well, unfortunately the results just aren't there to justify the hell - there is a minor difference in the color of my teeth, but nothing that I would consider remotely worth the discomfort.  It also didn't help that I was easily able to find the same trays online for $20 less than what I paid at the dentist.

Poor experience all around.  Hope this helps someone out there stay away from my mistake!

It Starts...

This is my second shot at blogging and what I've realized is that blogging is not about me - its about building a community.  The title of the blog basically sums it up - interesting experiences, reviews, and stories from around the web so we can all "live vicariously" through them.  Hopefully by pulling content from others, I'll be able to build a community here and we can all do a bit of vicarious living.  Obviously, I'll be sharing some of my own along the way, but I don't pretend to be the the most interesting man in the world so I'm not going to try.  Bear with me as I get started - and suggestions and comments are welcome - I want this to be enjoyable for all!