Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hoping For YOUR Change

Last night at LDNA, the LDP Captain briefed us up on downtown crime, as well as downtown nuisance enforcement (38x public urination arrests in 2012, vs. 3 such arrests in 2010!)  One interesting he point he made was about a heroin addict who committed many dozens of vehicle breaks between Gallagher and downtown proper.

He took only the change from vehicles, but it was enough.

Many people who left vehicles unlocked were reporting vehicle breaks and "rummaging" but with apparently nothing taken.  Valuables like iPads, iPods, iPhones, etc. were left untouched, but it was clear to them that someone had rifled through their vehicle interior.  The lack of anything apparently missing just fed the mystery (and no, there was no strange ending involving a roll of developed pictures and a toothbrush in an atypical spot).

As it turns out, the guy doing it WAS taking something -- all those pesky quarters, dimes, and nickels in the center console.  And guess what?  It was enough to stay relatively under the radar, and it was easy to convert real hard currency into heroin (no surprise there, right?)  The problem with things like consumer electronics is that they're hard to *turn over* and the process itself comes with lots of risks (not only are those items sometimes tracked electronically, but thieves get busted at pawn shops all the time).

As anyone who has ever redeemed a jar full of coins knows, all that stuff often adds up to greater amounts than it might seem at first.  For this guy, it was enough to afford 3-4 bags of street-grade heroin each day.

With this single individual now *off the market* for downtown vehicle breaks, expect a big drop in such incidences, at least in the very short-term.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Showing Up? Be Like Demon Hunter

The recent Esquire piece about the guy who double-tapped "UBL" is pretty awesome.

If you're willing to forgive some big-league inaccuracies about the military benefits system, and just focus on the story, it's completely worth the read.  (The author overplayed his hand a bit on the whole 'guy serves his country and gets screwed for it' narrative).

Here's the most important passage for me:

"When we first started the war in Iraq, we were using Metallica music to soften people up before we interrogated them," the Shooter says. "Metallica got wind of this and they said, 'Hey, please don't use our music because we don't want to promote violence.' I thought, Dude, you have an album called Kill 'Em All. 
"But we stopped using their music, and then a band called Demon Hunter got in touch and said, 'We're all about promoting what you do.' They sent us CDs and patches. I wore my Demon Hunter patch on every mission. I wore it when I blasted bin Laden."
Here's why I loved that passage so much:  Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to sit down for an hour, one-on-one, with someone who took a consulting firm from "idea" to "multimillion-dollar international entity."  The meeting was a good mix of encouragement and tough love, and one of the things that made the biggest impression on me was this:  "Put aside all this 'no barrier to entry' stuff for a minute.  100 people could have the same idea tomorrow, and all start up tomorrow, and there's a simple way you can beat the pants off of all of them -- by showing up."

He went on to give a few specific examples of how little 'extra' steps enabled him to quickly differentiate.  NONE of it was rocket science, and ALL of it was the equivalent of the QB who stays to watch the extra film or the coach who takes the slight risk to make the bigger play.

Which is kinda what Demon Hunter did.  I have no idea who -- or what -- Demon Hunter is, and I'm not sure I care to find out.  But because they are now mentioned prominently in what will be one of the most cited and most linked magazine stories this year, they have just rocketed to a new level of prominence.

I'm also not entirely sure how Demon Hunter made contact with the protagonist in the story.  But what matters to me is that Demon Hunter showed up.  They are now ever-so-slightly associated with the ending to the biggest manhunt in history.

Why am I so confident that I can succeed in a business that's not based on Intellectual Property and has a low barrier to entry?  (Even though a portion of it is, but that's in development and is a subject for another day).

Because I know I can show up.  It's how I've succeeded in my military career, it's how I've succeeded in my academic career, and it's how I'll succeed in my civilian career.  There's something innate about knowing when, and how, to show up, and it can't be measured by a 40-yard dash, a vertical leap, a Wonderlic, or your 225 reps at the combine.

It's whether you want to be Tom Brady or Ryan Leaf....and if the game of football were 'uninvented' tomorrow, and could never be played again, I would always bet on the former against the latter.  It could be backgammon, tiddly winks, high-stakes poker or investment banking.  The arena doesn't matter as much as the mentality does.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Riding Out the Storm

The view from my window tells me the worst of the "Blizzard of '13" has passed.

Here are two quick thoughts:

(1) I think the Governor's driving ban decision was awesome.  I have heard a few complainers, both in person and on Facebook, but without them the previous sentence would be what I would call a "home run derby."  By keeping drivers off the roads, the Governor can keep first responders from becoming overwhelmed, he can make the job of snow shovelers much easier, and he can save the lives of people who confuse 'want' with 'need.'  Best of all, the instruction to the Staties was to not actually ticket people, so the screams and cries of the 'government overreach' folks won't get much traction anywhere.

(2) Life in the USAR is looking pretty good right now.  As I've written about a few times here on the blog, I changed units after the deployment to join an MI unit at Devens.  That meant a component transfer from the Guard to the Reserves, which means not being called up during periods of State Active Duty (SAD).  But isn't 'saving the day' what everyone dreams about when they join up with the Guard?  Yes, it is.  And if SAD for me meant being out in Scituate helping someone whose house was just swallowed up by a wave, or helping save someone who was trapped outside of their home somewhere else, then yes, that would be pretty awesome.  However, if it meant driving to Joint Force HQ in Milford in undriveable conditions, just to man a desk by day and sleep on a cot by night while separated from family, then I will happily pass, thank you very much.  Option two is what my former unit is now up to, and the only way to get to option one would be to resign the commission and to "reclass" with a brand new MOS.  And I think I will doing that in the year two-thousand-and-never.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bobby J and Indian-Americans? I'll Order a Venti-sized Cup of "I Don't Care"

I was at dinner last night with three good friends from the Guard.  Among the many, many subjects were covered was whether Bobby Jindal might run for President in 2016.

We talked about it for a minute or two, and then one member of our group (born in Texas to parents originally from the Indian portion of Punjab) mentioned how Indian-Americans are split on the issue of whether to support Jindal.  Some are proud to see a person of Indian heritage in such a prominent position, while others consider him a 'sell-out' because of issues about his name (as a young kid, he found that people around him could more easily pronounce the name of the youngest Brady bunch character than they could 'Piyush')* and his religion (he is Catholic, whereas another prominent Indian pol, Tulsi Gabbard, is Hindu).

Another time I heard that Jindal candidacy question come up recently was in a class discussion.  Sure enough, eyes turned to one of the Indian-American students in the class, who opined that "Jindal can't win because there aren't enough Indian-Americans in the electorate to support him."

Wh-wh-whuh?  Did someone need to break out demographic statistics to demonstrate all of President Obama's political support bases?  Or, much more importantly, did someone need to compare population statistics about Louisiana, in which Jindal won a statewide contest, to the entire nation?  I won't even bother to look this up, because it's not worth the time, but I can state with high confidence that the coalition that carried Jindal to Baton Rouge did not critically depend on people whose forebears came from the Indian subcontinent.

As Jindal continues to play a more prominent national role in GOP politics, these sorts of issues will continue to arise.  Inevitably, people will "ask the Indian-American in the room" about what he or she thinks, in much the same way they might've innocently asked them something like "Aren't you so thrilled/excited/proud?" after Slumdog Millionaire won the Best Picture statue at the Oscars (No one asked me, btw, but I'd like to say I loved every minute of 'Slumdog' and yes, I was proud).

Guess what?

It doesn't matter nearly as much as people seem to think.  Indian-Americans are increasingly involved in political fundraising, they're getting more directly involved (look at Gabbard, or Nikki Haley, or the TARP guy who might go run statewide in CA now), but whether Bobby Jindal can win a Presidential contest depends on the entire nation, of which Indian-Americans are just a tiny, tiny part, demographically speaking.

The Electoral College doesn't care about the skin color of a voter, so I would posit that my opinion about Jindal is just as important as Shahil's opinion, or Santosh's opinion, or Vikram's opinion.

And for what it's worth, it wouldn't hurt the GOP to put an intellectual up as its standard bearer.  There is an anti-intellectual streak running through the party that we don't need.  It also doesn't hurt that he entered office at a time when Louisiana was in many ways a basket case, and has since turned many of those problems around.

* Props to Kad Barma for pointing out an error here...this should have referred to Bobby as the 'youngest Brady boy'