Friday, August 31, 2012

Marketing? You Wanna Talk About Marketing? You Kiddin' Me? Marketing?

If you ask a room full of ambitious, eager, MBA students how many want to be entrepreneurs, just over half the hands will go up.  Ask how many might want to work for start-ups, early-stage VCs, early-stage PE, early stage anything, and maybe close to 90 percent of the group will nod in the affirmative.  That's what's cool, that's what's sexy, and that's where folks want to go.

But of course.

Now ask that same group how many are interested in "Sales" and almost every hand will drop faster than the post-IPO Facebook shares that left Mark Zuckerberg wishing he had listened to that little voice in his head saying, "Don't do it, man."

Here's the trouble with that:  Starting a business is all about selling 'something.'  Whether it's an actual widget, dishwasher, or mainframe, or if it's just the oh-so-special expertise you bring to others, you have to sell it.  Without a buyer, there's no transaction, and your hopes for 'fortune and glory' (h/t to the Himalayan kid in the second Indiana Jones movie) are dashed.  You may think selling is dirty, you may think it's for guys wearing cheap suits and too much cologne, or you may just generally think it's for 'someone else' without a clear concept of who that 'someone else' might be.

So in addition to the *Core* of heavy-duty Stats, Accounting, Econ, and some other doozies, there's one solitary first-semester elective open to Sloanies.  Here are the four choices:  Operations, Finance, Strategy, and Marketing?

Any guesses as to which ones are the most subscribed to?  Well, it's not even close:  Finance is far and away the top dog...partly because Andrew Lo teaches it, but way more, IMHO, because Finance is sexy.  Finance is about the real jobs, finance is about running the dough, and finance is the perfect thing to do at an institution that considers Calculus-based Econ a "Humanities" class because it only involves first derivatives and basic integration.  Seriously.

Strategy is also cool.  It conjures up all the chin-scratching, eyebrow-raising thought you'd expect from, well, managers.

Operations is close to Strategy in popularity (both of which are nowhere near Finance).

And what comes in at the end of the pack?  Marketing.  That dirty, dirty word that could make all the difference between profit and not-so-much.  That reason why some companies in monopolistically competitive industries flourish, while others flounder, despite the uncanny product similarity.

I've got three more semesters to scoop up whatever I can in terms of Ops, Strategy, and Finance.  I know they're important.  I know that I'm basically equally ignorant in each realm, business-wise.

But this semester, I'm rounding out my *Core* experience with Marketing, the sometimes-maligned but mainly just plain overlooked child who might have the biggest impact on whether anyone in the house actually gets to eat.   

Da Mayor, Da Man

Here's a link to a great article by Charlene Smith, an independent journalist originally from South Africa.  It's about the extensive work Mayor Murphy has done with the Southeast Asian community in the Lower Highlands, and also talks about neighborhood efforts in Back Central.

There are details in this article that you wouldn't find anywhere else, i.e. the 'sweat equity' that went into the Clemente Park upgrades and the way that Patrick has reached out to what will be a new generation of Lowell voters.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pre-Term Week: Wrap-Up

Last week was the "Pre-Term" class session, which is sometimes informally referred to as "Math Camp."  It's a one-week crash course in Economics, Accounting, and Statistics designed to prepare new students for the "Core Curriculum" of required first-semester classes.  It is also, by the way, entirely optional.  Slightly more than half the incoming class takes advantage of the opportunity to brush up on core subjects and get a better feel for the place, and the rest politely decline. 

There are no quizzes, no tests, and no *real* homework.  The Major Paradox associated with Math Camp is that no one is going to get a ton of value from the classes (if you were already a whiz kid in those areas, you wouldn't need the refresher; if you were a complete novice, you wouldn't gain much in that single week; if you were somewhere in the middle, you'd see it all in the first couple weeks of the semester anyway).  However, I thought it was a great experience and would certainly encourage any incoming student to take it. 

Here's why:  It's a great chance to meet a bunch of classmates before the *actual* Orientation begins, it's a great way to start developing habits associated with being back in school, and it's a way to knock out some administrivia ahead of time. 

Thanks to last week, I'm now far more familiar with the consequences of missing the 6:51 and falling back to the 7:18 (a crazy sprint across the bridge, for one), I know more of the ins and outs of moving across the city (the EZ Ride goes right from North Station to Kendall, and no I couldn't have hoped for anything better than that), and have already found a *nook* or two (Portland Street Au Bon Pain isn't a bad place to be stuck waiting for ten past the hour to come around).  Meeting a couple dozen classmates takes some of the edge off of what would otherwise be the Nervous First Day Effect, and the solid lines through checklist items such as "Picture ID" and "COOP Membership" does the same.

Here are a few Week 1 (or Week 0?) takeaways, in no particular order:

Dumb Classrooms: A student vote at some point in the not-too-distant past brought about a program-wide policy regarding technology in the classroom -- it's to be used by the instructor only.  There are no smart phones, laptops, PDAs, or anything else that beeps or squeaks allowed in class.  Notes are to be taken the old-fashioned way -- pen and paper.  Personally, I'm a huge fan of this...and that seems to be the consensus opinion.  I haven't heard any whines about being "treated like children" but instead a tacit acceptance that all that *smart stuff* tends to take away from the learning environment. 

Fascinating Peer Group: During informal discussions between classes, I learned about a guy who decided, on a lark, to write a late 80s/early 90s action flick-style screenplay.  "How did that go for you guys?" I asked, only to learn that it's being made into the movie "Enemies Closer" starring Mr. Van Damme himself.  Another guy was an enlisted Sailor who went to Annapolis before spending five years as a Marine and then another in finance in NYC.  Someone else started a fast-food chain in Latin America and then sold it for a nice sum of money.  And on and on.  The point is that b-school ain't undergrad.  As accomplished as many college-bound 17- or 18-year olds may think they are, what they've done has mostly happened in an environment where most major decisions have already been made and the path is clear (in the sense that 11th grade followed 10th grade, which followed 9th, etc..)  Even the "top" among them have just been very successful in said environment.  B-School is way, way different right off the bat, because people are selected for it based on what they've done in the real world. 

Zoning Out?  Not Allowed:  During a Math Class last week, I got lost in some long formula involving lots of Greek symbols, upper-case letters, and subscripts, when I just consciously decided to drift off to la-la land.  I just sort of said to myself, "I have no idea what's going on right now, but I have all the course materials.  I am going to make the 'easy right now' decision and go on mental auto-pilot.  I'll review it on my own time later and really learn it then."  This would've been okay during most undergrad lectures, and again through most boring, required military training, but not, I learned, here.  At some point I heard the words, "Work through thsi problem and turn to the person next to you to compare."  I scrambled to plug the numbers on the board into the formula, but -- no surprise -- had everything bass ackwards.  I felt like a dope when we did the partner review thing.  It wasn't a cold call in front of a group or anything, but it was enough of a wake-up call to impart a lesson: Class time can't be used for doodling or daydreaming.  It all matters.  Besides, given the daily limitations on time, the decision to 'space' during a 90-minute class is a pretty poor one. 

Easy There, SharpshooterNearly all the classmates I've met so far seem like truly interesting and down-to-earth people, but bear in mind that the group that self-selects to take the pre-term classes may not be a totally representative sample.  Even among that group, though, there always seemed to be one or two people in every class who wanted to "sharpshoot" the instructor (a grad student, sometimes from a Department outside the area in which they were teaching).  They wanted to challenge every chalkboard notation, and even every pre-fabricated slide.  I have no problem with that, but with the all-important caveat that if you're going to sharpshoot the instructor, you had BETTER be right about it.  It's one thing to ask how something was derived, or to frame a question like "I got $370 million for that answer but the slide says $350 million.  Can you show me the steps?"  However, if you say something like, "The slide is wrong.  It's 370," in a bold and even slightly arrogant way, you then look like a real fool when it turns out you're wrong.  (In this case, it was an Expected Net Present Value calculation of a project with a 90% chance of success, a 10% chance of total failure/investment loss, and an NPV of $400 million...and the right answer really was $350 mill). 

All told, last week was a great experience.  I'm honestly pretty surprised that a large group of people doesn't do this, especially considering that most people take a substantial chunk of time off before starting guess is that they just want to extend their summer vacations for one more week. 

One thing I know is that in order to be 'good enough' in the three core areas (Econ, Stats, and Accounting) I'll need to put in some overtime hours.  Books like the one pictured above will be perfect for those 40 quiet minutes each morning on the train. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Across Every Middlesex / Village and Farm

Very few things are actually agreed upon.

Is it better to rent or buy?  Is coffee good or bad for you?  Should the Chinese military buildup concern us?  No one really knows, and just to make matters worse, really really smart people disagree on these things, leaving the rest of us to sort of throw our hands up at times.

One exception to this rule, though, concerns the way we commute to work.  Commutes have been studied every which way, many times, for many years, and in many places.  Guess what?  People who commute by car tend to be more miserable than those who commute via other means.  Most people enjoy walking or cycling, not to mention the physical boost those activities provide.  People whose commutes primarily consist of train or bus rides frequently describe the sense of happiness they feel when they arrive at work...after all, they've had time to themselves to think, listen to music, read the paper, or do whatever else they do when they can just sit there and not be bothered.

My commute these days involves two walks (home to Gallagher, and from North Station over the bridge to Sloan), plus the 40+ minute train ride.  I love it

Here's why:  The commute gives me time to do things that I would want to do anyway.  I love to read (that's how I spend the train time), and I love to walk (not just for its own sake, but also because it's going to help out with what I wrote about a couple entries ago). 

Also, going from the first to last stop along the line each way means there's no risk associated with napping. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Well, At Least the First Choice Was Easy...

I start my "pre-term" classes tomorrow morning, but orientation doesn't start until next Monday.

No typo there -- there is an optional bunch of sessions in Math, Statistics, Accounting, and Economics the week of the 20th to the 24th.  As to whether anyone is interested, the choice is his or hers alone to make. 

For me, it was a no-brainer:  I barely touched any of that stuff as an undergrad, let alone major in it, and I haven't been a full-time student in close to a decade.  I figure the classes are a great way to sort of ease back into the school thing (they are ungraded and I believe there aren't any tests), get into the habit of commuting, and meet some new peers. 

So that first decision -- whether to take the pre-term classes -- was easy.  There will be harder ones coming.  As many friends who have gone down the MBA path previously have told me, the classes themselves aren't what stressed them out about business school; instead, it was the job recruiting, job placement, job search process.  It was figuring out what they were going to do, and then moving towards it, while juggling everything else they had going on. 

That whole issue helps explain why there are such varying descriptions of the b-school experience: For some people, they'll describe an endless blur of pub nights, intramural sporting events, guest lectures, long weekends, and travel.  Talk to others, and it's a non-stop blitz of 18-hour days, cram sessions in the library, stressful job interviews, group projects with unreliable partners, and other assorted struggles. 

Besides the natural tendency of some people to want to be ducks (appearing to glide effortlessly on the surface, but secretly kicking like hell below the surface), the major differentiator in those bimodal experience descriptions is the job status of the person going through b-school.

Here's what I mean:  Let's say you took a job out of college at a blue-chip investment banking/private equity/management consulting type of firm.  Let's say you spent 3-5 years there, and then the firm made you a sweetheart offer: Go to business school.  We'll pay for it.  When you're done, you'll come back into a managerial position.  You'll be required to stick around with us a few more years afterwards, but then after that you're free again.

Now you're basically looking at a two-year break.  You're dealing with subject matter largely familiar to you, you can completely bypass the potentially stressful campus recruiting process, you can use the 'in-between' summer to tour the beaches of Europe and Asia (or whatever else the unattached late 20-somethings with wads of disposal income do with free time), and you know that unless you really really mess something up, you're headed somewhere good afterwards. 

Contrast that with someone who comes in as a 'career-switcher.'  They came from something, whether it's Teach for America, a suit-and-tie corporation, the military, or a non-profit, and they're trying to get somewhere else, though they may not know exactly what or where that someone else is.  Meanwhile, they're trying to figure out a balance sheet from an earnings statement from a subway map.  Maybe they want to start their own venture, and maybe they don't, but whatever they do, corporate recruiting season starts almost as soon as classes do.  And that summer internship could be the 'make or break' for the Major League firm hiring decisions. 

I'm definitely in the second group, but that's not necessarily a bad thing...people in that second group tend to work a lot harder, but they also tend to get much, much more out of the experience.  And being a few years older than average, being married, having a kid, and having a commute all add up to being able to avoid certain distractions.  It's a built-in reason not to get dragged along to go shut down the Beacon Hill Pub in the wee hours of a Wednesday evening/Thursday morning. 

As valuable as networking is, I think there are lots of ways that it happens informally (as in, not during official 'networking' events at bars).  If I look at the circle of people that I talk with on a regular basis, I can't even remember how I met most of them...but can almost guarantee that it didn't happen by going to anything with 'networking' in the title.  Instead, it resulted from getting out of the house, being my usual (extroverted) self, building up a reputation, and then either meeting people directly or getting introduced to them.

With time, that really does 'just' happen.  I don't need to be the slick guy with all the business cards and the elaborate handshakes.  Especially during pre-term or orientation.

I'll get plenty of chances to say, "Hi" to my 400 or so classmates between now and 2014...and if I don't see 'em by then, well there's always the reunions, eh? 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The 'Big' Lie

Yesterday morning, I opened up my Wall Street Journal at the Club Diner at oh-dark-thirty, and there was the headline: "NFL Players: Tired of Being Fat."

Given the increased number of passes used by most offenses, and the more 'spread-out' nature of their attacks (fewer blocking tight ends, fewer bruising fullbacks, fewer three yards-and-a-pile-of-dust plays) linemen are now looking to be a bit, uhh...sleeker.  This, of course, is an important reversal of a decades-long trend...when I was a boy watching the NFL on network television, 300-pounders were rare enough to be, well, special.  They would stand out.  Now, there are entire offensive lines that AVERAGE north of 300.  Even at the college level, you sometimes see that stuff...look at last year's Wisconsin Badgers, for example. 

This is probably a good move for these guys long-term, too: if you look at the post-NFL statistics for linemen, to include life expectancy, things aren't so good: The average NFL linemen has a life expectancy similar to what could be expected of men in some third-world countries. 

Of course, there are many reasons -- lots of repeated head trauma, for instance.  Another factor, though, is the weight those guys carry around, especially after they stop playing the game.  If they continue to eat and drink like invincible vikings, but without working out like invincible vikings, they are bound to blow up...just think, if your daily intake was 3500 calories more than your output, well that would be a pound gained right there.  Do some back-of-the-envelope math, and the pounds could add up, very quickly. 

I have ZERO scientific evidence to back this up, but I'm convinced that weight has a particular way of sneaking up on men who have some kind of muscle mass, particularly if they once lifted weights as members of a football, wrestling, or other sports club, or as members of any local or federal uniformed service. 


Because they tell themselves the Big Lie (pun intended) about "wearing it well."  Just yesterday, I stopped in to see a friend at work, and she mentioned that someone we both know, who is shorter than I am and weighs well over 300 pounds, told her that he's not really overweight because he "wears it well." 

Newsflash to that guy:  Unless you're Shaquille O'Neal and it's the late 1990s or early 2000s, you don't carry 300+ lbs. around "well." 

Much like an ex-con who then advises people about protecting themselves from scams, I feel well-placed to discuss this subject, because I am guilty of it myself.  I have also spent a lot of time around police, fire, and full-time military folks in the Guard who are very, very guilty of it, too. 

In my early- to mid-twenties, I had more of a "V" build, despite a terrible diet based primarily around fast food.  Because I had filled out so much *upstairs* I thought I was basically immune from any concerns about fat, because, well, it would just sort of balance out.  The proportions were what mattered, I said...and I was half-right.  Other things being equal, more muscle on the frame looks better than less, given a constant amount of bodyfat

The problem is, that only works for a few pounds here and there (which the guys with more skeletal type frames really can't hide anywhere).  Too many guys let themselves go too far when they buy into The Big Lie.  I'm convinced I could walk around the armory on a drill weekend at my old Guard unit and find at least two dozen guys who are more than 25% bodyfat (technically, that's obese) but who would never in a million years describe themselves as "fat" let alone "obese" on a survey. 

Why not?

Just ask them, and they'll tell you they're just 'big.'  Maybe they've got impressive powerlifting numbers.  Maybe they used to play on the O-Line back in high school, or even college.  Maybe they can even pass the 2-mile run portion of the PT test.  Maybe.  Still, a 40+" waist is what it is. 

Personally, at 5'10", 210, and a shade under 20% bodyfat, I've definitely got at least 10 lbs. of lard that I could stand to shed right off the bat (FYI: Most people would say 18-25% for guys is 'acceptable,' 14-17 is 'fit' and anything less than 14 is very athletic...oh, and anything in the single digits is where the abs start to show...Olympic sprinters might be around 5, and marathoners a shade under that).  I'm aware of what I gotta do (isn't that always the first step?), and also aware that the 168 lbs. of 'other' on my frame is substantial...I'm not concerned about total lbs. or the individually-useless BMI standard, just about the bodyfat percentage, mind you. 

...And perhaps with that last paragraph, I've broken my rule about no "Dear Diary" sort of entries.  If so, let me bring it back to the general point:  Guys, let's all stop lying to ourselves about being 'big' or 'husky' or 'robust' or whatever.  BF beyond 25% can't be hidden or masked by any amount of offsetting muscle or wide shoulders that we have, used to have, or think we have.  Even 20% is a few percentage points too high.  Just because we were once an [insert name of varsity athletic or other uniformed position] doesn't give us a lifetime pass on this. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Inappropriate, at Best

Something said at Tuesday night's Council meeting offended me. 

So why am I writing about it?  Well, because it's my blog, that's why.  Like anyone else, I have the right to be offended -- the 1st Amendment lets me shout out about it, so here goes:

A resident speaker compared the struggles to repeal Jim Crow laws in the South to modern-day efforts to repeal dangerous dog ordinances.  If blacks and whites should both be able to eat at the same lunch counters, drink from the same fountains, and go to the same schools, she reasoned, then chihuahuas shouldn't be subject to different laws than should certain breeds of pit bull or rottweiler. 


I will concede up front that there was no intention to offend.  I think that matters, too -- someone may use a term that's out of vogue (i.e. 'Oriental' instead of 'Asian'), or otherwise use language that could appear loaded (i.e. Joe Biden's recent 'chains' reference) and it's not necessarily some kind of coded dog whistle, as the conspiracy theorists would say.  Sometimes people mess up, and they shouldn't be pilloried for it. 

That said, the comparison didn't sit well with me.  I'm not trying to pretend to be some expert on civil rights just because I watched "Eyes on the Prize" or read Parting the Waters.  I wasn't part of the original civil rights movement (I admire it though), and I often find myself wishing the modern civil rights movement could focus more on advancement than aggrievement. 

Still, just as an American who appreciates the basic freedoms and rights that I and all other Americans share, I felt that the historical analogy used there was in poor taste.  'Separate but equal' was anything but, and it denied equal opportunity in terms of education, health care, sanitation, and many other things to generations of African-Americans.  Even a combat Vietnam veteran like Colin Powell could return to the States after fighting in a war, try to find a hospital at which his wife could give birth to their child, and run into hurdles about who would accept them because of the color of his skin. 

Multiply that times all the countless millions of untold stories of people who were denied the chance to reach their full potential, and you can pretty quickly paint a picture of why that was a particularly ugly chapter in our nation's history. 

You can't really understand all the cross-currents in American culture without having at least a basic grasp of that, and at least a basic appreciation of what people like John Lewis went through when they challenged racism in places like Selma. 

You may think that breed-specific dog legislation is unfair...and of course, that's your right.  As for the specific issue, I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. 

But I do think the Dr. King reference was appalling. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympians Among Us

One of the last agenda items scheduled for tonight's Council meeting (which will be long...the fact that we had 5 Tuesdays in July means that three weeks will have elapsed between meetings) involves the idea of a City Olympics.

I think it's an awesome idea.  Of course, most such ideas are good, but the devil is always in the details, and the key variable will be on the execution side.

I love the concept because it has the potential to bring a huge number of people together from various cultures and ages.  I know things like the Folk Festival already do that, but the Olympics concept is special because the people are the participants.  One of the biggest events I witnessed as the Mayor's Aide was the LGH Cancer Walk...of course, many people feel a connection to it because they know people impacted by the disease, but another big piece of the appeal is that the people who come to it are also *doing* it.

The City Olympics can start small, and then snowball from there.  Just by having a set of Games next summer, the city will have overcome the biggest hurdle of all (building the snowball and pushing it down the hill).

Another great things about the idea is that it promotes a culture of fitness among city residents.  It's like, let's say you decide to join the 1600m for males 60+.  Now, you've got something to train for.  You've got to post a time you won't be embarrassed about seeing in print or online.  Ditto for all the rest of the individual events, and the team events can have the same impact, depending on how seriously people take it -- you don't want to be the guy who holds your 3-on-3 basketball team back, so it's on you to stay in good shape and keep your jump rope moving often enough to maintain a good vertical leap.

Speaking of Olympics, I'm going to chime in again about Michael Phelps (I say 'again' because I wrote something similar in 2008...and I want to also acknowledge that many people have made this point is in no way 'mine').  Go easy on the 'Greatest Olympian' ever talk, esp. if you're just going to use Phelps' total medals to back it up.  Most athletes don't have the chance to win 8+ medals at an Olympiad.  Imagine if Usain Bolt could participate in a 100m, 200m, 150m, 250m, and then try them again using different styles of running.  Would he win 8 medals?  What if LeBron could medal in full-court 5-on-5, half-court 3-on-3, a free throw contest, a three point contest, dunk contest, etc.?

I have to give props to Mr. Ashton Eaton of Oregon, who won my personal favorite event (decathlon) with a phenomenal score.  However, that doesn't automatically make him the best athlete at the Games.  Why?  Because he's only competing against OTHER people trying to do the same thing -- he is better than all the other decathletes, but that's it.

Where I would really be amazed, and have to make a strong case for someone being the greatest, would be if and when a modern Jim Thorpe comes along who can excel in multiple fields against people who mostly specialize in those things.  It would be like an Olympic Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders -- someone who could medal in a swimming event AND the high jump.  That would be really amazing.

Some might say it's not possible in this day and age of athletes specializing at young ages.  Who knows?  Maybe they're on to something.

In the Lowell Games, however, I have a feeling someone could medal in the 400m sprint and a couple powerlifting events.  Maybe they could even play a mean game of beach volleyball, too...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ben's Big Pivot

Fast Company recently ran an article accompanying this video, in which Ben Rattray describes the background to his organization,  This piece focus on the major "pivots" that Change has undergone -- first, from a "catch-all" for activists, then to a blogging platform for activists, and finally to a petition-focused site.

The whole concept of pivoting is why the somewhat-counterintuitive school of thought that says "the idea doesn't matter all that much" (when assessing new entrepreneurs' odds) actually makes a lot of sense:  Sharp people who are paying attention to their surroundings will make the needed course corrections that ultimately lead them to success.  

Remember, most ideas are good.  Many great ones are not inherently complicated (look at FedEx, for example).  In retrospect, everything is obvious...but the difference between 'here' and 'there' is where the heavy lifting happens.  

Friday, August 3, 2012

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

On City Life this morning, Dick Howe made an excellent point about people who say whatever they want (including things that are perhaps inappropriate, offensive, or worse) and then express shock, surprise, or any other form of sensitivity when people react in kind.

Such people are hypocrites, and they need to take a closer look in the mirror.

One of the sharpest quivers in the arsenal of those who engage in sarcasm, bullying, and related forms of expression is the "Heads I Win, Tails You Lose" form of logic that says, "I can say whatever I want.  In fact, I can even use words that sting, or allegations not grounded in fact...if you challenge me on the first, I'll say that I was 'just kidding' and that you need to lighten up, and if you challenge me on the second, I'll just sort of backpeddle a little and just call you 'defensive' and hope to leave it at that."

Just watch for the next instance you witness of a person using sarcasm to mask an observation or insult that he or she wishes to convey...if the intended recipient 'pushes back' at all, the inevitable rejoinder that follows is something like, "Geez, I was just kidding.  You need to lighten up."  In similar fashion, those who casually lob hand grenades around in public forums are somehow surprised when others toss them back (not so much fun anymore, is it?) and then fall back on similar lines.

The funniest part of all this is that the people who are quickest to engage in this sort of behavior tend to react like wounded bears when they themselves are challenged...and when it happens in a public forum, it's laid bare for all the world to see.

It's one of those circular things that we sometimes wish wasn't the way a person who actually takes the time to read and apply a book about people skills is probably the least likely to need it.  People who like to toss live mortar rounds around -- whether in a bullying spirit, because they believe they were appointed to be one of life's omniscient narrators, or for whatever other reason -- are also the quickest to  challenge others who respond in kind with a dismissive wave of the hand.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Operator Error

Sometimes, the signage really is unclear or confusing.

Sometimes, you can get "tractor beamed" onto an off-ramp that you never wanted to be on, or into a turn lane that you didn't see coming.  Anytime I head east on 110 coming across Plain St., for instance, I brace myself for the likelihood that someone who was in the turn lane was really trying to go straight.  My desire to avoid an accident trumps my desire to be *right* each time, and I gladly yield out of respect not for the other driver, but for that law of physics from senior year about multiple objects not being able to occupy the same space.  

Sometimes, though, traffic mishaps just come down to simple operator error.  Double yellow lines should be a good indicator, especially when a bunch of cars are headed one way on the right side, and then there are a bunch of other ones stopped about to try and go the other way (the light changed in the time it took me to grab my phone and snap this).

Thankfully, this guy banged a left onto Market and headed in, well, the right direction.