Post-Christmas Do-It-Yourself Project Stymies Consumer Laggard

diffusion curve laggard(Central Valley Business Times, December 2015)

Laggards, in marketing lingo, are consumers that ride the tail end of the Diffusion Curve.  Whether it’s computers, TV sets or toasters, I am not an early adopter.  I lag.  Every Christmas season (which starts after Halloween), I wrestle with more consumer purchase decision making than the rest of the year.  The bustling crowds, blaring holiday music, and banners promoting BOGO’s, only adds to my befuddlement.

In comparison, my wife and daughters shop with the endurance of Olympic athletes.

Continue reading “Post-Christmas Do-It-Yourself Project Stymies Consumer Laggard” »

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December is the Season for Puck Drops

Eric characture cropped color(Hockey Player Magazine, December 2015)

December is the season for leaf fall, snow fall, and puck drops.

My hockey buddies grin when frosty windshields mask the morning commute, especially the guys from Minnesota or Canada where vegetables come in casseroles and nuts come from cans. Continue reading “December is the Season for Puck Drops” »

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Time Swooshes into Another Holiday Season

etcguy dr suess How did it get late so soon?  It’s night before its afternoon.  December is here before its June.  My goodness how the time has flewn.  How did it get late so soon?

Dr. Suess (1904 – 1991)

It seems just a week ago my kids filled plastic pumpkins full of Halloween candy.  And only eight minutes ago we gobbled the last of Thanksgiving turkey.  Now, we’re onto the Christmas holiday home-stretch.

nike swooshTime swooshes by but it’s not because of Nike. Between October 31 and December 25, time either speeds up or gets sucked away. Where it goes, nobody knows.

How did it get late so soon?

PS  For “late” or last minute Christmas shoppers I’m compiling a list of great books to consider.  Coming soon…certainly before June.  Be sure to join the Etc.Guy Facebook page too.

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Upcoming Butte County Trivia Bee to be a Jocular Event

MozartTo speak well and eloquently is a great art, but an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Ready, fire, aim.

I’m one who, to my wife’s chagrin and mortification, sometimes speaks first then thinks later about what I just said.  The fuse between my mouth and vocal chords burns short and quick, while the fuse between my mouth and brain smolders like wet rope.  I wear a size eight shoe.  But it’s my size 13 mouth that gets me into trouble…like a goofball friend who makes a dare.

Mozart’s quote is prophetic and one I try to be mindful of every day—not to be too much of a wise-guy.  A closed mouth gathers no feet.  Continue reading “Upcoming Butte County Trivia Bee to be a Jocular Event” »

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Etc. Guy Interviewed by Michigan blogger…Dads of Divas

etcguy speech fistEven old guys can learn Twitter.

I made the baby-boomer cut by a year or two and don’t know what to think about social media.  Five years ago, when my kids began junior high school, I reluctantly set up a Facebook account to keep track of what they were doing.  I also wanted to know who they ran around with and what influenced them.  Before I started the Etc. Guy blog, I viewed social media as a waste of time.  At the time, a chimpanzee probably had a better understanding of social media than I did.  And I’m being generous.  Make that a sloth.

Now with blogging, social media is critical to develop my writing career.  Good articles are either circulated or shared.  Great stories go viral.  I now view social media, like Twitter or Linked In, as business tools.  They are platforms, or soapboxes, in an otherwise busy and noisy world.

Dad of Divas image_150929I’m just a gnat in the internet universe but last spring I was contacted by a Michigan blog editor, through Twitter, who writes about family stuff in his blog, Dads of Divas.  The editor, Christopher Lewis, is also the father of two daughters.  He started Dads of Divas as “One Dad’s Quest to Regain His Kingdom One Day at a Time!”  Lewis examines both the personal and thought provoking aspects of fatherhood and married life.  Lewis serves on the management team of Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School, near Lansing.  I’ve never been to Michigan but Lansing is in the “mitten” part of Michigan, inside the palm of the hand.

Dads in the Limelight image_150929Anyway, I was sent a questionnaire, we exchanged emails, and I was subsequently interviewed for his series entitled, “Dads in the Limelight.”  The interview, though submitted in the queue last spring, was published last week.  If you read the interview note that Kate has seen moved away to college and that we’ve lost several more pets.  Oh yeah, and I had a birthday.  But pretty much everything else is accurate.  I’m not one to espouse virtues or proselytize moral values.  I have enough serious problems of my own.  Like folding towels or loading the dishwasher.  It’s strange getting interviewed…but cool for my work to be noticed.   I’ll still plug away at developing this writing gig.  Writing has become a passion.  It’s more fun than a zillion other things that compete for my brain’s space.  And I guess I’ll continue to figure out this social media stuff…because that’s the way it is.  Hope you enjoy the read.

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Too Bad Will Rogers Isn’t Around for the 2016 Election

etc guy Will RogersPolitics is applesauce.”

Will Rogers

William Penn Adair “Will” Rogers (1879 -1935) was a Cherokee cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator, and stage and motion picture actor. He earned fame as an American media star during the 1920s and 1930s.  Will Rogers tragically died in a plane crash in Point Barrow, Alaska in 1935.  A funny guy, Roger’s wit followed him to his gravestone.  He quipped during one interview, “When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like. I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.”  And so it was.

will-rogers never met a man I didnt likeI wonder how Rogers would spin our present day political debacle.  Would Rogers like the Donald, Hilary, Jeb, or the rest of the cast?  I’m already tired of the 2016 Presidential race and we’ve hardly begun.  Already its Trump versus CNN, Trump versus Fox, Trump versus Bush, Republicans versus Trump, Trump versus Trump, Republicans versus Democrats, Reps versus Reps, Dems versus Dems, Liberals versus Conservatives…its maddening.  As for Trump’s circus act, at least he develops interest so I suppose that’s a plus.

I’m registered as “decline to state” but have voted across the aisle for both Democrats and Republicans.  I’ll give any man or woman a shot at office if I believe they’re genuine and can do the job.  And if I like them I’ll vote for them again…but not for  more than two terms (unless the competition is weak or wacko).  Two terms in politics are plenty.  I disavow long-term politicos who succumb to group think and/or dogma.  Hire new blood.  A guy racing yaks has more appeal to me than a career politician.  At least the yak racer is moving.

political books for saleOur local library sells used books as part of its fundraising campaign and I found these two titles interesting: “The Pictorial History of the Republican Party,” and “Dreams from My Father,” by Barack Obama.  The selling price was half a buck each.  They remained on the rack for several weeks before finally vanishing.  Or maybe the library just gave them away.

I don’t care who people vote for and I’m reluctant to endorse candidates.  Vote for who you want.  All I ask is that you just keep wanting to vote.

Regarding politics, I borrow a quote from one of America’s most sensible men, Forrest Gump: “That’s all I have to say about that.”

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Tour de Dad’s Classic Rock Transcends Multiple Life Stages

etcguy bike racersThe Tour de France is composed of 21 stages, all in succession.  For the Tour de Dad I bounce between multiple stages, at the same time, with no apparent order.  I’m in my early 50’s which means I fall in the old-guy territory when it comes to my teenage daughters, Kate and Maggie.  Classic rock, though, seems to transcend age groups.  I received a lot of comments from the posts below after they appeared on the Etc. Guy Facebook page.

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etcguy Queen Queen played on the airwaves as I drove my nervous 9th grader, Maggie, to her first symphonic band concert. She’s a rookie bassoonist.

QUEEN: “Is this the real life, is this just fantasy….”
ME: Have you heard this song?
MAGGIE: Bohemian Ras-pody?
ME: Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s a classic.
MAGGIE: Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fangango?
ME: Thunderbolt and lightening, very, very frightening, me!
MAGGIE: Galileo, (Galileo), Galileo, (Galileo)
ME: [Directing orchestra, playing air guitar]
MAGGIE: [Giggling]
ME: You and your oboe will be fine.

MAGGIE: I play the bassoon!

ME: Oh yeah…

Maggie played great at her debut.  Afterwards, a smile stretched from ear to ear.  For future performances listening to Queen may become our routine.
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etcguy Eric_ClaptonMaggie, Kate and I piled into the car for a drive to the Sunday matinee.  Eric Clapton’s “Layla” blared over the speakers.

KIDS: Wow, that’s good, excellent chord progression.
ME: You like that?
KIDS: Turn it up, the piano is awesome.  Who is that?
ME: It’s Eric Clapton, a British guy.
KIDS: Is he new?
ME: If you’re 80 he is.
KIDS: ??
ME: He’s nearly as old as Grandpa.
KIDS: That old?
ME: Clapton released Layla in 1972, I think.
KIDS: You sure had good music back then.

My kids are in a stage where hanging out with their dad is no longer cool, other than occasionally going to a movie. Other dads cautioned me this would happen.  But, they tell me, the phase will eventually end. At least they recognize classic artists when they hear them.
Should Eric Clapton or Queen ever read this post I just want to say THANKS.  You helped me break out of the “un-cool-dad-box” for at least a few minutes.  Parents, can you relate?

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Readers, feel free to visit my main Etc.Guy site too.

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Words of Wisdom – Teddy Roosevelt

etcguy teddy roosevelt“When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em ‘Certainly I can!’  Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

Teddy Roosevelt, 1858 to 1919 (26th President of the United States, 1901 to 1909)

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5 (or more?) Gift Ideas for Dad on Father’s Day

Hey kids, here’s a short and sweet Father’s Day list if you’re procrastinating.  The listed order is unimportant, except for #3.

  1. cam strapsCam-buckles and tie straps. These range in length from 12 inches to 24 feet.  They’re handy to secure loads for camping or landfill trips.  Cam buckles eliminate the need for dads to tie sophisticated knots which just frustrate us.  Color coded straps are best.  We’d rather spend time strapping things than untangling straps.  Find ’em at Northwest River Supplies.
  1. etc guy lawnmower skiing2. Any Husqvarna (Husky) product…weed-eaters, lawnmowers, chainsaws…doesn’t matter. Dads like making noise.  Noise empowers.  Noise means we’re productive.  Husky products help dads tame artificial and natural environments.    Lawns.  Gardens.  Forests.  My Husky two-wheel-drive mower can pull a water skier. My Husky chainsaw cuts through engine blocks.  My Husky weed-eater has more power than a Toyota Prius.  Husky products are made in Sweden, a country the size of California, with the top half stuck above the Arctic Circle.  If Sweden was closer to the USA we’d be driving Husqvarna cars.   Shop Husqvarna without buying a ticket to Lapland.
  2. A Porsche. Any size, color, model, doesn’t matter.  ‘Nuff said. Buy dad a Porsche on-line.
  1. etc guy Skymall Magazine VW busA Volkswagen Bus Tent. Great for camping or set up as patio man-caves.  Comes with guy ropes.  If you don’t know what guy ropes are for that’s okay.  Guys will figure it out. Search Skymall Magazine for that perfect VW tent or other weird stuff.
  1. etcguy stanley thermos5. Stanley Thermos. No matter how destructive your dad is, these steel gauge military grade thermoses are bomb-proof and idiot-proof.  Great for storing coffee, soup, or use as a temporary wheel chock.  The only drawback—they don’t float.  I’ve had the same Stanley Thermos over 20 years (and cleaned it twice).
  2. Time with their kid. Really kids, dads don’t need anything but time with you.  Forget ties or soap-on-a-rope.  Let’s just hang out at a ballgame.  But if you want to get us a Porsche that’s entirely fine.

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If your dad reads, consider getting a copy of “Let Me Tell You a Story,” written by a married dad with teenage daughters.  He’s trapped in a house full of estrogen but lives to tell the story.  The book is written in short, choppy English sentences chock-full of one syllable words.    Whether your dad is from Japan, Germany, or Georgia, he’ll be entertained.  Available at the Etc. Guy store.   Be sure to join the Etc. Guy Facebook page too and LIKE it.

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Hockey Tape and Old Trophies Bring Out Sentiments

etcguy eric blazer champs

(This article originally appeared in Hockey Player Magazine, May 2015)

The line between frugality and nostalgia is not much wider than a skate blade.

Consider hockey tape, the adhesive that binds equipment, body parts, and adult recreation teams.  Players hoarding rolls of UHaul® tape to strap on shin guards are frugal.  They’re too cheap to buy real sports tape.  Thriftiness is admirable unless it interferes with selecting post-game beers.

For less than $2.80 per roll, hockey players can buy 55 yards of UHaul tape, long enough to reach between goal lines.  The cost is about a nickel a yard, as compared to a quarter a yard for high tensile strength athletic-trainer-grade strips used for taping ankles, wrists, hands, sticks, pads, or fixing radiator hoses.  But hockey players, among the most intelligent breed of athletes, are an industrious and environmentally inclined group.  Cheaper than packing tape are recycled skate laces that are given a second life to fasten shin guards.

etc guy uhaul tapeIn our bantam years my brother, Kirk, and I got a four dollar seasonal allowance to buy hockey tape.  Back then we were too young to rent moving vans and were thus unfamiliar with the utility of UHaul tape.  When supplies ran out we developed craft weaving skills by fashioning slip knots with recycled skate laces.  We suffered a minimalist existence and also harvested tape from broken sticks or from unwary teammate’s sticks.  Kirk, a forward, never figured out that the guy unpeeling tape from his stick was me, a defenseman.  It served him right.  Kirk never got caught pirating from his fellow forwards, a narcissistic pair that stared at locker room mirrors.

Much has been written about hockey player psychology except for this little known fact: Hockey players, as a statistical collection, are a sentimental group.  Without words we speak a language non-hockey players cannot understand.  Spectators only see cursing, yelling and body-shots.  For hockey players those are expressions of affection.

“Dude, love your # 99 jersey.  Gretzky was awesome.  But you’re a #@$% puck hog!”

Blazer champs 141214Verbal exchanges become more meaningful in penalty boxes.  In one game I shared two minutes in the same penalty box with Doc, a hack who cross-checked me from behind.  By day, Doc is a proctologist.  But on game night his tender mannerisms vanish.  Doc is a dirty cheap-shot.  I retaliated, threw a punch, and mouthed off.  The referee escorted us to the same bench because the other penalty box was filled with cartons of UHaul tape.  I asked Doc about his jerk-like behavior.

“Guess I’m depressed,” he said.  “It’s not personal.”

“What?” I fumed.  “You use sports tape and your Porsche doesn’t leak antifreeze.”

Doc sighed.  “My parents sent a care package.  Inside was my State hockey peewee championship trophy.  I was just a kid…sniff, sniff…”

I reflected on Doc’s story. My folks sent me a care package that contained an old hockey trophy from years ago. Doc and I watched our teammates battle four on four.  We had a minute of remaining penalty time and reminisced on our youth.  Doc’s boyhood dream was to be a forest ranger, a desire born from playing pond hockey and hunting for lost pucks in the woods.  Now he’s hunting for polyps. I sensed Doc’s embarrassment when I noticed his teary eyes wistfully longing for those happy personal associations.

Noah Kiko trophyOur two minutes were up.  We hopped over the boards back into play.  Doc cursed, “Watch your back you #@$$% weasel!”

On a recent family visit I watched my nephews, Nate and Kenny, win a tournament.  My high school buddy, Jimbo, and Kirk coach their peewee team.  Jimbo, a former all-league player, is still intense.  He carried an iPad with diagrams, videos, and wore a head set connected to nothing.  Both coaches wore ties as did their team, a dozen fidgety peewees amped on Red Bull® and Cheetos®.

I never heard the pre-game speech.  Nate and Kenny later told me it was something about not getting penalties and to eat their vegetables.  Their team, tougher than Tasmanian Devils, came from behind to beat the top seed.  The championship trophy stood waist high.

Trophy wins are farther and fewer between as you age.  If Nate and Kenny continue playing, maybe they’ll someday win an adult league championship.  They’ll compete for a t-shirt and bragging rights.

I’ll send them rolls of sports tape next season…in a box wrapped with UHaul tape.

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